In the past decade, Airbnb has usurped hotels and mainstream rentals as the holiday accommodation go-to. But now, they have serious competition.
Home swapping is where you exchange your house or apartment with someone else in your own country or internationally. It means both owners get to stay somewhere else while knowing their own home is being looked after - and the only cost is the joining fee.
This type of holidaying seems to be on the rise too. UK-based Love Home Swap saw a 282 per cent increase last year compared with 2019, followed by a further 73 per cent increase between May and June 2020 too. Perhaps they have profited from travellers preferring private accommodation over hotels for fear of contracting COVID. Or maybe it’s the feeling of being in a ‘home from home'.
We spoke to a family who have been on two holidays in Love Home Swap houses.
Why did you start home swapping?
We are a family of eight (six children ages 1-11) and self catering holidays are becoming very expensive for us.
Home swapping enables us to travel further as we only have to pay for the travel then accommodation is free. Also the sense of adventure appealed to us.
Why does home swapping appeal to you?
Home swapping means we can stay in beautiful, often centrally located accommodation that we would never normally be able to afford.
We love the fact that the houses are homes so you feel instantly comfortable, especially the children who get to stay in other children’s bedrooms, full of toys and books which is very exciting (not normally something you find in self catering accommodation).
You’re also open to things that you wouldn’t normally do, in places you wouldn’t normally choose to go to, at times of the year that you wouldn’t normally go away.
Where have you been on your home swapping holidays and how many have you been on?
So far we have been to London for a long weekend and two weeks away in San Sebastian.
Our swap last year was cancelled due to COVID. This year we are swapping with a family in Cambridge in October. We are paying for self catering for our summer holiday to Sussex this August as we didn't manage to find a swap when we were looking in January, but we have a family coming to stay in our house while we are away.
They will pay us in Love Home Swap points which we will be able to pay forward on an 'indirect swap' of our own in the future.
What are the benefits to home swapping and what do you find difficult about it?
So many benefits! Beautiful houses to stay in for free, store cupboards full of food and ingredients that you wouldn't normally have on a self catering holiday. We normally say to our guests to use what they can find but replace anything you use up. There’s also a thrill that comes with being contacted out of the blue by people requesting to stay at your house.
We've had offers to go to Australia, New Zealand and the States. Difficulties would probably be cleaning and tidying your house up before you leave, on top of all the packing you normally have to do.
I recommend getting a cleaner to come in to clean the floors and bathrooms after you have left, to save on stress.
Other difficulties can be finding a swap - you have to send quite a lot of requests before you might find someone willing to swap with you (this is where Love Home Swap’s points system can be useful) so organising something as far in advance as possible is recommended.