Travel

Are home swaps the next big travel trend?

Condé Nast Traveler

The space of an entire home is also a plus when, after two years of restrictions, many of us are using travel as a way to reconnect with family and friends, often under one roof. The home exchange lends itself well to this. “You have more space and the possibility of staying in a real home, where everyone can be together”, explains Célia Pronto, general manager of Love Home Swap. “It makes a compelling proposition.”

As with Airbnbs, having your own space is comfortable, especially since home exchange stays tend to be longer than standard vacation rentals, often closer to a week or two according to Arnaud. . This has a unique appeal for people who are no longer tied to a desk or the standard vacation schedule.

“For many years Airbnb was the big disruptor, but now it’s becoming the ‘disruptor,'” says Jenny Southan, founder of the travel forecasting agency. Globetender. “The rise of home exchange obviates the need to rent homes, and it’s ideal for people who can be flexible.”

The value is also difficult to discuss. Members of home exchange platforms typically pay an annual or monthly subscription to list their homes and research potential exchanges, although registration is often free or as part of a free trial. The subscription is very profitable: Love Home Swap starts at around $10 per month, HomeExchange costs $175 per year (they both also have a points system which allows you to earn points when another member stays in your house and that you don’t stay at theirs, which you can then use to travel when it suits you best). Last fall, the latter also launched a luxury branch by invitation, HomeExchange collection, for owners of “exceptional” houses. Annual dues: $1,000.

Other sites offer equally reasonable pricing plans: Vacation Swap is $100 per year, Home Link Internationalthe oldest exchange group (it started in 1953) is $140 with a free second year.

This gives you unlimited swaps and, if you travel often — which most home exchangers tend to do, Pronto says — can save you thousands of dollars on each vacation. “Apart from our fees, no other money ever changes hands between owners,” Pronto says. “It’s a direct exchange, and I think it’s also very attractive to our users, old and new.”

For most, however, the biggest appeal might be the sense of community that comes with home swapping and the chance to experience a new place like a local. For Debbie Kelley, a fundraiser for the University of California, Berkeley, these two aspects have been the main reason she’s been doing home exchanges since 2006 on HomeExchange — and why others are adopting them, too.

“My family and I must have done at least 40 exchanges over the past 16 years, from Ireland to Chile to California wine country. Each trip has truly been one-of-a-kind,” she says. “ We formed lasting friendships with the people we interacted with and explored each destination as if we lived there, often through recommendations from our hosts, from their favorite bakery and restaurants to their favorite beach. same thing for them. It’s so much more personal than any other way to travel.

Indeed, it is quite common for people who exchange their homes to share much more than their properties. “We regularly hear about members offering their bikes, children’s toys, gym memberships or even their car to their guests during an exchange,” explains Arnaud. “Many create closed Facebook groups to stay in touch. There is a real openness and a desire to make people feel welcome and to return that hospitality.

Arnaud himself often had gifts left by barterers after a stay in his Parisian house. “Once a family in Madrid even left a book for my children, with a note saying it was from their children, as a thank you for lending them their toys. That’s the kind of relationship people establish.

And, as we emerge from the pandemic, that may be what travelers are looking for.