A vacation trend has travelers getting cozy with all of the comforts of someone else’s home.
Valerie Erde and her family first tried house swapping over a decade ago.
“Basically the lodging is free,” Erde said.
Instead of booking a hotel room, two homeowners trade homes during a vacation.
No money changes hands, so all of the money that would be spent on lodging is saved.
“It's a great way to save money for anybody who wants to travel,” Erde said.
There are several websites that home swappers use to list their homes, like Home Link USA or Love Home Swap, and Erde said she prefers to use HomeExchange.com, which has more than 65,000 active users.
The user sets up a profile with information about their home and family.
Then, search for places around the globe where you want to go and find families who want to make a swap.
The user can search for a specific location they want to travel to or do a search for people looking to stay in their area.
Some might think letting a stranger stay in their home is risky but Erde said it never bothered her.
“I wasn't really nervous because I'm not that type of person,” she said, adding that she has never had a problem so they keep swapping.
From across the pond to across the country and up to the great white north, the Erde family has hopped all over the map.
When they first started house swapping, Erde’s two children were young so swapping with other families was a big plus.
“You can exchange with a family that also has kids, and your kids are thrilled because you go to this place and they have all these new games and toy,” she said.
Also, having a laundry machine during vacation has its perks too.
“You're going away, little kids just get so dirty, and it's just easier,” she said.
Also, living with the locals in the thick of the action is a great way to immerse yourself in a culture.
“Just going to another part of the world, I mean it gives you a different perspective than being in a hotel,” she said, adding that people even swap cars too to save money on a rental.
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