Ask any traveler what their highest costs for a trip are, and they will likely respond with two things, flights and accommodations. Depending on what type of property you are booking, prices can vary quite a bit. A hostel dorm bed may only cost you $15 a night, while a 4-star hotel across the street would cost you $200 a night. However, did you know that it’s possible to travel with unlimited stays all over the world for only $105 per year? But, there’s a catch. While away, you have to be willing to open your home to other travelers using the same service.
How Does It Work?
For starters, several different platforms provide access to a home exchange. One of the oldest, HomeLink, will be the one explored in this article. However, several others include Third Home, Home Exchange, Love Home Swap, and People Like Us.
Your First Exchange
- For HomeLink, users list their home either as a full-fledged member or a free trial member.
- The listings are similar to what you would see on a platform like Airbnb, with pictures of the home, descriptions of the property and area, and house rules.
- Along with the listing, you will choose destinations you are interested in and when you are interested in going.
- Once your home is listed, the service will match you with other members who are interested in your area.
- Once you’ve found a property of interest, you can reach out to the member who owns the listing.
- Finalize dates, arrival and departure days, and other details with the other member, then fill out an Exchange Agreement Form.
Once complete, the only thing left to do is prepare your home for guests and go on your trip! It may seem like a bit more prep work than a typical vacation. Still, you can rest assured knowing that the other members you are exchanging with have prepared their homes just as thoughtfully for your arrival. HomeLink offers a guide for ensuring your home exchanges go smoothly and everyone has a good experience.
What Does It Cost?
HomeLink charges $105 per year for access to its platform. If you know you will take full advantage of the service, you can buy multiple years of membership for a discounted rate. For those who own more than one property, you can list as many as you like. For those who think the membership price is steep, below is a cost comparison for some perspective.
Say you want to spend a week in London. Currently, there is a lovely 3 bedroom flat in Southwark listed on HomeLink. Best of all, the members are open to all destinations and all dates, meaning it’s very likely you could work out an excellent exchange. If not, there are many other properties available in London. A quick search on booking.com shows that for a one-week August stay, the cheapest property in Southwark would cost almost $800 and would only provide 2 bunk beds in dorm-style rooms. There is a clear winner here, and it is possible with HomeLink and other home exchange providers.
Where Can Travelers Go?
All over the world! When looking for different locations to vacation, the only limiting factor will be whether or not travelers match with someone interested in visiting their home. However, when looking through the listings, many members are open to exploring any destination. Below is a list of every country HomeLink currently operates in.
Is It Worth It For Travelers?
Suppose you plan to use the service even just once a year. In that case, you will save hundreds, or even thousands, of dollars per year on travel accommodations costs. Plus, not all benefits are monetary. One thing that makes Airbnb such a popular choice is that it comes with the benefit of travelers feeling like they are living like a local for the duration of their stay. When you exchange homes, travelers are living as locally as you can.
If you are willing to have guests stay in your home while on holiday, home exchange services may be your gateway to unique stays worldwide for just $105 a year.
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Disclaimer: Current travel rules and restrictions can change without notice. The decision to travel is ultimately your responsibility. Contact your consulate and/or local authorities to confirm your nationality’s entry and/or any changes to travel requirements before traveling. Travel Off Path does not endorse traveling against government advisories