Bargain breaks: House swap

Posted on: 22 March 2011 by Rhian Mainwaring

Money saving holidays - how about free accommodation?

House in FranceIt is sometimes easy to forget that people want to holiday in the UK. For a lot of us holidaying means sunshine, beach time and serious relaxation, but for those on the other side of the globe the thought of staying in a quaint English village is equally appealing.

With this in mind, our travel tip for this week is home swapping. This increasingly popular trend allows you to swap locations with someone from around the world, while you visit their home they travel to yours, allowing you both to enjoy a great holiday without paying for accommodation.

How does it work?

Intervac is the British arm of the first ever home exchange agency. You can pick from quaint country cottages, to city apartments, villas with pools or skiing chalets often with a car thrown in. Not only do you save money on the holiday itself, but as anyone who’s stayed in a villa knows, having the ability to cook meals at home saves a fortun. Plus having laundry facilities means that should you wish, you could return home with a clean suitcase of clothes, or not have to pack the kitchen sink if you’re travelling with kids.

You can also negotiate with your visitors, some do gardening for each other or agree to look after each other's pets, and because of the shared experience, many members actually become friends. Obviously, the process requires trust and respect on both parts, rifling through each others possessions is not in the itinerary.

Brian Hayes, Organiser of Intervac GB, said, “Over 30% of our members are teachers and we’re now seeing a rise in families joining because it’s so expensive to go away during school holidays. Home exchange means you can have a break that doesn’t cost the earth but is great fun and right for you. Our members are professional, honest and trustworthy people who enjoy travelling but are aware of their budgets and like home comforts. Many people come back to us time and time again because they get more value for money than they do with a ‘traditional’ holiday. It is great that there’s none of the formality of hotels and many exchange partners stay in touch afterwards – both as friends and repeat exchangers”.

How do I sign up?

There’s a yearly membership fee of £49.99, which covers absolutely everything you’ll need to get exchanging, there’s also first time offers, including one third off for an 8 month membership.

The membership includes

  • Hotlist for travel in the next eight weeks 
  • Match alert - when new listings meet your needs
  • New messaging system
  • Online exchange agreements
  • Comprehensive search facilities
  • Free home advertising facilities
  • Twenty photos and unlimited text
  • Voluntary member reference facilities 
  • Member badges for exchanges 
  • Member tips and guidelines
  • Clear rules and codes of conduct

Once you’ve signed up you create your profile with up to 20 images and unlimited text to showcase your home. You then activate your account and then get house swapping. Many of the users have been on 15 or more house swaps, often visiting the same homes or swapping two or three times a year and for those reasons, it's our top travel site of the week.

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