Yes, that’s right!
I’ve spent much time researching cheap—or free—accommodations for our one-year trip around the world. You know so that we can travel as long as possible!! 😉
And let me tell you it was time well invested!
I found a platform, which I had previously heard about from my best friend, who had put it to the test herself.
FREE ACCOMMODATION WHILE TRAVELLING THE WORLD AS A FAMILY
I wanted to start by checking if it was really worth it. First of all, it was pretty easy to subscribe to HomeExchange. In just ten minutes, I had completed my profile! Once that’s done, you have access to all the houses that can be “rented” with their point exchange system.
By merely completing my registration, I already had more than 1000 GuestPoints (you can get up to 1500 points just by subscribing!)
To give you an idea, from what I have seen in my research, renting a house with two double beds in most European and Asian countries costs between 110 and 190 GuestPoints per night.
That means that you can easily find a house to stay in for a week, only by trading in the GuestPoints you got for subscribing—which means at no cost at all!
THE ACCOMMODATION WE FOUND ON HOMEEXCHANGE FOR OUR FIRST WEEK OF TRAVEL
As I was saying, we will be using HomeExchange right off the bat, for our stay in Paris. I think that it’s a great platform that brings accommodation-finding while travelling to the next level. On top of that, their services are adaptable and compatible with most types of vacations, such as round-the-world family trips. 😉
We managed to find a cute little house, in downtown Paris—only 10 minutes away from the Eiffel Tower—where we will stay for 4 nights.
HOW CAN YOU EARN GUESTPOINTS?
The platform works on a point-based system: you trade points for free accommodation around the world.
You get points when you subscribe—up to 1150 GuestPoints, as I mentioned earlier.
By becoming a verified member, you can then acquire 100 more GuestPoints.
Plus, when you complete your profile and your home listing you get some more.
After that, when members stay at your place, you receive a certain amount of points in return, therefore adding more points to your piggy bank!
Finally, by becoming an Optimum Member, you get 500 GuestPoints for the first year.
BOOKING A STAY
To keep the platform running smoothly, there is a small charge to have access to 24/7 support in case of emergency or to speak to a real person if you have a question.
You have a $170/year—the yearly subscription—which allows you to book as many nights as you wish, without additional fees, for an entire year. If you don’t exchange houses during the year, the subscription will be renewed for another year free of charge.
All in all, the fees are reasonable.
YOU CAN ALSO SWAP HOMES WITH ANOTHER TRAVELLER
Another option I haven’t tried yet consists of trading houses with another person, who stays at your place while you stay at theirs.
That way, no points are swapped.
It’s just a great way to share our respective belongings.
For sure you’ll find someone willing to visit your neck of the woods, while you enjoy theirs! And no accommodation fees for your vacation! Fewer fees = more fun!
- HomeExchange is THE biggest house-swapping community in the world.
- Swapping houses can include much more than just your home. It is actually a great way to avoid having the dog, the goldfish, the hamster or the cat boarded out, as they can stay at home with a HomeExchange family.
- Also, one very important detail is that since no profit is made from the house swap on HomeExchange, it doesn’t fall under the legal definition of a “rental” (on the contrary to AirBnb, for example). That means that you can swap your house and respect the law, even if you are a tenant. So no hassle with your landlord!
- The identity and address of everyone on the HomeExchange platform are verified and certified authentic and secure before being approved.
- The HomeExchange Service (remember that small fee) allows all members, both hosts and guests, to have assistance in case of unforeseen instances before, during and after the stay.
- HomeExchange started in the 1990s.
- HomeExchange offers more than 400 000 homes in 187 countries on its platform.
“DOWNSIDE” OF THE PLATFORM
So far, I have noticed two things that can make the process a bit more complicated.
Since HomeExchange is a REAL community platform dedicated to sharing and participation (on the contrary to some other platforms that claim to be like this), it can be harder to find an exchange. That’s because people are actually lending their real homes, so they are not always free to leave or to go on vacation when you are.
Therefore, you have to contact many hosts before finding a match that will work out for everyone. You can’t just put in your dates and book your accommodation by clicking on a button. However, I think that the extra effort you put in makes the experience even more authentic.
In the same vein, GuestPoints aren’t unlimited. You have to participate on the platform if you want to make the most of it in the long run. If you don’t swap houses, you will run out of points quickly.
WARMER WELCOMES, ANYWHERE IN THE WORLD
That being said, these downsides aren’t so bad, since they help keep the platform “healthy” and authentic, full of people like you and me who love travel and adventure. For people who are looking for a way to travel longer and more often, all while saving costs on accommodation by sharing their home with other people just like them.
“Warmer welcomes, anywhere in the world.” Such is the slogan of HomeExchange! It really sets the vibe for what their services have to offer.
HomeExchange, an excellent option for a genuine and human experience, that allows you to discover the local culture and lifestyle of other people around the globe… all while making great savings!
To me, that’s priceless. 😉
This post was translated from French to English by:
Isabelle, 24 years old. I’m an easy-going girl; quick-witted and a devoted fan of puns. As much as I enjoy staying home binge-watching series and reading novels, I also love traveling and discovering new things.