Has anyone ever used one of the those on-line services to trade time at a vacation home? It is in interesting concept and I'd love to hear about the experience.
my niece, to afford keeping my late sister's lake house, rents it out...it's on a very pretty lake and one of my most favorite places...but she does her rentals thru referrals from friends...
we have done about 28 home exchanges. we lived 80 miles from the grand canyon so we had alot of opportunties and took advantage of them. they were WONDERFUL experiences and much more affordable than the usual way. we did it before the internet, with letters, but i think it would be the same. i wish we did have the internet because it would have been faster and easier communication. we had control of our expenses and schedules, met great people and loved it. we have more pets now and have moved away from the canyon so aren't actively doing it now - maybe we should start again!! sandy
We did five vacations about eight to ten years ago, most of them long weekends. At the time we lived in Asheville, NC, which is a tourist destination. Living near some desirable spots (beach, tourist attractions, big city, or something else) is pretty much a necessity or you won't get many requests. It's a great way to meet up with family without spending a lot on accommodations. You'll have a whole house, usually quite nice, with all the comforts of home, sometimes even a car, bikes, canoes, and similar extras. Of course, you still have to make the bed and maybe cook if you're trying to save money. One advantage is that your hosts -- whether you meet them or not -- can point you in the right direction about restaurants, local public transportation or attractions, and what's not to be missed in the area. One disadvantage I experienced was that it wasn't all that stress-free. I found I knocked myself out to have my home picture perfect and spotless. If you go for a month or a summer, it would balance out, but not for short vacations. For people who are very protective of their privacy, it's not attractive, but I never had a problem with that. Some people have said to me, "You let perfect strangers sleep in your bed?!" And I always say, "What do you think happens at a hotel?" You will meet some very nice people, usually older, educated, adventuresome, well-traveled, and interesting.
I wish you all the best of luck, but I couldn't let anyone stay in my home that I didn't know personally. There are a lot of people I know that I wouldn't let stay in my home either. LOL What do you do with your nice things, heirlooms, clothes, keepsakes, things that are irreplaceable to you. It would just take one bad person to clean you out.
Don't forget that you know who they are and where they live. By the time you have communicated about the details of your visit with your exchange people, by internet, phone, letters, and/or in person, you'll have an idea of the kind of people they are. It's a situation of mutual trust. No one goes through all the trouble of working out the exchange arrangements and paying to register with a home exchange agency just to walk off with some of your belongings. Lock up your jewels, and relax.
We have nothing of value in our vacation home because we do rent it out. It is actually best to not personalize it too much when you are trying to appeal to renters. We also have a locked "owners closet" where we could leave valuables (if we had any!)
"It is especially nice to have someone stay at your place when they have their own second home. We know that our home will be treated in the same careful manner we treat theirs."
Here is a link that might be useful: Home Swap
You don't know them, you only know what they have told you. You can confirm where they are living and if their tele # is accurate, but when you arrived at your vacation home and found you have no place to stay, they could have cleaned out your house before you got home. I was a landlady for over 20 years, you can't tell a good person from a bad one. I've even had renters who set up a friend to say they are their former land lady.
Renting a vacation home is different than a home swap. I wish we had bought a vacation home when were young and rented it out. It would have been paid for by the time we retired.