Life in the USA
This material courtesy of Helen Bergstein, founder of The Digsville Home Exchange Club.
Although airfare and the costs of car travel have been lowered by competition in recent years, accommodations continue to be a stumbling block for many would-be travelers. Hotel rooms can add up to hundreds of dollars a night in some of the most desirable locations. Home exchange, though, lets couples, families, and singles from all walks of life travel the world and meet exciting people without spending a cent on accommodations. Thanks to the influence of the Internet, arranging this type of travel is as simple as joining a home swapping community and exchanging emails with would-be partners.
Home exchange simply means that you agree to exchange your primary or secondary/vacation home with someone else's for an agreed period of time. No money changes hands, and you get a clean place to stay that is miles ahead of any hotel room.
Travelers who choose to vacation through home exchange simply join a home exchange club and browse the database of home listings worldwide. You decide what's important to you. Maybe you have a specific destination in mind to attend an event, scout relocation opportunities, or you may just what to relax in a new and wonderful environment. Homes in most clubs vary - you'll find cottages, city apartments, modern suburban homes, and even some luxurious villas. Email a brief note to the club members describing your offer of exchange and you're on your way to discovering the wonder world of home exchange.
Many emails and perhaps a phone call or two and you'll get to know your exchange partner quite well while gaining many insights about the home and neighborhood. It's typical for swap partners to provide a house book of instructions for appliance use, tv/video equipment, computer usage, emergency phone numbers etc. Local transit schedules, favorite local eateries, and upcoming events are often provided as well. In some cases, you can even arrange to swap cars as well as homes providing even more savings.
With the money saved through home swapping, home exchangers often enjoy finer dining, longer vacations, and even cooking and art classes, language programs, trips to historic sites.all things that help the local economy. Travelers stay in control of their trips and vacation budget as well. You can shop at the local market and prepare your own food in a fully-equipped kitchen, which not only saves you money but ensures that you are not at the mercy of a hotelier's idea of cuisine. Since you're staying in a home, you're on your own schedule (no checkout times) and can enjoy an entire home often filled with books, videos, and cds rather than a tiny impersonal room.
Many people begin home exchanging because they want to save money, however they return for the experience of living like a local anywhere in the world, the convenience of a real home, and more often then not, the friendships that are made along the way - you'll simply travel better.
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