Fancy a great break... in someone else's house? Anna-Louise Dearden jumps aboard the sharing-economy train and shows you how to home-swap your way to a cheaper holiday.
Swapping your home with a stranger might sound daunting, but the drastically reduced cost makes it well worth it – the average home swapper can save lots of money on holidays, often up to £2,000.
Holiday swap shop
Home exchange clubs have been around since the 1950s, but swapping really peaked in 2011 when the tough economic climate spurred on more than three million Brits to ditch the hotel and live like a local in someone else's home. The trend shows no signs of slowing down, with one in five people having signed up to a holiday swap shop*.
Have friends, will travel
Although there are more couples and families on the home-swap sites, groups of friends are cottoning on to it too. The only stipulation is that one of them is a homeowner. Kim, a member of lovehomeswap.com, has a thirst for exotic destinations and recently received a request from fellow website member Luis. He offered her a swap – her place in Earl's Court, London, for his place in San Miguel de Allende, 270km north of Mexico City. A pretty fair deal, most would say!
Better than a hotel
"I decided to go ahead and plan the exchange, but this time invite some girlfriends from all around the world to join me in my Mexican adventure," says Kim. This will be the friends' first home-swapping experience and Kim's first time using Love Home Swap with mates. "I prefer home swapping to staying in hotels. It's more convenient, particularly as there are five of us going. We can all stay under one roof instead of being in different hotel rooms, and we'll be able to cook for ourselves." Kim and friends Briony, Jill, Karin and Caline will be jetting off to San Miguel de Allende in September this year to enjoy some quality time under the Mexican sun. "We're really looking forward to it as all the festivals are on during the time we're visiting there," says Kim.
*Always check with your insurance provider that you're covered for house swapping
5 tips for home swappers
- Clear some bedroom drawers and leave a few hangers out.
- Put fresh sheets on the beds and fresh towels in the bathrooms.
- Leave some bread, tea, coffee, milk, butter, orange juice and maybe even some fizz as a nice surprise.
- Leave a 'what to do'/'where to go' guide, including a list of your fave local pubs, the nearest supermarket and corner shop.
- Ask your swappers for a review, and use this information for future house swaps.
Wherever you're travelling, learn how to keep your money safe when you're abroad with our fun infographic.
This Money Matters post aims to be informative and engaging. Though it may include tips and information, it does not constitute advice and should not be used as a basis for any financial decisions. Sainsbury's Bank accepts no responsibility for the opinions and views of external contributors and the content of external websites included within this post. Some links may take you to another Sainsbury's Bank page. All information in this post was correct at date of publication.