You’ve stayed in hotels, rented homes, and done the cruise vacation, so what’s next? It may be time to shake it up and exchange homes with a stranger. Yes, you read that right. Home exchanging is a thing, and not just in romantic comedies.

What is it?
A home exchange is exactly what it sounds like—swapping homes with someone else for a one-of-a-kind vacation. There are various home exchange websites you can go through, so it’s important to do your research to see what kind of exchange works with your level of adventure and budget. There’s the more traditional exchange programs, like Love Home Swap and Home Exchange, or the luxury membership program, Third Home, which is specifically for second vacation homes.

Trust is an important part of the process, as you are sharing your home with someone and vice versa. However, it’s common for both parties to walk out of the experience with a newfound friend. It’s all in the beauty of this unique adventure!

How does it work?
There are different types of home exchanges you can partake in, but the most basic is the simultaneous exchange. This entails you switching homes with the other person during the same period of time (usually a week). However, there are options where you can switch homes at different times, which would simply require you to find an alternative place to stay while they’re staying in your home.

And if you’re residing in an apartment instead of a home, you may still be able to participate. Just be sure to check with your landlord, but many renters are involved with home exchanging as well.

Is it free?
The most commonly used home exchange programs are membership-only, meaning you pay a monthly or yearly fee, and can then exchange as often as you want. This is why it’s important to do research to see which option works best for you. Those who do home exchanges say you end up saving money in the long-run, especially for those who travel often. Some participants allow you to swap cars as well, making the process all the more inclusive.

Why home exchange?
The beauty of home exchanging for vacation instead of traveling in the traditional sense is the uniqueness that you can’t get anywhere else.  You’re fully immersing yourself in new cultures and experiencing these places in the eyes of a local. Continue to research different home exchange programs further to see if this is the way to travel for your next getaway!