Using Home Exchange to Travel


Since opening our business two years ago, our travel budget has plummeted. We are fortunate to have wonderful family and friends who have welcomed us into their homes so that we have been able to visit other cities. However, we have been itching to get to some other areas, but the cost of lodging has kept us away. I always thought: I wish someone would let us borrow their home, I’d let them borrow ours. And who knew?  This actually exists!

Imagine my excitement when a friend was raving about doing home exchanges in San Francisco and Hawaii. After looking into it further, it seemed too good to be true. 

How It Works

The concept is pretty simple: I’ll let you stay in my home if I can stay in yours. I’ll treat it with love and care just as I would my own. There is a fee for joining the home exchange network but after that, no money is exchanged. People even exchange cars, garden care, and pet care. 

Friends and family commented on the trust needed to let another family stay in our home. Sure there is a lot of trust. We are opening our home to others just as they are opening their home to us. I like to think we are all responsible adults.

Our Home Exchange Test Drive

So how did our first experience go? It was AWESOME! We did our first exchange over winter break at a family’s home in Seattle. The house was clean, welcoming, comfortable and kid-friendly. The kids’ eyes nearly popped out of their heads when they saw all the Legos and Playmobil! We explored Seattle while experiencing their local neighborhood. We went to four amazing museums, visited a tea house, rode to the top of the Space Needle, and enjoyed the coziness of staying in a true Seattle home.

Upon our departure, we made sure to leave it very clean and welcoming for their return.  It was a great lesson for the kids in responsibility and caring for others’ belongings. The kids put all the toys away and left them notes about how much fun they had playing with their toys and sleeping in their bunk beds. We vacuumed, cleaned the bathrooms, stripped the beds, tidying up and were on our way. 

Since this exchange we have been contacted by others interested in staying in our home here in Portland. One family from India, another from Southern California and one from Hood River. Unfortunately, visiting India is not in the budget right now, but how cool would it be to trade homes internationally!?! It is such a great way to truly experience the culture. We are looking forward to many more home exchanges.