Monday, February 21, 2011

What to do to travel on the cheap side.

A trend that is catching on fast is the trend to swap house's. Yes if you saw the movie Holiday you know what I am talking about, having a small idea of what we are talking about, and what that means. Here is a small run down of what you need to know.  What I want to do is teach you how easy it is to truly swap houses. 

You start off by uploading a listing of your house, apartment or Condo. Make sure that you tell about your house, showing the pictures that make your home what would make it a place that others would want to visit. Just make sure you tell them that Jude Law isn't part of the deal. 

There are so many wonderful benefits with a house swap, one is the fact that most times they through in the use of their families car & that you can cook anything that you would normally at home. Always being able to save money on your vacation when you get rid of the per night cost of a hotel, eating and the over cost you sometimes get charged at the car rental place. 

Hub's & I had done this a few times in the past, I find that when we stay in a home instead of a hotel in a town that we don't know much about we are completely tuned into the local attractions and the home town feel.  You seem to feel like you are staying with an imaginary friend that let's you have the inside scoop of the good, the bad & the ugly in a town. 

You can use a service, some like couch surfer, HomeLink international,,, just to name a few. I like the idea of a service so that you have a little extra protection. We used swapnow in the past, 
being much safer then a craigslist ad. 

First take great updated photos of our home, add details that you want  someone to know, like the number of bedrooms, bathrooms, interesting thing that they might need to know. Make sure that you put some fun facts about your neighborhood.  After you do your part its the time for the fun part,  you can start looking at the fun places you would like to go. Then you can start to work on your swap! Slowly you will get a few emails here and there. Until your perfect swap comes up. 
Make sure that you are nice to the people that you are trying to swap with.  Searching for a home exchange is not the same as booking a room or a hotel. They are not there at your service. Try to think how you would want to be talked to and what you would shut down to if you were being talked to in a way you didn't like. Being friendly in your emails and being warm will go a very long way. Always answer fast when you get an email respond early & as fast as you can just like you would like them to do for you. Waiting is never the easiest thing when you are trying to plan a vacation. 

If you have children, don't be shy about telling the people that you want to swap with, tell them your concerns about childproofing, ask what might be a hazard. If your a big foodie and plan to use a kitchen you need to ask what they have as far as equipment they have. The more honest and prepared you are, the more you will be happy with your swap. 

We live in the country but we are close to the city, so I always leave the people that are coming to stay in our house a list with a ferry times, take out menus,  things to see and do for free or with the kids. Great places to have night out in the town, stopping at my favorite place to eat at Mor Mor, down town Poulsbo, or going to a great movie at the firehouse in Kingston. I always leave what most hotels leave, a book of all the information that you need or would want to know. Also a contact information sheet with a few friends of mine in case of an emergency, this way they can be a local for the short time that they are in our town, making it easier on everyone.

Another thing you should always do is set your expectations. Setting bounds is the rule to have a successful swapping. Walk through your home and jot down all the things that is note worthy, like our garage door can open from the car but not close.  We always add the things that are off limits. We have one room that we leave locked with a key that we only have the copy of.  How you would like them to leave your house, we always ask kindly for them to leave the sheets and blankets inside the washer. We always leave a welcome note, and a nice bottle of wine with some cheese and yummy bread.  

No matter what you do it will feel great to stay at a place that is a home away from home with a price that is cheaper the a hostel! In our economy this is the smartest way to do a family vacation. One last tip, call and check in with your insurance company and ask them what you need to know and what you need for coverage for a little extra protection. 

Enjoy & Keep traveling!!