3 Benefits to Home Exchange

Greek island home

This is our home for the next three weeks.

Ever thought about traveling somewhere and NOT having to pay for accommodation? Besides flights, hotels are the most expensive part of any trip, especially if you are going to a pricey location. Believe it or not, it is totally possible to take a long, slow, vacation and pay NOTHING for a place to stay. Yes, that’s right…absolutely zero. Sounds unbelievable, right? But it’s not. Cue my new favorite way to travel = Home Exchange! 

Participating in a home exchange is the latest craze in travel. I am writing this post from Syros, an island in Greece, where we are staying for free for three weeks, simply because we joined a home exchange website.

If you want to take more vacations, but think you can’t afford it, think again and read on.

Here are the three reasons a home exchange might be the answer to your travel dreams.

#1: It’s cheap

A yearly membership will cost you less than 1 or 2 nights in a hotel in Chicago. For $150, you can travel the world for a year and never pay for one night’s accommodation. Once you join www.homeexchange.com, pay your flat fee, and set up your profile, the world opens up to you. If you can dream it, it can happen.

Want to go to Paris for two weeks? OK, would a 2000sf home in the Marais work? Or maybe a week in Napa, wine tasting with friends? How about three weeks in a villa in Fiji with 360-degree views from your private infinity pool of the crystal blue waters below? It’s totally possible.

Those are real examples from the Homeexchange.com site.  Could you afford to do that if you had to pay for those accommodations?

What are you going to do with all that money you’ve saved? Put it into the most incredible experiences your holiday location has to offer; like sailing in the Greek Islands, renting a Harley for a couple of days, or getting your PADI Scuba certification.  Whatever your heart desires.

Or hell, put it into your savings account and use it for your next flight because you will certainly be traveling a lot more now. Plus, you can take your vacation during the most expensive times of the year without paying higher rates, think Christmas at the beaches in Thailand.

Greek views

Views of the waterfront homes in Syros, Greece

#2: Live like a local instead of a tourist.

Instead of staying in impersonal hotels, you get to live in a home or apartment that feels like your own place, or maybe even better. You won’t have to ask the concierge or front desk where to go for dinner, because your host will share all that expert intel with you. You’ll get the insider secrets, not the touristy places hotels tell you and all the others staying there to go.

You’ll have local experiences, eat at the most authentic restaurants, and maybe even meet some of the locals all because you are not staying in a hotel. You will have that insider edge that only a person that has been living there knows. You get to be a traveler, not a tourist. It is a truly authentic way to explore a location

#3: The Opportunity for Slow Travel

Paying for hotels means having shorter vacations. You can stay somewhere for a month, instead of a few days, because you won’t have those cost restraints.  Gone are the days when you have 5 days for a vacation, with the home exchange program you can stay for as long as you and the host agree.

Mark and I may be in the Greek Islands for a month, but we are balancing work and exploration. I am writing this from our patio in Syros while sipping on a glass of the local rose, and watching birds dive into the azure Aegean Sea for their lunch. Like many people, we can’t take a month off work, but with home exchange, we can work from the Greek islands.

By the way, I am in no way affiliate marketing or working with homeexchange.com. I wrote this because I’m completely sold on the concept.  As you can see, there are some significant benefits to this kind of travel, and I will be using the site to its fullest potential to make my most ridiculous travel dreams come true.


  1. Eric and Larisa Hungerford

    Oh, I forgot to say how envious we are of you guys sitting and enjoying on a Greek isle…!!!!!!!!!

  2. Eric and Larisa Hungerford

    Hi Kirsten, Larisa and I looked into Home Exchange as well. I’m glad you had a great experience and I’m looking forward to hearing what happened, if any thing, to your home when strangers staid there. We decided not to do this because we rented our our home while we are abroad. We figured that we are making about $1000 a month on our investment in our home with its mortgage. We wont see it until we sell but that means we don’t have a house to exchange.
    We are trying the HelpX model, work for a little in exchange for a place and food. We are saving money but getting tried of working everyday (oh, yes that’s why I retired in the first place). We’re headed back to the states for some R & R. No, wait we’re on vacation so going back to my brothers house is more vacation. But the next plan is to try the House Sitters route. I joined their website, and for the time of walking their dog or cat, watering their plants, and just occupying their house, we can stay for free in a local home. Sounds good on paper but we’ll see how it works out.
    Good luck to you and Mark. Please keep posting on your blog so we can follow your adventures. We are headed for Europe next Fall and Winter and may not make it back to Malaysia for awhile.

    • Kirsten Raccuia

      Hi Eric & Larisa,

      It makes sense to get rent from your place instead of using it at homeexchange. Monthly rent is a sure thing. I def think the home/pet sitter route is amazing and we have quite a few friends that do that and love it and travel the world that way. I am allergic to dogs/cats so that wasn’t an option for us.

      Enjoy all of your travels and watch this site for more posts to come!


  3. Mik

    Wow, I never knew this was possible. Are you sure they won’t ruin your house or apartment?

    • Kirsten Raccuia

      Hi Mik,

      That is a great question and we were worried about that at first. We did A LOT of research with various companies and homeexchange.com actually has a sort of insurance that goes with the membership. If something is broken or missing you can file a claim and they will look into it or help pay to repair the item. We did take precautions by locking away a few fragile things and giving my computer and a few precious items to a friend. But in the twenty years, my friends have been doing it, nothing bad has ever happened to their place. And don’t forget, most of the time, you are going to their home too, so there needs to be a certain amount of trust for both parties.

      I hope that helps,

    • Denise McNamara

      Hi Mik
      This a question that most people ask (I’ve had more than 60 exchanges) and can only ask ‘why would they?’
      They are presumably coming to your place at some point and you’ve invested quite a bit of internet time and maybe some f2f so you’ve probably built up a fairly nice relationship before you meet.
      Our personal motto is ‘leave it cleaner than how you found it’ and just like my own home, I do a little cleaning everyday and clean my bathrooms weekly.
      It’s important to remember this is not a hotel where you can just flop and forget, but someone’s much loved home – and you have a responsibility to care for it as if it were your own.

      • Kirsten Raccuia

        Thank you, Denise, you are the home exchange guru! That is why you are my travel idol!
        We certainly have been cleaning this place as we go and it will look great when we leave. You make a great point about it not being a hotel, there are no maids who come in daily to make my bed, I’m the maid.



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