My husband and I love swapping homes. It’s amazing how far our travel budget goes when we don’t have to pay for lodging. We can get a sense of what it’s like to live in a new place. Our exchange partners help us find wonderful places to eat, shop, and explore.
But arranging a traditional home swap, where both exchange partners stay in one another’s homes at the same time, isn’t easy. It’s like putting together a puzzle in which all the pieces need to fit: location, size of home, and travel schedules. Sometimes you put in a lot of work only to find that one or another of the pieces just doesn’t fit.
That’s where non-simultaneous home swaps come in.
What a non-simultaneous home swap is
The original idea of a non-simultaneous home swap is simple. Instead of you and your exchange partner staying in one another’s home at the same time, you stay in your partner’s home while they’re away in return for a promise that they can stay in yours at a future date.
That’s what we did for a 2-week trip to Barcelona. We found a great apartment in a residential area only a couple of blocks off the Ramblas. The owner, whom I’ll call Alejandro, was very open to a swap and was interested in visiting the Bay Area, but he’d just started a new job so he couldn’t travel for a while. But, he said, “I’m living in Madrid now and there’s no one in my apartment. You’re welcome to use it.”
We had a great time.
Non-simultaneous home swaps can involve more than two partners
It’s more work, but 3-way and even 4-way exchanges can be done. Here’s how AK Turner, a New York Times bestselling author and the creator of the web site Vagabonding with Kids, describes her successful 4-way non-simultaneous home swap.
“We have friends with a home in France who agreed to a non-simultaneous exchange with a woman in Australia. The Australian woman spent a month at their place in France, but when they started making plans to go to her home in Australia, they realized that Australia’s pet quarantine laws made that a no-go. They asked us if we were interested in spending a month in Australia. We said sure, and the Australian woman agreed. But instead of coming to our place in Idaho, our friends stayed in my in-laws’ place in Mexico (my in-laws agreed, of course). It took a while to arrange, but it worked out for everyone!”
Non-simultaneous home swaps can get tricky
Non-simultaneous home swaps are the easiest to arrange when the partners are swapping second homes.
In fact, it took several years before we were able to reciprocate with Alejandro. We swap the home we live in, and we travel in the spring and fall. Alejandro and his family travel during the summer, which we always spend at home.
We were finally able to complete the exchange this summer by making our daughter’s second home available to Alejandro and his family for their visit to the Bay Area. They enjoyed their stay, and I felt a great sense of relief at being able to offer them a place to stay.
Fortunately, there are options
That’s always been the hard part of non-simultaneous home exchanges: working out the logistics to complete the exchange when you are swapping your primary residence and have no second home to offer.
To help make non-simultaneous home swaps easier to arrange, some home exchange sites now let members earn points they can redeem for stays in another member’s home. These new options offer give you far more flexibility. You aren’t limited to exchanging only with people who want to stay in your home. Instead, you can go anywhere you want and travel at whatever time of year works for you.
A points system would have made reciprocating the Barcelona exchange much easier. Alejandro wouldn’t have had to wait for our home to become available for his visit to the Bay Area. Instead, our stay would have earned him a certain amount of points he could use for a stay in the home of another home swapper in the area – or anywhere else in the world.
A closer look at points exchanges
With LoveHomeSwap or GuesttoGuest, a member who stays at your home “pays” you in points, which you can then use to stay at another member’s home. The number of points you receive depend on the “value” assigned to your home and the length of the members’ stay.
HomeExchange.com’s system works a little differently. As a member, you earn one “balloon” every time you host another member in your home, either while you’re there or while you are away. You can then exchange your balloon for a stay in another member’s home. The type of home and length of stay doesn’t matter: every balloon has the same value, and every balloon entitles you to one stay.
Arranging a home swap, traditional or non-simultaneous, still takes time and effort. But the flexibility of a points option takes some of the frustration out of the process and opens up new opportunities for you to see the world!
Have you done a non-simultaneous exchange? Used points or balloons to arrange a stay? Please share your experience in the Comments or on our Facebook page.