Going on vacation is good... and all the more so when you are retired and you can do it all year round, without having to take care of your children anymore. Going to popular destinations outside school holiday periods, going out in the sun in winter and summer, doing winter sports and going back there hiking out of season, sightseeing on weekends in European capitals… All this is possible - you still have to have the means - because traveling is still a budget, between transport, restaurant and cultural outings, and of course accommodation on site.
However, it is possible to make savings on this last point. One of the options is to rent out your accommodation yourself during your absence, allowing you to amortize the costs, or even to make a capital gain depending on your attractiveness. But this represents a certain amount of work, or at least organization, and all the more so if several different groups follow one another there during our absence:it will then be necessary to organize their reception via a third party, to have the accommodation cleaned, and so right now. It is also possible to do house sitting or house sitting but you will not be totally on vacation.
Wouldn't it be so much easier to exchange your accommodation directly with that of a person residing in our resort? Well, it is possible now, with many platforms dedicated specifically to facilitating this practice. The concept is therefore very simple:two people looking to go on vacation where the other lives agree on a period, and simply exchange their keys for this duration. Thus, each enjoys the other's accommodation for free at no cost - provided you are comfortable with the idea of having strangers residing in your home. So, how exactly does it work? And what are the pros and cons? We debrief you on this practice.
Getting started couldn't be simpler. There are a number of online platforms that connect individuals wishing to exchange homes. You should know that if the exchange is free, these platforms most often ask for annual entry fees, generally no more than one or two hundred euros. From there - it is generally possible to browse the platform for free after having filled in the profile of your residence - you can start consulting the available accommodations and contact the other members, to agree on dates and establish mutual rules as to to the interview. Because yes, exchanging your house also means watering the plants or feeding the goldfish, or even knowing if and where you can smoke, or until what time the noise remains acceptable! We live with our hosts as they would live there. The reciprocity of the exchange makes it in any case a very safe practice. No one has an interest in ransacking the other's home, and besides, users rate and leave comments on each other's profiles, ensuring weeds are eliminated.
Home swapping is a modern version of barter. However, the whole principle of barter is based on the law of supply and demand. Without going into a long tirade on the intricacies of economics, classical theory dictates that the value of a good or service is determined by its attractiveness (demand) and its availability (supply). The more fish a fisherman brings back to the port, the more he will have to lower his prices to hope to sell all his stock. And the greater the demand for oysters or foie gras as the holidays approach, the more merchants will be tempted to raise their prices, knowing that they will ultimately sell them all. But since barter somewhat limits everyone's options, exchange currencies to make it more fluid have developed over the course of history, resulting in modern national currencies. In other words, by a return to pure barter in the exchange of houses, we find ourselves once again subject to the law of supply and demand. To facilitate exchanges, some sites have thus recreated a virtual exchange currency. Thus, you earn points for each night a guest has spent at home, and you spend them when you travel elsewhere yourself. This therefore makes it possible to organize exchanges in a non-simultaneous way, or why not even "triangles" between more than two users, and so on. So much for how these platforms work.
The most favored are therefore those who have accommodation in a place particularly in demand, such as intramural Paris or the seaside. These can claim real villas in exchange for comparatively tiny apartments. And similarly, if many other accommodations in the area are available for exchange, his own loses in attractiveness. For this, we are rather well off in France, which remains the first tourist destination in the world. Our "rating" abroad therefore has a good chance of being high!
Their flexibility is also a big advantage for seniors. Indeed, one of the concerns of this practice is that the two exchangers must agree on their travel dates, at least when we stick to simultaneous exchanges. It is therefore difficult to be too demanding, if the lady has a very important business meeting on Thursday evening, and the gentleman must imperatively pick up the children after school on Monday afternoon, for example. Retirees generally do not have this kind of obligation. It is therefore easier for them to be flexible with regard to the requests of their exchange partners. The advantage of this mode of travel is that it leaves plenty of room for surprise, since other users can contact us at any time to offer an exchange in a destination never before considered. Some spend the best vacation of their life by letting the vagaries of chance guide their choice of exchange!
Once you have leads, all you have to do is make contact. Be careful, from the moment you leave France, the usual language is English, unless one of you luckily masters the language of the country of destination. Thanks to this contact, you will establish a certain link with your partners. It is important to make sure that the current passes between you. This is a much more personal form of exchange than in a hotel, for example, where a simple cold cordiality is required between staff and travelers. If the slightest doubt arises as to the reliability of your partners, simply end the talks - it is not necessary to force yourself. Conversely, bonds can be formed with your hosts, who become real acquaintances, and who can therefore mark the beginning of a repeated relationship. Moreover, this personality in the exchange also makes it possible to obtain good local plans, or to give some. Likewise, a bottle of good wine is an excellent idea to welcome your foreign guests, who will no doubt also have left some local specialties for you.
Finally, start your research early. The need for each party to agree on their availability, to get to know each other... makes the exchange much longer to organize than for a simple hotel rental, which only depends on the availability or not of rooms. No last-minute trip on a whim isn't worth it here, at least if you have a specific destination in mind. In this case, anticipation is on the contrary king, so do not hesitate to start your research months before your trip. This is the best way to make sure you have time to make contacts, and that their accommodations are still available.