Swap Your Vacation Plans
About this time of year all of us are clamoring for a vacation. The snow, the wet and cold seem to finally get to be too much to handle by the time February rolls around. Many of us would gladly trade our next paycheck for a week’s worth of sunshine, beaches and sandals if we could.
The problem is as always cost. Christmas just happened and many of us simply can’t afford a trip right now. Even if you’re one of the lucky ones who don’t have left over holiday shopping bills you probably don’t have enough saved for a week’s vacation.
This Guy is Making Enemies
I wanted to pass on some news about a gentleman who’s been causing quite a stir.
There’s a video going around that’s been pissing off several IM guru insiders. Personally I think this had to be said… And I like it…
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What if I told you I found a way to go on an affordable vacation right now? The most expensive part of any vacation is the lodging. Hotels and other rentals can easily run you $100-$200 a night. That quickly adds up to a thousand or more dollars just for one part of your vacation. You also need cash for the travel to and from your desired destination, food and entertainment.
If you could cut out the most expensive part of vacationing that would make it a really affordable option, right? I thought so. That’s why I went trolling through the listings on home swapping websites. Home exchange programs have popped up in the last decade across the globe. Members find other homeowners who want to exchange their homes for days, a weekend or longer… at a time that is convenient for both parties to cut down on the cost of lodging, food and rental cars.
Fear is what stops most people from trying out this great low cost vacation option. Indeed Mr. Patterson thought my penny pinching ways had gone a bit too far when I told him I was looking to swap houses for a weekend. The thought of someone who he doesn’t know sleeping in our bed, using our car, potentially rifling around his underwear drawer scared him off of the idea.
In reality home exchange programs get very few complaints from its members. Most relate to cleanliness rather than any major problems. If you can get over your initial fears you’ll find it’s a great low cost alternative to hotels or rentals.
In order to get the best possible housing you’ve got to list yours first! You want to show your house/apartment/condo in its best light so you can swap with other nice homes. Take plenty of pictures of your place. Show off its best features. Got a jetted tub in the master bathroom? Showcase that. Pool in the backyard? Include photos of that as well. Got a basement filled with games kids would love to play with like a foosball or pool table? Snap pictures of those as well. The first photo you list is the most important because it will be what entices browsers to click on your listing instead of continuing to search. Some people have great curb appeal and choose a picture of the front of their house to entice browsers. Others have better backyards and make pictures of their land or pool their first picture. Pick a photo that shows off one of your homes best features and list it first.
In order to attract swappers you should also provide a detailed description of your neighborhood, city and local attractions. Most of us don’t live in the best, nicest neighborhoods in the largest cities across the U.S. People don’t necessarily know your area like you do so describe to them what the appeal is of where you live. Be sure to list how far you are from major attractions like restaurants and downtown areas.
Keep in mind most swappers are families with children. Pick pictures and write descriptions that would entice a whole family to want to come visit. If you live near a theme park, talk about that. If you are near a beach or have a community pool, list those features as well.
Because most swappers are families with kids it’s important to look for a swap way in advance of when you want to travel. While I was scrolling through listings I found the best ones were already booked. The best places go fast so start your search 10-12 months before you want to go. That’s not to say you might not find a last minute swap, but it’s a lot less likely.
There are four websites to check out if you are interested in home exchange programs. Each has its plusses and minuses.
Homeexchange.com is the most popular. It has over 40,000 listings in more than 148 countries. It’s particularly great if you want to travel domestically. They offer sample swap agreement for easy arrangements. The cost is $9.95 a month. If you don’t get a swap in the first year, your second year dues are dismissed.
I found Homeforexchange.com to be very user friendly. Searching for specific destinations is easy as well as definite travel dates. I liked their link for swappers who want to exchange in the next month. They boast a 95% success rate and also offer a year of free membership if you don’t arrange a successful swap in the first year. Membership is a flat fee of $59 a year.
If you’ve ever wanted to visit the UK check out luxehomeswap.com. Many listings are based in England, but offers swap listings across the globe. Their current promotion allows you to try it out for only $1, but regular membership will run you $159 a year.
Roofswap.com has been in the home exchange business for the last 46 years. They’ve added the resources of several other sites to make browsing as easy as possible. 10 percent of their profits are donated to Habitat For Humanity. Membership will run you $74.99 a year.
Once you’ve found a home swapping match discuss what is ok and not okay to do in your home. Let your match know if it’s ok to use your
* Home phone
* Personal computer
* Washing machine
These are all things that need to be discussed ahead of time to ensure your swap goes off without a hitch. Most swappers want to talk and exchange emails back and forth several times before absolutely committing to a swap. It would also be helpful to create a user manual for your house. Let the swappers know that your back door sticks or that it takes a few minutes for the hot water to come on or to turn the pool pump off every night. All of these things will ensure a successful swap.
If anyone has successfully house swapped before, tell me about it in the comments section. I look forward to hearing from you!
Heads I Win, Tails I Win
Before I explain further, let me strongly emphasize something: this is NOT one of those trading systems that recklessly gambles on a 50/50 chance!
I’m not participating in the silly ‘losers game’. It doesn’t matter which way the price goes- up or down. As long as there’s significant volatility in the price, I make money.
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Keeping Money in Your Pocket,