This week we discuss how you could use your own property to mitigate your holiday costs.
We’ve just returned from a week’s holiday in Majorca; a glorious week of sunshine & relaxation in Port de Pollensa. It’s our first holiday in three years – we don’t get away much what with the business, the dog & the chickens but a kindly friend offered to house sit so we jumped at the chance. After three years of not paying for holidays, the cost of a short break rather surprised us. Prices have increased – a lot. And it started us thinking. Is it time to consider a different kind of holiday?
So we looked into Property exchange, the swapping of homes on a temporary basis with like-minded people either in the UK or a multitude of overseas destinations. It’s a great way to make your property work for you with no hotel bills involved and it’s cheaper than a conventional holiday with the added benefit of being able to shop and eat at home as usual. Holidaying this way allows more opportunity to get to know the area and interact with local people, invariably avoiding the tourist areas. You could even agree to swap cars making it easier to travel around your chosen destination. Some swappers arrange mutually convenient plant & pet care which, together with the knowledge that your own home is occupied whilst you are away, can give a greater feeling of security than a normal holiday.
With a Holiday Property Swap, no money actually changes hands between the swappers. There is usually an annual membership fee or subscription service to a specialist home swap agency. Homelink charges £115 for a year’s membership and internet subscription site Guardian Home Exchange charges £35 to list your home for a year. Then it is a simple matter of filling out an online form with details & photographs of your property, stating your exchange offer, and waiting for an interested party to make contact.
It is important to be realistic when listing your home and to be as truthful and accurate as possible. Mention pets if you have them. Your listing should include the location of your home, the property specifications and photographs or videos. You should also detail your preferred destination and favoured dates of travel. Don’t forget to let your home insurer know what you are doing so there is continued cover while you are away.
When the time comes for you to vacate your property, leave it clean and tidy creating enough space for your swappers to be able to unpack and store their personal belongings. Make sure that you leave sufficient linen and towels for all the occupiers. It is useful to compile a guide to the local area including operating details for the washing machine, cooker etc. and give information about rubbish collections, doctors, dentists and babysitters. Recommendations for good restaurants, transport routes and local tourist attractions will always be appreciated.
Your swappers may well be tired and hungry on their first night at your property so it is helpful to leave enough provisions to allow them to make a meal at home if they don’t feel like going in search of the shops on arrival.
There is a huge diversity of places and properties available for swap. The Guardian Home Exchange latest listing shows properties available in Tuscany, Provence, Finland and Rio de Janeiro, most eager for UK swaps. On the same short page are further listings for properties in Northumberland, Brighton, Australia and New York – the variety is endless!
So before you decide on a package holiday this year and corner your trembling credit card in its wallet, think about the alternatives. Is there another way to holiday? Might it even open up new possibilities for a holiday like no other before?
By Jacqui Beard