How a home exchange holiday could save you thousands – Irish Examiner | Gmx Pharm

Maybe it’s time to fluff the pillows? We’re all trying to save on our vacation bills these days as prices go up: hotel and accommodation prices, air fares, rental cars and more. But for thousands of Irish holidaymakers, the solution to beating the budget for a short break could be quite close to home, literally.

Home swapping is becoming increasingly popular for travelers – this week I reached out to Sharon Holland, an East Cork homeowner, renovator and home swapper for over a decade, who has been using social media lately for expert insight to inspire more people to do it View home exchange concept.

In the first step, create a listing.

“We began investigating home swaps 14 years ago after we got married,” she begins.

“We really were a typical story: newlyweds with new mortgages during a recession and little disposable income for the holidays. A colleague mentioned home exchange as a vacation option, so I started researching the idea. My husband Jer and I both taught at the time [Sharon is Deputy Principal of St. Aloysius’ College in Carrigtwohill] and had great flexibility, especially in the summer months. We both enjoyed trips that were a bit off the beaten path and Jer was equally open to the idea of ​​sharing. So we signed up with a home exchange website and in the summer of 2009, when our daughter Miah was 6 months old, we completed our first two-week home exchange in the beautiful Auteuil neighborhood of Paris.”

There are a number of website options for potential home swappers. Sharon prefers for its ease of use, security and range of offers. The mechanics are simple, a process somewhere between Airbnb and Daft.

“Explore web-based options and choose the one that best suits your needs,” advises Sharon.

“Then list your home with some photos, a description of your home’s amenities, and some details about your family and the area.

“You can also list the regions or countries you would like to trade to, as well as the seasons or date ranges when your home would be available for a trade.

“Then you either wait for other members to express their interest or find your own dream holiday and finally, when dates and all the other details are arranged, you can confirm the exchange and start booking your flight!”

A home swap in Los Angeles.

What is the problem?

Home exchanges can vary from reciprocal arrangements, where both parties swap homes at the same or very similar times, to non-reciprocal arrangements, where stays are arranged at different times.

“[Non-reciprocal] Guests can come to you at Christmas and you go to them at Easter,” says Sharon. “Then there’s also what calls a guest point exchange option. You may host people in your home or similar accommodations on days when you are absent. You can collect guest points for each night’s stay, which can then be used to stay with other people. This is mostly true of an entire home, but some people also like to host or be placed in a guest room [owners are still] At home.”

Sharon herself lives in an enviable Georgian farmhouse, her restoration of the property has garnered her 10,000 followers on Instagram.

However, she’s quick to point out that you don’t need a period stack in the country to pique the interest of potential guests.

Sharon's house in East Cork,
Sharon’s house in East Cork,

Every house has a plus

“The system doesn’t value your property, so you can contact anyone on the site,” she explains. “We have completed the exchange to one bedroom apartments which have a city center location whilst our home is a four bedroom detached home. It’s really all about the location and where you want to be based. Homes vary in size, style and standard but we have been fortunate to exchange both our current and previous homes for some great locations and beautiful properties. Many Irish people also forget how small and accessible Ireland is to travelers compared to many parts of the world. Some of our visitors think nothing of staying at our East Cork home for a few weeks and visiting Kerry, Limerick, Galway, Dublin, Belfast and Cork in one trip. Every home and every place has its own pros and cons,” she adds.

peace of mind

Many people might be a little apprehensive about welcoming a bunch of strangers into their home, but it’s good to remember that the path goes both ways.

“Security is always a big topic when people talk to me about home swapping,” she explains. “The key is to remember it’s a leap of faith. I’m a bit worried and remember before our first exchange I was worried about what might happen if something goes wrong. To date, nothing worrisome has ever gone wrong. Of course, a few cups or glasses broke, but that usually happens regularly in our house. We don’t have much of real value in our home, but we lock up some possessions in a small room or in the attic, and many other families do the same. We are also fortunate that my in-laws live nearby so they are available to our visitors for any questions while we are away. This is also a relief for us as we know they are around. Most home swappers would have a neighbor, family member, or friend available for this type of support. We also maintain a thread of communication on WhatsApp with our exchange family and have generally ‘met’ them briefly on a video call before the exchange is confirmed or certainly before it takes place.”

The family on a home adventure in Co Antrim.
The family on a home adventure in Co Antrim.

Insider Tips

For first-time visitors, Sharon suggests starting with a “home away from home,” a residency swap.

“Take the leap,” she says, “and you won’t regret it! A home exchange is the best way to travel in my opinion and has given us the opportunity to visit fascinating destinations at a fraction of the cost of a package holiday. We wouldn’t give up on home swapping now even if we won the lottery! There is nothing better than having a second home and making friends in different parts of the world. It was also great for our three children to experience the world as locals. I would suggest starting with an exchange within Ireland, which feels easier and safer in many ways. We have done as many exchanges within Ireland as we have abroad at this point and met great people along the way!”

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