Ditch Your Hotel, Part 2:

Rentals & Swaps

This is the second post in my four-part series on alternatives to hotels. Part one touched on small inns, and rooms in private homes. In this post I’ll discuss vacation rentals and home swapping.

Vacation rentals

Vacation rentals, including apartments, villas, cabins, and other private accommodations are a great option if you plan to spend more than a couple nights in a single destination. There are many international and local online networks of rental properties. Usually (but not always), they require a minimum stay. Rentals have many benefits. Privacy for one. They are often less expensive than hotels of comparable quality when you are traveling with a family or a larger group. You can also save money by cooking your own meals rather than eating out, not to mention the luxury of washing clothes in your own laundry machine.

The downsides of rentals are the lack of regular cleaning service and other amenities, along with the increased financial risk of dealing with an unknown private party. The later can be reduced by choosing a well reviewed property and/or dealing with a professional rental management company.

Home swapping

While I haven’t done this myself, many people swear by this option. Stay in someone’s home while they stay in yours. This is usually set up via an online network such as HomeExchange or Intervac. To become a member of a home exchange network, you’ll typically pay an annual fee that costs about as much as a night in a hotel room.

Are you cringing at the thought of a stranger sleeping in your bed. It’ not for everyone but the “savings” can be huge, even if in fact you are just paying for your stay in a different way, by bartering time in your own home.

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