This is how you travel the world for free this summer – if you’re a homeowner

As a trans-Atlantic couple, university teacher David Reilly, 41, and his wife Alicia, 38, a swimming teacher, were used to traveling back and forth to Alicia’s native California to visit family and friends. But as their family grew — they have kids Dylan (11), Samantha, eight, and Jude, four — it became harder to stay with family, and they quickly realized they had to find another way to keep their vacation affordable. .

“Before we had kids, it was easy,” David says. “We went two or three times a year and we always had a place to stay because there were just the two of us.”

With a larger family, there just wasn’t enough room for everyone, and hotels were too expensive and uncomfortable with small children in tow. “Travel eventually became a prison sentence,” says David, who later discovered an inventive way to travel.

“We watched The Holiday starring Cameron Diaz, whose character in the movie switches homes, and I started Googling what kind of places were available in real life.”

The Reilly’s later listed their three-bedroom Basingstoke home on Love Home Swap, choosing the site for its free trial and the fact that you can view the homes before signing up.

Launched in 2011, Love Home Swap is a members-only platform founded by Debbie Wosskow, who also drew inspiration for her business from watching The Holiday (she saw the film on a flight home from the Caribbean after a bad hotel stay). ). On the site, members list a home to swap, while choosing one of three pricing plans.

“We were pleasantly surprised with the offer,” says David. “In San Diego, where we go often, there are very good options with pools, beach houses, huge kitchens.”

Another reason Love Home Swap appealed was the point redemption option, where instead of swapping like-for-like, you can earn points when another member uses your home and you’re not staying with them. , and then use them to travel at a lower cost. Later date.

Alicia initially had her doubts about opening up her house to strangers – and spending time in theirs. “My first question was: is it safe? What if someone is in our house and they break something or they steal our TV? Or what if we break something in someone’s house?”

Love Home Swap’s insurance convinced her to take the plunge. She also found that pre-video calls with guests or hosts help build relationships and trust.

“Having someone else in your home makes you feel a little vulnerable for the first time, but now we know the benefits far outweigh the costs,” adds David.

He and Alicia made the most of their American adventures, admiring supercars, seals and sunsets in the coastal art marketplace of La Jolla, treating the kids to days out at Disneyland, and enjoying the mountain scenery in Lake Tahoe. For their next adventure, they hope to visit Hawaii for Alicia’s 40th birthday, and they’ve also planned a trip to Yosemite.

“There are squeezes in those houses,” Alicia says. “When you sit by a pool with your morning coffee while the kids play and you have this beautiful view of the mountains, you think… this cost us next to nothing.” A hotel stay in the high season would cost considerably more.

“But we would have been priced 100 percent out of the houses we’ve stayed in if it weren’t for Love Home Swap,” Alicia says. Renting out their house is key.

Would you rent out your home to a stranger if that would allow you to go on holiday more? Comment below to join the conversation

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