How would you like to live like a king in a sumptuous villa overlooking the palm-fringed beaches of the Caribbean for a few weeks? The perfect holiday right?
Or lie in a hammock outside your Spanish bungalow on the beach in the best surfing spot in southern Calfornia? Well, you can do this all – for free. There are literally thousands of people around the world clamouring to offer you the free holiday of a lifetime. It’s called house-swapping, and the price you have to pay is your own house for the duration of your holiday. Here are six steps for taking a free ride with the jet-set in some of the world’s most popular holiday destinations.
1. Save thousands of rands on your next holiday
Get wise to the value of swapping your home. House-swapping presents enormous value to most South Africans, who just cannot afford the prices of luxury accommodation abroad, because of the relatively weak rand. For example, to rent a four-bedroomed holiday villa in Jamaica will cost you between R15 000 and R25 000 a week. But you can swap your large home for a nine-bedroom, eight-bathroom house overlooking the Caribbean for nothing.
2. Start planning to get out of the Rut-Race now
Understand how house-swapping works. House-swapping is an international business in which homeowners worldwide exchange their houses, apartments, bungalows or flats with people who live in places they would like to visit rent-free. This trend was started in the fifties by a company called Homelink, which today ranks as the world’s largest marketplace for people swapping their homes. With more than 13 000 clients on its books in 50 countries (including South Africa), Homelink is geared to cover the full range of accommodation and holiday preferences of South Africans. You can also find other, smaller, companies which offer a similar service, with different exposure and services.
3. Join the world’s jet-setters on your next holiday
Apply to become a home-exchange member now. For South Africans the best option is International Home Exchange in Cape Town (www.homelinksouthafrica.com) which is affiliated to Homelink International. You can fill in an application form online, call them or write to them with a description of your home and a photograph. You can choose whether you want your home marketed via the web or in an International Home Exchange Holiday Directory which will give your house exposure in more than 50 countries worldwide.
4. Find the holiday house of your dreams
Make sure it meets your requirements perfectly. Once you’ve established where you want to go, spend a little time researching the type of house you need so you find one that’s just right for you.
5. Maximise your chances of getting offers from around the world
Market your home like a holiday package. Let’s face it, holidays are for relaxing and having fun. When you advertise your house through a house-swapping agency, compile a personal dossier describing it in detail. Where it is located, its distance from the sea, mountains or bush; its proximity to attractions such as game lodges or resorts, the number
of bedrooms, and the type of amenties, such as saunas, jacuzzis or swimming pool. And when you find a house you’re interested in, get to know the owners by email or phone before you finally commit yourself.
6. Save even more on your home-swap holiday
Find out if there are other tradable perks like cars. Hiring a car in the US for two weeks can cost you up to R6 000 with insurance. Get one for free by swapping yours for theirs. And if you’re worried about your car being damaged,
just modify your car insurance to cover this.