Review date: June 2018
Founded in 1953
$99/year, 20 day free trial
Started in Europe by some teachers
About 4,500 of these listings are in Europe. Note: Intervac does not make it easy to calculate total membership. I counted up the listings based on both the Intervac map numbers and some regional searches. Here is the break out by region:
- United States & Canada: 667
- Asia: 15
- Africa & Middle East: 55
- Latin America: 86
- Europe: 4490
- Australia & New Zealand: 72
I reached out to the Intervac team to confirm the membership counts but the back and forth didn’t produce any useful numbers. In the end this is what I was told: “If you want to know the exact number of ‘active’ listings, per country or per continent, well you have already yourself the answer, don’t you? What you see online is reflecting the real number of current active listings.” My response to this that search counts gave me variable results, and so I would appreciate numbers directly from Intervac went unanswered. If anyone from Intervac is reading this, I welcome your accurate counts of active listings, both overall and by continent, to update this review.
Searching: Searches start with geography, offering results either in a list or displayed on a map. I believe the map view search is broken as a search in France returns listings all over Europe, but the listings display only give me homes in France. There are lots of useful filters to narrow down your search, including number of people in the exchange family (so you can be sure they will fit in your home). This is one of the better lists of filters I’ve seen and overall I like the way Intervac now has their search set up. They also made it possible to see if you’ve already contacted someone in the search results.
Listings: The overview of the listings includes a picture and some key information in summary. And the listings detail page displays in a nice usable interface.
One thing I find odd on this page is the way dates are displayed. Under the picture of the house it will either say “not open for exchange” or it will list specific dates (i.e. “Feb 1, 2017 – May 1, 2017 (2 weeks)”). But when you click into a listing that is “not open for exchange” it just says the member hasn’t specified any dates. I would assume the lack of exchange dates just means the member didn’t specify, not that their home is unavailable for exchange. In fact, one I looked at had very specific requests and dates within their profile so they definitely were NOT “not open for exchange”. The ability to set dates is nice, but if you can only set one window of opportunity that seems pretty limiting. And if you’re required to set dates that is even more limiting. If someone is open to traveling all summer plus a few months in the winter there is no way for them to indicate this on the Intervac listings.
This site offers the following variations on house swapping:
- simultaneous or non-simultaneous house swap – this is the traditional model where two parties swap houses for an agreed upon set of dates. Non-simultaneous works best with second homes, but is also useful for people going on vacation and leaving their home empty. In this case each party picks different dates for the swap.
- vacation rental – the usual rental system applies here, and owners collect payment via this site.
- hospitality exchange – this allows people with extra space in their house to host visitors in exchange for being hosted themselves at some other date. Intervac offers a “Bed and Breakfast” variation on this which allows members to host others without fee and without reciprocity.
Additional features: Intervac has an internal messaging system for contact between members. They also offer a nicely formatted exchange contract to help members work out the details of the swap. Intervac has a solid reputation among experienced swappers, but they don’t seem to be working to expand membership and by my count they are slowly shrinking in size. When I was a member a few years ago I found the messaging system a bit dated and hard to use, and I don’t see any information suggesting this has been updated, though without a membership I can’t confirm this on the site.
If you’re trying to figure out which one to join, check out my reviews of all the major home exchange networks.