I know I’ve written about this a few times now, but I’m still very much surprised by all the friends I’m making through house swapping and general sharing economy travel activities. This might be partly due to the incredible friendliness of people in Spain. But by the end of our recent trip we had more offers for tour guides and local advice than we could use. Friends and strangers offered to show us around, people sent us lists of things to do in their city, and I had phone numbers for multiple people in every city offering instant whatsapp (wifi based text messaging) assistance whenever we needed help.
While in Cádiz we had the benefit of two new friends (sisters) who we met when they were visiting San Francisco on a home exchange. During their visit I showed them around San Francisco. In return, they spent a day touring us around Cádiz, taking us to the best bars for local food and drink, showing us the sights, and explaining the history. One of our friends is a chef and she brought along another chef who was equally friendly and fun: free tour guides who like food as much as I do!
I’m going to call this a home town tour swap, and I think there’s a sub-market for this among the home exchange community. Maybe house swap sites should set up a service for this, where you can host people visiting your town for a day, and then they will host you when you visit their hometown some time in the future. No lodging exchange required.
We don’t really need this officially set up on house swap websites; I’ve found these experience by just being friendly to people who ask to exchange with me or who I meet through rideshares and other sharing economy services. For home swap offers, often if I can’t agree to a swap because I will be in town when they visit, I offer to show them around instead. I haven’t done this seeking reciprocity, but so far it’s been great fun and everyone I’ve met has offered to host me in their town if I ever visit. I think this might even influence future travel plans because it’s fun to know a local.