Home Exchange

Home Exchange with Points Part 3 – Answering the Critics

Check out the first 2 reports on Home Exchange with Points:

Part 1 – Why I Like Points

Part 2 – Choosing the Right System for You

Now that I’ve covered why I like points swapping, I want to address why a lot of folks who like home exchange don’t like the points-based home exchange concept. In this post I’ll address issues raised by these critics. I agree with some of their concerns but overall still think points swaps are a good addition to the home exchange options for travelers. If you are not familiar with home exchange you may want to start here: Why Home Exchange is a Good Vacation Lodging Option

padlock-closed1. I want the security of knowing I’m staying in the home of the person I’m swapping with

I agree that simultaneous swapping provides an added level of security, or at least it makes me feel better. I know where you live so I can find you if you mess up my house. However, for points-based swaps you can screen the person coming to your house just like you would with a traditional exchange. You can also decide to charge them for insurance if you want the financial recourse if they do something bad to your home.

From all my interviews with exchange sites and discussions with other swappers I have never heard a story of actual malicious damage or theft. The bad stories tend to be more about different standards of cleanliness,  or lack of amenities (i.e. no air conditioner in sweltering heat, not enough hot water). But all the bad stories I’ve heard so far come from simultaneous exchanges. My conclusion: if you join a reputable exchange website and screen your swappers in advance, you are at no greater risk doing a points swap than you are with other home exchanges.

mutual-exchange2. It’s not a real home exchange if you have to use points

In a way this is true. And for those who love traditional home exchange I say stick with that if it’s working for you. No reason to change what works. Home swapping with points is a new concept so I’m not surprised at the resistance. But points-based swapping does provide an extra option for finding a match for free vacation loding. And given the small number of people who participate in home exchange, I think this increase in my odds of success is valuable.

Confusing_street_signs3. It’s too confusing

Most people who do home exchanges find that confusing when they first start out. The beginners who I’ve swapped with have lots of questions for me about how it all works, even when we’re doing a simultaneous exchange. Any new thing requires some work to figure out. So to me this sounds like a cop out, and folks who say this should really just say they don’t like the idea. That’s ok. See point 2. For people who want to understand the different points swaps systems out there, you can start with part 2 of this series.

luxury4. This system only works with vacation homes

If you never travel without doing a simultaneous home exchange to your primary home then this is true. But if you are sometimes out of town, visiting friends or family, or just staying in other lodging because you couldn’t find an exchange, then your home can be made available to earn points.

In addition some sites (Cosmopolithom and Trampolinn) encourage hosting of travelers, so you can list your home when you are in town, and just earn points by hosting people who stay in your spare room.

4. It’s too hard to find a points swap match

In an ideal scenario everyone keeps a calendar of availability up to date so it’s easy to find places where you can spend your points. In my experience people with second homes are much better about this, and so it’s easier to find points swaps with these places. I believe that points swapping is on the rise, especially with LoveHomeSwap and Trampolinn putting a lot of marketing money into growing their web presence. And so I think this will get easier and easier.

In addition, I think it’s easier to keep a calendar up to date for points swapping than for traditional home exchange. With simultaneous home exchange you have to be flexible to find a match so picking specific dates is very limiting. But for points-based swapping you can say exactly when you’ll be out of town at a wedding and your home will be empty, so it’s easy to have accurate and up to date calendars. This really speeds up searching for a match and saves people from sending out tons of inquiries to places that aren’t available.

For those using vacation home swap sites (3rd Home, IVHE, HolidayHomeExchange), this argument is just untrue. Especially with 3rd Home and HolidayHomeExchange where owners can not change weeks of availability in their calendar once entered.

Conclusion: Keep an open mind and experiment with points-based home exchange if you want to increase your chances of finding free lodging, the flexibility of traveling without your entire family, or the option to stay in various places for short stays. Maybe it will work for you.