I’m struggling to plan any home exchanges this year. With vaccination I’m willing to do some limited travel, mostly by car. But there is still a lot of uncertainty. I don’t want to commit to hosting someone and then have to cancel because I need to stay home.
I had a trip booked to Europe for September that I cancelled this week. The upsurge in Covid cases makes it untenable. Over the past few months I had several home swappers ask if they could stay in my home during dates I planned to be away. But I turned them down because I wasn’t confident the trip would happen. Good thing. Now I have alternate, closer to home, travel plans for part of September. But I still feel uncertainty due to Covid. There are some parts of my plans that might not work out.
This uncertainty also makes me hesitant to agree to a reciprocal exchange that’s more than a few hours drive from my home. As case rates rise I’m less likely to be comfortable with air travel. And again, I don’t want to end up in a situation where I have to cancel an exchange.
This is one of the down sides of home swapping compared to hotel stays. I’m happy to book a hotel, and just cancel up to 24 hours before arrival with no consequences. That option is baked into hotel bookings. In fact I generally avoid any hotel that doesn’t have generous cancellation options. Same with rental sites like Airbnb and VRBO. But you can’t do this with swap partners. That’s messing with other people’s plans.
For now, when I get these requests I suggest folks looking to stay in my home (non-reciprocal swap) get back in touch with me closer to the dates of travel. If they don’t find something else. I explain why I’m hesitating to commit. But I also assure them that if my trip is not cancelled I’m happy to host them. So far no one has come back to say they didn’t find an alternative.
Based on the home swap network chatter I’m hearing, I think there’s been an increase in home exchanges since vaccines became widely available in wealthy countries. I wonder if I’m in the minority still hesitating to travel. Pandemic fatigue is real. I *want* to travel the world again! But I also don’t want to be a vector spreading Covid to the un-vaccinated and immune-compromised. In the case of my Europe trip, it involved visiting a cousin with two young kids. I’m not sure I would be comfortable traveling around Europe right now even if I wasn’t putting my cousins at risk. But everyone has different risk tolerance. I hope to have more home exchange stories to report next year.