Home Exchange

How do I plan a home exchange with Covid uncertainty?

home exchange covid

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.


    • Not many other home swap networks use points. Of those that do, I don’t know of any refunding due to covid cancellations.

  • Hi Dawn
    Very interesting blog about the difficulty in travelling at this time of Covid.

    We have had our flights to Florida cancelled 6 times now from the UK.

    And it’s been almost two years now since we’ve been over to Florida to check our home over there.

    Our home exchange site ( https://www.homesweethomeexchange.com/ ) is still showing interest and people are talking to each other in and around Europe for exchanges. Also we have now grown to 637 members with 342 homes listed. So we’re getting near our ‘Free Lifetime Membership: first 1000 Members’ goal.

    We hope the world gets back to normal very soon and everyone enjoys travelling again without the Covid restrictions.
    Stay safe everyone and happy travelling 🙂

  • Hi Dawn

    Inevitably it varies by country depending on the covid status. I run HomeLink UK (https://homelink.org) and we’ve been concentrating on UK exchanges this year as a result of covid.

    We’ve seen a big increase in new memberships this year compared to last and an unusually high renewal rate. People still want to go on holiday even if they can’t go overseas and UK members have fully embraced the staycation; instead of just doing one overseas exchange a year, a large number of members have organised 3, 4 or more UK exchanges. With no hefty accommodation deposits and the flexibility to postpone or cancel if the covid situation worsens, it’s an ideal solution.

    Plus, the UK press have shown a renewed interest in home exchanging with articles in most national papers in both the finance and travel sections. There’s huge pent up demand for overseas exchanges and members are already exploring options for next year, so hopefully things will continue to improve!


  • We are still carrying on home exchanging, using homeexchange.com, who can work with Guest Points, and it works like this:
    Spanish people can stay at my place in Spain, and give me guest points, which I can accumulate to spend on exchange properties here in New Zealand (or anywhere else in the world) with no time limit to use them up.
    If my guests can’t go due to Covid19, they get back their Guest Points (exchange credits) and I get to keep them also. In this way homeexchange.com members have carried on exchanging with certainty that there is no loss if one partner can’t go.
    Great system, and we would not use any other homeexchange company for this reason alone- we have used Guest Points credits for quite a few properties in NZ over the last two years although not able to leave the country, and several times our guests at our holiday home who have given us guest points have not been able to travel and neither they nor we have had any problems getting our points re-credited.
    Wonderful system for Covid times!
    Richard Amery

  • Hi Dawn,

    As the owner of a home exchange network (www.peoplelikeus.world), I can confirm that what you’re experiencing is not unique.

    We saw a huge surge in memberships and exchange activity over the northern Summer as cases reduced and people regained confidence. While we don’t see a downturn in member chatter since then, the number of exchanges being offered and agreed has reduced in line with the number of cases increasing.

    Just like you, our other members are uncertain about the near-term future and wanting to play it safe. It’s exactly what you and they should be doing. Exchange if it’s safe for you to do so, definitely do not if it isn’t. There’ll be lots of time in future for us to get back to exchanging when we get through this, which we will. ?