Review date: May 2017
Founded in 1953
$99/year, 20 day free trial
Started in Europe by some teachers
About 5,000 of these listings are in Europe, with a big concentration in France. Note: Intervac does not make it easy to calculate total membership. I counted up the listings by searching on all possible geographic regions, but might have missed a few smaller locations and it’s possible the searches in Europe aren’t actually returning me all listings. If my count is correct, total listings on Intervac have dropped by about 12% in the past two years. Here is the break out by region:
- United States & Canada: 665
- Asia: 11
- Africa & Middle East: 55
- Latin America: 86
- Europe: 4737
- Australia & New Zealand: 71
Searching: Searches start with geography, offering results either in a list or displayed on a map. 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. Significant improvements were made over the past 2 years.
Listings: The overview of the listings includes a picture and some key information in summary. One thing I find odd on this page is the way dates are displayed. Under the picture of the house it will either say “no exchange dates available” or it will list specific dates (i.e. “Feb 1, 2017 – May 1, 2017 (2 weeks)”). I assume the lack of exchange dates just means the member didn’t specify, not that their home is unavailable for exchange. The ability to set dates is nice, but if you can only set one window of opportunity that seems pretty limiting. The listings detail page displays in a nice usable interface.
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.
- youth exchange – you send your child to stay with another family and in return you host their child
Additional features: Intervac has an internal messaging system for contact between members. Members are generally very responsive. Intervac has a solid reputation among experienced swappers, but they don’t seem to be aggressively working to expand membership and they may end up victim to the many new sites in the market. 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.