Talk to Alan for long enough, and he'll certainly bring up how he vacations for free. It's his secret to traveling the world that he doesn't want to stay secret!

Alan's strategy to vacation for free is to travel with HomeExchange. His Santa Barbara-based family has been home swapping for 15 years and done dozens of exchanges. He loves this way of traveling so much, he made a YouTube video detailing his experience and tips for successfully home exchanging.

By home exchanging to destinations within driving distance, or car swapping in far-flung locales, Alan's family has been able to save thousands of dollars on their vacation budget.

While HomeExchange isn't completely free (there is a $220 annual membership fee), Alan explains in his video, "It's pretty dirt cheap. We make that money back the first night, the rest of the year is free."

Travel with HomeExchange

Alan's favorite vacation so far was their family trip to Copenhagen, where he and his wife Rachael and their three sons spent a week in a HomeExchange loft in the heart of the city. "We rode bikes every single day," he recalls. "We happened to hit a heat wave in the city, and it was like paradise."

But some of the best vacations are the ones within driving distance, Alan said. "It's truly a 'free vacation' if you don't have to buy a flight and you're swapping homes," he said. "Your living expenses are pretty much the same as they were before."

HomeExchange's flexible style of travel lends itself to Alan's lifestyle. He works remotely a lot, and sometimes opts for a "work vacation," working from a new place.

Alan wasn't always a HomeExchange fanatic, however. When he signed up 15 years ago, he had his concerns about the concept, namely "having strangers in your home that you haven't met," he shared. But after thinking through it and getting comfortable with the HomeExchange platform, Alan was willing to give it a try— and he's never looked back.

HomeExchange is the world's oldest largest global home swapping community, and Alan was reassured by what an established community it is. "If you look at the history— how long this has been going on, how many amazing experiences people have had— it's quite comforting to know," he said. "It's not like you're jumping in to some sort of new experiment."

'How I vacation for free': Family of 5 shares secret to traveling the world on a budget
Alan's family in Iceland

The family of five typically does two exchanges each year, bringing along their three sons, who couldn't love home exchanging more. "Our kids get totally amped, they can't wait to get where we're going and check out the house," Alan said. "It's usually hard for them to fall asleep the first night, they get so giddy about it."

Exchanging with families who also have kids means plenty of child-friendly amenities for Alan's sons to enjoy.

"Our kids get there and the house is already equipped for kids," Alan said. "There's often a play structure outside, a pool, a playroom— it can't even compare to a hotel. Plus there's a kitchen where we can cook and a BBQ... if you're visiting family, you can host and enjoy a meal together in the home."

'How I vacation for free': Family of 5 shares secret to traveling the world on a budget
Alan and his wife in the Netherlands

Having authentic travel experiences, living like a local in any destination, all without breaking the bank, make HomeExchange the best way to travel for Alan. "It's an amazing way to travel, especially for unique experiences beyond a hotel."

The HomeExchange community has more than 450,000 homes in 187 countries and is looking forward to welcoming you. Sign up for free and start organizing your next vacation with HomeExchange.

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