Travel has changed in big ways this year, and will continue to change and adapt for the foreseeable future. But HomeExchangers are still planning vacations for the remainder of the year, exploring local destinations while exercising caution. Some are even working remotely from new parts of the country for a change of scenery!
With HomeExchange's COVID-19 guarantees, you can continue to make travel plans with peace of mind, knowing we've got you covered in case of a pandemic-related cancellation. Thousands of homes are becoming available for exchange every day as members begin to feel safe to travel again. Need some help finding a home exchange? Many members find exchange partners on our Facebook groups. We have a group for non-members and ones for members in English, Spanish, and French. These groups are a fantastic resource to find travelers who match your needs!
Meet seven HomeExchangers who have successfully planned vacations for the remainder of the year. They share their experiences and tips for staying safe while traveling during a global pandemic.
Meet DeeDee: When traveling, 'home exchanging is as safe as you can get'
DeeDee has been home exchanging with her family for two years, and COVID-19 isn't stopping her— although she'll be taking extra precautions during her two exchanges in October. "Home exchanging is as safe as you can get," she said.
DeeDee lives in the Virginia mountains and prefers to stay in home exchanges near the beach for a change of scenery. This fall, she will travel to St. Michaels, Maryland and Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. She picked destinations that she could drive to within a day and plans to be socially distanced the whole time, only going to the grocery store for essentials. DeeDee and her husband will stay in home exchanges on the water and bring their bikes, so they can enjoy time in nature and away from crowds.
"This is a great opportunity to explore places around you that you wouldn’t typically," she said. "Take the time to look in your day’s drive area to places that you would not typically be going. It’s been fun to see what’s close by."
Meet Kathleen: Traveling to homes in rural areas surrounded by nature
This fall, Kathleen and her husband will be traveling from their home in Maine to a home exchange in Prospect Harbor, Maine. "We've been extremely cautious," said Kathleen. "In fact, we’ve declined most exchange requests that we’ve gotten, in part because we are socially distancing. We’re going to a very rural part of Maine, where it’s easy to socially distance."
After home exchanging across the United States and Europe for 10 years, Kathleen said she "honestly and truly has never had a bad experience...it has been the best way to travel."
Kathleen is looking forward to taking a road trip through the National Parks this fall on her way to her North Carolina home exchange. While she has been "pretty picky" about where she vacations since COVID-19, she has had success staying in rural homes with easy access to natural beauty and the great outdoors.
"We probably won’t see another soul while we’re there," Kathleen said of their upcoming trip to Maine. "For us, we’ve been a little cabin bound and HomeExchange has really given us a way to connect with other people that have homes where it’s easy to socially distance."
Meet Martha: 'Our family has its own space' when staying in home swaps
Martha, a home exchanger in New York, has one exchange planned for the fall and is also looking for exchanges around the holidays with her husband and son. The family has done more than 30 exchanges together, and Martha's son's college admissions essay was even about traveling the world via HomeExchange!
During COVID-19, "I trust travel with HomeExchange because that way I deal with individuals, rather than corporations," Martha said. "By the time we arrive at a home exchange destination, I will have corresponded with the host family several times, and gotten to know them a bit."
Home exchanging has been the best way to travel during pandemic conditions for Martha's family, even though they can't travel to other countries. They've found a lot to explore within the United States. "Our family has its own space, and don’t need to worry about others taking proper precautions," Martha said.
Meet Tracey: Home swapping in local, beachfront destinations
Tracey has enjoyed a handful of local home exchanges in her home country of Australia over the past several months. She looks for beachfront locations, so she has views of wildlife and nature and can spend time outdoors.
"We pick properties that are well cleaned and we wash our hands often," while traveling during the global pandemic, Tracey said. She also looks for exchanges that aren't in COVID-19 hotspots and where she can spend most of the vacation exploring in nature. "We keep applying for exchanges in areas that our government allows travel and semi-local trips," she said.
HomeExchange has compiled household cleaning tips from official sources to help you prepare your home for an exchange safely and has also partnered with GoCleanCo to give further recommendations on cleaning your home effectively to make sure your exchange is safe.
Meet Trenke: Cautiously traveling with her kids
"Some people feel you shouldn’t travel in these COVID days, but I don’t see why not, if you travel to places where the threat is the same as in your own country and where there are no restrictions," shared Trenke, a HomeExchanger from the Netherlands. Trenke plans to visit Wageningen, Netherlands, in October and is going to Germany with her family in December.
"When we go on our holiday, we drive in our own car," she said. "We won’t be infecting anyone that way. And when we are there, our main activities are walking in nature. We don’t go out for dinner and hardly visit places where it’s crowded."
To encourage local travel, HomeExchange created an interactive world map with travelers' recommendations of food and drinks, nature, and lesser-known regions. If you're traveling locally like Trenke's family, explore this map and discover local, non-touristy things to do anywhere in the world.
Trenke, her husband, and her three teenagers are looking forward to hiking and exploring, while adhering to government safety recommendations. "Don’t feel afraid to travel in your own country or countries where the threat is the same as in your own country," she said.
Meet Ligia: 'I trust travel with HomeExchange' during global pandemic
Ligia has done 21 home exchanges, welcoming travelers to her condo in Mexico. This fall, Ligia has exchanges planned in Flagstaff, Arizona and Los Cabos, Mexico in a luxury penthouse. She won't be venturing too far from home, but is excited to continue traveling while saving money and feeling safe.
"I trust travel with HomeExchange because gives me the freedom to choose any place in the world and feel safe," she said. "They are very professional platform and they have a history of trust and confidence for many years."
Meet Daniela: It's been 'amazing to travel with not many people around' during COVID-19
After spending months in lockdown, Daniela just had to get out of the house. "I really could not face NOT to travel at all this year," said the Edinburgh, Scotland home exchanger.
Daniela stayed in England in July and will be traveling in Greece during the next several months. There, she plans to relax, take lots of pictures, and get her travel blog up and running.
"I trust HomeExchange because it is no different than any other accommodation, in my opinion," Daniela said. "The houses are as clean and as safe as any hotel could be... So far, everything has gone well and it is actually amazing to travel with not many people around and enjoy our visits so much."