Saving more than $62,000 on travel has enabled Susie’s family to travel multiple times a year, making her children “global citizens”— and it’s all been possible by home exchanging.
Traveling the world (with kids) on a budget
Since 2015, Susie's family has completed 43 exchanges, traveling from their home in Australia to Bali, Singapore, Los Angeles, New York, Tokyo, Malaysia, and more. Her sons, now 10 and 12, have been able to see many parts of the world and it’s been instrumental to their education, Susie said.
She feels home exchanging is ideal for families with kids, since everyone gets their own space, they have access to laundry, a full kitchen, and save money by shopping at markets and preparing meals at home.
“They have their own rooms with heaps of toys, books, a kid-friendly garden— it’s amazing for kids,” Susie said. “They realized early on we treat other kids’ rooms like they want their room treated, and they’re so happy to go on awesome holidays that they’re more than happy to share their rooms.”
At first, Susie said she was concerned that no one would be interested in coming to her home. “[Our home] doesn’t seem very exciting to us,” she said. But within the first month on the site, they’d already organized an exchange. “It just went on from there,” Susie said. “Now every holiday, we have to organize a HomeExchange.”
One of the highlights of their travels was spending 10 days in Tokyo, “which is absurd,” Susie said. “Nobody spends 10 days in Tokyo because you can’t afford it!” After years of wanting to travel to Tokyo, HomeExchange made it possible.
“It’s really nice because we can have more holidays,” Susie said. “Our kids passports are nearly full and we can do two international holidays a year. There’s no way we could afford it otherwise.”
Car swapping for budget travelers
Car swapping is another way their family has saved thousands of dollars over the last few years. Especially in Singapore, they loved using it to get groceries and make short trips.
Car swapping is a wonderful way to get even more out of your next home exchange. Car rentals when traveling can be costly and complicated, and having a car waiting for you at your home swap is delightfully simple.
“We always offer our car and we’ve never had any problems,” Susie said. This saves they around $100 a day since they don’t have to pay for a car rental.
The best way to travel on a budget
In five years of traveling with HomeExchange and 179 nights of vacation, Susie estimates they've saved more than $54,000 on accommodations and $8,000 on car rentals, for a grand total of more than $62,000 in travel savings. That doesn't include the money they've saved on pet sitters and not having to eat out for every meal!
The story Susie tells all her friends to convince them to join HomeExchange is about a vacation they enjoyed a few years ago in Canberra. It was a nine hour drive from home, and they stayed in a beautiful five bedroom house with Susie’s mom.
During their nine day trip, their total cost was $400- including gas, sightseeing, food, and accommodations.
Exchanging during the pandemic has been difficult, but HomeExchange’s flexible policies and COVID-19 guarantees mean you can plan vacations without losing anything if you need to cancel at the last minute, Susie explained. “You can literally cancel the morning of and lose absolutely nothing,” she said.
Added benefits of home exchanging
It’s not just the cost that makes HomeExchange the best way to travel for Susie’s family. They had cups of tea with neighbors, looked after people’s dogs, chickens, and cats, and taken their own dog and budgie on exchanges. The lower environmental impact is a big benefit too.
“It’s lovely to have a house we can sit and chill in and be by the pool and now think we’re wasting money,” Susie said. With typical accommodations, they felt pressured to jam everything in because their stays would be shorter.
“The local knowledge you receive from families that host is invaluable,” Susie added. From providing public transportation cards to giving ideas on outings and local businesses to visit, having expertise on their vacation location has been invaluable.
Hosting home exchanges for traveling families
In exchange for staying in homes around the world, Susie’s family has opened their own home and hosted dozens of times— but “we’ve never had a bad experience,” she said. “We’ve had nothing but people treat our home with enormous respect, and it’s usually cleaner than when we left."
One of the most common concerns raised when Susie tells her friends about HomeExchange is hosting “strangers” in one’s home.
“HomeExchanges are not like Airbnb where you can just book and go,” Susie tells them. “It’s a longer process, you start planning further ahead to find the right home.”
By the time an exchange takes place, “you’re not exchanging with a stranger, you’re exchanging with someone you’ve communicated with for months,” Susie said. “They feel like friends by then.”
Some people are also concerned about their belongings being damaged, but “life happens in all houses,” Susie said. “I would hope someone we hosted didn’t worry about that kind of thing.” Susie’s philosophy is that with the money she saves using HomeExchange, replacing a DVD or buying a bottle of spot cleaner “is not something that should be worried about.”
HomeExchange truly makes affordable, sustainable travel accessible to everyone. 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.