This year experts foresee a significant drop in the number of people taking vacations, especially tourists used to going to traditional destinations and staying in hotels. The great beneficiaries of this crisis for hotels, spas, cruise ships and leisure complexes will be the alternative and cheaper offers such as rural houses, campsites, hostels, hostels ...
An uncommon alternative in Spain, but no less interesting, is the exchange of houses between people or families who want to spend a vacation in another country but do without the cost of accommodation. It is a way to stay for free in an empty house, while the habitual occupants of that house stay in the home of their “guests”.
There are several web pages that promote home exchange. They usually charge an initial fee from which users can advertise their home and search for others.
HomeLink (www.homelink.org) is the world's leading home exchange agency, with over 13,000 properties to choose from. It charges a fee of 130.73 euros for advertising for a year in the listing on its website: once this amount has been paid, we can contact other owners directly and reach agreements.
What you can get depends of course on what is offered, but it is the location and not the size that counts. A one-bedroom flat in central London was recently exchanged for a four-bedroom beachfront mansion in Vancouver.
Popular destinations include the UK, France (with great abundance in Paris), Spain, Italy and Australia, but the agency currently has homes as far away as Japan, Oman and even Vietnam. There are some tantalizing locations: 124 in Tuscany, for example, including restored palazzo apartments in Florence and classic farmhouses in the deep countryside of Siena.
Home Base Holidays (www.homebase-hols.com) works the same; It is cheaper (about 33 euros for a year) and has 1,700 properties in its catalog.
For those who prefer the US, there is the California-based agency HomeExchange.com, which charges about 60 euros and has more than 20,000 properties, half of them in the US.