Peer-to-peer platform Love Home Swap has revealed a huge increase in demand for home swapping in recent months, indicating a growing trend among leisure travellers. Jenny Southan reports
Founded in the UK in 2011, Love Home Swap was inspired by the movie The Holiday, where two girls from two different countries swap homes for Christmas to get away from their relationship issues. Funnily enough, Lizzie Frainier, a journalist for The Telegraph recently “recreated” the storyline by swapping her London home for one in New York.
Frainier was inspired to conduct the experiment after dating app Thursday, which has users in London and New York, and recently partnered with HomeExchange.
She wrote: “I am used to staying in the anonymity of hotels when I travel, and walking directly into someone else’s life felt very strange, with an uncanny intimacy about it. By the books on Camille’s shelves, and the coats in her closet, I felt like I suddenly knew even more about my new friend. Her copy of my favourite anthology of Rupi Kaur’s poetry, and a similar Diptyque candle to one of my own caused me to smile at the serendipity of it all.”
It seems that Lizzie isn’t the only one interested in home swapping. Over the last three months, Love Home Swap has seen a 45 per cent increase in new UK members, compared to the same period in 2020. What’s more, the number of UK members who took a free trial with Love Home Swap between October and December 2021 increased by a fifth (21 per cent).
More recent data reveals that the first ten days of 2022 have already seen UK travellers trialling the service up by 130 per cent and trips agreed by UK members are up more than 140 per cent, compared to the start of 2021.
From city pads to chateaus, Love Home Swap features thousands of homes in 100 countries worldwide. Members can choose from a Classic Swap, where they swap houses with someone else (either at the same time or on different dates), or a Points Swap, allowing them to travel without having to match their plans with another member.
So, why has home swapping seen such a big surge in interest? According to Love Home Swap, it’s a simple way to save a lot of money. The company says: “It really is a cost-effective way to explore the world for both staycations and long-haul travel.
“With the average member saving £1,065 on a seven-night stay by choosing to home swap rather than stay in a hotel or holiday rental, 36 per cent of Love Home Swap members can afford to travel four times a year (or more).
“Before committing to one of their membership packages, prospective home swappers can sign up for a free two-week trial which gives them full access to the site where they can reach out to other homeowners to start making holiday plans. Once the trial is complete, they can then take up one of three types of annual membership (starting at £8 a month and billed annually).”
Home swappers also get more space. Love Home Swap says “members enjoy all the benefits that come with staying in a real home”. From extra living space through to large gardens and private swimming pools, they get more for their money. This makes home swapping a particularly good option for groups and families.
The company also points out that home swapping gives people inside knowledge of a particular destination that they wouldn’t get from guidebooks. Most home swap hosts share advice on local restaurants, activities and what to avoid.
Managing director of Love Home Swap, Célia Pronto, says: “Love Home Swap allows people to explore the world through the power of sharing. It’s not just homes that are swapped at Love Home Swap, it’s frequently a bit of a life swap too – members may offer the use of their cars, they look after each other’s pets, and some even swap gym memberships.
“Home swapping is the most incredible and cost-effective way for people to travel, and our statistics show that there’s an increased appetite for this desirable way of exploring the world. We predict that it will become a more mainstream way of holidaying in the year ahead, and we’re very excited to help our members enjoy unparalleled travel opportunities.”