Being a HomeExchange.com member is valuable in many ways. Of course there are the obvious benefits of saving money on travel and having a larger living space, a kitchen, a washing machine…everything you’d expect in a home! But swapping homes is also a learning experience, and the unique lessons it teaches shouldn’t be overlooked.
In this day and age, it’s easy to become jaded about the other humans with whom we share the planet. However, home exchangers tend to have a different outlook. Because we stay in each other’s homes, there is a mutual trust that occurs. I trust that you will take care of my home, because I know that I will take care of yours. Sure, exchanging can be a leap of faith, but you learn to put that faith into your exchange partner.
We hear stories all the time about how children are reluctant at first to have another kid stay in their room, but quickly learn that sharing with a new friend is an amazing opportunity (different toys and games certainly sweeten the deal!) Home exchanging is also a great way to teach a child about being respectful of someone else’s property.
The experiences you’ll have when staying at a hotel vs. swapping homes are inherently different. While more traditional accommodations tend to send you down a more touristy path, home exchanging comes along with the added bonus of your own personal, local tour guide. Home exchangers are always thrilled to share their recommendations and local secrets – most of which you would never have learned from a guide book.
Exchanging homes means living like a local. And when you have that mindset, you realize that postcards, keychains, and t-shirts aren’t nearly as important as the memories you make and the experiences you share. Of course, it’s always nice to return home with a souvenir, but you may find that your photos and travel diary are the only souvenirs you need.
People have been sharing as far back as history has been recorded, but it’s only now that the Sharing Economy is truly taking off. The internet has made it easier than ever before to participate in Collaborative Consumption, and once you participate in a shared workspace, home swap, farm share, or clothing trade, you’ll understand why sharing is better, and more sustainable, than traditional commerce. After all: why buy when you can share?
What has swapping homes taught you? Tell us in the comments!
A version of this post originally appeared on the Near Me blog.