The ideal length of a home exchange varies by country. Europeans get a lot more vacation time than Americans do, and are much more likely to use it. There is no legal right to vacation time in the United States. In Europe, the law ensures at least three to 4 weeks of vacation, depending on the country. Most Europeans end up with anywhere from six weeks off per year (United Kingdom) to 8 weeks’ vacation (Italy, Germany, France).
Long-term home exchange may appeal more to Europeans in part because of their long vacations, and also because they seem to prefer to spend more time at one destination and get to know it better. Americans are bigger fans of the “if it’s Tuesday it must be Belgium” style of multi-country vacationing.
When a swapper from the Continent proposes an exchange, one of the tricky details that often comes up is the duration of the swap. Europeans commonly suggest swaps of one to three months. Most Americans are lucky to get one to 3 weeks of vacation time per year.
Many exchange clubs offer the ability to list a preference for long-term exchange. Another way to find lucky folks with lots of time off is to use a site that others seeking long-term exchanges would be more likely to use.
Senior home exchange clubs would tend to feature members who have the flexibility to take more time off than the average exchanger and are less likely to flit from location to location.
Another option is to go back to the roots of home exchange: it was founded by teachers who had long summer vacations but not a lot of travel money.
SabbaticalHomes.com is a site for academics or others who prefer to swap with them. An interesting approach the club offers is a low or free membership fee combined with a “Success-based Contribution” for those who arrange a trade.
If you can’t find one long trade, try stitching together several shorter trades. Even if you only succeed in finding a swap for part of your vacation, the savings from even a short exchange will fund a lot more traveling than a hotel-only stay.
Start with a short exchange and you might end up with a future long-term exchange of your own.
by Nicole F. Feist, Home Exchange Travels