As a full-time international housesitter, I admit I sleep around. You can, too — without being saddled with pet duties.
The concept of hospitality exchange has been around for more than 70 years as a way for travelers to stay with hosts in cities they visit in exchange for — well, nothing but good conversation!
Hospitality exchanges are not working vacations where the traveler works in exchange for accommodations and meals. While these opportunities can provide valuable and interesting work experience, they can also leave little time to explore your destination. I participated in a volunteer program in Madagascar for the week preceding my 2-week guided tour, giving me a chance to learn a new skill and explore that magnificent country.
Nor are they home exchanges, where two parties switch homes, as in the movie The Holiday where Cameron Diaz exchanged her Beverly Hills mansion for Kate Winslet’s country home in Surrey … and vice versa. I’ve done that, too, exchanging my studio apartment in Santa Monica for a small flat in Paris. It was wonderful! But, it takes a bit of serendipity to find someone who lives in your desired destination and who wants to visit your hometown — and is available to travel the same time you are.
Instead, hospitality exchanges are a more flexible option. You stay in someone’s spare room — or bunk on their couch — for a few nights while the host is home. Besides the obvious cost-savings, travelers have the benefit of learning about