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What is a Fly and Swap Vacation? A Complete Guide


red inflatable ring in swimming pool next to holiday home
What is in this blog? Table of contents:

Fly and swap vacations are on the up. And frankly, it’s easy to see why. They’re a marvellous way for travellers to cross off bucket list destinations while sticking to a budget.

As if that wasn’t enough, fly and swap vacations allow you to get behind the veil of these destinations too - serving up authentic experiences to all those ready to see how local people live.

In this article, we’ll go into a little more detail as to what fly and swap trips are, the advantages of taking one as opposed to a traditional holiday, whether or not they’re safe, and where you can book a trip like this.

What is a fly and swap vacation?

If you’ve ever seen 2006’s romantic comedy The Holiday a fly and swap vacation is essentially that. Although, I can’t guarantee Cameron Diaz and Jude Law will play a starring role in your vacation.

If you’ve never seen The Holiday, don’t worry you’re not missing much, also I’ll explain a little more about what a fly and swap vacation actually is.

Your average fly and swap vacation is, at its core, a home exchange. You’ll connect with people, most likely through an online platform and arrange to swap homes with each other for a set period of time.

It’s a cool concept, a little like Airbnb. Far less transactional though. No money changes hands, and you stay in someone’s home. Rather than a bland apartment bought for the express purpose of renting to tourists.

What are the benefits of a fly and swap break?

Now we’ve gone over the core concept surrounding the question of “what is a fly home swap vacation?” We can cover a few of the benefits you can expect on such a trip.

You’ll save a lot of money

I imagine this is what initially draws most people to the idea of home swap vacations.

Since you’re swapping homes, there’s no need to splash out on hotels or other forms of accommodation. And, as we all know, these are usually the biggest outlay on any holiday.

So, with all that money saved on accommodation, you can seriously splurge on the sights, activities, and food that you came on holiday to enjoy in the first place.

Enjoy all the amenities of a fully kitted out home

Close to a decade ago when I first began using Airbnb, one of the main attractions for me as a  budget traveller was the prospect of staying in a real home - with a kitchen where I could prepare my own meals.

Nowadays things are different. Most Airbnbs aren’t lived in full-time, and you’ll be lucky to find a kitchen with a decently sized chopping board, let alone knives sharp enough to chop an onion.

Enter fly and swaps, take advantage of a fully kitted-out kitchen where you can save on costs by cooking your own meals.

On top of this, you’ll have all the creature comforts of an ordinary home such as: a nice big TV, a luxuriously sized tub, a garden etc...

Have authentic experiences

For me, this is a personal highlight of any vacation, and fly and swap vacations are the ideal way to facilitate this. On a fly and swap, rather than being in the heart of a tourist district, you’ll probably find yourself in the more local, residential part of where you’re visiting.

This allows you to fully immerse yourself in the local culture, meet with local people, and frequent local haunts. All this serves up a more authentic idea of the true local experience.

To help you get stuck into local life home swappers provide recommendations for the best hidden gems in their area. So, you’ll never be at a loose end tracking down the next authentic local experience!

It’s a chance to practice responsible tourism

Visit most popular holiday destinations in the summer and there’s a good chance they’ll be absolutely swamped with tourists. While this can be frustrating, the suffocating crowds, the exorbitant prices... It has far more of a negative impact on local people.

Over-tourism frequently leads to locals being priced out of their own cities, with affordable local housing transformed into hotels and Airbnbs. Meanwhile, amenities necessary to local life turn into bars and restaurants selling overpriced food and drink.

A fly and swap break helps fight this process since you’re not contributing to the often insatiable demand for expensive holiday accommodation.

Are fly and swap vacations safe?

Anything you do in life comes with its risks, and this is true for fly and swap vacations.

There are precautions you can take to ensure your fly and swap break is as safe as possible.

  • First, keep your valuables in a safe, secure place while you’re gone - better safe than sorry.
  • Second, insurance. Both travel and home insurance. Check your home insurance to see if it covers you for home exchanges, damage while guests are staying, etc.
  • Don’t forget to buy travel insurance as well, nothing ruins a holiday quite like having to pay thousands in medical bills.
  • Finally, sign up and organise your trip through a reputable home exchange website! This means anyone you talk with will have their identities verified reducing the likelihood of you getting scammed.

It also means should the worst happen, you’ll have the support and membership guarantees of whichever home exchange platform you signed up with.

Where can I safely organise a fly and swap vacation?

There are several platforms through which you can safely arrange a fly and swap vacation. I’ve put together five of the best below to save you time.

On these platforms, you can search for and connect with other home swappers, secure in the knowledge that these platforms (and their users) are safe and legitimate and that there are dedicated support teams to help you out.


With members from over 133 countries and over 100,000 homes, HomeExchange is one of the biggest players in the vacation fly and swap market.

Their website is sleek and easy to use, with filters available such as “homes with a swimming pool” and “homes with a BBQ” allowing you to quickly find homes best suited to your vacation style.

Dedicated customer support and the guarantees provided mean there’s no need to worry about the safety of your home while away - HomeExchange has you covered.

Once you’ve signed up, verified your identity, and paid the annual membership fee of $220 ( £178 GBP), you’re all set.

Love Home Swap

Offering a 2-week free trial, Love Home Swap, is the ideal choice for anyone looking to just dip their toes into fly and swap trips. If you do decide to join, memberships start from just $11 a month ( £9 GBP).

Their team is on hand night and day to offer support and answer any questions you have, whether that’s about joining the platform or preparing for your first swap.

They’ve got thousands of homes in over 100 countries, so you’ll be spoilt for choice.

What’s more, they even won an award for being one of the top short-term property rental sites out there!

People Like Us

These guys take pride in the fact that they’re more than just a home exchange site, they’re a community too.

Hopefully, you’ll find more than just free holiday accommodation, but also new friends in what is referred to as the “friendliest home exchange community in the world”.

People Like Us has thousands of homes available in over 100 countries - an absolute abundance of choice. If you can’t decide where you’d like to go, you can even choose the “I feel lucky” option which will match you up with a random home swapper.

Memberships start from $95 ( £77 GBP) a year and offer a range of benefits.

Green Theme International

Green Theme International encourages its users to travel as greenly as possible.

At a quick glance, the platform has homes available all over the world, giving you the chance to track down somewhere more exotic than you might ordinarily go.

The search function provides plenty of filters so you can really finesse your search compared to other platforms.

Green Theme International also excels when it comes to pricing: offering a year’s membership for just $40  ( £33 GBP).

Is there a free fly and swap vacation platform? Yes. Meet Switchome.


The majority of Switchome’s houses are in Europe - France to be exact - but a trip to the Dordogne never hurt anyone right? While most of the properties are in France, there are homes available across the rest of the globe too.

Advantages of Switchome include how easy it is to connect with people and the option to filter out locations.

The main draw of Switchome however, is that it’s free to use. Superb for any of you who are particularly cash-strapped at the moment.

Things to consider on a fly and swap trip

I’ve got a few final points worth keeping in mind for when you begin to organise your fly and swap trip.

Remember your hosts’ are on holiday too

This is easy to forget in all the excitement of the buildup to your vacation. But try to remember that there will be people staying at yours’ while you’re gone.

Make your home as presentable as possible, leave recommendations that only a local could make, and leave important information like emergency contact info.

Communication is crucial

As I mentioned earlier, trust is of vital importance when planning a fly and swap vacation. The best way to build this trust? Communication.

Communication also allows you to set boundaries, discuss house rules, and go over any concerns you may have. All invaluable conversations when you’re swapping homes with someone you met on the internet.

Legal compliance

It’s of the utmost importance that you brush up on local laws, regulations, and housing contracts when you swap homes.

You know, check that you can legally do this before actually doing it. You don’t want to accidentally break any rules now do you?

Final thoughts

Fly and swap vacations are becoming increasingly popular across the world. These vacation are a great way to experience the most authentic side of the country you're visiting. Along with this fly and swap vacations can save you hundreds of dollars (or pounds) on accommodation. Fly and swap today and experience the world in an authentic way.

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