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  • Writer's pictureRosanne Knorr

Free Vacation Stays Just Got Easier

Updated: Jan 13, 2019

As a member of I've been a happy 'camper' (figuratively speaking, of course, my lodgings did not require sleeping bags!) So far, I've had four free stays--one dream adventure of three-weeks in Copenhagen--and three less exotic but money-saving visits near my daughter up north. (It gives us each space, privacy, and alone time.)

This past year Guest To Guest, a France-based home exchange service, bought and just completed the conversion to one service. Yes, we all get a bit leery when something we already like changes. But I’m happy to report that the combined HomeExchange is even better.

The choice of homes is greater and, for those of us who like to travel in Europe, that goes even double since Guest To Guest was primarily European. In addition the revised now incorporates the more flexible Guest To Guest format.

The “balloon” system of HomeExchange (you could give an earned “balloon” for a one-way stay) is gone, replaced by GuestToGuest points used as currency. An algorithum applies a value to a one-night stay based on location, size, amenities of an accommodation and those points can be paid to the host for a non-reciprocal exchange. You use guest points to stay, gain them as a host. (Reciprocal exchanges don’t need guest points since you are both guests at each other’s home.)

When you sign up ($150 the first year and renewals earn a discount so this year mine was $127) A steal for the moola saved on free stays. Plus, new members automatically receive 1150 points—more than enough for a free stay of several days to much more depending on the homes you choose. You can earn additional points for verifying your membership (a nice safety factor since verified members must prove their identity and residence) or, of course as you host guests in your home without a reciprocal exchange.

Using points as your exchange currency provides flexibility. It’s not always necessary to swap homes on the exact dates or place you want. And, if you want to travel with stays at several locations on one trip, you don't have to deal with the complication of arranging for multiple sets of guests.

As of now, I'm focusing on members with second homes, of which there are multitudes. They can be more flexible about taking those points and I'm looking forward to a back-to-back stays in some favorite European destinations!

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