THIS might seem like a strange thing for a travel insurance consultant to say... but have you thought of holidaying at home this year? I don’t mean staying home; where would be the fun in that? I mean swapping your humble (or not-so-humble) abode for someone else’s wildly exotic one. And vice versa.
Home swapping has been around for decades, but in recent years, agencies have multiplied, along with the choice. Last year, homeexchange.com registered 75,000 swaps in 150 countries, with offers ranging from modest flats to designer lofts and luxury condos. What was once seen as ‘alternative’ has become a mainstream travel concept that even appeals to risk-averse people like you or me.
This year, the take-up could be higher than ever, as people look for ways of fulfilling their holiday dreams without blowing the budget. At Globelink, we’ll be there to cover them on their travels. Certainly, the economies of home swapping are an incentive. While some agencies charge a modest sign-up fee, others are free until a deal is sealed. You pay for your travel but the rest is up to you, minus hotel bills, and even car hire if you decide to to swap car keys.
The popularity of home swapping is part of a wider trend towards more authentic, ‘insider’ travel experiences. Shopping for fruit and veg in a Paris market, catching the ferry to Vancouver Island, admiring the sunset from ‘your’ pad in Brooklyn Heights, you get to live as a local, not a tourist, at least for a fortnight or two.
That said, it isn’t everyone’s cup of tea. If the thought of someone else settling down in your favourite armchair makes you shudder, home swapping probably isn’t for you. But for would-be first-timers, the good news is that the majority of home swaps pass off happily. They stand an even better chance of running smoothly if exchange partners take the time to get to know more about each other and their expectations.
As that suggests, home swaps involve a good deal more preparation than a book-and-fly deal. That includes taking obvious precautions, such as checking with your house insurer that you’re covered for the exchange, and complying with any extra conditions. Should you decide to swap cars, arranging guest driver car insurance is an absolute must.
Decent travel insurance should, of course, be right at the top of any checklist. From lost or stolen passports to accidents or illness, things can and do go wrong.
For an instant quote and to arrange cover securely online visit www.globelink.co.uk, the leading travel insurer for people living in EU countries. Or you can telephone Globelink on 0044 1353 699082 or their Spanish links line on 966 265 000 or 951 242 434.
By David Deverson Travel Insurance correspondent. Globelink International. Email your travel insurance questions to: [email protected]