House swapping: the sustainable alternative for travel?

According to the World Tourism Organization, 95% of travelers concentrate in less than 5% of the Earth’s surface. In a world where mass tourism has led to saturation and pressure on certain popular areas, an innovative and responsible model arises: house swapping. This method not only offers a solution to alleviate tourist pressure in highly visited zones but also promotes a more sustainable and environmentally respectful way of traveling.

The home exchange model is based on a simple yet effective premise: allowing people from different parts of the world to temporarily exchange their homes. This helps decrease the use of additional resources for new tourist accommodations and contributes to a more authentic and personalized experience. Moreover, this practice encourages the use of unoccupied houses, reducing excessive consumption and supporting the local economy.

Among the companies leading this new paradigm, the French company HomeExchange stands out, internationally recognized and certified as a B Corp for its high standards of social and environmental impact. This and similar platforms not only facilitate the exchange but also educate about the most respectful ways of traveling. Between 2022 and 2023, they have already registered a 46.7% increase in overnight stays.


Sustainable exchange

A key entity facilitating this new paradigm, the internationally present French organization HomeExchange, certified as a B Corp for its high social and environmental impact standards, is part of Acteurs du Tourisme Durable, the first national French network aiming to evolve the entire tourism sector towards more sustainable development.

This commitment is also reflected in a guide shared with clients, advising the most respectful travel methods, from transportation to types of stay, including the benefits of house swapping: using empty establishments, reducing excessive consumption, and boosting the local economy by saving on accommodation and investing that money in activities (only paying for platform use, like a membership).

In HomeExchange, a security deposit covers damages over 500 euros (if damages are less, the guest pays). To date, the company reports no incidents as users treat the space as their own.

Leobo, South Africa (HomeExchange)


Types of platforms for house swapping

While HomeExchange integrates most house swapping businesses, there are other models, from pet-sitting to luxury accommodations.


Exchange and pet care

TrustedHouseSitters adds an extra feature to the model by including pet care. It offers three plans: one for traveling and taking care of pets at the host location, another for offering your home for someone to care for your pets while you’re away, and a third that combines all three possibilities. It’s a membership system where you only pay to belong, with strict controls to ensure pets are well cared for during vacations.


Castles and luxury accommodations

The luxury segment has also entered house swapping. HomeExchange launched its Collection range to provide this service to an exclusive community that can swap high-end homes. The offerings range from penthouses, chalets, century-old castles to nature retreats or yachts.

For registration, in addition to a higher payment, the accommodation is evaluated by HomeExchange Collection based on aspects like architectural style, recreational offerings (private pool, boat, tennis court…), available technology, personal care, and even household service.

Thirdhome is another organization for luxury homes, but to join, one must own a second home that meets specific criteria: located in a desirable destination, adequately equipped, and valued at a minimum of 500,000 dollars. This company has 15,000 residences, villas, 5-star resorts, and private islands in 100 countries, offering 100% flexible cancellation and up to 2,000,000 dollars in property damage protection.

Compared to more conventional websites, Thirdhome estimates savings between 75% and 90%.


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Would you swap your house? Do you think this paradigm will help ease certain congested areas? Share your opinion on social media using the hashtag #ConnectionsByFinsa.