Just recently I had the chance to speak with author and travel blogger Ainslie Waldron about how she and her husband live for free in hundreds of cities in dozens of countries around the world. This post will especially be of interest to budget travelers with expensive taste. Many of us are looking for an insider’s guide to help us travel better. Reducing expenses for accommodations figures high on the list of ways to make this possible. Ainslie’s book addresses how to make this possible. When I say “free accommodations,” I mean the author has put her expert knowledge into practice and actually shares how you can travel the world with free accommodations.
Ainslie Waldron lives in Australia. She and her husband have swapped their vacation home regularly. The home above is in Bodrum, Turkey and is one of the many places Ainslie and her husband have stayed. She was in fact in Santa Monica, California babysitting her twin grandsons at the time I interviewed her.
Her book, Luxury Globetrotting on a Staycation Budget: An Insider’s Guide to the Home Exchange Experience will show you exactly how to:
- Live free in a great house or condo in hundreds of cities in dozens of countries
- Spend a week or a month living like a local on the same budget you would at home
- Offer your own home for an exchange while limiting the risks
- Choose a great destination or series of locations to visit
- Pick the right home exchange network for best results
Here is a portion of our interview.
Patricia: Do you consider yourself retired? My readership is looking to reinvent themselves and they love to travel.
Ainslie: We are more or less retired but we do little bits of work. I was formerly a business and management consultant and writer. So it came naturally at the time I left that job to write a book on home-swapping based on my early life. I had gotten used to high life with my expensive account and staying the in best hotels. I wanted to keep up that standard. Except the expenses were coming from my own purse. So I looked for a way to maintain that lifestyle.
Patricia: Everyone wants the short route. I am like a lot of people. I don’t personally know much about how Home Exchanges work. But it is an appealing idea. Is this a practice for everyone?
Ainslie:It is for most people. It wouldn’t suit people who don’t want anyone in their house. Certainly it is not for people who have trust issues. But it is for everyone else. One just needs to start at the beginning, which I outline in detail in my book. Open your search engine and put in home exchange. Take a look around. I don’t personally promote any one home exchange site because each home exchange site has different objectives and meets a different need for different people. Once you have completed your first home exchange, you’ll begin to find your way.
Patricia: So now that I’ve done that and found a place that is of interest, what next?.
Ainslie: Once you find a home of interest, follow up with a Skype call. We generally share a number of emails before we have the Skype call and include the visual rather than just audio in that call. You can ask the person to show you the kitchen, or show you the garage. We will just ask them to show us the kitchen if that is something we’re interested in.
Patricia: Do you generally include virtual tours of your house to entice swappers?
Ainslie: I don’t do it personally but we have lots of photographs of every room, birdlife etc. If the person we are swapping with doesn’t have this I ask for more photographs.
Patricia: How do you feel about contracts?
Ainslie: Most home exchanges websites offer a contract. I think that because we are crossing so many states and countries, it is much better to have a trust contract. I don’t see the need for contracts. I have only been asked once to complete a contract.
Patricia:I have a modest cottage. I’d love to exchange my cottage for something more luxurious. How do I approach an exchange in that case?
Ainslie: Rarely is an exchange a match for a match. I have been in 6 BR mansions and I am swapping 3 BR house. People are after locations. They might be interested in your home because of a hobby, such as fishing or whale watching in your home area. Some locations are appealing because of the nearby skiing, kayaking,or bicycling.
The most frequent question that people ask me is who would want to come to my house. My response is simply to think about why you bought your home in the first place. Is it within 30 minutes of the closest main city? Is it because of the beach? Are there biking trails. People with children have other concerns. People who swap are operating with a different mindset.
Ainslie suggested that users initially not sign up with any one home exchange service. In our discussion, she helped me understand that home swapping requires a completely different mindset paradigm when traveling. Because, as she explained, “When you swap a home with someone, you look after their home in the same way that you’d look after your own. Unlike the mindset that one takes when staying in a hotel, swapping homes calls on a different mindset.” Finding a home that catches your fancy is only one part of the equation.
I mentioned earlier that Ainslie was staying in Santa Monica when this interview took place. She was, in fact, stayingfor free at a home secured through her home exchange connections . All of this was made possible because Ainslie put her Australia vacation home into a home exchange network.
Pick up her book, Luxury Globetrotting on a Staycation Budget: An Insider’s Guide to the Home Exchange Experience on Amazon. It was informative and quite humorous with her stewardess stories that made me laugh at the end of each chapter. Perhaps most importantly, the information is useful.
I received a free PDF copy of this book. The opinions contained herein are my own.