Publié le by NmNomador
How The Sharing Economy Allows You To Live Like A Local
As someone who has many years of experience with house-sitting, home exchange, and an intimate knowledge of the sharing economy from a business standpoint, I have a unique perspective on how valuable these alternatives to traditional accommodations can be.
By opting to travel as a house-sitter or exchange homes with a fellow explorer, I have been presented with diverse experiences that have enriched my life - both at home and abroad. Home exchange and house-sitting have provided a wealth of opportunities for me to see local culture in unique ways that I would not have had access to otherwise.
From staying at a historic Italian family home in Sorrento, Italy to exchanging apartments with a fellow traveler in Germany, the sharing economy has given me fresh outlook on the way we travel and connect with other cultures. Stepping onto a warm, sunlit terrace on the Amalfi Coast for a fresh local breakfast beats a hotel buffet line any day.
Go Beyond Standard Travel Accommodations
When you travel to a new destination, it often feels safest and most comfortable to book a room in a standard hotel. You can read reviews of other travelers’ experiences there, scroll through detailed photos of the rooms and common areas, review the amenities and see what is nearby, and get a pretty clear picture of what you’re getting yourself into.
Alternatively, choosing to do a home exchange or house-sit for a complete stranger can feel daunting and a little scary. It’s true that there are more unknowns in scenarios like these, but as sharing economy continues to grow, it’s much easier to research each situation more thoroughly. This leads to a higher comfort level and both parties knowing what they can expect from the exchange.
By being completely transparent and honest about what you have to offer - whether that is a physical space or your services as a caregiver for someone’s home and/or pets - you set yourself (and the other person) up for positive interaction.
Be Sure To Do Your Research
The mistake that many people make when signing up to do a home exchange or house-sitting gig is failing to do adequate research. I always encourage anyone considering these unique situations to fully understand what they are getting themselves into. Read any available reviews, video chat with the other people involved, be open and clear about your expectations and boundaries, and don’t hesitate to back away from something when it doesn’t feel right.
When you take the time and effort to establish positive, open lines of communication and clear expectations from the get-go, the likelihood of both parties enjoying the exchange rise dramatically.
Communicating thoroughly with your exchange partner prior to arrival is the best way to get to know them and match expectations! Get on the phone together and have a chat or use Skype to “e-meet” them via video conference.
Choosing to stay in someone’s home and observe life from their point of view creates so many opportunities for you, as a traveler, to soak up local culture. From learning where your host gets their morning coffee to secrets on finding their favorite local beaches or trails, home sharing and home exchange provide a truly unique way to get to know the area and community. Rather than staying in a sterile, isolated hotel, opt for the road less traveled: a true live-in experience.
Don’t be afraid to ask for restaurant recommendations, bicycling paths, museum tips, hiking trail routes, or other activity suggestions from your host. People are often more than happy to share information about their local community and favorite spots to spend time. Remember: they want you to feel comfortable and enjoy your time in their space just as much as you do.
Layout any concerns or questions you might have about the experience early on, so that they can be discussed in a calm, relaxed environment. Waiting until the last minute (for example, the day you arrive) to bombard your host or exchange partner with questions or concerns you may have is a surefire way to raise everyone’s stress levels.
When you choose to exchange homes with someone or step into the role of being a trusted house-sitter, you are opening yourself and your space up to another person. Don’t be afraid to ask for references or other resources to make yourself feel more comfortable moving forward with the arrangement. Remember - nine times out of ten, they want to have a good experience just as much as you do. By vocalizing your thoughts from the get-go, you can be more prepared and relaxed when it comes time to travel.
Get The True “Live-In” Experience
Whether you choose to house-sit or do a full home exchange, you can learn so much about other communities, cultures, countries, and ways of life. Allow yourself to wholeheartedly embrace the experience and enjoy the change of pace that this type of accommodation exchange offers you. With the right research, trusting your intuition, and being open to new environments, you will find that the rewards to choosing a path less traveled are truly worth it.
Sierra is a travel writer and photographer based on the East Coast who loves exploring Europe and the United States as a solo traveler. She writes practical, inspiring travel guides, shares travel and packing hacks, and entices readers with drool-worthy foodie guides on her blog, Passport Voyager. Her goal is to empower people across the globe to get out and see the world, no matter what limitations (physical or financial) they may face.