I’m a boomer traveling the world. I choose to swap houses with strangers instead of staying in Airbnbs.

Dorine Olive has used Home Exchange to visit over 40 different houses owned by other people.

Dorine Olive, 60, was diagnosed with ovarian cancer in 2019, which reignited her desire to travel.Olive does home exchanges, hosting guests in her Florida home and staying in strangers’ houses.She pays an annual fee to a site that connects house-swappers rather than a nightly rate.

This as-told-to essay is based on a conversation with Dorine Olive, a 60-year-old semi-retired software sales rep based in Orlando who travels the world doing home exchanges. It has been edited for length and clarity.

I came down with ovarian cancer right before COVID-19 and realized I wanted to start spending a lot more time experiencing life.

I was raised in a military family, so I’ve lived in a few different places around the world. I have always had a passion for traveling, and buying this round-the-world ticket was a dream of mine.

You can choose from different alliances. We chose Star Alliance. You’re allowed a maximum of 16 segments. We did our maximum, but we’re doing eight destinations: Croatia, Hungary, Turkey, Uganda, Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, and Australia.

Dorine Olive and her partner, Chuck, will go gorilla-trekking in Uganda as part of their round-the-world trip this year.

A coach ticket would have cost just under $8,000. We decided to treat ourselves to a business class because we were going to have a lot of overnights. That was $12,700 total per ticket.

I have friends who bought a business-class ticket just to go to Croatia and home. They paid $5,000 for one place — we’re getting eight places. We’re like nomads now.

It takes a lot of work. It’s really good for people like me who absolutely love figuring things out and planning because it takes a lot of time and effort.

We save money staying in strangers’ homes

For all of our accommodations, we’re not spending any money.

We’ve booked it through Home Exchange, an app. (Editor’s note: Home Exchange charges $220 a year and up to be a member and verifies users with ID and proof of address, according to its website.)

With Airbnb, you’re spending money. With Home Exchange, you’re not — you just pay an annual membership fee.

They do allow people to ask for a cleaning fee. Some people ask for it, some don’t.

There are different ways that you can do it. You can do a simultaneous swap, or you can use GuestPoints. When you put your profile on Home Exchange and you put all your details into their system, it has an algorithm that tells you the number of points that your house is worth.

Olive and her partner recently visited Turkey and stayed with a couple they found on home-swapping website Home Exchange.

Our house is around 296 points a night. That’s a higher-end house in terms of points.

When someone comes and stays at your house, you earn points. In the two years since we started, we now have 41 exchanges under our belt.

I tend to get the feeling that home-exchange people are more into traveling the world and being open to meeting other people. They’re just more worldly, trustworthy people.

We’ve found long-term friends through house swaps

I had a lovely 77-year-old man from France come stay at our house a year ago through Home Exchange. His 99-year-old father was in hospice in our town, so he was looking to say goodbye to him. We fell in love with him.

We ride motorcycles. His dream was to ride a motorcycle. He’d never been on one. So we took him for a ride on a motorcycle.

Last night, we stayed at a couple’s home in a very charming little town in Turkey. Their place was a real gem. He’s Turkish and she’s from Ohio, and they’ve been married for a long time.

Some people you just really bond with, and that’s how this couple was.

The couple is staying in strangers’ homes around the world and making friendships along the way.

They own a place also in New York. There is no doubt in my mind that we will visit them in New York next year — because this year’s travel has already been booked up.

Letting strangers into your home sounds scary, but it isn’t

Most of our friends think we’re crazy for doing this.

They’re like, “What do you do with your private stuff, or your possessions? Or aren’t you worried about somebody breaking something?”

We worried about that when we first started Home Exchange. Then, after you do it a couple of times, you realize, “Oh, my goodness. What was I worrying about?”

Nobody’s looking at anybody’s business. You’re there to be just as respectful of their place as they are of yours.

My only regret is that I didn’t discover this 10 or 15 years ago.

Read the original article on Business Insider

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