Have you considered doing a home swap as a way to save money while seeing the world?
I'd like to introduce you to Jill Collins, a recent guest in our Solo Traveler Insiders Speaker Series. Jill is a way-shower, connector, and innovator who is dedicated to weaving what’s possible into the everyday.
Driven by the belief that everyone has a message to share, Jill is dedicated to bringing out the very best in people by helping them to see value in their unique experiences and have the confidence and tools to give back to others. Jill has founded several thriving businesses, including an international coaching practice she founded after unexpectedly losing her husband, that helps widows and divorcees take charge of their lives and master their finances after the loss of a partner.
In addition to her many projects and accomplishments, Jill is an avid traveler who has completed more than 30 home exchanges! Traveling is one of her favorite activities. She also enjoys great food and cultural experiences. Jill is very active and loves to walk and explore beautiful cities, many of which she has visited while on home exchanges.
We recently interviewed Jill to find out a bit more about her story.
I understand you have completed more than 30 home swaps to date! How did you first get into this?
I’m not really sure! I just heard about it and did the first one back in 2008, I think. I found it to be the best way to travel for extended periods of time and save a lot of money on lodging. The places we found and exchanges we made were far better than a hotel. It was before Airbnb, so this was a desirable option to be able to stay in a house or condo of similar caliber to our own.
As the owner of multiple international businesses, you must have an incredibly busy work life. Do you use home exchanges for your work trips or strictly for your leisure travel?
I mostly use them for leisure trips. As I work from home and can work anywhere, I find I can still work comfortably while on holiday. Home exchanges make it ideal to be in a fantastic spot to enjoy my time and still work when needed.
What do you feel is the top advantage of home exchanges for solo travelers?
Because you are generally exchanging directly with someone who will be at your place, you know them before you go. In fact, I’ve met several of my exchange partners while on exchange and am still good friends with many of them!
In which country have you had the most home swaps?
I’ve been all over the world with home exchanges. We did annual ski trips and have been to all the typical ski towns in the US, plus San Diego, Miami, Chicago, and New York City several times. Internationally, I’ve done exchanges in Sydney, New Zealand, Paris, Nice, and all over France, Spain, Argentina, and Ecuador. I use the HomeExchange platform.
Have you continued to do home exchanges over the last couple of years?
Yes, I’ve done them in Argentina where I reside part of the year. It’s definitely starting to open up again worldwide and I’m getting a lot more offers than I did during 2020 and 2021.
What is one important tip you can share for solo travelers considering setting up their first home swap or exchange?
If you’re super picky and want things a certain way, home exchanging may not be for you. If you are used to a hotel experience where everything is just so, you might be disappointed when the kitchen isn’t clean and spotless. For instance, I’ve found old leftover food in the fridge. Just throw it out and don’t worry about it. Push their things to the back and put in what you buy.
The key to a successful exchange is to be flexible and adventurous. You’ll be pleasantly surprised at the amazing places you can visit that you might not have been able to afford otherwise. It’s been a life-changing experience for me. I look forward to sharing my experiences and lessons learned and answering everyone’s questions next week.
For much more on home swaps and how you, too can see the world on a budget while living like a local, members can watch the recording of our chat with Jill Collins here. Not a member yet? Join the Solo Traveler Insiders here. You can try it out for a month and enjoy all the benefits with no obligation to continue if it's not for you.