With Iceland not being known as a ‘budget destination’, we were quite ready to spend our week traversing the ring road in pretty basic accommodation.
So imagine James’ face when we turned up here.
But a place like this is likely to set you back hundreds of pounds a night, right?
Here slides in one of my favourite websites: Love Home Swap.
What is Love Home Swap?
Love Home Swap is exactly what it sounds like – a website that allows you to swap your home with other people across the globe.
Yet, if like me, you think ‘who in their right mind would swap their luxury pad for my gaff?’ then don’t be put off just yet, because they offer an alternative service that for me, has worked an absolute treat.
It’s called a points swap. Quite simply, instead of swapping our home, we swapped points to stay at this beautiful cabin in Iceland.
So how do you get points to swap?
When you join Love Home Swap you’ll be allocated points dependent on the type of account you go for.
- Lite – 0 points
- Standard – 200 points
- Premium – 500 points
How much does Love Home Swap membership cost?
With my refer a friend link you’ll get a two week free trial and 25% off your first year (and I’ll get 3 months free membership in return) which means the membership costs, at time of writing, are:
- Lite – £6 a month / £72 a year
- Standard – £7.50 a month / £90 a year
- Premium – £9 a month / £108 a year
At £108 for the year, this meant that each night worked out as £54. Therefore, as there was two of us, it cost just £27 a night each!
And that place slept six so if you were heading there as a group, it would have worked out to just £9 a night each!
What a bargain.
Do you have to pay before you find a place to stay?
You can browse some properties for free and then you have a free two week trial to message people and set up a swap. You’ll then need to pay to confirm the booking.
Do you have to add your home when signing up?
You do have to sign up before you can confirm a home but you will get a two week free trial when you sign up that allows you to message people and get something in place before you spend your money.
This is exactly what I did when I used Love Home Swap for the first time for a trip to New York. And look where we ended up!
How likely is it that you'll find a place?
It depends on where you’re going. Big cities and popular tourist destinations will tend to have more options, but a lot of it does come down to whether the owner has availability, whether they’re wanting to do a points swap (some don’t offer this) and whether you have enough points!
I found it really difficult to find a place in New York and it took me four weeks to bag a place. However with Iceland, I actually found four different places that would accept my points, so it all just depends!
If you don’t find anything within your free trial, just make sure you put a reminder in to cancel your membership so that it doesn’t end up costing you a thing.
From my own experience, Love Home Swap’s customer service is brilliant and they were in constant contact with my during my free trial to see if they could help.
How easy is it to cancel your membership?
You’re in touch with a real person by email and so cancelling would be very straightforward if that’s what you needed to do. You can also reach them by phone.
What tips would do I have for finding a swap?
Love Home Swap is a community. Whilst they do now have some places that allow you to book ‘instantly’, this isn’t like booking a place on Booking.com or Airbnb. These are largely people’s homes and therefore you may have to wait a little longer for a response and you can’t demand services in the same way that you could with a hotel.
Also, you book homes through messages so my top tip would be to be personable and warm. Tell your potential hostees about yourself. Why are you visiting the area? What are you excited about? What do you like about their home?
If they’ve got five different people offering the same deal, what would make them choose you over the others?
Also, especially if you sign up for the Premium service, you get access to the site’s dedicated ‘Swap Team’ who can find places that match your wants. Use this! It’s their job to help and it will make your search so much easier.
What happens when you run out of points?
I would absolutely recommend getting involved with the Love Home Swap community and accepting points swaps of your own! We’ve had a few people stay at our place when we were away and the points we’ve earned have allowed us to continue our cheap travels.
Love Home Swap have a great article about how you can make points work for you here.
Am I being paid to say this?
No. I’ve been a full paying member of Love Home Swap for two years and will continue paying whether people use my link or not! In my second year I paid £180 for my standard membership and having already stayed four nights in Napa and two nights in Iceland so it’s more than paid for itself already.
I don't fancy home swapping - can I still do an Icelandic road trip for a similar price?
Absolutely. There are plenty of well rated and affordable options in both Reykjavik and the Golden Circle area though true, they’re not quite as fancy!
Double room with shared bathroom and breakfast
From £73 a night