We have highly recommended Airbnb as way to nab cheap accommodations while travelling, but we have recently bumped into another, much cheaper, alternative.
GuestToGuest has become our new best friend when looking for budget accommodation with their home exchange website.
Home exchanges or holiday exchanges are not an entirely new thing when it comes to the world of travel (you know if you’ve seen The Holiday). Today they are much more accessible thanks to sites like GuestToGuest.
We recently had the opportunity to try it out on our trip to Brussels and have all the tea on how this thing really works.
How Does GuestToGuest Work?
GuestToGuest uses reciprocal and non-reciprocal ways of booking your stay.
A reciprocal exchange is the traditional way of mutually exchanging homes on dates that work for both of you.
For example, you would go to Ian’s house in Valencia while he stays at your home in wherever during your confirmed dates.
As an alternative, GuestToGuest also allows exchanges using Guest Points to complete a non-reciprocal booking.
This means that as a host, you don’t actually have to go to Ian’s house, you can just collect his Guest Points and use those points for a different booking.
What are Guest Points?
Guest Points (GP) are basically GuestToGuest’s form of currency.
No actual money is used on the site for bookings (cause then it would just be Airbnb), instead Guest Points are used for exchanges that don’t require you to stay at the other person’s home.
So how do you get em?
When you sign up, you get a shit-ton of Guest Points for uploading your own home and verifying a few things. You’ll also get GP for referring your friends.
To continue getting GP you do need participate in the home exchange program by renting out your home through non-reciprocal exchanges.
You’re able to set your own GP per night for your home though it’s limited based on things like number of bedrooms, proximity to landmarks, location, etc.
How To Book With GuestToGuest
The layout of Guest To Guest is a little reminiscent to that of Airbnb or other online accommodation booking websites but again, this is a home exchange so some things do differ.
Depending on your booking date, or location, it might be tricky locking down that beautiful duplex right on the canal in Amsterdam.
GuestToGuest urges users to send out multiple messages to different hosts to make sure you actually get a booking for your date. Face it, we’re all human and sometimes our schedules don’t all magically line-up.
It’s fairly simple to send a message to a potential host. Similar to any booking site, you just pop in your dates, the number of guests and you’re basically good to go.
GuestToGuest has canned messages you can use when sending your requests, or you can personalize it with details including time of arrival, if there are children, or if you’ll be bringing any pets.
Hosts will either respond with a yes or a no. If it’s a yes, they usually pre-approve your transaction. After that, it’s up to you to read through the details before booking.
- Deposit: If there’s a damage deposit it will be listed. Deposits are refundable though a percentage of 3.5% (ours came to something like 15€) will be taken and given to GuestToGuest as a service fee.
- Mandatory Insurance: GuestToGuest offers insurance to protect their guests if the home isn’t exactly what the host said it would be; for example, if the refrigerator doesn’t work. There are levels of coverage from the basics like the fridge, to other non-essentials like computers and home-cinemas. We went with the basic insurance option of 4€ per night.
- Total Cost of GP and Cash: Do a quick glance over just to make sure you’re paying the right amount in your GP and if the amount of dollars, euros, etc. is okay.
Our Experience As Guests
When booking for Brussels, we sent out a lot of messages for our dates on GuestToGuest. We got a lot of no’s due to a variety of reasons but we did get a few yes’s.
We loved the fact that the majority of people do respond in both situations and are super nice!
We ended up with a few options and when we decided on the place we wanted, we discussed with our host our arrival and departure times and loved that she was super flexible.
She pre-approved and we finalized before she contacted us with all the details we needed to know about the area and sent us a PDF guide to her home. We were to meet her sister on arrival for the keys as she would be away, and put us in contact with her.
When we arrived in Brussels, her sister met with us, quickly showed us the flat, and off she went.
The apartment was very clean, and she gave us access to her pantries, and left out some aperitifs and food we could use during our stay.
Our phone network didn’t work while we were in Belgium, so we couldn’t contact our host for a couple days but on our departure day, she messaged us on the site to give us details about departure.
Just like our past Airbnbs, we followed directions for check-out like leaving the linen near the washer, tidied up, put everything back where it belonged and left the keys in the requested spot.
All in all, it was one of our best travel accommodation experiences ever. We know each host and home is different and it’s up to you to make sure you get all the details down to make sure your experience is just as great!
Things To Double Check
- While similar to Airbnb, it’s different in the fact that there’s no clear indication on whether you’re getting a room or a full apartment to yourself. If the host doesn’t mention anything, be sure to ask just so you’re prepared for what you’re getting into.
- Just like Airbnb, make sure you’ve discussed how you’ll get the keys, and where to leave them on departure.
- Before leaving make sure you have the right address and contact details.
- Read the reviews. We’ve said it before, we’ll say it again. Reviews are always a sure-fire way to know what you’re getting into. If someone had a bad time, or if the flat wasn’t clean, most people will note it.
GuestToGuest was such a great alternative to hotels, hostels and even Airbnbs that we can’t wait to do it again.
We will definitely be participating in the hosting aspect soon and will keep you updated on how it goes on the other end.
For sticking through this review, here’s 100 extra GP to get you booking!