Vacation at home
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How does home exchange work...

You stay in my home while I stay in yours.... this is a "pure" barter transaction since no cash changes hands between our members. So you can vacation in a home... anywhere in the world... by arranging to exchange homes with another Intervac member. Going local has many advantages as a form of travel. Also you can let serendipity play a part... so sometimes you take a trip, and sometimes the trip takes you to a new and unexpected place... so always leave room for spontaneity. Until recently house-swapping was considered something of an oddity, along with cycling to work, recycling and composting - but suddenly it is fashionable... perhaps because of the economic slowdown or just because of the realization that there are cheaper and better ways to get to know a place than staying in a hotel. But it’s not just about money. By swapping homes and lifestyles, you gain an insight into the lives of others and you see your own location and home in a new light. Click on each of the following headings to explore these topics below on this page:

New members typically find out about Intervac and/or home exchanging either by "word-of-mouth" (ie. referrals from thousands of experienced home exchangers) or media coverage or through various marketing promotions by Intervac's Organisers in 35 countries where we live.

Online Registration in Minutes - Intervac operates a leading-edge secure online database of home exchange listings through our website. To become a member you simply register directly on our online system and pay a membership fee ($129/yr including up to 20 photos) to Intervac Canada. By joining through Intervac Canada your listing becomes part of our global secure database where any member can contact any other member in 50+ countries.

Up to 20 photos of your home can be uploaded under four categories: (1) our home (2) our family and pets (3) our lifestyle, and (4) our neighbourhood. The registration process can be completed "within minutes" and Intervac Canada typically activates new listings within one hour after receiving payment notification email from Moneris which is a secure credit card payment processing company in Canada operated jointly by RBC and BMO.

For your security we do *not* handle or see your full credit card information which is handled by Moneris - we are simply notified by Moneris that your payment has been made.

Powerful Online Search and Match Tools - Each member's online listing contains a clear description of their residence, its family, and where and when they would like to travel. Intervac facilitates the home exchange process by our powerful online search and matching tools which enable members to find their "perfect match" based on many criteria contained within each listing.

For example, personal preferences such as no smoking or no pets are some of the searchable criteria. Our online matchmaking tools include Enhanced Search, Match-Alert, My Favourites, Hot List, Google Maps which locate properties geographically plus several types of exchange transactions. Visitors can search our entire "live" database but of course cannot see the contact section of any listing until they join Intervac. Click Here to Preview Our Live Database

Finding Your Match by Direct Member-to-Member Interaction - Once you are activated as a new member (typically within a couple of hours in Canada) you become part of our global database whereby members can initiate contact with each other directly by email to start a communications process which may lead to an exchange. Homes, condominiums, apartments, villas and ranches on every continent can make for interesting browsing and planning.

Each home exchange listing provides a clear description of the owners, when and where they would like to travel, personal preferences such as "no smoking" or "no pets" and typically an offer to exchange cars as well. Some members make and/or receive up to 50 solid offers to swap homes. It all depends where you live, what type of residence you are offering (it could be a home, condo, an apartment or a cottage) and when you want to swap properties.

Longer stay exchanges between retired people are possible or exchanges of hospitality where two members agree to swap hosted visits in each other’s homes. Some members are very specific about where they want to go, and others simply specify “open to offers” meaning that they are flexible and willing to consider any interesting offer. Home exchangers report that their best holidays occurred in some of the most unexpected places around the world... so do leave room for spontaneity.

This about finding like-minded people who share the same values and with whom you are comfortable exchanging your home. Through the email process it very quickly becomes obvious whether you have a rapport or not.

This process requires initiative and work on your part as participants must initiate direct contact with each other to start the communication process which may lead to an exchange. A typical participant makes 10 to 20 offers by email - and an attractive listing during "prime" travel period can attract up to 50 offers.

Home Exchanging Is Not Difficult - But It Takes Work and Initiative by Members - Clearly it takes initiative and work to make an exchange happen. Intervac does not get involved in the process of arranging exchanges for members. Members themselves must initiate all communications with other members and make their own swapping arrangements directly with each other. It takes a bit of time to be looking through the listings, sending emails and waiting for replies. You quickly determine from photos and email exchanges whether you are on the "same page" as your potential hosts.

Many members convey to us how much they enjoyed the actual process of just scanning thousands of possibilities and exploring their travel options with fascinating people - this can be nearly as fascinating as traveling itself! Some said that this mode of travel has nothing to do with 'saving money' but rather finding another compatible member who is open to sharing your lifestyle.

We provide a checklist for organizing a home exchange. We also encourage the exchanging families to co-sign a letter confirming the details of their exchange - we have a sample agreement letter on our website. We also encourage members to register their concluded exchanges on our online system. But Intervac's responsibilities extend only to making online listings available to members and providing online tools to facilitate the process.

When - Annual Operating Cycle - While we are also noticing a growing trend towards year-round travel using home exchanges, most home exchanges still take place in the Summer which is July and August in the Northern hemisphere. Our annual cycle starts every September after each Summer's travel. Our membership base becomes active quickly during the Fall and Winter months as new and returning members prepare for their next Summer's vacation. During our annual cycle thousands of offers are activated on our database from 50+ countries.

As members finalize their exchanges, we ask that they de-activate their offers on our online system to keep the online database up-to-date, as we strive to only have currently-available offers online. The number of available offers is lowest during Summer months. Our website also has a Hot List which caters to members who are looking to travel "within a few weeks."

The Bottom Line - It's About Establishing Trust Between Two Exchanging Families - A high degree of trust, integrity and goodwill has been associated with Intervac members for over 50 years. Due to the positive attitude of thousands of people involved in home exchanging, this unique concept based on an "old fashioned" trust between two families has worked extremely well since the early 1950’s. Our proof is that we grow primarily by referrals by satisfied members. Click here to see What Members Say.

If this culturally-enriching and economic approach to vacation travel appeals to you - and you do not mind some work to make an exchange happen, we invite you to join our global family of members. Experience the world in a new way and you will reap rewards that far exceed your effort.

In Summary - here is what each member gets:

  • Unlimited access to Intervac’s private hacker-proof database via the Internet containing member listings from all countries during your membership period of one or two years. You can initiate contact by email about a potential exchange with any other Intervac member and conversely, any Intervac member can contact you.
  • Up to 20 Photos With Unlimited Ability to Change Own Listing - You can modify your online listing at anytime – including adding up to 20 photos under four categories with your own unlimited text descriptors: (1) our home (2) our family and pets (3) our lifestyle, and (4) our neighbourhood.
  • Online Matchmaking Tools - Your chances of finding the “best” exchange are further enhanced by our system features such as Enhanced Search, Match-Alert, My Favourites, Hot List, Google Maps, links to your own private website, multiple transaction types, etc.
  • Ability to Change Your Current Status - you can de-activate your listing when you have found a suitable exchange but your access privileges to Intervac’s online system continue as before. You can re-activate your listing at anytime during your membership period.
  • Our guarantee to brand new members is that if you do not find an exchange within your first year, you get another year of unlimited online membership free of charge.


JOIN Intervac so you can vacation at home... anywhere in the world.