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Decoding the difference between travel lodging options

April 26, 2014

Planning for travel can be hectic, especially when seniors must choose the right mode of transportation, must-visit attractions and perfect place to sleep for the duration of their stays. There are a number of online resources ideal for those looking to book their lodging, but seniors must understand the difference between these options before moving forward with their plans.

Home Exchange
Made popular by the hit film "The Holiday," home exchange is where two individuals meet over the Internet, then swap houses for their respective vacations. In the movie, one character travels to London while the other goes to L.A., both using the amenities of one another's homes as if they were their own, including cars, kitchens and bedrooms. While seniors probably will not run across Jude Law during their sojourn, they can choose this mode of lodging when making their plans. According to the Home Exchange website, more than 50,000 people from across the globe use the service. The agency matches vacationers based on their location and preferences, allowing users to post pictures of their homes and surrounding areas to better attract the interest of fellow site members. All users must adhere to community guidelines and must be verified by the agency before they list their properties.

For the adventurous senior, Couchsurfing may be the best option. Unlike other resources, Couchsurfing is completely free, which may be beneficial for those concerned with the retirement cost of living. Visitors to the Couchsurfing website can view a number of homes from across the world, reading through profiles and deciding which property may be best. Travelers essentially crash in the spare bedroom of whoever has listed their property. The homeowners will be at the residence at the same time as the traveler, but are not obligated to provide food or guidance, though a number of the host families do so anyway.

Renting a living space
Airbnb combines aspects from both Home Exchange and Couchsurfing. Seniors can visit the website, search for their destination, then sift through a number of properties listed on the results page. Host families offer their homes for full use of the traveler, but are not at the location while the person stays. These rooms can sometimes be equally as expensive as hotel rooms, but they offer a homey feel for travelers looking to avoid the hassle of booking through large chain corporations. Additionally, these apartments and houses are typically in the heart of the cities, meaning that travelers get the authentic local experience when visiting their location.