18 July 2006

You Already Know People Are Sharing Bases

Thank you to all of my friends for sharing your space with me this year!

There are lots of people out there sharing their homes (or home bases) through the following organizations:

Caretaker Gazette: House-sit

Published since 1983, each issue of the Caretaker Gazette provides subscribers with about 150 caretaking and housesitting jobs throughout the 50 US States and approximately 20 foreign countries.

Subscribers can live rent-free as property caretakers in estates, mansions, farms, ranches, resort homes, retreat centers, camps, hunting and fishing lodges, vacation homes, private islands, and any other kind of property imaginable.

CouchSurfing: House Share

Casey Fenton launched the CouchSurfing Project in January 2004 after the concept evolved through some of his unique traveling experiences. After a near-fatal crash, Version 2.0 was launched in July 2006.

At the time of this post, 92,451 members in 202 countries are enrolled in the CouchSurfing system. Members use the network to meet other members and then go surf their couches.

The host provides the guest with some sort of accommodation, a penthouse apartment or maybe a back yard to pitch a tent in. Stays can be as short as a cup of coffee, a night or two, or even a few months or more.

The project is about signing up for a free couch and ending up with amazing adventures and a global family.

Digsville: House Swap

Members of this home exchange club take vacations locally or abroad by swapping their primary or vacation houses instead of paying for hotels.

Anyone can search and contact favorite listings, but the anual fee to post a listing is 44.95 USD.

Global Freeloaders: House Share

Apparently started by Adam Staines in December 2000 as a network where members accommodate travelers in their home free of charge.

By staying with a local, travelers gain the inside knowledge of a culture that is not provided by staying in a hostel or hotel.

Registration means becoming both a guest and a host. Members are asked to accommodate other travelers, completely free of charge, whenever it is convenient for them.

If a member visits 20 other members, then s/he is expected to accommodate 20 other members, over whatever time period s/he is comfortable with.

Holiday Link: House-sit (Dutch-language)

This Dutch-language site facilitates a symbiotic relationship between two types of vacationers.

One group goes on vacation and wants someone to stay in their house to care for plants and pets as well as prevent their house becoming an empty target for thieves while they are away.

The other group, the house sitters, are mostly active senior citizens from Holland and Belgium who have the 'retired life' schedule that doesn't require them to plan too far in advance.

In some cases, they have emigrated and Holiday Link provides a low-cost opportunity for a vacation in their native country.

Some of the housesitters simply use Holiday Link to find a temporary dwelling while in between the buying and selling of their own homes or while their house is under construction.

Hospitality Club: House Share

Veit Kuhne founded the non-commercial club in 2000 because he believed it possible to increase intercultural understanding and strengthen world peace by bringing travelers in touch with people in the place they visit and by giving locals a chance to meet people from other cultures.

Since 2002, he has been hitchhiking around the world trying to fascinate one million people with the idea of hospitality exchange.
At the time of this post, there are 168,895 members in 205 countries helping each other when they are traveling - be it with a roof for the night or a guided tour through town.

Intervac: House Swap

This organization started in 1953 in Europe. Boasts the largest database of home exchange offers in over 50 countries.

Servas UN NGO: House Share

Founded in 1949 by Bob Luitweiler as a peace movement, Servas International is a non-profit organization working to build understanding, tolerance and world peace.

Travelers are encouraged to experience other societies more deeply and with more understanding than they would be likely to do as just plain tourists.

Over 13,000 Servas open doors in almost every country give travelers the opportunity to meet hosts, their families and friends and join in their everyday life.

Where convenient, hosts may offer two nights' accommodation and invite travelers to share a meal.

Names and addresses of hosts appear in annually produced lists which are made available to approved travelers.

Women Welcome Women Worldwide (5W): House Share

To encourage international friendship by enabling women to visit one another in their own homes, 5W was founded in 1984 by Frances Alexander in High Wycombe, UK.

After being publicized in the EEC bulletin "Women of Europe," 5W grew to the point of now having members in every continent except Antarctica.

Members do not pay a fee, but when possible, they donate to the Trust Fund.

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