Tag Archive for travel hacking

6 Things to Know Before You Home Swap

6 Things to Know Before You Home Swap

6 Things to Know Before You Home SwapWith the holidays coming up, a lot of people and families start to think about holiday travel. Some families even go on vacation during these times to experience a new country or location. One way to save on the costs of vacationing is to do a home swap.

A home swap is where you switch homes with another family during the same time. Basically it?s ?free? lodging with a complete kitchen so you can cook and save on meals. If you are considering this for your holiday vacation, here are six things to know before you home swap.

Determine the Type of Home Swap You are Doing

There are three general types of house swaps.

The first is where you both switch at the same time and are gone the same amount of time.

The second is where you still exchange houses but your vacation dates are different.

The last is hosting an exchange, so you are there when your guests and vice versa when it?s your turn to stay. Some families or couples chose to host their first time doing a home swap. This option can be a great way to meet potential new friends from around the world.

Plan Ahead, Especially for International Swaps

You need to start planning sooner than later. Not everyone, especially if you have children, can pack up and go in a week. There are a lot more logistics to plan out.

Plus, if you have specific places you want to go, they may not have an available date the same as you. If you have found an exchange household, you?ll want to spend some time getting to know them first.

If you are going to travel and do an international swap, you’ll want to plan ahead even further as there are more logistics to work out for international travel.

Sign Up for a Home Swap Service

There are several home swap websites you can use, such as Love Home Swap or HomeExchange.

Though switching homes is free, some of these services do charge a yearly or monthly membership. This can make potential guests feel better knowing that both parties have skin in the game and won?t turn out to be horrible guests. These services help you find a house swap partner and help you go through the whole process.

List Your Expectations

Write down what you expect to have of your host house and what you expect of them when staying at your home. List everything they can use or do and things that are off limits.

If you are expecting to stay in a mansion with room service and you don?t mention that, you?ll be sorely disappointed when you get to a large house with no room service. The more open you are about what your needs will be, the better experience you’ll have.

Lock Valuables or Store in a Safe Place

If you do have some priceless heirlooms or some things you are worried about being damaged, you can always remove them from the premise or lock them up in a room that your guests can?t get into.

The people staying in your home are expecting you to treat their home how they treat it. That is to say they?re just as worried as you are about belongings being cared for properly.

Consider Liability Insurance

Some home swappers also trade vehicles. If you decide to do this, make sure your insurance is up-to-date and that your swap family has vehicle insurance too.

Also, check your home owner?s insurance to see if it is up-to-date and if you need to increase the amount for a short time while the other family is staying in your home.

Place the numbers of your insurance agent along with your emergency contact numbers in a convenient location. Most likely nothing will happen, but it?s better to be safe than sorry.

Most home swaps are done to great success. Once you’ve home swapped once, you’ll likely become a regular. It’s a great way to save money and get to see places all over the world.


Have you ever tried a home swap? Would you ever consider it?


Photo courtesy of: sharonang

US Airways Mastercard Review: Get 40,000 Miles Now!

US Airways Mastercard

US Airways MastercardThe US Airways Mastercard is quite possibly one of the easiest credit cards I have churned. Since I like to keep things simple, that?s saying a lot. Many credit cards require a certain amount to be spent in order to earn those fat sign-up bonuses. That?s not the case with the US Airways Mastercard. In fact, you only need to make one purchase on the US Airways credit card in order to qualify for the bonus miles. A transfer works as well, but I just prefer the purchase.

Before I get on with my US Airways Mastercard review I will give you a warning that this card will be going away at some point in 2015. So, if 40,000 bonus miles are something you?d like then act now before it goes away. This is due to their merger with American Airlines, which will be finalizing at some point in 2015. I?ll also add that if you?re trying to pay off debt or struggle with overspending, then churning credit cards is the last thing you should do ? plain and simple. With those disclaimers out of the way let?s get on with the review of the US Airways World Mastercard.

Things I Like About the US Airways Mastercard

There are many things I like about the US Airways Mastercard, such as:

You get 40,000 bonus miles. Like I said above, you get 40,000 bonus miles by using the US Airways Premier World Mastercard once. That?s it, once. No minimum spending to deal with at all. I bought two gallons of gas for our mower with the card and that?s all I needed. Easy peasy. You do have to pay the $89 annual fee, but that?s not bad at all.

You get two companion tickets. These can be used for up to two people and allow you to buy their ticket for $99 plus fees and taxes. I just got mine in the mail a few weeks ago and am looking forward to using them!

You get a 5,000 mile discount. This is a somewhat common one among airline cards, but is still nice to have. So, if it costs 30,000 miles to secure a ticket you get it for 25,000.

Your miles can be used on either US Air or American. This is a nice little feature thanks to the merger. So, if you?re earning points on the US Airways Mastercard you have the option of redeeming the miles on American.

Your first bag is free. This is for domestic flights, but you get the first bag free for you and up to four people with the US Airways credit card. US Air charges $25 for the first bag, so if you fly with a partner this is an instant savings of $50 each way.

Double miles on US Air purchases. With the US Airways Mastercard you get two miles per dollar spent and one mile on everything else. This is fairly common, but is still a nice feature to have.

This covers the majority of the things I like about the US Air Mastercard. There are other things like first class check-in and complimentary day passes to the US Airways Club that are nice, though I don?t see us using that much.

What I Don?t Like About the US Airways Credit Card

There are no perfect credit cards and that?s the case with the US Airways World Mastercard. What I like least about the card is there is an $89 annual fee attached to it. In order to get the bonus miles you will have to deal with the annual fee. That said, I still think it presents a great value even given the annual fee.

What Does the Merger with American Airlines Bring About?

With the finalization of the merger with American pending, there are a few changes that have happened, or will impact the US Airways Mastercard at some point, such as:

This card will be going away. This is a no brainer. The US Air credit card will go away once the merger is complete in 2015.

More possibilities to use the miles. With the merger with American Airlines, you now have the ability to use your US Air dividend miles not only on American but also on any of its 14 other OneWorld member airlines that include airlines like British Airways, Cathay Pacific, Iberia and more.

Some privileges will be going away. After the merger with American Airlines is complete, certain privileges will be dying off. As far as I can tell those will include the annual companion pass, first class check-in and 5,000 mile discount. Keep that in mind when you apply for the US Airways Mastercard.

Where Can You Go With Your US Air Dividend Miles?

The thing that got me to sign up for this credit card is the abundant possibilities of where you can go with the 40,000 miles. If you?re going to fly on US Airways, you can find the mileage chart here. As you can tell, you can go anywhere in the U.S., Canada, the Caribbean, Mexico, Central America, South America as well as Europe. A few of those destinations will require you to travel during their off peak period, but you can?t complain about that.

The options to use US Air miles isn?t quite as nice on the OneWorld member airlines, but still gives plenty of options. You can find that mileage chart here. Using this option still allows you to get to Hawaii, Mexico, the Caribbean and Central America.

I think for the right person the US Airways Mastercard could be a great option to consider if you?re looking for a new card to churn. With it only requiring one purchase or transfer to earn the miles, it?s hard to complain about this card. It?s also nice that they offer the different transfer opportunities with the OneWorld member airlines. If you?re looking for an easy card to churn that offers decent miles, the US Air Mastercard could be a solid one to consider.


What is the latest credit card you?ve been churning? Where are you planning your next trip?




Photo courtesy of: Aero Icarus