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How to get a luxury trip to Salt Lake City for free

Salt Lake City home exchange

Just behind our Salt Lake City home

In the lobby of a downtown Salt Lake City hotel, a man, who we had never met, arrived to pick us up, full of apologies for being 15 minutes late. An hour later he was walking away from his plush 3 story east side townhouse, leaving us alone in his home, gazing in stunned admiration at the 180 degree city and mountain views.

He had handed over the keys to his home and his car, given us the run of his fridge, cable, internet, even his family silver for seven whole days, for absolutely nothing. And best of all he seemed delighted to do so. He even left us a bottle of chilled champagne with a pink rosette attached.

A one off? No!

Salt Lake City home exchange

Our bedroom view in Salk Lake City

At this point you may be thinking WTF? Why would someone do that? Is this some weird cult? (After all, it is Utah!)

Fast forward seven days as, despite our 4×4 beast of a vehicle, we skid our way down a snow covered, tree lined, wilderness track. A lady in snow boots and a fur lined hat grins to us from outside of a log cabin. We wind down the window. ‘Are you guys Chris and Hannah?’ she beams. ‘Welcome! Park in my spot and let’s get you settled in’. Goodness, these Utah folk are friendly.

Greeted by a roaring fire and a fridge stocked with beer we take in the cosy cabin that will be our home for the next week. ‘Please, help you self to anything at all’ the nice lady reassures us. After a quick tour and a few key instructions she heads for the door. ‘Have a wonderful week!’ she instructs as she picks her way through the snow drifts.

Brigton ski resort home exchange

Our Brighton Ski Resort Cabin

What is YOUR first thought about home exchanging?

When we tell people that we do regular home exchanges they tend to get a dubious look on their faces and immediately ask; ‘is it safe? How can you be sure they won’t steal your stuff?’

The more of these exchanges we do, the more we come to appreciate how lovely most people are. They go out of their way to be kind and thoughtful. They show their trust by allowing you into one of the most sacrosanct areas of their life, and do it with surprising generosity. This trip has been unusual because the exchanges are non-simultaneous- our hosts will visit our home later in the year. But the intentions are consistent whether you get to meet your hosts or not- evidence by the handpicked bunch of flowers on arrival or the carefully researched recommendations in your ‘welcome folder’.

Off the tourist trail

I’m pretty sure both of the places we have been lucky enough to stay in would have been out of our price range if we had gone with a more traditional method. (in fact I know so- we’ve since discovered the $250 a night price tag in the cabin, which would have set us back best part of a couple of grand for our stay if we’d had to pay). We’ve also had the opportunity ‘live’ in places most tourists would never get to see. Combined with the wonderful people we get to meet, home exchanging gives us access to a network that it’s a real privilege to be part of.

We originally came to Salt Lake City for a 4 day conference. Home exchanges, and the flexibility of an ‘internet lifestyle,’ mean we’ve able to turn what could easily have been a flying business trip into a 3 week adventure where we have hiked mountain trails, squinted at distant buffalo, day tripped to an island in the salt lake, enjoyed quaint local eateries, pushed our limits snowboarding- all fitted in around our normal working week.

snow digging!

Some post boarding digging!


What are your thoughts about home exchanges?
Would you give it a try?
Or do you have some doubts about the whole idea?
Let us know your opinions!


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4 Responses to “How to get a luxury trip to Salt Lake City for free”

  1. Great article! What home exchanging site did you use??

    • R
    • Reply
    • Thanks for the comment! We use http://www.homeexchange.com/, always had a good experience from them. Are you looking to do a home exchange?

      • Hannah and Chris
      • Reply
  2. Great cost saving strategy! Another good way is exchange of trade deals with tour operators or lodges – I managed to negotiate a luxury cruise and free flights in exchange for running two feature articles in the outdoor magazine I worked for at the time. The result was this trip: http://www.controlfreaktravel.com/2012/11/06/mozambique-cruisin-it-doesnt-get-much-better-than-this/
    Control Freak Travel recently posted..Copywriting: A proven approach to becoming a location independent professional

    • What a great trade and trip! We have done a few ‘trades’ in the past and have found you don’t have to have a massively huge successful site to get a trade. You just need to lay out exactly what you can do for them plus approach as many different companies as possible.

      • Hannah and Chris
      • Reply

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