Ken Russell, a Londoner and founder of Home Around The World, decided to start his business after spending a summer in San Francisco. For the trip, he rented an apartment that turned out to be terrible, but during his exploration of the city, he made a new friend, Rosie, a local drag queen. He quickly changed his plans so he could stay with her and ended up having a fantastic vacation. The two became fast friends and have continued to be over the years.
As a result of that trip, Russell decided to start a new company, Home Around the World. It’s a website where LGBT users can exchange homes with other people in the LGBT community.
Russell says: “By joining a club of like-minded people, our members sleep around the world without ever losing the comforts of home. Staying in upmarket hotels and eating in fancy restaurants is great, but on a vacation it can be ruinously expensive and it’s almost always an impersonal experience. And unless you’re just relaxing in a resort, how often do you return from a vacation feeling exhausted?”
“Hotels encourage their guests to leave their room and be out during the day, which is fine if you have the stamina to schlep around and explore all day long,” he adds. “Personally I’d rather live life at my own pace, sleep late if I choose to, sightsee at my leisure, take new pleasure in shopping for food in supermarkets, meet local people and just enjoy all the comforts a home can offer.”
“By staying in a home, it’s easy to experience new cultures and really begin to understand what it’s like to live like a local and not travel as a tourist. You’ll not only save a ton of money, but you’ll have far more rewarding experiences. And what you’ll save on expenses means you can have more vacations throughout the year. It’s a win-win!”
The website also welcomes friends and allies of the LGBT community, says Russell.
“When Home Around the World started, our clientele was the LGBT traveler based on the concept that like attracts like. It seemed only natural to cater for our own community. However, a few years ago I began receiving emails from gay-friendly people disappointed that they might be barred from joining. Thankfully, times were rapidly changing and so it was an easy decision to open the site up to our “LGBT-friendly” friends. Our members are singles and couples of all ages and backgrounds and they offer a variety of homes from the simple and comfortable to the simply luxurious, and the one thing they have in common is the warm welcome they offer each other. “
People new to the site and to this concept of travel may be a bit hesitant at first, but there really is no reason to be.
“Most members are looking for simultaneous swaps but non-simultaneous swaps are also popular. They can provide an ideal way for new members — who might be hesitant about making their first direct swap — to stay with another member first and then return their hospitality at a later, mutually convenient time. The site also provides The Essential Guide to Home Swapping, a useful step-by-step guide to assist all our virgin home swappers eager to make their first swap,” adds Russell.