FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)

What is Orthodox Accommodation?

We are THE place on the web to offer, or search for, accommodation in Orthodox Christian homes around the world.

 

How does this site work?

There are three main ways to use your membership. You are welcome to use one, two or all three types - whatever suits you best.

1) Home exchange with another member at an appointed time, for an agreed-upon duration. This can be just to another city, eg Miami to New York or to another country/continent entirely, eg San Francisco to Thessaloniki.                       

2) Hospitality exchange, in which members host one another at different times.                       

3) B&B (bed and breakfast), in which one member pays a reasonable fee to another in exchange for overnight accommodation and a meal. You can turn your spare room into an income-generating Orthodox B&B with a few clicks! We will host your fully searchable photos and text about your B&B free with your membership!

Your single Orthodox Accommodation membership includes all three types of exchange, or you can click to specify just B&B, just home exchange, etc. on your profile.  

Other variations, for example long-term academic or cultural exchanges, are always possible to arrange at the discretion of the members. For a more detailed explanation of the three MAIN types of exchange (home exchange, hospitality exchange, and B&B), scroll down.

How do I become a member?

The process to become a member is very simple and takes only a few minutes:

1) Click 'become a member'. You will be prompted to fill out a brief form. Your information is secure as per our privacy policy

2) Pay via

a) Credit card ~ Visa and Mastercard

b) Paypal

c) International money order (by prior arrangement)

 

3) Create your profile

4) Start making your travel plans!

 

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What is home exchange?

Home exchange is the brightest travel idea around. Instead of paying huge hotel bills, two parties arrange to trade homes for an agreed-upon period of time. It is a terrific way to save money, as it can totally eliminate the cost of accommodation from your travel budget. It's a beautiful pilgrimage or a refreshing holiday for the cost of airfare and pocket money alone!

What is hospitality exchange?

Hospitality exchange is a twist on home exchange. Rather than trade places at the same time, hospitality exchangers host one another at different times. This style can offer more flexible timing - and a built-in travel guide and language tutor! It is a great option for young people, academics travelling for research, or pilgrims in faraway places. It's a friendly light in the window.

What is a B&B (Bed and Breakfast) listing?

This means the member is asking for a donation or charging a reasonable fee in exchange for hosting you. Search the B&B listings for affordable places to stay, or post your own Egeria B&B listing to raise extra cash and make new friends! (Just make sure your B&B fee is not too high, so the B&B listings still offer good value for other members.)

How do I use my membership?

Once you become a member, you are free not only to search the listings but to contact your fellow members and start making travel plans!

Orthodox Accommodation offers three main ways to use your membership: 

1) Home exchange

2) Hospitality exchange

3) B&B (Bed and Breakfast)

The precise terms of your exchange are completely up to the exchanging parties. We start the conversation; the rest is up to you!

What if my town is boring?

What's boring to you could be thrilling to someone else -- you never know. Also, there could be many unseen reasons for someone to come to your area: to visit relatives living nearby, to go to a conference, or just to laugh at your accent, eh? 

What if my house or apartment is very small or modest?

That's fine. Just be honest on your profile that the place is small or homely -- it will still be sought after! People are not always looking for a mansion -- most just want a home base while they explore the sights. If you were staying free in Rome, would you care about the size of the closets?

Is home exchange safe?

This is usually the first question people ask when they hear about home exchange. In fact, home exchange is very safe, because you don't actually let 'strangers' stay in your home.

Well in advance of the actual exchange, you have sent emails back and forth, spoken on the phone a few times, and gotten to know each other. You have a comfortable rapport. Also:

> The other member will have the same concerns about you in their home.

> You are under no obligation arrange an exchange with, or to host, anyone who makes you uneasy

> Your host's friends, fellow parishioners and neighbors will most likely be available for support and help should you need it during your stay.

> Your own friends and neighbors will be keeping an eye on things for you while you are away from home, and will be able to contact you should any problems arise.

> Cases of negative experiences with home exchange are extremely rare.

> Realistically, no one is going to fly halfway around the world just to mess with your stuff. It's just too much work.

> There is an added element of trust and accountability with Orthodox Accomodation, since most of its members are Orthodox Christians.

What about my valuables?

Do whatever is comfortable for you. Many seasoned home exchangers never lock up their belongings. But you can certainly take the precaution of removing or locking up items if you wish. You can also arrange for a friend to stop by and greet/ check up on your guest while you are away.

 

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Can I search the listings before I become a member?

Yes! Feel free to browse around and see what the possibilities are for YOUR travel! Let your mind wander, and when you are ready, click on any one of our Become a Member buttons to follow our fast and easy registration process. 

I don't really want to travel anywhere. Can I still be a member?

Absolutely. You can create a listing just offering your guest room or vacation property to other members as a B&B. This means that you will be able to charge a reasonable fee of other members who need accommodation. Your listing will be found easily by anyone searching the site for accommodation with an Orthodox connection. Stay home and make some extra money!

Why does an Egeria membership cost money? 

A site such as Orthodox Accommodation is costly to build and maintain. We want to provide the best experience possible for our members through excellent customer support and useful and up-to-date content.

It is also in the best interests of all the members that there is at least a nominal fee - it assures everyone involved that the other members are committed to making a successful exchange.

We will strive to keep the entire site uncluttered and advertisement-free, with the exception of some sponsored links that will be of actual value to our members.

Remember, too,  that your membership will pay for itself in a number of ways:

If you offer Bed and Breakfast to other members during the term of your membership, you can make back the cost of your membership - or more!

When you travel with Orthodox Accommodation, the money you save on accommodation greatly outweighs the membership fee. You can literally save hundreds or thousands of dollars, depending on how frequently you travel and how savvy you are at using your membership!

If for any reason you are unable to use make a satisfactory travel arrangement during the term of your membership, your membership will be extended another year free of charge.

How much does it cost?

$9.99/ ONE YEAR MEMBERSHIP

$14.99/ TWO YEAR MEMBERSHIP

Prices include taxes.

I noticed that the prices are in US dollars, but I don't live in the US. How do I know how much to pay?

Our payment platform Paypal will adjust the amount automatically to your currency when you pay with Visa or Mastercard. For international money order, ask at your bank if you may purchase a money order in the equivalent amount to $9.99 or $14.99 US, according to the day's exchange rate.

Do I have to be an Orthodox Christian to be a member?

No. Although we are designed with Orthodox people in mind, it is open to all who would like to join. If you're Orthodox, great. If you have a friend or family member who is Orthodox, that's great too. Perhaps you just have a cultural or theological interest in Orthodoxy and you like the idea of encountering Orthodox people around the world. Whatever your reasons for being here, you are welcome!

 

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What if I can't make a match?

We guarantee the usefulness of your membership. If you can't make a successful match, we will extend your membership another year free of charge, provided that you

A) Post at least two photos of your exchange property AND

B) Send enquiries to at least two other members regarding a possible exchange during the original term of your membership. 

Do I need a One-Year or Two-Year membership?

It depends. If you are quite flexible with your dates and the type of accommodation you like, a one year membership may suit you. Remember that if you can't make a match during the term of your membership, it will be extended another year free of charge.*

A two year membership is more economical, especially if you think you will need a bit more time to make your plans. Home exchange is a little more idiosyncratic than other types of travel accommodation, and it is always good to start planning well in advance. A two-year membership also makes sense if you are planning to travel more than once on your membership. 

*Conditions apply; you must post at least one picture on your profile, and attempt to contact two or more other members to arrange an exchange.

Can I list more than one property?

Yes. You can list up to three properties on our site using one membership. 

What about house cleaning?

You can either hire a cleaner, bribe your mom, or roll up the old shirtsleeves yourself. Having someone come to stay is also great motivator to do some deeper cleaning and the little repair jobs you keep putting off. The house doesn't have to look like a museum, but it should be presentable and comfortable.

What if I rent my home?

This is not usually a problem. You are not letting your house out to strangers, but to someone you have formed a good and real rapport with. It is no different from having friends or a house sitter to stay. If you are concerned about it, you can always talk it over with the homeowner first. 

I haven't travelled much before. Is language going to be a problem?

Probably not. If you are an English speaker, you're in luck. English is by far the most-spoken second language on earth. Besides that, you would be surprised how far you can get with a smile, a phrase book and sign language. People are usually very touched by even your smallest and most pathetic attempts to use their language. 

What about insurance? 

Your ordinary home insurance should cover the period of your home exchange, because it is really no different from having friends or a house sitter stay. Check with your insurance provider for any specific information you need. 

Can I leave my pet?

If that is what you agree on with your exchange partner, yes. Being able to look after one another's pets, plants and gardens is one of the many benefits of home exchange. 

Can we exchange vehicles?

Many home exchangers do swap vehicles as well -- it's a matter of personal preference. For our members' convenience we provide agreement forms detailing what property will be exchanged and the terms and conditions of the exchange. For those who are comfortable with it, car swapping is another great advantage to home exchange. Don't forget bikes and boats, too!

 

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I've never heard of the Orthodox Church. What is it?

The Orthodox Church is the ancient Christian Church, unchanged in its dogmatic statements and its core liturgical practices since the time of the New Testment. Until the 11th century the Roman Catholic and Orthodox churches were one body, but since that time there have been developments within the Roman Catholic Church which are not accepted by the Orthodox.

Most of the historically Orthodox lands are in the eastern hemisphere, hence the designation "Eastern Orthodox": The Balkans, Russia, Finland, Romania, Ukraine, Greece, Georgia, Armenia, Egypt, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Israel, Syria, etc. There are, however, robust and growing Orthodox populations in the Americas, Western Europe, Asia and Australia. There are also pockets of Orthodoxy in places such as Alaska, Japan and Shanghai, due to the activity there of Russian missions in the 19th century, and in South India, attributed to the mission of St Thomas.

It is estimated that there are 250 million Orthodox Christians in the world, making it the second largest Christian communion after Roman Catholicism. For a wealth of information on the Orthodox Church, visit Orthodox wiki. org.

I have lots of Orthodox connections. What do I need your site for?

Naturally, many Orthodox have lots of friends and aquaintances through the Church, even around the world. But when you are looking for accommodation, it isn't always comfortable or convenient to ask for it directly. And, of course, they may not live where you need to go! With an Egeria membership you have:

> No Awkwardness The 'can I stay at your place' part of the conversation is already begun for you! Egeria members are all about finding and/or offering accommodation, so you don't have to be shy.

> No Pressure You can look at the overall site, the countries available and the details, including photos, of any exchange offer before talking to other members.

> Searchability On this website you can search by country, city, number of bedrooms -- whatever is relevant for you. You can even do a 'reverse search' to see who wants to visit your country or city! Zero in on what meets your travel needs best from our international listings.

> International Orthodox Accommodation at a Glance Egeria offers many more possibilities than you can find by asking around your circle of friends, even if it is quite large. This saves a lot of time! Our listings also include the dates available, taking the guesswork out of when your host is able to accommodate you conveniently. 

> Commitment Members pay a fee to register, so there is a real commitment to making a match that works, and keeping listings up to date.

> Convenience Orthodox Accommodation brings worldwide Orthodox accommodation information together onto one convenient, searchable website. You can drop by and see what is available whenever you like, and arrange unique and flexible accommodation that suits your needs.

Does Orthodox Accommodation arrange my accommodation for me?

Not directly.

We provide a central, one-stop place on the web for Orthodox home and hospitality exchange listings, as well as information about some paid accommodation of particular interest or value to Orthodox Christians.

You communicate with other members directly and make your own arrangements with them by email and phone. But we are readily available for contact and support should you need us. 

Is home exchange different from vacation rentals or time share? I've heard of those.

Home and hospitality exchange are quite different from both vacation rental and time share. In the case of vacation rental, you pay a considerable amount for accommodation. With time share you need to buy into the property, and you usually have access to only one property or a short list of properties.

However, with home exchange:

you have access to as many properties as there are members around the world, and you can go somewhere different every time you travel

you are not asked to buy in or commit to anything - once your travels are done, you go home - that's it!

you can stay in an entire house, perhaps even a very large villa, without paying anything at all!

 

 


arrowCreating your listing:

When you list your residence a good description of your home and surrounding areas is important. Your list needs to be an advertisement to excite people about visiting your area and your home. The more details about your home the more chances you will find someone that is interested in exchanging homes with you. So list if it has a pool, if a car is available, how far away is the beach, etc. If you are near tourist attractions list those also. People will be interested to learn what is in the area, what activities are available for kids, is there antique or discount shopping close by, etc. If you live in a small town, focus on the relaxed attitude of the area. If you are not in a main tourist area, maybe there are hiking trails, parks, biking, tennis, small towns with unique shops to visit, farmers markets, and more.

Some members even have their own websites to showcase their homes. You can add a link to your website in your description.

You want to make your listing as detailed as possible.
Go to other web sites from your area (community sites, county sites, park and recreation sites, attraction sites) to gather information that you can share with perspective home exchangers.

arrowPhotos:

Adding Photos to your listing is a must. Most members will only exchange for a home that they can see some photographs of to get an idea of the residence and surrounding areas. At a minimum you should take photos of the exterior of the residence, the Master Bedroom, kitchen, and living room. You should really include more photographs of the other bedrooms, recreational areas, like a game room or outside play areas, photos of the view if you have a scenic view, and photos of the area. www.EasyHomeExchange.com allows you to enter more photos than any other Home Exchange service. This is because we know just how important photos are for your listing. Our easy to use photo tools walk you through the process. If takes only moments to place your photos on our site and our tools resize the photos for you if needed. If you like, you can also email your photos to us with your member ID and we can add them to your listing.

arrowHow to make an Exchange:

There are two ways Exchanges take place. You either contact another member to inquire about staying at their residence or another member contacts you to inquire about staying at your residence

arrowMaking Contact:

Member can contact each other via email messages through the EasyHomeExchange website. If members decide to exchange they can then exchange phone numbers, addresses, and work out the exchange details between themselves. You will generate a great deal of interest in your listing and will get exchange requests from all over the world. If the dates work out for when someone would like to stay at your residence, you would work out the details with that party, that party would transfer the specified amount of Exchange Dollars into your account and then stay at your residence. After the stay has ended, you can leave feedback for the member that stayed at your residence and they can leave feedback for you. If the dates someone wants to exchange with you do not work for you. Please reply to the requestor so they can look for other members to exchange with. Some members like to exchange with other members home for home during the same dates. This offers a sense of security since you know that the other member is also purchasing airfare and making travel arrangements at the same time and that they are unlikely to cancel the exchange after airfare has been booked. You also know that the other party is staying in your house and have a sense that they will treat your property like you are treating theirs.

Feedback also allows you to see what other members are saying about their stays, so this also can be used as one party to deciding which members to exchange with.

As always, the more information and detailed planning you share with each other when making a home exchange the better. If you are exchanging home for home plan a date to purchase airline tickets and then fax or email copies to each other of your airline tickets.

Ultimately you decide which members you allow in your residence and what terms and conditions you set with each other.

arrowWays to help make an Exchange:

1. Make a list of all the places that you are interested in visiting. List the dates you would like to go. The more flexible you are the easier it is to make a home for home exchange.
2. Use Exchange Dollars to trade for a home stay without having to exchange your home. This allows you to work with a much wider selection of members and find a match sooner.
3. If you are interested in a prime destination during peak travel times, make your offer stand out. Again you can do a home for home exchange for Exchange Dollars, or even easier, pay the exchange dollar rate the home is offered for and don’t worry about if your house is a match for the other member.
4. Communication – Communication with the other member is key.
You will work out the exchange dollar price, dates, and exchange agreement with them. Exchange contact information and make sure everything is in writing so there are no misunderstandings about what is included.
5. As our membership grows feel free to check other members feedback comments as one part of your evaluation before making a home exchange.
6. If you have an empty vacation home 11 months out of the year, list it on exchange as often as you want. You couldl get many members that want to stay there and they would send you exchange dollars to do so. Save up your exchange dollars for a trade when you are ready to go on vacation at another members residence.
7. Leave plenty of time to make an exchange. Plan your exchange in advance so you can contact other members and work out the details.
8. It is very important to be truthful and honest in your listing about your home. People are planning a vacation based on this information and will be booking expensive non-refundable airfare in most cases. You can NOT back out of an exchange once exchange dollars have been transferred between parties.

When you transfer exchange dollars it is also a good idea for both parties to sign an exchange agreement with the terms they have agreed to for the exchange. You can make your own exchange agreement or use some sample ones we have here as a place to start.

arrowGetting your home ready for an Exchange:

It is a good idea to leave a Home Exchange welcome packet in your home: This can be a binder with covered pages and tabs. This way you can easily remove a page or update a page as needed when you do home exchanges. The welcome packet should include:

a. Appliance Operation - How to operate major appliances (Washer, Dryer, DishWasher, Garage doors, Stove, Grill, Microwave, etc.) If you have any unique items or difficult items to figure out.

b. Emergency Shut-offs - A section on key house locations. How to turn off the gas, water heater, breaker box, alarm information if needed.

c. A contact emergency list -
o Phone number of emergency local contact person (neighbor or property manager)
o Nearby hospital
o Numbers for police and fire department or 911
o Car insurance information (if included in the exchange)
o Car repair shop
o Alarm code
o List of how is allowed in the house
o. How to contact you, the owner.

d. Local information – Include local take out menus, lists of attractions or attraction flyers from your local AAA or tourism office, local area maps, directions to and from the airport.

arrowArranging your Home for Guests:

Just like when you have friends and family over to stay the night, make sure you have closet space available, a few drawers for each guest, room in the bathroom for toiletries, and room in your frig for food your guest might purchase. It is nice to laundry soap. Some homes offer small bathroom soaps and shampoos they have collected from hotel stays. Towels in the bathroom should be readily available.

Some members leave a note on draws that are empty for guests to use, some mark these with colored tassels.

For the kitchen make sure you have basic items: salt, pepper, oil, vinegar, etc. Make sure you have pots, pans, silverware. If you have a dish washer, soap for the dishwasher is also nice to have.

arrowHow to exchange keys:

There are several ways to exchange keys:

1. Most people make extra copies and just mail them to each other. When you leave you can leave the keys in the home, or mail them back.
2. Another popular option is to buy a key lock box. These are small real estate lock boxes that have a combination lock. You give the combination to the guest and they can get the key out of the lock box and also put it back in the lock box when they leave. These boxes are about $30 and attach to anyplace outside your house with a few screws.
3. A family member or friend / neighbor can also give the key to your guest, but this leaves room for mistakes and your guest could be sitting outside waiting for this person to arrive. If you use this option make sure everyone knows what time to meet and also trade contact information.


arrowLeave the House clean and tidy:

One person’s definition of clean is not another’s. So take this into consideration when making an exchange. You are not exchanging for a five star resort but are gaining experiences, making friends and also saving money.

Before you exchange your home, take time to go over it and clean and reduce clutter. Some members go as far as to get a cleaning service to take care of this but that is not always necessary.

You want to exchange for a clean tidy house and you should make sure your home is also clean and tidy.

arrowEverything else:

1. Lock Valuables in a room in your home, or remove them from your home.
2. If you do not want guest to use specific items make sure this is discussed and written into our     home exchange agreement. It is also a good idea to remove or mark these items with a note, not to use.
3. Have a friend or Neighbor’s contact information available to assist if a problem should arise.
4. Contact your guest via email or telephone during their stay to make sure they do not have any questions.
5. A small welcome gift next to your welcome packet is always well received. Also a thank you note when you leave an exchange is polite.
6. Make sure you contact your home insurance company to get answers to any questions you may have, before making a home exchange.

arrowItems you might want to add to your exchange contract:

1. Use of vehicles. Make sure you contact your insurance company first to make sure you are covered to let someone else use your vehicle.
2. Who pays for Gas for your vehicle? You can leave the car tank full and request to have it filled again.
3. Cleaning of home – Most members just leave the house as they found it, put clean dishes away, make the beds, make sure the house is back to the way it was when you arrived. Some exchange agreements each party pays for their own cleaning service after an exchange. Everything is negotiable.
4. Local Phone calls only. Some member’s setup PayPal accounts to transfer money if the phone is used to make long distance calls.

arrowUseful forms:

EasyHomeExchange.com provides sample Home Exchange Forms. Feel free to use these as a base form and add to it to create your own exchange contract to meet your needs.

We have supplied these forms in two formats. MS Word and Adobe PDF. The MS Word forms you can open in Microsoft Word, edit as needed, and resave with your own file name. You can then send this to the other member to read / edit and return to you. The PDF form you can print out and add to by hand and then mail via the postal service.

These are just sample forms, feel free to use them with other members as you see fit. Make sure you cover areas that are important to you. If you want signatures feel free to leave the signature line in the form. Whatever you are comfortable with.

If you are exchanging vehicles it is recommended a separate specific exchange form be filled out for the vehicle exchange that covers all questions and how each situation would be resolved.

Home Exchange Agreement:
This agreement is a starting point for you to build your specific tailored home exchange contract from.

Home Exchange Agreement:
get file Click here for the PDF version.
Sample Home Exchange Agreement Click here for the MS Word version.

Vehicle Exchange Agreement:
This agreement is a starting point for you to build your specific tailored Vehicle contract from.

Vehicle Exchange Agreement:
get file Click here for the PDF version.
get file Click here for the MS Word version.

Remember EasyHomeExchange.com is providing these sample forms, but you need to create the final agreement form that you are comfortable with. Also EasyHomeExchange.com offers a place for members to discuss home exchange, tips, forums, and feedback, but it is up to you to setup a home exchange that you are comfortable with.