Timothé is a university student in the French city of Grenoble. He has just completed his third Nightswap during the Festival of Lights in Lyon. A pioneer of our website, Timothé was delighted to answer some of our questions. So find out what the NightSwapping experience has been like for one of our early adopters!
What inspired you to get involved in Nightswapping? What were your first impressions when you found out about the concept?
I was immediately in favour of the idea of swapping overnight accommodation. I find it makes things a lot simpler: it’s more honest and straightforward because self-interest is not a factor in the exchange. Furthermore, it provides a chance every time to meet new people, who, like me, love travelling and discovering new things. Each Nightswap really is a good experience.
My first impressions were excellent. When I did my first Nightswap, a year ago, the welcome and accommodation waiting for me when I arrived at my host’s place just confirmed what I already thought about the concept: that above all, it’s about simplicity and exchange between people. These are two important principles to me, which is why it was only natural that I would quickly be converted to the Nightswapping concept.
What advantages does this new way of finding accommodation offer over the traditional approach in your opinion?
Obviously, the primary advantage is a financial one. An overnight stay is free as long as my account is in credit: it’s brilliant!
But the advantages don’t end at the monetary aspect. I love Nightswapping because every time I do it I get the chance to meet locals who can offer me plenty of advice about what to see and do in their town/city.
It also involves sharing, because for a few days I get to share their daily lives and stay in a real, living home, and that’s something I wouldn’t be able to find with the traditional kind of rented accommodation, which is often cold and impersonal.
Finally, Nightswaps often (all the time in fact!) provide the opportunity to spend some very rewarding moments with the hosts. A genuine relationship of trust develops, which I think creates a very good feeling. Every time I complete a Nightswap, I’m left with the sense of having spent time in good company, which is something other systems currently don’t provide.
What experience do you have of being a Nightswapper?
I’ve now used the Nightswapping platform three times. I stayed in a guest room once, and in entire flats two other times. On each occasion I was well accommodated in fully-equipped, comfortable apartments. The last one I did made a very strong impression on me.
I went to Lyon for the Festival of Lights. It was difficult because all the hotels had been fully booked for months. However, even though I was sorting it out just a few weeks in advance, I still easily managed to find a Nightswap! Our (I travel together my girlfriend) host was very nice with us: she provided us with a programme for the Festival of Lights, explained how to avoid the crowds in getting there, and even offered us chocolates! Both the way we were accommodated and the weekend itself proved to be very memorable.
Christelle’s place – Nightswap during the Festival of Lights
What are our hosts like?
They make themselves very available for you and are considerate, understanding and truly welcoming. That last aspect is the most important one for me. I’ve got along well with my hosts each time and found them to be very nice and very open. It’s a big plus to be able to meet new people and discover new things when you travel!
In your opinion, does this kind of accommodation change a traveller’s perspective? What’s different about the way it works?
Yes, I’m absolutely convinced it does! Accommodation in which everyday life is being lived is clearly nicer than the classic kind, which is only stayed in on a temporary basis by travellers. And not just because it’s friendlier, but due to the simple fact that it’s also more practical and better organised.
Furthermore, I really believe that accommodation is an essential part of a trip: it’s where you recharge your batteries and where you get ready for each day. It’s very nice to be able to do that in a place that’s calm, pleasant and relaxed!
Is Nightswapping the kind of experience you would recommend to you friends or acquaintances?
Yes, absolutely. In fact that’s something I’ve already done where my family and friends are concerned :)
Do you envisage being an accommodation provider yourself? What type of accommodation do you have to offer?
Because Nightswapping is all about mutual benefit, it would be difficult for me to answer no to that! I view travelling as a kind of permanent exchange with people: you both give and receive continually. Joachim du Bellay’s well known maxim tells us “heureux qui comme Ulysses, a fait un beau voyage” (happy he who, like Ulysses, has made a great journey); but we mustn’t forget that the Greek hero travelled with a large number of companions, without whom his voyage would not have been so “great”!
My accommodation is therefore, and logically, already available on the site; it’s a calm, comfortable studio apartment in the centre of Grenoble. I can hardly wait to host my next Nightswappers.
Anything you’d like to add?
While I was in Lyon for the Festival of Lights, I had some Spanish travellers staying at my flat in Grenoble. I also travelled from Grenoble to Lyon via carsharing and then used UberPop to get to the apartment I’d booked on Nightswapping.com. In other words, the collaborative economy is now an essential part of my life.
This does of course allow me, as a student, to make substantial savings. But it’s also a chance, each time, to meet different people who have lots to offer me. I think this capacity to bring different personality types together through dialogue is the collaborative economy’s main strength. In this context, the word “we” assumes its full sense. I would say, paraphrasing Sartre, that thanks to the collaborative economy, “I share, therefore we are.”
A special thanks to Timothé for his time. You now surely know what you need to do to enjoy the next Festival of Lights at its best without breaking the bank! Whilst waiting, and if you are planning to head over to the Alps this winter, feel free to ask Timothé about a Nightswap in Grenoble. He will be delighted to host you!