The bustling glamour of Dubai, the hospitality of Jordan, and the luxury spas of Egypt have done much to attract Western tourists to the Middle East in the past few years. As the popularity of the region grows, savvy travellers are looking at different ways to save money whilst still getting the most out of an Arabian holiday.

Home Exchange Holidays

Searching for the best value time-shares and accommodations in Jordan is a good place to start. Of course, if you want to truly immerse yourself in Arabian culture you could consider a house exchange.

It can be a pretty scary prospect, at first. You’re letting strangers into your home and trusting them with your possessions. There are ways to alleviate this stress. Getting to know your exchange partners via telephone and email before the swap is a good way to get a feel for them.

Swapping homes at the same time will also build mutual respect: they’ll hope you’re looking after their home, so they’ll look after yours.

If you’re considering a house exchange in the Middle East you will need to do your research beforehand. You can choose from luxury villas in Jordan’s gated communities, penthouse apartments high in the Dubai skyline, and village housing on the outskirts of Jerusalem.

Living amongst locals will enrich your experience, but do take care not to offend them.

Islam is the dominant religion in the Middle East; so a few lifestyle changes may be necessary during your stay. Pork products are seen as sinful, and alcohol is also frowned upon. While it might be okay to chomp on bacon sandwiches and drink daiquiris in the main tourist resorts, you might find yourself facing angry reactions in the suburbs.

Women should bear in mind the religious tradition of dressing modestly (hijab). Although strict Muslims will only have their eyes and hands visible in public, you can respect tradition by wearing t-shirts and long skirts.

You may find yourself a bit uncomfortable otherwise; Jordan Jubilee advises that wearing revealing clothing can result in “being looked over… and NOT in the nice way!”

But a few fashion and food sacrifices are worthwhile to experience some of the world’s most beautiful sights; the ancient city of Petra, the pyramids of Giza, and the man-made Palm Jumeirah island of Dubai. Luxury shopping, beautiful scenery, and a warm, welcoming people will ensure that you see a different side to what is reported in the newspapers.

James the author of the “Home exchange holidays in the Middle East” is a travel blogger who loves to write about travels in Jordan and in particular Amman. When not on the road, he can usually be found at home in Edinburgh where he writes for several news sites.