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Save Money on your Vacation by Swapping Homes
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Save Money on your Vacation by Swapping Homes

This is a sure-fire way to get free accommodation when traveling. Swap your place of residence with someone who wants to visit your town.
It's a lot about trust and it's a lot about adventure, but most people who have gone in for house-swapping go back for more.

Getting involved in the house swapping market is as simple as surfing the Internet for sites that exchange homes and there are plenty of them. Most of them charge a fee to join up (less than one hundred dollars), but this is really negligible when you consider how much you will save by not having to pay for accommodation.

House swapping is sometimes referred to as 'home stay' vacations. And that's what you are doing. Staying in someone else's home and living like a local for the duration of your trip. You'll get to absorb the local culture as you mingle with your 'swapped' partner's neighbors and visit their favorite haunts. Their friends might even become your friends. And all this is happening back at your place while your swap partner gets ensconced in your lifestyle.

Does this sound like a way you'd like to save money on your trip? If it does, here are a few hints you might like to keep in mind when you enter the house swap market:

1. Sell your house. Not literally, but make sure you let prospective house-swappers know all the good things about your place. You may not think a small flat in the middle of a busy city would be appealing, but to someone wanting to visit that city, it would hold lots of appeal. Point out all the good bits -- close to transport, favorite restaurants, sight-seeing available. Take photos of your home and your family. Make it all look appealing. Location is your main selling (or swapping) point.

2. List your house with more than one swap organization. This will increase your chances of finding a suitable swap partner.

3. Have flexible times for when you'd like to travel. You're more likely to find a match if you aren't stuck on particular dates.

4. Ask lots of questions of your potential swap partner. How many people are in the swap group? What are there ages? Interests? What's the weather like and can you use their car as well? Will you need to feed pets or water the garden? Smoking or non-smoking? Expect to give these answers of yourself as well.

5. Check references of the people you want to swap with. If they have swapped their house before there should be references on the site you are using.

6. Can you organize a friend or neighbor to be a contact point for your visitors when they arrive? They can welcome them and help with any unforeseen problems.

7. Put together a file of information on your home so you can be prepared when the swap happens. Information to include would be: emergency numbers, how appliances and security systems work. Pet and garden care required. You may want to include tourist information, closest shopping centers and banks, and a local map to help your visitors get around.

8. Be considerate of the house you have swapped into. Leave it as you found it. Treat it like you would expect someone to treat your home.

House swapping is indeed an adventure and, although thoughts of what could go wrong might stop you from doing it, there are very few reports of difficulties from house swapping partners. This may be just the travel cost-saving adventure you are looking for. It's certainly worth investigating when traveling on a budget. You never know what exotic location you could end up in....

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