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Swap houses with a stranger and learn how locals live

Nina Spitzer is a SheKnows.com columnist and a freelance writer living in sunny Cave Creek, Arizona.

Economical way to travel

The hottest new trend in vacations is house swapping. It's economical, fun and offers an opportunity to live like a local. Find out if house swapping is for you.

Key Exchange  

Picture yourself on your dream vacation in Tuscany. Your lodging is a small house on a hillside surrounded by flowers. All around are rolling hills of grapevines with a castle or two scattered off in the distance. The price of your lodging is even more amazing than the views – Free!

House swapping: What's it all about?

House swapping or home exchange is when two families in different parts of the country or world agree to trade homes for a vacation. Frequently, use of the family car goes along with the swap.

Location-Location-Location

Home exchanges are popular worldwide, especially in large cities like New York, London, and Paris. Don't be discouraged, however, if you live in a small town. Visitors are also interested in quiet, restful vacations where they can live like a local. The trick is selling the qualities of your small town and its surrounding areas.

Advantages of home exchanges

  • Money saved on lodging enables longer stays or more traveling
  • Peace of mind of someone watching your home 
  • A built in pet sitter while you're away
  • Houseplants will be cared for
  • Possible use of a car
  • Experiencing a different culture as a local 
  • Additional savings by "cooking in"
  • More space than a hotel room
  • New relationships with other homeowners

Disadvantages of home exchanges

  • Placing trust in a complete stranger
  • Accidental breakages may occur
  • Curious guests may snoop around your home
  • Coordinating vacation dates may be challenging
  • Last minute cancellations are difficult

Next page: How to get started on your house swap!

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