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House swapping: accommodation with a difference

What would you say to the idea of a 3 week holiday in a four bedroom house, in the destination of your choice, rent free? Too good to be true? Not according to the Guardian, who offer a home exchange service www.guardianhomeexchange.co.uk.

For a yearly membership fee of £35.00 you can add your home to their listings and search for a similar property worldwide whose owners want to swap houses for a vacation.

Happy house swappers point out the advantages: it’s not only accommodation. By prior agreement you can also swap cars, have your pets fed and plants watered and swap the children’s toys, books and even babysitter too.

Further perks include having your home occupied during a holiday period when housebreakers target empty houses, getting a better feel of local life by meeting the neighbours and even establishing a lasting friendship with your swap partners.

But is it all a bed of roses? For most, the exchange proved positive, although one ‘blip’ was experienced by a family who swapped their car with Canadians. Keen to see everything the UK has to offer, they added four thousand miles to the clock.

But if you get to know your swap partners well in advance via e-mail, build up trust and choose people with a similar lifestyle, the chances are you will have a great holiday with no hotel bills to pay.

And as the recession bites this may become an increasingly attractive option

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