National Edition

Free hotels: Swapping houses means great savings for vacations

Published: Monday, Oct. 28 2013 8:00 a.m. MDT

Miller says this is not necessarily a problem. "Maybe someone has a conference they have to go to in Dullsville," she says. "Maybe a cousin lives there. Maybe the dates are not working out for other places."

People may have never considered to visit a particular place, but after talking with each other they might discover they have kids the same age with bikes in the garage, and it sounds like just the thing they would like to try.

"You never know why someone may want to come to your area," Tetreault says. "It could be a wedding, graduation or a family reunion. They need to travel and staying in a home is so much nicer than staying in a hotel."

And less expensive as well.

Home exchange websites:

Membership fees vary from $375 to $45 with some sites having free trials.


Dos and don'ts for home exchanges

From Ed Kushins, HomeExchange.com CEO


  • Get to know the person or family you are swapping with. Talk on the phone, swap recent photos and video-chat over Skype.
  • Ask for referrals about prior exchanges. This will tell you a lot about the person/family and home you are swapping with.
  • Agree on the ground rules for your exchange
  • Leave some local tips and eateries for the person/family who will be staying in your home.
  • Exchange cell phone numbers and leave a manual on how things work in your home, when plants need to be watered, etc.
  • Don't leave your home a mess or the person you're swapping with a mess. The general rule is to leave the house exactly as you found it.
  • Don't leave your valuables exposed.
  • Don't lead someone on and always market your property honestly.
  • Don't cancel, as people have spent money on airfare. Respect your obligation.
  • Don't worry! Home exchange is much easier than you think.
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