Your home-exchange holiday

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When friends of mine renovated their old farmhouse a few years ago, one thing they considered in the design is that they might want to try home-swapping one day… that is, they could travel somewhere and stay in somebody’s home, while those people stayed here. They haven’t tried it yet, but it sure sounds like a good idea. In fact, according to the folks at Budget Travel, “it’s the single most logical, reasonable, sensible, indeed brilliant, method of vacationing in travel today.”

The concept has been around a long time, but it’s likely to get a boost from the upcoming Hollywood movie, The Holiday, due out December 8. In the film, Cameron Diaz and Kate Winslet swap their homes in L.A. and England. You can do it, too, as long as you have a place to live. You don’t have to be a homeowner, your rental will work just fine. Often, the deal includes swapping the use of a car.

The upside is clear… you get a roomy place to stay, for free, and you get to feel like you live there, instead of like a tourist going from airport to accommodation to attraction. You can meet your swapee’s friends and neighbors. You can stay for as long as a month if you want to, and not spend any more money than you would at home. It seems like a great idea to me, and definitely on my list of travel experiences to try.

For more info and links to Web sites where you can find an exchange (for a fee of about $50 to $100 for a year), check out this recent article from Budget Travel Magazine Online. Or go straight to HomeExchange.com, the site mentioned in the movie. Their site includes lots of info about the process, with FAQs and info about other options, like swapping for an RV or a boat.

Swapping is not usually marketed as an eco-travel experience, but it sure seems like one to me. It makes good use of resources, and helps give travelers a more intimate interaction with the place they visit. It can take you to places that don’t necessarily have tourist accommodations. Those are all prime eco-advantages.

Have you tried home swapping? Tell us about your experience, in our BootsnAll Eco-Travel Forum.