Home Swaps are a great idea in principle, especially for extended trips: here's a chance to enjoy a whole house on your vacation, with a full kitchen, a yard for the kids, multiple bedrooms, and laundry facilities-- for free.
Countless families have great experiences with home exchanges. Sometimes, however, problems do arise, usually of two varieties. Type One: guests arrive at a house that doesn't meet their expectations. Type Two: a family returns home and is unhappy with the way their house has been treated.
The remedy for Problem One is online photos: try to get the fullest possible preview of the place you'll occupy. Also, be aware that different countries have different norms for plumbing, heating, laundry facilities-- try to read write-ups from other home exchangers, and also askspecific questions about these features of the home.
As for Problem Two: watch out for major mismatches in house-attitude, i.e. when the Careful family swaps houses with Carefree, or Careless. Best advice is to Know Thyself, voice your views, and try to sound out what type of folk your swappers are.
Generally, the friendlier the exchange, the better it can be for all: introduce your occupants to your neighbors, to the best nearby parks, restaurants, etc., and hopefully they'll do the same for you.
Finally: if you can't arrange a home swap, you might still be able to rent out your house if you're taking an extended trip. It's a bother, but the rental income can cover plenty of travel costs. You might advertise in a local paper, or post a notice at a university, where visiting faculty often need a place to stay.
--continue to Alternative Lodgings -- Hostels with Family Rooms