Thursday, December 4, 2008

Vacation Home Swaps - Are They Right For You?

Many people have discovered the option of the vacation rental of homes or condos as an interesting alternative to the conventional idea of renting a room or suite at a hotel, motel or resort. When you opt for a vacation rental, you frequently get more space than what you would by renting a room, more privacy, and to "make the space your own" for a brief time.

One variation on this theme was the basis of the recent movie, "The Holiday", staring Cameron Diaz and Kate Winslet. Cameron is a "full speed ahead and damn the torpedoes" producer of blockbuster film trailers who just broke up with her boyfriend. Kate is a shy reporter living in Surrey County, England, who writes a society column about weddings and finds her boyfriend got engaged to another girl at the London newspaper where three worked. Cameron want to get out of LA, Kate wants to go anywhere at all, so long as it was far from London. The Internet brings them together and they exchange houses for two weeks.

As with regular vacation rental deals, there are many websites which list exactly this kind of opportunity. Of course, you have to have a home to exchange, and no one can promise you will meet the love of your life while living in the exchange housing, but it is an really interesting opportunity to do something really different on your next vacation. Sometimes people also exchange cars as part of the deal.

Depending on where you shop for home exchanges for your next vacation, you can find swaps available in most any location around the world - one home exchange website has homes listed from as many as 75 countries. Many homes are offered the U.S., plus Mexico and the Caribbean. These kinds of exchanges are a bit different from a vacation rental, because there are normally done on at "no cost to either party" basis - you get free use of someone's house in exchange for giving them free use of your own house. In order to view detailed information about available homes, you will need to become a member of the home exchange network and post your house for exchange.

Arranging this kind of vacation swap is a lot tricker than just renting, because both parties have to want to go to the other location, at the same time, and for the same duration. And, you also have to be convinced that you want to live in their house while they have to want to live in yours.

In the movie, the LA site was a big, lavish, high tech California home while the Suffolk site was a remote, quaint, old English cottage. But the situation fit the needs of both parties. So it must be with you to make an exchange work successfully.

Home exchange services have been available since at least the early 1950's, so this is not something brought to the world by the invention of the Internet. Home exchange programs typically only show potential homes to registered members, who have filled out the requisite information requested by the home exchange program. This is done in part to enable the home exchange service to collect your information and to share it with others, but frequently, the information is also gathered to protect both parties from potential damages, brought by irresponsible home swappers. Detailed home information and pictures also kept only behind a membership website, in order to prevent criminals from browsing the home information anonymously.

Some websites also allow the listing of campers, RV's or yachts. Do you have a yacht in the harbor at Miami, but where you really want to be is Bora-Bora? You might find a ship's captain anchored in Bora-Bora who desires to swap boats for a week or four.

Exchanges of his kind are usually for at least one week, but may be for longer - maybe a month, maybe a year, whatever both parties can agree to do. This kind of arrangement really is based on the principal that both parties are willing to trust the other with their home, and are willing to take good care of the other's house and property. There are some good people in this world, and that's the kind of people that the home exchange websites are hoping to bring together.

The process of such an arrangement first involves searching listings until you find a location you are interested in visiting, where there is another person who is interested in coming to where your house resides (That is unless you are working on that RV or yacht option). Next you establish a dialog with the owner about the exchange. Cameron Diaz was able to conclude her first home exchange arrangement via the Internet, in a matter of minutes the night before she boarded a plane for London. That kind of thing may happen in movies, but you should expect that it will take a lot longer to arrange your own home exchange vacation.

A homeowner may have restrictions regarding the use of their home. Perhaps they allow smoking, perhaps not. They may accept children or pets, they may not. These are all details that the parties have to work out with one another. You also need to think about information your house guest might need in the case of emergencies (plumber, electrician, etc.) or you might want to suggest the name of a babysitter if your guests include smaller size persons in their vacation party.

Other issues you need to consider are the terms of your homeowners insurance, automobile insurance, yacht insurance, etc., depending on the scope and nature of the arrangement. You don't want to find out your insurance became void because you let someone else live in your house. You should also ask appropriate questions about the same issues with you living in the other house, just in case something unforeseen happens.

A house exchange could be a very interesting adventure. You probably won't meet Cameron Diaz or Kate Winslet, but you might have a very good time.

Vacation home exchanges are an idea that many people will consider an excellent option to renting a hotel room in a distant city, but if the home exchange concept is a little risque for you, then consider visiting the website shown below, where we provide listings to vacation home "rentals" around the country and around the world.

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Jeb Maxwell got involved in vacation rental homes by accident, when he bought a new house, but was unable to sell his old house. While facing two house payments (, Jeb heard about the vacation rental by owner and realized that vacationers would be happy to rent his home for a week or weekend. Locate vacation rentals, organized by city & state at: Jeb's articles also appear at:

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