It all worked out in the 2006 rom-com “The Holiday,” in which Kate Winslet’s British Iris and Cameron Diaz’s American Amanda escape their own routines and love lives in a two-week, cross-Atlantic home swap. Ask other home swappers, most with standard suitcases and backpacks and not so much romantic baggage, and they’ll tell you the same: It all works out. They saved money, briefly lived like a local in a new city, and their lives were changed for the better.
Home swaps or home exchanges, a low- or no-cost alternative to hotel and resort stays, and these days, even an Airbnb
or VRBO stand-in, have been attracting travelers, remote workers, family caretakers and group retreats for extended stays for decades. One of the oldest established clubs for home-swapping connections is Home Link International. It started in the 1950s. Clearly, greater work-from-anywhere flexibility (which looks here to stay for some) and a general inclination to isolate away from crowd exposure during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic pushed more of the curious into their first home swap. Since then, more people are sticking with the concept, according to Google Trends. One of the largest sites that can be used to seek out an interested swapping party, HomeExchange.com, told MarketWatch that requests for exchanges in 2021 grew roughly 30% compared to 2020. And interest in 2022 continues to rise. How home swaps work The basic formula is a “reciprocal exchange” — a Denver family desires two weeks in Paris in the middle of June and that Parisian famille wants to head for the Rockies at the same time. They swap. At HomeExchange and other sites, they’ve also built in points banks, which means you don’t have to swap for exactly the same dates. This might make sense if you know you’re leaving your apartment for a week for a work conference, you lend out your digs, collect the points, and use them later when you want to vacation and there’s availability; and it doesn’t have to be with the same swapper. Ther …