In “The Holiday,” a 2006 film starring Cameron Diaz and Kate Winslet, two women from different continents swap homes during the holiday season. Kate Winslet´s character gives up her humble England abode and takes off to Diaz’s character’s LA mansion, and Diaz’s character does the same. The two grow, learn and enjoy during their respective exchange experiences, both finding love and friendship in the process.
Though the drama of the two protagonists in “The Holiday” is front and center in the film’s story, the backdrop of this holiday house swap is quite an interesting and thought-provoking idea.
The thought of exchanging one’s home for that of another for a few weeks may seem unfathomable to some. However, it is a notion that in recent hears has begun to catch on. With the increasing popularity of services like Craigslist and in light of the recent economic crisis, this vacation trend is not likely to go away in the near future.
So is a home swap right for you? Maybe. It is a great money-saver. It saves you the costs of hotels and other living accommodations. The money you don’t spend on a place to stay can be spent somewhere else – on travel expenses, entertainment, dining, etc. – or saved. It’s a great way to see and experience a different place in comfort without breaking the bank.
A house swap does, however, require a certain amount of trust, even risk. To let someone else to take over your home for a few weeks can be scary, especially if you don’t know that person. You may be concerned about damage, theft and general home security – and rightly so. When and if you decide to exchange your home, make sure to remove all important documents and jewelry to a safety deposit box or another location. While chances are nothing will happen, you will enjoy your own trip if your mind is more at ease. Also, make sure to sign a contract of some sort prior to exchanging homes. This could be important in the case of any damage done to your house such as broken furniture or missing items. If you are really concerned, go through a home swap agency. Such an agency will be much more versed in the subject and will know what steps should be taken.
If you decide to swap homes, make sure to leave a detailed list of any special instructions, and ask the person whose home you’ll be staying in to do the same. Things like home alarm systems, gas valves and telephone calls should all be covered. This way, you’ll start out on the right page and avoid the mishaps of accidentally tripping a home security system during a late night trip to the bathroom or flooding the bathroom after a long relaxing shower.
Next time you’re thinking of getting away for a while, seriously consider a home swap as a unique and economical alternative. You may be surprised how comfortable you feel in the comfort of someone else’s home.