A new vacation trend: house swappingHouse swapping is popping up all over the place – even in Alexandria, Minnesota.
By: Celeste Beam, Alexandria Echo Press
In December of 2006, a movie, The Holiday, shared the story of two women who take vacations in each other’s countries – and homes.
Amanda lives in Los Angeles and Iris lives in England. Amanda surfs the Internet and meets Iris. The two decide to swap their homes so that they can each take a two-week vacation.
It works out beautifully. Neither of the women had to pay for a hotel for two weeks, which can get costly.
Now, fast-forward a little over two years and start surfing the Internet – the trend of house swapping is popping up all over the place.
Even in Alexandria, Minnesota.
The concept of swapping out her house with someone else really hit home for Claudia Bursch after she saw The Holiday.
She thought her house would be perfect. It was big enough and it’s on a beautiful lake in central Minnesota.
At first, Bursch didn’t do much about the idea of swapping out her house. But then she started reading travel magazines, which listed Web sites for home swapping.
She said home swapping is “kind of like online dating,” but instead of putting yourself out there, you put your house.
After researching the sites, she finally chose one – www.homeexchange.com – and in the fall of 2008, she listed her house.
In addition, and unbeknownst to Bursch, her home was one of several featured in a December 24 episode of the Today Show on NBC. The episode talked about how home swapping has become such a popular trend for vacationers.
“I haven’t had any nibbles as of yet,” Bursch said. “But I was very specific with my dates. And I am learning more about this as I go.”
Bursch explained that when opening up your home for house swapping, people can be as specific or as generic as they want.
With the Home Exchange service, Bursch pays a fee, which allows her to list her house for a year. She can include as many pictures of her home that she wants and as much information as she wants.
She explained that if she doesn’t find another home to exchange with within a year, her second year is free.
All contact is made through the service unless the homeowners want to give out their personal e-mail addresses or phone numbers.
When explaining how the exchange or home swapping works, Bursch noted that no money is ever exchanged.
“The whole idea,” said Bursch, “is for people to save money by not having to stay at a hotel. Plus, it’s a unique experience.”
For Bursch, the idea of swapping her home, which she has lived in for about 25 years, was perfect because she has always felt that her home was meant to be shared.
“It’s very friendly and welcoming,” she said.
And with the economy the way it is, she feels home swapping is a trend that will just continue to rise in popularity.
She also said that home swapping does take time, commitment and effort but that people will get out of it what they put into it.
“Who knows who you can meet?” she said. “The possibilities are endless.”
In The Holiday, both women end up falling in love with the man of their dreams.
For more information about home swapping, check out www.homeexchange.com.
To watch the home swapping episode on the Today Show, log onto http://today.msnbc.msn.com/id/26184891/vp/28379442#28379442.