Despite the implausibility of all of this working out just in time for New Year's, audiences loved the idea and the industry took off. HomeExchange.com, for example, saw its membership jump from 20,000 back in 2008 to more than 40,000 last year as travelers faced increasing economic uncertainty.
The obvious downside to this approach is that you're letting a stranger into your home for days at a time with license to use a bunch of your stuff. The flipside is that you're doing the same with someone else. If you're OK with handing over the keys and laying out or parting with a few guest linens while you're gone and giving someone the key for a few days, the perks include access to homes in New York, San Francisco, London, Paris and thousands of other properties in more than 100 countries. Plus, according to the folks at HomeExchange, 20% of home swaps include a car swap as well (Diaz's character in The Holiday got to tool around in Winslet's Mini Cooper, because that's clearly the only car English folks such as Winslet and Austin Powers are allowed to drive).
While some home-swap sites have a free option for people who aren't posting their own properties, sites such as HomeForSwap and HomeLink can charge $75 to $110 per year. HomeExchange charges $120 a year for listings, but also offers a three-month plan for about $48.
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