Now December is here – and are we are indulging in all things festive – we may be wishing our lives to be more like a Christmas romantic comedy.
One in particular that comes to mind is the film The Holiday, featuring Cameron Diaz and Kate Winslet.
In it, the two women swap homes for the festive period, with the British Iris (Winslet) jetting off to stay at Amanda’s (Diaz) home in Los Angeles while Amanda says in a cute little cottage just outside of London.
While there, they meet and fall in love with Jude Law and Jack Black respectively, making for a very successful Christmas for both women.
We all want to get away from our lives sometimes – especially at Christmas, which can (for some) be filled with family drama, stress, and odd traditions.
And though there’s no guarantee you will fall in love with a Jude Law-lookalike, you can now do exactly what Iris and Amanda did and swap homes for a unique holiday experience of your own.
The website Love Home Swap, inspired by the original movie, is an award-winning home swapping platform that allows people to choose from thousands of lovely homes in more than 110 countries.
You can join the platform for £8 a month for the ‘lite’ membership, rising to £10 a month for their ‘standard’ membership, and £12 a month for their ‘platinum’ membership.
The ‘lite’ membership only offers the basic home swapping plan, with no additional amenities.
The ‘standard’ one allows you to list more than one home (if you have it), exclusive deals from Uber and ZipCar as well as airport lounge passes, and you can see who has shortlisted your home too – so you can ‘vet’ them.
Whereas the £12 ‘platinum’ membership offers all of the above plus a boost by the website to promote your home to prospective stays and a dedicated swap team on-hand to help you find what you’re looking for.
Home swapping can be much cheaper than a normal holiday, with Love Home Swap reporting that their members often go on vacation more than four times a year and save an average of £3,500 through the website.
You can go to Los Angeles like Iris, or somewhere in London like Amanda. You can also go to various locations in the U.S, taking advantage of either its warmer climates or its colder states if you’re looking for a white Christmas.
There are plenty of homes to choose from, and all of the ones listed are vetted by the Love Home Swap team – so you know you’re getting a high-quality place.
Plus, there are plenty of reviews on the site to help you choose which one is the best for you. There are also filters for places that are pet-friendly, good for kids, a beach, a mountain location, or anything else you’re looking for.
After signing up to the site, you can start shortlisting the homes you like. Once you’ve picked a place, you can send a message to the owner and request to stay in their home.
The website suggests sharing your plans and tell them why you love their home and what makes you want to stay there.
There are two types of swaps: Classic Free Swap or the Points Swap.
The Classic Free Swap is exactly the same as The Holiday – you go to their place, they come to yours.
Whereas The Points Swap allows you to stay at someone’s home without having to match your plans – if you like their home, but they don’t like yours for instance.
Therefore, they will be able to host you with points instead and they can then use those points to book another trip. But, be warned, this type of swap does comes with a transaction fee starting from £49, calculated based on the number of nights you intend to stay.
Just like Airbnb, all you have to do is clear some space in the kitchen, bathrooms, and bedrooms.
The website advises putting your clothes and items away in a bag or suitcase, and locking all your valuables away and removing anything special that you don’t want out.
You can exchange keys by leaving them with a neighbour, sending a spare set of keys ahead in the post, or using a lockbox that your guest can access. You should also agree on expectations ahead of time, making sure what you want them to do with sheets, towels, and dishes before they leave.
As long as you follow these guidelines, home swapping can be a wonderful experience – and who knows, maybe you will meet the love of your life there, too.
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