'Tis the season to watch The Holiday, aka the classic 2006 film featuring Kate Winslet and Cameron Diaz as two women who swap homes — and, subsequently, lives — with each other during the holidays. If you've ever watched this movie and wondered if a site like the one Kate and Cameron's characters use to find each other's homes actually exists, good news: Now, one does. Love Home Swap is a home-swapping site that basically lets you live The Holiday IRL, and it was actually inspired by the movie. Whether you have a tiny apartment in Brooklyn or a massive country cottage in Europe (uh, if this is you... can we be friends?), you can sign up to the site and start connecting with other users to set up a home swap. Even better, members only have to pay the fees to join the site (and those start at $11 per month), so any home swapping plans you make after that are essentially free.
"At Love Home Swap, we're committed to helping provide our members with unique vacations for a fraction of the cost of traditional accommodations," Ben Wosskow, the managing director of Love Home Swap, said of the site. "Our research shows that people want to live like locals when they travel. With thousands of inspiring properties around the world ripe for swapping, we can help them experience a new place for a whole lot less without having to forgo any of their usual home comforts."
In The Holiday, living like a local means, for better or worse, getting all up in everyone's business. While you don't have to go that far, you can get a real taste of what it's like to actually live someplace versus experiencing it as a tourist by swapping homes with someone — and without breaking the bank.
If you want to get swapping ASAP, here's how it works:
Head to Love Home Swap, create an account (they offer a free trial, if you're not sure about joining off the bat!), and then use the search filters to narrow down what sort of home you're looking for. Next, let other members know what you have to offer — after all, you can't use the site without posting your own home on there.
After that, it's kind of like online dating, but better because traveling takes the place of awkward silences and small talk. You'll be matched with other members whose homes fit the parameters of what you're looking for, then you can get to messaging to set up plans. Once you find the perfect match, sort out the details and pack your bags.
A good point to note: You don't even have to swap homes at the same time with another member. While you definitely can do this if you want your vacation to be as close to The Holiday as possible, Love Home Swap also offers other options: For example, if you know you'll be traveling for a week but you already have accommodation, you can still set another interested member up in your home while it's empty. In exchange, you'll get points on the site, which you can then apply to a trip in the future when you do want to stay in a home you find on the site. The benefit of this is that your dates or vacation destinations don't have to match up with the people who are coming to stay at your place — so it gives you more freedom.
Additionally, all member identities are confirmed via an ID verification service, so you don't have to worry about someone not being who they say they are. The site is secure and all transactions are handled by a verified service, and it's peer reviewed, with the average trip rating 4.8 out of five stars. You can also reach the Love Home Swap team by email or phone seven days a week, and message with other members right on the site.
Even better, the range of destinations available on the site is vast — so you can really plan any vacation you want. If you travel a lot, the monthly Love Home Swap membership, which starts at $11 per month, is totally worth it. While they (probably) can't guarantee your very own Jude Law will be waiting for you at your home swap destination, at the very least, they can guarantee you'll have a great vacation without spending a lot of money.