Q: My husband and I are hoping to visit London or somewhere within easy access to London over the Christmas period and possibly staying until the 5th or 6th January 2019. Most of the half decent hotels and rentals we've checked are incredibly expensive and, as we'd be there for Christmas/New Year, we'd really ideally like to stay somewhere quite nice and welcoming. We've just started looking at the possibility of arranging a house exchange in London, it sounds like it could be a really great option but ...we are total novices in this! We have a two bedroom cottage in Cornwall (not far from St Ives). My question is, how would we go about finding a house exchange and have we left it too late to arrange an exchange for the Christmas period? - Allison, UK
A: Thanks for getting in touch! Home swapping sounds like it would be an excellent fit for your travel requirements. Firstly, the accommodation is free (except for the small membership fee) and secondly, you'll get to stay in a real London home over the festive period - far far nicer than staying in a hotel room!
There is definitely still time to arrange a home swap over the festive period but it's best to get a move on and start looking as soon as possible. The first step is to sign up to a home swap website such as Home Base Holidays where you can add details of your home and add your home swap request (London for the festive period). Once you've added your home to the site, start searching home swap offers and then, rather than waiting to be contacted, start contacting any members in or around London whose offers look tempting.
When searching for offers on the website, you can search by exchange dates to find members in London looking for exchanges late December to early January. You will see that one of the search options in the left hand search bar is ‘Exchange dates’. Enter your date ranges into this box and then click the small magnifying glass icon to narrow down the search results.Although using the date search option narrows the search results to homes most likely to suit your needs, it is always best to keep your searches as broad as possible so that you do not miss any potentially good swap matches (e.g. some members who may be happy to exchange over Christmas will have left their swap dates as ‘Open to offers’). Also, you can mark your offer as a "Last minute swap" and also search other members that have selected the Last minute swap option.
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