I am starting to wonder if house swapping might be an interesting way to take a holiday or two. We have a house that would photograph well and has rural charm, but is in very easy reach of central London.
We could lock one or more rooms and alleviate concerns around papers/privacy. Would that be ok?
I did it a couple of years ago and it was great. The only reason I've not done it again is because DS gets bored going on holiday with me on his own. I had offers from all over the place - Florida, Italy, Australia, Spain ...
We have done 6 great swaps in the last 4 years- it is definitely the best way to travel. You get so much space compared with a rental flat and all the comforts of home. We try to swap with people with similar aged children if possible so the toys/ Xbox/ beds/cots match up but it is not essential. You do need to plan ahead (especially for USA where they plan their vacations almost a year in advance) and be prepared to be flexible around the precise timing and location of your exchange. School holidays differ around the world so we have had to be flexible as to our "preferred" fortnight. We are lucky that we live in a very desirable city and this year turned down over 100 approaches before accepting one we wanted.
We use www.homeexchange.com and have found it has a great range of places in the US and Europe which is where we are interested in. The annual fee is around £75 which keeps out time wasters but is a cheap investment in comparison to your usual annual holiday cost.
The other benefit as well as cost and facilities, is that you do really "live like a local" and we have almost always met up with our house swap partners at one end or other of the exchange so it has been great to get to know people of other cultures. Do PM me if you have specific questions but what I would say is - go for it!