Home swapping for family holidays
I have home swapped for about 10 years with my husband and three boys, who are now aged five, 10 and 12. I have found home swaps quite straightforward to organise, and great fun.
It's a hugely cost-effective holiday solution, which has meant that we have been able to have far more holidays than we otherwise would have done.
I signed up to Mumsnet Home Swap because it seemed like a site that would enable me to find more families to swap with because that's when home swapping works best.
Other house swap sites we have been members of were smaller and so had much more limited options. Our home is just right for families and, likewise, I am looking to stay in a home that will work for all five of us.
In the past we have swapped within the UK and the Netherlands. Our next swap is a weekend in Bognor Regis. The boys will love finding their 'new bedroom', discovering the toys, and running around the house and garden, just like they do at home.
Me and my husband relax quite easily into holiday mode by just walking into a welcoming home with all the things we need.
I've often told people how much better home swapping is than renting a cottage, where there can be limited kitchen equipment, no herbs and oils and stuff to share, and no stack of toys, books and DVDs for children and adults alike.
You sometimes get great pets to look after, too - it was chickens and an elderly cat last time we swapped – which the children really love.
It didn't take me long to organise our next home swap. I spent time looking at the fantastic photos on the site, and it was helpful to read the member profiles - you can find out whether they have children, what they like doing and where they like to travel.
I got in touch with people I liked the sound of, and the responses I received were really friendly, even if people's homes weren't available on the dates we wanted.
I think it's best to send out five to 10 swap requests and, via the My Account area on Mumsnet Home Swap, it's actually quite easy to manage several swap conversations at once. I really don't want to be stressed out by booking a holiday and when you've done it once it becomes easier to do it again and again.
• It's cost-effective, so you can holiday more frequently
• It's straightforward to organise
• You get accommodation big enough for your family but for less than a rented holiday home
• You don't have to take tons of stuff with you because there are already toys, DVDs etc in your home swap house
• With Mumsnet Home Swap you know you're probably swapping with like-minded souls
We've printed off notes of how things work in our house and what days the bins go out, collected lots of tourist information leaflets, and got used to tidying up and leaving some space in the cupboards before we leave.
We usually arrange to each take our own bedding to save trying to wash bedding before you leave; other than that it's just like any other holiday - only cheaper and better equipped.
It's been easy to finalise the details of the swap with the family in Bognor Regis and I'm really looking forward to the staying in their home, which is only one block in from the beach, and it's lovely to think of another family enjoying our home and everything it has to offer.
And in something like 15 exchanges, we have never had any damage or loss apart from the odd broken glass or mug, which people invariably replace anyway.
The author is a Mumsnetter with three children who runs TinyTalk Baby Signing Classes in Derby