In case you haven't heard, my husband & I use homeexchange.com A LOT. We use it for almost all of our vacations.
If you haven't heard of it nor seen the movie The Holiday, basically you pay $120 per year to sign up on the website. You list your home with photos and information. You can then email anyone on the website or wait for people to contact you.
Since we live in the middle nowhere, we usually have to contact people. You can send out dozens of emails at a time. We have been to Lancaster, Washington DC, Arizona, Alabama (a condo RIGHT on the Gulf of Mexico!) and Florida. We have also been to Ireland. There are 43,000+ members from all over the world.
At the beginning of this year my husband sent out 20 or so emails to home exchange members in North Carolina. And we got positive responses from 5 people! One of which has an estate and a private 7 area lake. Crazy, right? We decided to swap with all five and have exchanges already set up with 4 for this year and another for next year.
Yesterday I woke up to an email request from a member in the Netherlands asking if we wanted to swap homes and cars with them. How awesome! And so we are going there in August. The Netherlands is close to Germany and only 5 hours from Paris. We are so excited!
So, if you think you cannot 'afford' a vacation because of hotel costs and car rentals, I would encourage you to try home exchange. It is great for a family since most homes have multiple bedrooms and bathrooms. You get to see a ton of photos and communicate with the owner.
Remember, that when you go to a hotel THOUSANDS of people have slept in that same bed. They have sat on that same toilet and used the same remote. With home exchange, usually only a few people have slept on the bed - the owners!
If you are interested, feel free to email me. As a member, I can 'gift' you a membership for 12 months at 50% off. I get nothing from this deal and you get a great opportunity for less than $60 for the year.