Monday, June 15, 2009 video: House swapping

Every time the economy hits a roadblock, a whole new generation of media and travelers seems to rediscover home swapping as though it had just been invented. The truth is, though, that this fun and frugal way of seeing the world has been around since the 1950s.

Back in the day, swapping clubs published huge printed catalogues of members' properties, and prospective swappers set up trades by snail mail. A lot has changed with the advent of the Internet, but the basic principle is still the same. You head off to Paris or Denver or Outer Mongolia (okay, that last one is pretty unlikely, but you'd be surprised where you can go on a swap) to stay in a stranger's house. Meanwhile, the stranger comes to live in yours.

Some of the earliest fans of house swapping were teachers and professors, who had similar blocks of long holidays. But now thousands of people are getting into the game.

A recent CBS News interview with Kelli Grant, senior consumer reporter for, lays out the basics of the process. As always in these stories, she touches on that age-old question, "Do I really want strangers in my house?"

For links to a range of house swapping organizations, see the list on my website,

Have you ever done a house swap? Post a comment talking about your experience!

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