Have you ever dreamt of getting away from all of the hustle and bustle of the holiday season? Wishing you could celebrate the season in sunny Southern California  or finally experience a white Christmas? That’s exactly what Iris Simpkins (Kate Winslet) and Amanda Woods (Cameron Diaz) did in the film “The Holiday .”
Two women, looking to leave their troubles at home behind, initiated a house swap only to find themselves falling in love with local guys in each other’s countries. For most of us, the romance part of that story may not happen quite the same, but taking part in a house swap can be a simple and fun way to explore another city or country – not to mention a cheaper alternative to a hotel.
For some expert advice, we connected with house swap veterans, Sushma Dwivedi and Natalia Eude, who swapped homes with each other earlier this year. They’ve given us a lot to think about after their international (New York City  and Paris) house swap. Based on their insight we created this list of Dos and Don’ts that will hopefully be helpful to you as you prepare for your first house swap!
• Do your research before initiating a house swap. Ensure that the house swap is being done with someone who has a similar lifestyle to you and similar expectations about this experience.
• Don’t be shy! Ask your swapper to introduce you to their friends and/or neighbors and provide you with key phrases to know in case there is any sort of language barrier.
• Do leave your swapper guidelines and tips that could help in his/her transition like maps, directions to the local supermarket, bank, shopping center, etc.
• Don’t be afraid to ask questions, you want to be as prepared as possible before traveling to an unfamiliar location.
• Do have an open mind and understand that things may operate differently so be prepared to allow time to adjust.
Have you ever done a house swap before? If so, is there anything you’d recommend we add to our list of Do’s and Don’ts?
To help you get in the house swapping spirit we are giving away a holiday gift package complete with “The Holiday” DVD, popcorn, hot chocolate mix and sweet treats!
• Leave a comment below telling us if you’d ever do a house swap and where would you want to go (one comment per person, additional entries will be disqualified).
• Please enter your email address in the appropriate field when leaving your comment (it will not be visible to anyone but us and will only be used to contact you if you should be selected as the winner).
• One winner will be randomly selected on Friday, December 17th at 11:59PM EST and announced by Monday, December 20th.
• Winner will be notified via email and will have 72 hours to respond before another participant is chosen.
• Contest open to U.S. and Canada Residents only.