How home-swapping has helped travelers save on vacation: What to know about the travel trend

NEW YORK — More travelers are turning away from hotels and short-term rental properties to instead explore the growing trend of home exchanges.

If it sounds familiar, you've most likely seen the hit 2006 rom-com The Holiday, where the two leading ladies swap living situations, one leaving her Los Angeles mansion to cozy up in the other's cottage in the Cotswolds, and vice versa.

The trend has saved some families thousands of dollars on summer vacations: By switching homes with a friend, or even a vetted stranger, these getaways are a great way to avoid paying a pretty penny on lodging.

The current average nightly rate for a hotel in the U.S. this summer is $240, according to the popular travel booking company Hopper, which also found rental properties coming in at $182 per bedroom, per night, on average.

Instead of shelling out for a hotel, some, like Marina Wanders' in Austin, Texas, have opted to trade properties with a stranger for free.

"You get to stay somewhere for free -- and it it feels like you're making friends, connections as you do this," Wanders told ABC News' Good Morning America.

The professional photographer and single mom first shared her story with the Wall Street Journal about finding a home swap for her kids' summer break in a Facebook group.

Another woman interested in trying out the home swap system offered up her Dallas home, complete with a swimming pool, for a week in August.

"It's almost like this will become our home for the week. And I think, you know, if I could afford this home, I would live in a house like this," Wanders said. "It's lovely just to get that experience right now."

Many have taken their search to social media -- with over 8.4 million "house swap" videos on TikTok alone -- to make a digital connection with fellow travelers who might be looking to trade properties.

There are also companies like Home Exchange and People Like Us that list available homes to swap in exchange for an annual membership fee.

Brian Kelly, travel expert and founder of The Points Guy, told GMA that unlike short term rentals, there are some major differences to consider when swapping homes.

"This is not going to be like an Airbnb where it's a blank slate. There may be clothes in the closet. But that can be a positive if you're swapping with another family with small kids who already has the apparatus, the playground that can also alleviate a ton of stress from having to pack or buy those items," he explained.

Expert tips for home exchange

Experts note that those interested in house-swapping should vet the owner before they do any sort of exchange, like asking for references and checking out any previous reviews.

You can also cross-check the property on Google Maps or in public records.

Finally, be sure to read your own home insurance policy to make sure it covers someone else staying in your home.

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