Americans spend billions of dollars every year on travel expenses, the majority of which is commonly spent on lodging. Whether it be a 5-star hotel, timeshares or rented condominiums, where we stay is often the most expensive part of a trip. It is precisely because of that fact that one Mill Valley couple has turned to home swapping as a way to cut down on the cost of their vacations, joining a growing number of Americans in the practice. Joe Friedman and Leslie de Leeuw have employed the technique more than 55 times over the last twelve years or so, trading homes with residents of cities as close as Santa Barbara and as far away as New Zealand.
Friedman and de Leeuw began home swapping in 2004, when they traded homes with some friends in Santa Barbara for a week. The idea got the couple thinking, and they decided they could likely swap homes for all their vacations. They had recently taken a trip to France, spending thousands of dollars on lodging, and figured that house swapping would be a great way to reduce vacation expenses. Their first home swap occurred via Craigslist, where a Boulder, Colorado couple were offering a home swap to Marin County residents, but they have since swapped homes for vacations across Europe, Mexico, Canada, and other parts of the United States.