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Testimonial made by Amanda from La Follette, United States, who has home swapped, together with her husband Curt and daughters Sheridan and Sky, to LA and Florida. 1. Have you home swapped before? I've swapped three times before and am...

Testimonial made by Amanda from La Follette, United States, who has home swapped, together with her husband Curt and daughters Sheridan and Sky, to LA and Florida.

1. Have you home swapped before?

I've swapped three times before and am currently lining up my fourth swap to Orange Beach, Florida. We've swapped to LA, Kate's place in Rancho Santa Fe, and Florida once before. We've only swapped within the states so far but would love to swap anywhere in the world. We've had requests from London and Australia but unfortunately the dates just didn't match up. We're hoping to swap to Europe and at the moment our dream destination would be Italy. Italy is on our shortlist, but we've got some many places we'd like to go - we're always looking for a new adventure.

2. What would you say are the best aspects of home swapping? i.e. meeting new people, swapping with a home as comfortable as your own, living like a local.

It's so hard to pin point a specific thing because I love the whole idea of home swapping. It's not like staying in a hotel or a vacation rental property because you feel as though you really live in the place you're staying - even if it is just for one week. You get the true experience, living amongst locals.

I really like meeting other owners and getting swap requests from places that I'd have never thought of going. When Kate sent me a swap request I'd never even heard of Rancho Santa Fe but I thought, "Hey, why not?". I'd just got back from California so I wasn't looking to go again, I wasn't even looking for a vacation. But I love the adventure!

3. What appeals to you about home swapping?

It's great for people with a vacation home, because you can get a great vacation at dates to suit other swappers. It's far easier to arrange a vacation home swap than your main home.

4. How did you discover Love Home Swap?

Read an article about it in Travel & Leisure magazine and loved the idea of home exchange. Then I just logged on to the site and started from there.

5. Has the site been easy to use?

The site is so easy to use. The pages are laid out well and although they're simple they've got all the information you need. I love the new additions you've made recently like 'Rapid Responder' it's great to know more about other members and whether they've swapped before or not.

6. Were you specifically looking for a California swap?

Kate proposed the swap. I wasn't even looking for a vacation. More often than not you might not be planning a vacation, but when someone lays it in your lap, why not? Just go!

7. What appealed to you most about Kate's home? Was it style, location etc.?

Kate's home was very beautiful, it was elegant but not so much that you were afraid to touch anything. Even if you decided to stay in for the day it was a retreat in itself. Her home was very comfortable.

8. How quickly were you able to arrange the swap? How long does it normally take you to arrange a vacation?

We've turned around a swap in about two months before. But the swap with Kate was planned about a year in advance - that was probably down to Kate's organisation skills rather than it taking that long to agree dates etc.

9. Did you skype or telephone each other while arranging the swap?

We communicated via the site for the majority of the time. It's not until the very last details that we've exchanged emails - to send photos and maps of the local area.

10. Do you think staying in a home swap house helped you experience California differently than if you were to stay in a hotel or holiday rental?

Well there were no hotels in the area. Kate's home was tucked away in the mountains, so even if we'd wanted to stay in a hotel I doubt it would have even been an option.

11. Did you benefit from Kate's local knowledge/recommendations on what to do/see/eat etc?

Kate put together a four-page guide for us about what there is to see and do in the local area. It was better than a guidebook. We went on a girls' vacation and she recommended some great villages nearby to go shopping, which we were really pleased with. She recommended some great restaurants and told us that we had to go down to the beach and catch a glimpse of the sea lions which we'd have probably missed out on seeing if it weren't for her. We carried her guide around with us every time we went out. Home swapping means you get the inside scoop. It's not as risky as staying in a hotel and just venturing out without any local knowledge.

12. Would you stay at Kate's again?

Maybe, but I like to go to new places. I'm always just straight on to the next place. Perhaps I would visit with my husband and kids. But I would certainly recommend Kate's house to anyone else looking to swap. The people we swapped with in LA were interested in swapping again - but they've decided to rent out our lake house.

13. Who did you vacation with? Friends/family?

Girl friends

14. What did you enjoy most on your home swap vacation? Do you have a key piece of advice you would give to other love home swap users?

Make sure you add lots of photos. Good photos. It really hurts your profile if you don't put up plenty of photos. It's great to just flick through people's profiles and get a good sense of what their home is like straight off the bat.

15. Have you kept in contact with Kate? If so, how?

Kate left a few things at our house, so she was in contact with me and ask if I would have a look out for them and mail them back to her. I was happy to do that for her. I mean if she was staying a hotel, something that's left behind is as good as lost.

16. Would you recommend home swapping to a friend? If so, why?

Oh yes, I talk about it constantly because I've had so many great trips and experiences. Why wouldn't you swap your home? It's a win - win situation. Especially if you've got a second home to swap - it's so easy to arrange dates that suit both parties. My husband is really into his sports cars and he laughs at me and says that I'm as much in to home swapping as he is in to his cars.

17. How did you spend the money that you saved on accommodation?

I put the money back into the vacation. Because there were no accommodation costs I probably spent a bit more when I went out shopping with the girls, or we ate in nicer restaurants because the vacation budget wasn't in the back of my mind. Home swapping is great for long haul trips too. When you're only cost is your flight, you don't have to spend a fortune eating out because you can cook in the home you're staying in it's a no brainer. You can just fly out care-free. Why not?

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