Comment: House swaps, and why they don’t work for everyone

This is what the ideal holiday house swap looks like...

This is what the ideal holiday house swap looks like... - Credit: Getty Images/Blend Images

Summer really is almost here, meaning holiday planning is top of many of our agendas.

This can present a few problems on the home front, with security, pet care and cash flow all posing potential problems, especially for those of us forced to work around school holidays.

One catch all solution is a house swap. For the price of petrol and/or a flight you can swap your pets, fears of being burgled and worries about who’ll put the bins out for a holiday that’s basically free.

There are potential issues, of course. I’ve written about my own house swap experiences before, and a friend’s recent jaunt over Easter reminded me why such a holiday can end up being more trouble than its worth.

She spent ages making sure her home was spotlessly clean, clearing space for her swap family to hang their clothes and generally fretting over every detail.

Sadly, the same effort hadn’t been made by the other family. “It was so DIRTY!” she said, sharing photos of cluttered surfaces and light fittings covered in cobwebs. Returning home, she found cooking equipment caked in grease and forgotten items she was tasked with returning. When we returned home we found a pair of panicked cats who haven’t been the same since. The couple we swapped with had said they’d rather we put them in a cattery during their stay, but we declined as they’re so old.

This meant they weren’t the most willing of cat-sitters, and unfortunately our cats weren’t on board either, leaving grim presents all over the house. This must have been horrendous for our swapees, as well as our amazing neighbour who kindly binned the most badly-affected rug for us while they were away. We’ve wondered since if the reluctant cat-sitters mistreated the kitties while we were away – a horrible thought that’s put us off doing another house swap since.

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While it’s certainly a risk, another friend has swapped several times without issue, so we may have been unlucky. Either way, a swap’s certainly worth considering for anyone without animals (or with) who fancies a cheap holiday at the most expensive time of year.