We did our first full-fledged home exchange last weekend, and it worked beautifully. Our exchange family have a house in Boston and were interested in a long weekend in the Berkshires. They contacted me through a website we’ve been members of for years. We found we had mutual friends so that did make the process of establishing bona fides easy. This is a terrific way to travel, as more and more people have found, and although it takes you well out of your armchair, it’s an environment-conscious choice, much better than hotels or holiday rentals in terms of resource use. It doesn’t encourage the excessive construction that is so much part of the tourism industry. And it connects us with place—neighbors, best local restaurants and playgrounds—in a way that fits the spirit of eco living.

The service we use is HomeExchange.com, based in Santa Barbara, CA, but there are many good ones. They have plenty of helpful hints on getting your home ready (for us, what a great incentive it was to get pictures hung, a wall painted, and chairs fixed!) and making arrangements with your exchangers.