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Fancy swapping your Sydney abode with a Parisian apartment this winter? A beachside bungalow in the Caribbean? Or how about a country estate in England?

You’re not alone. Home exchange is the biggest travel trend with travellers swapping expensive hotels for cosy and comfortable home.

Based on the simple concept of ‘you stay in my home whilst I stay in yours’, sign up for an online home exchange service and browse thousands of homes around the world. Ed Kushins, Founder and CEO of HomeExchange, the world’s largest online home exchange company, shares his top do’s and don’ts to doing a house swap.

Do get to know the person or family you are swapping with.  Talk on the phone, swap recent photos and video chat over Skype. By the time you swap, you guys should be friends.

Do ask for referrals about prior exchanges. This will tell you a lot about the person or family you are swapping with.

Do agree on the ground rules for your exchange, Sample Agreements are provided on as guidelines

Do welcome your guests by leaving local tips and recommendations for places to eat, drink and shop that might not be in the guidebooks. Have friends drop in to say “Hi”.

Do exchange cell phone numbers and leave a manual on how things work in your home, when plants need to be watered, etc.

Don’t leave your home a mess or their home a mess. The general rule is to leave the house exactly as you found it, and to take care of the home as you expect your partner to take care of yours.

Don’t leave your valuables exposed. Use common sense.

Don’t mislead people about your home or neighborhood, market your property honestly. But you should be enthusiastic about why they will like your home.

Don’t cancel as people have spent money on airfare. Respect your obligation.

Don’t worry! HomeExchange is simple and much easier than you think.

Have you ever done a house swap? Share your experience in the comments!