Ask Trip Coach: House swapping

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The upside to a house swap is huge: free lodging in an apartment or home almost anywhere in the world. But that doesn't mean house swapping is for everybody.

The vast majority of travelers out there seem to be simultaneously fascinated with and fearful of the house swap. The idea of staying in a stranger's home -- and even more nerve-wracking, of having strangers stay in yours -- can push some travelers immediately to a hotel's website to click "Book Now."

We'd like to help readers figure out if house swapping is right for them, and to help swappers avoid problems and get the best experience possible. With that in mind, we're dedicating an upcoming Trip Coach column to house swapping, and we want to hear your concerns. You may be wondering:

What are the best resources for arranging a house swap?

Just how bad of an idea is it to arrange a swap through Craigslist?

What about utilities, household expenses, and other fees I should know about ahead of time?

What happens if something is broken or stolen during a house swap?

What precautions should I take to avoid things being broken or stolen, and to prep the home in general for guests?

How can you tell if the people interested in staying at your place are trustworthy?

How can you tell if the place you might stay at is a dump?

And what are some tips for presenting your own home in the best manner to maximize the potential for the perfect swap?

Send us whatever questions you have about house swapping, and we'll address the best topics in an upcoming issue of Budget Travel.

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