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clean_house_hmspn_8_31RISMEDIA, August 31, 2009-(MCT)-Are you avoiding a vacation because you can’t afford a hotel? If so, try house swapping. You start by joining a home exchange service. Once you’ve registered, you will find other families in cities you might want to travel to. Then, you can arrange your own home vacation.

The following tips will help you prepare your home for a seamless swap:

-Clean your home thoroughly and remove all personal beauty items such as your toothbrushes, hair brushes and any other personal toiletries.

-Clean out your refrigerator and throw away all opened jars.

-Put out new soaps, shampoo and lotions. Remember to lay out clean bed linens, fresh bath towels and create a nice scent in your home such as with a bowl of potpourri.

-Lock up your valuables, personal papers, jewelry and family heirlooms. You may want to assign one room or one closet to be off-limits to your exchanger and lock it up. Consider purchasing a safe for your coins, collectibles and valuables.

-Leave a list of contact numbers including your cell phone, police and fire department, and alarm company if you have one.

-Be prepared for some homework. Once you’ve found a potential home exchanger, you and the exchanger will have to work out all the details.

-Communication will be the key with your home exchanger. Get to know the person by sending family photos and photos of your home.

-Call your home insurance company to verify that vacationing guests are covered for any accidents in the home.

-Create a notebook with information such as area attractions, restaurant menus, emergency contact numbers, babysitter numbers and a list of your utilities.

-Inform your neighbors that you’ve taken part in a home swap program and guests will be staying in your home. Also, select a family member or friend as your “emergency” contact person.

(c) 2009, St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services.