Q.  Well, we did it!  With your help we got one of your incredible fares and we have cheap airfare for our long awaited and well-deserved vacation.  The excitement lasted until we started checking out the prices of hotels.  Even for some horrible dump they're asking for an arm and a leg.  And that's about two limbs more than we can afford!

Short of not going, what's a budget-minded vacationer to do?

A.  A low-cost alternative for the thrifty traveler is to exchange homes with another traveler who lives at your vacation destination.  You stay at this person's home for a week or two and they stay at yours.  It takes some planning, but the savings can be huge.  You can do this with friends or family, as well as consult the multitude of agencies and websites that help match up home-swappers.  One of our favorite writers at Smarter Travel, Mr. Ed Perkins, has written a great "Home Exchange 101" article which you might want to read.

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