Fun And Free: House Swap

Self, Family

Experience the ecstasy of a hotel room stay without paying a dime.

Since Tomfoolery has become a twice daily exercise in awesomeness, I've had to come up with a few more gimmicks. It turns out that as weird as I am, I only have a thousand or so relationship-related peculiarities and I have to pace myself on the disclosure front. That being said, I'm going to try doing things that are actually helpful rather than just entertaining to write.

First stop on the service piece* express: fun and free ideas. On a weekly basis I'll hit you with tips about fun and free stuff to do in this derelict bitch of an economy. The virgin voyage is for you couples married or living together.

I've got two words for you: house swap. Is there anything more fun than staying in a hotel and teaching that place a lesson (after you stuff the comforter in a closet, of course)? Is there anything that gets struck from a tightening budget faster than superfluous hotel trips (besides condoms, naturally. Editor's note: condom sales have increased during this downturn. Who knew?)?

Which is why you should track down another couple and do the old swaparoo. They spend a weekend at your house and you stay Friday night through Sunday afternoon at their place. It's a lot better than some boring, old staycation. There are a few ground rules that have to be established.

First: the campground rule is in effect (AKA leave things better than you found them).

Second: no snooping. No matter how well things are hidden, busybodies can find 'em, designate a room** as "off-limits" for keeping valuables and private items (though some fetish gear you could probably just disinfect and leave in a conspicuously ajar drawer).

Third: prepare snacks for the other couple and leave takeout menus. Part of staying in a hotel, motel, Holiday Inn is not making food.

Fourth: bring your own towels. Let's not even discuss this any further, just bring your own towels.

Fifth: mention to your neighbors that you are going to have guests. There's nothing that can put the kibosh on a sexy caper faster than Johnny Law (except, perhaps, Johnny Taser or Johnny Neighbor Kid With A Video Camera). In fact, after move-in day, avoid the neighbors, you have no idea who's weird, who steals and who leaf-blower actually belongs to.

Sixth: leave a detailed note describing your home's quirks. If you have to jiggle the knob before you get hot water, mention that. If there is no chance that the kitchen table could support two full-sized humans, note it.

Seventh: hold the mail, keep the newspaper. Getting the paper is informative, getting the mail is a chore.

Eighth: if you have a car, leave the keys for an emergency, mention that you'd like them to NOT TOUCH IT.

Ninth: block OnDemand if you don't want them renting movies. You are never going to get $4.95 out of them for watching National Treasure 2. They'll deny the whole thing. Even if they're your best friends, sorry.

Tenth: leave out cleaning supplies and spare sheets. Trust me on this one, it's really easy to forget rule the first when you "can't find" the bleach.

Eleventh: do not think about going home until 12:01 PM Sunday. Seriously, everything will more or less be like you left it back at your place.

Twelth: have a contract. Worrying about your place will take 94% of the fun out of this escapade (eHow has some info on drafting up a lease agreement).

Happy house-swapping. Next time a free and fun idea for people just dating.

*Note: The Media calls articles with tangible "try this" takeaways "service pieces." Only in America!

**Note: If anyone has kids, their room(s) is (are) totally and absolutely barred from any entry.