You can save hundreds, even thousands, of dollars by exchanging homes instead of staying at a hotel. Example: Seven nights at a hotel costing $150 a night is $1,050. Swapping homes costs almost nothing. Three tips for a successful swap…

1. Pay a membership fee. You likely will have more success finding the right exchange if you choose a company that charges a fee. Such organizations have better customer support…their users are more serious about exchanging…and a fee is likely to weed out scammers. Bigger also is better in this field, as the companies with the most members offer the most potential swaps. So look at, and Fees generally range from about $8 to $16 a month, based on a yearlong membership.

2. Check the national makeup of the home-exchange company. If you have your heart set on going to, say, Norway, look at the membership statistics of the clubs to find one with a lot of Norwegian members. You even may want to go with a company based in that country. (Do an Internet search of the country name plus “home exchange.”)

3. Exchange with people like yourself. If you’re a family, trade with another family so that you’ll be stepping into a child-friendly home. Or if you’re fastidious and you don’t want to worry about kids tracking dirt into your home, trade with other child-free swappers.

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