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The financial crisis may have kept international tourism at modest levels for the past couple of years, but it seems families have found a way around the escalating costs of trying out a new overseas destination. 'House swapping' between property owners in the UK and those in the US and Europe is becoming more popular than ever, with double the amount of people planning a swap this year than in 2010.

According to a recent survey by Lloyds TSB Insurance, around 1.6 million people in the UK are arranging a house swap for their yearly vacations in 2011. Spain and Italy were the two most desirable destinations, followed by France and the US, while for foreign 'swappees', houses in Cornwall, Devon, the Lake District and Scotland proved the most attractive. 

Lloyds TSB Insurance head of home claims, Paul Spillane, said house swapping was a convenient way for holidaymakers to experience a range of new countries and lifestyles. House-swapping looks set to be the trend of the year, said Spillane. It's easy to see why, as this type of holiday caters for so many different tastes.

The new trend could help to stimulate the ailing property markets in places like Spain, Italy and the US, by allowing consumers to essentially 'try before they buy' when it comes to the local amenities, attractions and lifestyle. It could also allow owners or potential owners in these areas to view their property as a more valuable commodity than ever before, if they are able to 'barter' it via home exchange websites to score a free vacation for themselves elsewhere.