Patti Glover, Moorpark
My experience: Our family of five has had five awesome home exchanges. With the exception of New Zealand, where we only spent 2 1/2 weeks, all our exchanges have been for a month or more. We have stayed in Poissy, France (half an hour west of Paris by train), Hong Kong (Stanley Market area) that came with a maid, Marbella, Spain, and Raiatea, Tahiti.
We have been able to get to know our swap mates well and have developed some incredible friendships. One daughter of a French family spent the entire next summer with us. We highly, highly recommend home exchange as an affordable vacation experience, especially for families. You can cook most of your meals rather than expensive dining out. I love to cook, so it's a thrill to visit the foreign markets and create memorable meals. For instance, 2 plus pounds of freshly caught sashimi-grade tuna for around $10. Turned it into poisson cru, a Tahitian delicacy.
How much do you think you saved? Thousands and thousands!
Pictured: Patti Glover and her family atop a glacier on Mt. Cook in New Zealand.