Planning a family visit to London? This home exchange offer is the ideal base!

London House SwapLarge 4 bedroom family house in London. Large garden (with organic fruit and vegetables that you’re welcome to while you’re here) and plenty of baby kit and toys. Wifi, dishwasher, washing machine. Office desk space w computer and printer.

4min walk to the underground station giving 20 min access to central London – Trafalgar Square, Leicester Square, the theater district, London’s museums and galleries and of course the fabulous night life London is famous for. Also only 10 minutes drive to Hampstead Heath, Kenwood House and Highgate Village.

Exchange Request: Europe, Near beach, Open to offers

View full details of this home swap

It’s… Wimbledon time!

Wimbledon ChampionshipsWith Wimbledon well underway at the All England Lawn Tennis Club and the Olympics just around the corner… there really is no better time to visit London!

Keep up-to-date with all the latest at Wimbledon by visiting the official Wimbledon Championships website

Interested in visiting London? Why not stay for free on a London home swap vacation!

London Olympic Stadium – track now completed!

London Olympic StadiumThe new, super-fast running surface at the 80,000-seater Olympic stadium in east London was officially opened by Olympics chief Lord Sebastian Coe. UK Athetics chairman, Ed Warner, said yesterday: “We have one clear objective – to have one of the world’s greatest sporting events held in one of the world’s greatest cities.”

Are you interested in visiting London during the Olympics? Why not save on accommodation with a London home exchange vacation. Click here to view London Home Swap offers.

Arranged a home exchange in London? Budget tips for your visit

London Money Saving IdeasGuest post by Laura Porter

People will always tell you London is an expensive city but I live here with a young family and I’m not a millionaire. Locals know where the deals can be found, and visitors often don’t, so I’m here to share some tips to show you a trip to London can suit anyone’s budget.

I write the About.com London Travel site and the London for Free pages are some of the most popular with ideas from the unusual ceremonies to the many free museums and galleries.

Accommodation and food are usually the biggest part of your vacation budget and by choosing a Home Exchange you have already reduced those costs. Don’t let dining spoil your frugal planning as there are many Budget Restaurants in London and I’ve also got a list of ideas on how to eat in London for under £5.

Walking is an excellent way to get around London and you’ll see so much more but if you need to travel longer distances then make sure you have an Oyster Card, which can be bought before you arrive, as cash fares on tubes and buses are more expensive. There is also daily capping on lots of travel so once you reach the maximum daily fare all your other journeys are free. There’s further good news for families as children travel for free on London transport but you may need to order a photocard in advance.

Then what about London’s West End Shows? You would expect all tickets to be very expensive but I’ve got lots of tips on how to save money on theatre tickets.

If you discover a lot of the attractions you want to visit are not free then consider a sightseeing pass that covers a lot of the biggies so you may want to plan a few days seeing the hard-hitters such as the Tower of London and St Paul’s Cathedral.

As well as these ideas, I like to have some vouchers printed and in my wallet at all times from Smartsave as they can get you discounts at attractions, restaurants and more. These are great is you want to be spontaneous as you do not need to book in advance for a discount.

There are also great offers to be found on the ‘mob buying’ sites which offer amazing discounts and once enough people commit to buy you all get the deal. My personal favourite is Groupon, but others include KGB Deals, Living Social and Wahanda. Sign up as soon as you know you are coming to London and buy some deals in advance.

I hope you can now see London is not prohibitively expensive; it’s all about knowing where to find the bargains. I hope I’ve managed to start you on the right track here.

Laura Porter lives in London and writes the About.com London Travel site.

Top Money Saving Tips for Visiting London with Children

One of the best ways to save money when visiting London with children is to arrange a home exchange with a London family. And there’s no better place to find a great choice of home swap offers than on Home Base Holidays – a London based service!

Once settled in, there are many ways to cut down on expenses (for a start, you will have a fully equipped kitchen and can prepare some meals and packed lunches ‘at home’). I am now delighted to introduce guest author and Londoner, Janis Curry, who provides valuable tips on making the most of our great city:

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Visiting London? There are some experiences and attractions you really shouldn’t miss, but there is no reason to pay full price. If you plan on visiting The London Eye, Madame Tussauds, Tower of London, London Zoo, St Paul’s Cathedral, Buckingham Palace, Legoland and other major attractions, we’d highly recommend buying tickets in advance from Attractiontix – they guarantee the lowest prices and they’ll send you an e-ticket right away so you don’t need to worry about your tickets getting lost along the way.

You can buy tickets to individual attractions, but we’d recommend getting a pass (1, 2, 3 or 6 day passes are available) – you’ll save money, even if you only visit one or two attractions per day. With the passes, you also get some extra discounts for London restaurants, free movies, free bowling and skating, and a glossy visitor’s guide. Better still, you won’t be wasting time standing in a neverending queue when you could be out enjoying yourself – with a pass you just skip straight to the front of the queue. They also have some fantastic discounts on dozens of hit West End Theatre shows like the Lion King, Les Miserables, Billy Elliot and other must-see performances.

Click here to visit the Attractiontix website.

Get an Oystercard and enjoy cheap bus and tube journeys
Walking is a great way to see London, and you’ll find that Central London is actually pretty easy on foot, with lots of points of interest and places to stop for a bite to eat. You could even take some guided walks with London Walks – there is a brilliant Harry Potter walk every Sunday afternoon that your children will love. If you want to go somewhere a bit further afield, by far the easiest and cheapest way to get around is using public transport. If you’re planning to do quite a bit of travel by bus and tube, you should consider getting an Oyster card for each adult in your group and just adding enough credit to get you through the holiday – these smart little cards cost about £2 each (plus your fare) but will not only save you a lot of time and hassle, but they automatically recalculate your fare to make sure it’s the cheapest possible, so you save a lot of money. The £2 isn’t wasted either – you can also keep the card for your next visit to London. Kids under 10 usually travel free on public transport – there are a few odd exceptions which you can read about here.

For those with impaired mobility, baby buggies or lots of suitcases, click here for an accessibility guide showing which stations have step-free access. Planning in advance will make your journey much easier!

There is also an excellent tube map showing all of the public toilets and baby changing facilities on the underground – click here.

Visit some free museums, galleries and attractions
London has some of the most remarkable museums and galleries in the world, and many of them have hands-on exhibits and family activities as well as baby changing facilities and buggy access. Some also have lovely soft play areas for the really little ones. For the most part they are absolutely free, and even have picnic areas for you to enjoy your packed lunch.Click here to read about family friendly museums and attractions.

And finally…
We can pretty much guarantee that you’ll be rained on while in London. It’s part of the charm, really. Luckily, there are plenty of things to do indoors without feeling cooped up – click here for over 100 rainy days out. You’ll thank us!

This guestblog was brought to you by Janis Curry (a.k.a. MumVersusKids), Director & Founder of ReallyKidFriendly.com, the guide to great places for your family.

‘Slow Down London’: Take Time to Smell the Roses

The following article is by guest author, Pauline Kenny:Visit London

The first “Slow Down London” festival runs from April 24 to May 4. “Slow Down London” is a new project to inspire Londoners to improve their lives by “slowing down to do things well, rather than as fast as possible.”

We would like to inspire you to improve your travel life by slowing down. Don’t hop on a plane, check into a hotel, grab your guidebook and dash out to see the highlights. Instead pick one destination that you want to know better, find a home exchange or a vacation rental in the area, and settle in. Go to your favorite local café or tea room. Get groceries and supplies at the local shops. Talk to your neighbors, the people who live there. Read the local newspaper. Travel well, rather than as fast as possible.

Americans use the term “vacation” instead of “holiday”. For us a vacation is the chance to “vacate” our regular life. It doesn’t mean that we are unhappy with our daily life, but a change can be as good as a rest, so we leave our regular life behind and try on a different lifestyle. Maybe we go to a beach and become a beach-bum. Or maybe we head to Europe and live like a European for a few weeks.

With a home exchange or a vacation rental you get to live in a neighborhood, not in a tourist zone. Your local shops and restaurants cater to locals, not to tourists looking for something fast and inexpensive. You don’t spend two nights trying to see everything; you spend a week or two. In my travel experience, the best way to really see a place is to stay for awhile. Slow it down so you have the time to find the roses, talk to the gardener who grows them and then smell the roses.

Pauline Kenny runs two travel websites: Slow Europe, a guide to vacation rentals in Europe, and Cotswolder, a travel guide for the Cotswolds in England. She lives in Santa Fe, New Mexico with her husband Steve Cohen and cat Buddy. Pauline and Steve travel to Europe as often as they can and are currently obsessed with traveling in England. They have never done a home exchange because their lives are too disorganized, but they always stay in vacation rentals.