The house in London includes a lovely terrace

It was March 13 when I remembered that I needed lodging in London for one night on April 15. That’s last minute in the world of home exchange. But I figured with points I might have a shot finding something. I hopped on to LoveHomeSwap, one of the networks I use, and searched for homes advertising availability for that night and accepting points. A surprising number of listings came up. I contacted all of them (maybe 10 total).

By morning I’d heard back from several telling me they couldn’t host me. And one responded saying I could stay in her en suite loft, and join her family for Easter breakfast before heading to the airport. (I totally forgot it was Easter weekend). After exchanging a few quick messages I booked this “swap” using points. This took me less than 24 hours.

A week later I decided on a last minute trip to Budapest for a few days. And so I needed lodging the second week of April. Again, pretty late to look for a home swap. For this one I turned to GuesttoGuest, the other points-based home exchange network I use. I quickly found a number of good listings in the heart of the city and contacted about 10 of them that showed availability on their calendars. Within two days most had rejected my request. While I still had one discussion open that could work out, I turned to Airbnb on a friend’s tip that it’s very cheap in Budapest.

Artsy Airbnb flat in Budapest

For my visit with a friend I quickly found a 2 bedroom, 2 bathroom apartment in the center of town, with hundreds of fabulous reviews, for just $33 per night. With fees it added up to $136 for 3 nights. Less than $25/person/night! And by using the discounted Airbnb gift card I had just purchased, I saved a few more dollars.

Take home lesson: last minute home exchanges are possible. But don’t forget about Airbnb as a good cheap option in some cities.