Pat Funk, executive director of the Consumer Travel Rights Center, says you should always check out potential exchange partners. "It's critical to ask for references and check them. You want to know they're who they say they are." She also recommends that swappers formalize e-mail agreements by drawing up a contract.
"Most disappointing exchanges are usually about matters such as housekeeping," says Helen Bergstein, president of the exchange site Digsville.com. You don't want a neat freak to cross paths with the Messy McSlobs.