With only five months to go until the London Olympics, you need to think about sorting out your accommodation if you managed to get tickets but don't live in London.
Hotel prices have shot up in the city during the Olympics and availability is almost non-existent at this stage, so short term property rentals in London are proving very popular - and there are plenty of Londoners who want to cash in. But there are other, cheaper options, ranging from camping to swapping homes or just renting a room.
Property website Zoopla.co.uk has seen a 161% surge in searches for the term 'Olympics' on its website over the past four weeks alone, a trend that is almost certain to grow over the coming months. It has launched a section on its website listing houses and flats available to rent in London as short-term lets during the summer.
With almost 1,000 properties in London currently listed to rent during the Olympic period, there is a range of options to choose from, from a one-bedroom flat for ￡200 per week within walking distance of the Olympic Stadium to a six-bedroom house in trendy Notting Hill for ￡30,000 per week.
Nick Leeming, business development director at Zoopla, said: "International demand for short-term property lets in London over the summer is set to be fierce. With hotel rooms having been booked out months, and in some cases years, in advance short-term property rentals are a great alternative. And many London homeowners looking to escape the capital during the Games are offering up their homes as a way to cash in."
Other websites that offer flats or houses for short-term lets include Housetrip.com, Onefinestay.com and Viveunique.com. However, some homeowners are REALLY cashing in.A seven-bedroom house in London's posh Mayfair is expected to set a British record rent of 433,000 a month during the Olympics.
For those who don't want to fork out a grand or more a week, there are alternatives.
Camp in my Garden
A growing number of Londoners will let you camp in their back garden. Check out Camp in my Garden. You can search by Olympic event, for example if you have tickets for Badminton the site comes up with gardens near the venue, Wembley Arena, or with good transport links to that venue. There is some background information about each place, for example if it has outside facilities such as a loo or powerpoint in the garden, and the distance to the Olympic venue.
Otherwise, there are some campsites that are close to the Olympic village. The Camping and Caravanning club will be running several temporary campsites. The nearest will be in the Lee Valley, a 10-minute walk from the Olympic Park, with another five others just outside London in Gravesham (three sites), Romford, and Windsor Great Park in July and August (to book call 0044 (0)845 130 7633 or 0044 (0)2476 475426). Camping at the Games lets you pitch a tent in the grounds of a London sports club.
Camp London are working with Waltham Forest Council to set up a campsite in a 19-hectare field in Walthamstow, north London, for 19 days (26 July to 13 August). It's £25 per single person to pitch a tent, £20 per person in groups of 2-8 and £15 per person in groups of 9 plus. Children between 6 and 12 pay £10 while kids under 6 pay £1.
Camp in London also offers luxury camping - or glamping - in 100 luxury bell tents (pictured) with rugs, tea chandeliers and Egyptian cotton bedding and towels for £100 a night for adults (children aged 6-12 pay £30 and those under 6 a fiver). The site is about 4 miles from the heart of the city and a 5-10 minute shuttle bus ride from the Olympic Park. And the Lee Valley Camping and Caravan Park in Edmonton, north London, has wooden cabins from just £35 a night. Central London is less than an hour away by public transport while the Olympic Park in Stratford is 5 miles away.
Cheap rooms are to be had on the Crashpadder site, which lists over 2,000 rooms from ￡30 a night. You can also rent a room by the night on RoomFt.com.
Some of my work colleagues do home swap all the time when cut down holiday costs, with or without children. Despite horror stories in the press about people coming back to find their home has been trashed, the people I know have never had any problems. The Guardian newspaper runs a Home exchange website. Another one is Home Base Holidays, which has been going for 25 years.
1. Use a reputable lettings agent for a short-term let
2. Be prepared to make a quick decision to avoid any disappointment
3. Have all relevant references and identification paperwork needed ready
4. Check the location and nearest transport links. Don't get caught out by listings with 'ideal' Olympics location where you end up travelling for an hour on the Northern Line. London Transport has a journey planner.
5. On the other hand, if you don't want to spend a fortune be prepared to stay further from the Olympic Park, or even outside London