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A Boston woman posted to TikTok offering to swap homes with a stranger like the movie ‘The Holiday.’ She leaves for England next week

Grace Gagnon and her dog.Grace Gagnon

Grace Gagnon was at her parents’ Connecticut home for Thanksgiving watching the 2006 hit romantic comedy “The Holiday” for the first time when the inspiration hit.

Two weeks and a TikTok joke later, the 25-year-old Gagnon found herself living her own version of the movie, in which two women played by Cameron Diaz and Kate Winslet decide to swap homes over Christmas.

“Anyone in England want to switch places for the holiday?” Gagnon wrote in a video posted to her TikTok account. “I have a studio [apartment] on Boston’s waterfront.”

In a nod to the brother of Winslet’s character in the movie, played by Jude Law, she added: “Bonus points if you have a hot, single brother.”



Serious inquiries only. Bonus points if you have a hot, single brother. #theholiday #boston

♬ The holiday theme - <3

“I kind of posted it as a joke,” Gagnon, who works in marketing, said in a phone interview. “I had a couple glasses of wine two weeks ago on a Tuesday night. My apartment was nice and clean. The next day I woke up and my inbox and my comments were flooded and immediately I just was like: ‘Oh my god. The Internet is watching me, so now I’m going to do this.’”

Nearly four million views, thousands of TikTok comments, hundreds of Instagram messages, a Google questionnaire, and numerous FaceTime calls with her chosen candidate later, and the plan is in place. Gagnon leaves next week for Bath, a city in England, where she’ll stay in the apartment of a woman who is also in her 20s named Flo, who in turn will spend two weeks in Boston.

“Once I realized what I had done, I felt crazy,” Gagnon said. “And I was so excited I could barely eat, which is unlike me.”

After the initial video ricocheted across the Internet, Gagnon posted a series of follow-up TikToks in which she outlined an ideal timeframe for her trip and said she’d be interested in swapping with someone anywhere in the United Kingdom. She directed people serious about a potential swap to message her on her Instagram profile and — in keeping with “The Holiday” storyline — she mentioned she does have a brother.


“First thing’s first, I do have a brother,” Gagnon says in the video. “I saw a lot of comments about that. Much to everyone’s disappointment, he’s engaged to be married, so he’s not up for grabs as part of this deal.”

From there, hundreds of people messaged her on Instagram, she said. She selected about 10 people who said they lived in the UK to fill out a questionnaire to further narrow it down. But Flo, who was one of the first people to message Gagnon as the video took off, stood out to Gagnon from the start because she lives in Bath, a place Gagnon has long wanted to visit, and because the women developed a fast friendship.

“It felt like I was talking to one of my friends here,” Gagnon said of her conversations with Flo. “It was just a gut feeling. We have so much in common.”

To Gagnon, that friendship assuages many of the concerns that could arise from swapping homes with someone she’s never met who lives across the pond. One common thread brought up throughout the planning process — from Gagnon’s family members and thousands of TikTok commenters alike — was concern about her safety, she said. Many worried Gagnon was setting herself up to be scammed, or that she was entering into a potentially perilous situation.


But Gagnon said her worries have more to do with the rising COVID-19 cases as a result of the fast-spreading Omicron variant that could restrict her sightseeing plans.

“I think the only bad thing that could happen would be COVID,” said Gagnon, who is fully vaccinated and boosted, and will have to undergo required COVID testing multiple times over the course of her trip. “It’s like any city. We already live in Boston, walking alone at night as a woman is already a risk in and of itself, so traveling to a country, in my opinion, is no different than just living in a city.”

To ensure her safety, Gagnon and Flo went through a service that facilitates home exchanges. (After her TikTok went viral, the company offered to sponsor her trip and paid for her flight to England.)

Gagnon’s video has inspired a trend on TikTok in which people post videos showcasing their apartments, listing the cities they live in, and inviting offers for a temporary house swap. Gagnon said she hopes that if others embark on the switch as she is, they also take safety precautions.

To guide Flo during her stay in Boston, Gagnon plans to leave her a document that lists suggested activities and restaurants. On the list of Gagnon’s must-sees and dos include catching a Celtics or Bruins game at TD Garden, visiting the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, shopping on Newbury Street, and for Flo, who loves Asian food, dining at Hojoko in the Fenway area or Myers + Chang in the South End.


As for her own trip, Gagnon said she doesn’t have a set itinerary but is looking forward to walking around the city, checking out the Roman Baths, maybe taking in a rugby game, and meeting Flo’s friends and family. Her one definitive plan is taking her newly acquired 14,000-plus TikTok followers along for the journey with her.

For Gagnon, the trip represents a “massive light” after what has been a difficult two years. She moved to Boston just months before the start of a global pandemic, and her mother was diagnosed with Stage 4 breast cancer just weeks after she arrived.

“My mid-20s have been different, and I feel like I haven’t allowed myself to let loose,” Gagnon said. “I’ve been focusing on taking care of myself and my family and surviving the pandemic. I haven’t had a lot of time to just do something entirely for myself. This TikTok that somehow, randomly went viral is doing exactly what I needed it to do. It’s provided me a chance to be spontaneous, to let loose, swallow my fears, and try something new and see a new place.”

Amanda Kaufman can be reached at amanda.kaufman@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @amandakauf1.