Saturday, August 8, 2015

0 Home Exchange, Part 1

I was getting mad props from the backpackers on the Basel-Paris train. They were two twenty-something single guys...the kind of unattached globetrotters that meet up at hostels, change directions with the wind, and find new travel companions along the way. As Charlie crawled over the counters in the cafe car and I described our three-month trip, they seemed to buy into my line that life, in fact, is not over when you have kids. Travel is still possible! Maybe this home exchange concept is like backpacking for grownups.



I've gotten lots of questions about home exchange, how it works, risks and rewards. When we first started toying with the idea this past winter, it seemed a bit scary: letting strangers you've never met live in your house, with access to everything you own. And I was definitely worried about getting catfished! What if we showed up in some town in the middle of nowhere and the house didn't exist? But as we dipped our toes into the world of home exchange, it started to seem more mainstream. less intimidating--and super exciting!, our preferred site, advertises 65,000 listings in 150 countries. Sometimes I like to just mess around with their map and dream up random possible adventures.

Having now completed one home exchange and in the midst of our second, I'm a total convert. Let me start to answer some questions and brag about my favorite things. This is what sold me:

1. No money exchanges hands. Really. You stay in their house, they stay in yours. Hotels are typically the biggest line item in a travel budget, so take that away and you can justify all sorts of spending on sights and restaurants and activities that would otherwise seem exorbitant.

2. Sweet extras included. Often, families are willing to exchange cars along with the house. Free rental car! And yes, we checked with our insurance company and our visiting families are totally covered. You'll find all sorts of other bonuses, too. We messaged with a woman who had a vacation home in the Alps, that would be available in addition to her city apartment. Some homes are on golf courses or vineyards...and all that that implies. In Sweden, we got a boat.

3. Setup for kids. Sharing hotel rooms with kids can be painful (when the baby goes to bed, everyone goes to bed). You can get more space with an AirBnB, but with real homes you get real stuff. Since we've exchanged with families, we've gotten houses stocked with toys, trampolines, swingsets, and more. Jack gets excited about his new room, decorated with bright colors and a canopy on the bed. Even though their kids are a bit older, both host families have arranged for cribs, high chairs, and car seats so that we are comfortable and equipped when we arrive (and can travel lightly).

Are you sold yet? In the next post I'll share more about the best surprises and biggest perks I've found along the way.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Related Posts with Thumbnails