The summer holiday is here and each time I open either my Facebook or Instagram, I see someone posting holiday pictures from more or less exotic places.
We, on the other hand, are staying put for the summer, something that hasn’t happened since forever, or at least since the kids were born. I am still getting used to the idea.
One of my oldest (even though we are definitely not old!) and best friends is really good at traveling a lot and to very exciting places. She has an overall knack for finding good deals and creative ways to get as much as possible without paying a fortune and same goes when it comes to travel.
Last summer she and her family exchanged homes with a family in Paris, had a great experience and saved a lot of money, so to benefit others I thought to ask her a few questions about it:
How did you first get the idea for the home exchange?
We have some friends who have had many good experiences doing home exchanges. So we looked into it, using the site homeexchange.com
How was the process of finding someone to exchange a home with?
We compare it with online dating – not that we have any experiences with online dating, but the similarities are there. We find some home attractive and popular and we contact them but they never answer back. Maybe they found something better maybe they are already taken maybe the timing isn’t a match. And vice versa, we get lots of offers in places we never heard of in homes we might not want to visit and sometimes the timing just isn’t right. So you feel lucky when there is a match – even if it might not seem like a perfect match at first sight.
Did you have any worries regarding the exchange?
Not really. I think you need a good sense of trust otherwise I am not sure that exchange of your home is the right solution for you. Of course I hope and believe that there is a mutual trust since you open your home to strangers but since it is an exchange I guess there is some mutual understanding that you treat the other families home with respect.
How did the actual exchange go?
Last year, we had our first exchange with a family in Paris. They already had experience in home exchanges. We arranged to meet at the airport in Copenhagen and exchange keys and cheek kisses. They seemed like the sweetest couple and we were so pleased to have met them, even if it was only briefly. We had both left a welcoming present for each other and prepared a guide to the local area and a home-guide with the quirky details that all homes have, like how we keep the toilet from running. The home was in perfect, clean condition. During the stay we texted to each other but mostly fun things like we were doing in each city.
Pros and cons from the exchange in comparison to a hotel or Airbnb?
I like the idea that instead of all these homes being empty for weeks during the summer, we can just exchange our homes. It’s fun to stay at another family’s home, you get a sense of the family who lives there from their things, furniture, their fridge etc. I like the that is it a mutual arrangement and it’s great that it is cost neutral except for the other expenses of traveling! I like that you can visit a place you didn’t think you would.
Overall thoughts on the experience?
We loved it but I don’t think that it is for everybody. I have friends who asks all sorts of questions like what if something happens to your home, your things – of course I don’t want something to happen to my home that I value a lot, but it’s not a big worry for me, but if it is, I don’t think home exchange it the right thing for you. If you do want to try, start early and contact lots of homes. There will be match for you.
Would you do it again?
Yes, we are going to exchange homes with a family of four from Barcelona this summer.
So what do you think? Sounds interesting? Would you try it?