Swapping Homes Anybody?


Here's the famous gate that divided the West and Eastern block for decades since the end of WW II!

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Pet Care-- An Extra benefit to Home Swaps

I outlined several benefits in my previous postings that home exchanges bring. Here is another one for you: With people in the house, you can rely on it that your plants will be taken care of. Just like you water theirs or mow their lawn. 
And if you’re a pet owner, your precious pet doesn’t have to go to a kennel if you find pet lovers who are willing to look after it. In case you own a pool, your swap partner will not only enjoy it but also take care of it.
We don’t have pets but inherited a few willy-nilly when we found an aquarium with fish in one house and a pond with fish outside. The exchange partners Versailles, at the last minute, announced a rabbit that needed feeding but ignored to mention a guinea pig. As an ex farmer’s wife, I didn’t mind, but these two were fighting all the time when they were left in an outdoor free range roaming cage together. 
You can’t really go away overnight with pets to feed. So from then on, I asked potential swapping partners several times if they had pets. Unless they lie like the couple on the houseboat in Amsterdam who pretended not to have pets. They "forgot" to mention the dog they had taken to the kennel for the vacation time. OK, technically, there was no pet, but the boat, however, was infested with fleas. And stupidly they had left multiple cans of “vluyn spray” standing around:they didn't even bother to hide the evidence!

I haven’t put you off the idea of home swapping, have I? What's one bad egg in a basket of a wonderful dozen otherwise? We are undeterred! Intrepid -- as the name suggests. 

Thursday, May 5, 2016

How do you protect your house against burglars?

You know by know that I'm a fervent fan of home swapping. After all we're preparing for our 6th season running with 3 swaps this year. Sometimes we only did one or two, sometimes three before. It always depends on the offers you get that appeal to you and that fir inpt your vacation plan or schedule. Now that hubby is retired we're even more flexible than when he was working. And we were only able to go on extended trips because all he needed for his work was his laptop and a good cell phone connection and data plan.
One of the most convincing arguments in favor of home swapping for us is that your house is never empty or alone. Even if you have an alarm system, things can go wrong: pipes can break, power outages, sprinkler systems give up - you name it. With exchange partners somebody is in the house, at least to alert you if not fix it. And it is the best protection against burglars! Otherwise I wouldn't dare to mention here openly that we're going away for 3 months! But our house is occupied all the time.

Monday, May 2, 2016

Airbnb, Hotels or Home Swapping?

Have you heard of airbnb? The hottest traveling tip, apparently. You may have seen their ads on TV and it seems to be a great source of income for home owners who want to rent out a room or two to travelers - according to a feature on NPR.
Basically, it's your typical Bed & Breakfast. Personally, I prefer a hotel room but some people want to meet the locals instead of staying in an anonymous hotel. I was extremely surprised to see that Airbnb/Dublin was booked solid for my upcoming trip to Ireland. With hotel prices hovering about the $200 mark there, it is understandable, however.
For us, nothing beats home swapping! If you have followed this blog, you know why. This year will be our 6th season. It will take us to the capital of Germany, the Black Forest in Germany and Luxembourg. Not sure where that is? It is nestling in the triangle between Belgium, France and Germany.
In a little over 4 weeks time we will be on our way. Join us on our annual trip to Europe which this year will almost last 3 months!

Sunday, March 20, 2016


No, it's not Paris this year.

Believe me, it's definitely not Paris although it bears some resemblance, doesn't it?

A street scene, full of cafes and little boutiques in the fashionable quarter of  Kreuzberg .

You're excused to think so, but it is not the Seine. It's the Spree with a view of the famous Island of Museums (Museumsinsel). It houses the Pergamon Museum with the famous statue of Nefertiti, strangely called Nofretete in German.

If you haven't been to Berlin, you're in for a treat and surprise. Berlin is the hottest - and I mean- trendiest capital in Europe with the most visitors in the last 2 years. It will be the start to this years's home swapping adventure starting in early June, earlier than we ever did before. This couple approached us and we couldn't think of one single reason why not leave for our annual trip to Europe earlier than normally. 
We have two more exchanges lined up after Berlin, a little village near Baden-Baden near the black Forest and border to France. I hear you say that we were there before. In fact, it's our favorite area in Germany and we keep returning to it almost every year.
After that, we'll be heading to Luxembourg. This exchange came about quite unexpectedly after a long wait when we thought we couldn't find another swap. More about all destinations as we go along. 

Friday, January 22, 2016

Ziggy the Traveling Piggy

Only touching our home swapping adventures tangentially, I present you Ziggy the traveling piggy- and I tell you why.
Those of you who know me for a while know that I had pigs on the farm and I am fond of them. My son actually wanted them for his first Holy Communion instead of a bike or camera!

In addition, my name is Siggy; as it is derived from the German (Sigrun), it is a soft sound like the English Z.

An Irish friend coined this nickname, now my pen name, because Sigrun was just too difficult to pronounce (for non-German speakers).
Then over the years I was called Biggy, Iggy, sometimes Piggy where I used to draw the line. (Not any more...:)).
Same about Vicki - Don’s, my now husband’s, ex who gave us a lot of grief had that name.  
The worst I was called lately was Soggy in an email, but maybe that was just a typo?

Hope you like the video too: 
It certainly made my day.

One the home swapping front we see some busy traffic, people offering their house or we approaching them. We fixed two , wrote swap agreements, both in Germany.
In addition, we have two on the burner. One in Italy, an area I always wanted to go to near Venice and the other close to Geneva and Lac Leman and the French Alps. The Italians are in touch with another Floridian family who doesn't seem to make up their minds. Now e just told the French that we're waiting for an other offer which was made before them and that we are waiting. 
Did I mention before that home swapping is like dating? Keep them in hands until one comes through!

Monday, December 28, 2015

Happy New Year - Happy New Swaps!

The old year isn't quite over yet and the new season of Intrepid Home Swapping has already begun.
We had a winner for the free membership, David S., who will put his house in Turkey on the company's registry.

We're after signing two agreements with two German families. Yep, off to the fatherland again. After all it's my home country and we're enjoying it every time. The first exchange will be in Berlin, a maisonette with air condition! An absolute rare gem in Germany. Then we will "take the waters" again in Baden-Baden, a very high -end spa resort, with a casino and thermal baths in the most scenic area in the south west close to the French border. We already arranged to go and visit this summer's exchange partners again in Alsace.

Still not convinced about home swapping.Maybe one of my travelogues will hook you.Here's my latest, Season 5:

Monday, December 14, 2015

Try it out for free!

If you've followed my blog, you know that we are home  swapping enthusiasts. Even more so since hubby retired and we're living on a fixed budget. It makes perfect sense to swap homes to save a big chunk of money on accommodation AND a re rental car.
Season Six is upon us. For weeks I've been perusing the suite we have subscribed to for 5 years and I added another one for more choices. It works on the same basis and we were offered a special deal: a third of the annual premium = $49.
First I thought it was too early to start looking in September, but no, some members had made arrangements already. As soon as Europeans know when they will be on vacation in the following year, they tend to start thinking and booking. (These school holiday weeks vary from state to state in Germany each year.) In France, it's a given that they will want to travel in August. Same with Italy, but I haven't had any luck there yet even getting  the usual number of responses. Some people are just too busy...or lackadaisical?
We have two prospects now where contracts are under way, both to Germany: Berlin and my favorite region in the south west near Baden-Baden, close to the French border.

                                                            (Casino in Baden-Baden)

The new company I signed up with is offering a free membership for a year to test home swapping. That is a value of ca. $129! I'm offering it to people who are seriously interested in this ideal way of traveling.Offer only lasts till the end of this week. Contact me at Hernibs1@comcast.net and you are in business!
Happy Travels!