Swapping Homes Anybody?


Thursday, July 30, 2015

Why Do a Home Swap?

So the reason for swapping homes is a financial one; but not exclusively. We find it more relaxing to have a well equipped house with all the mod-cons that we're used to at our disposal than just a hotel room or a smallish vacation rental in a touristy area. We like to live like the locals. To shop where they shop, to eat out and find restaurants that we otherwise wouldn't have found. To get insider tips of places we otherwise would never have spotted.

Where do you find people to swap with and do you know them? we're constantly asked.
If you google "home swaps" or "house exchanges" , various companies will come up. Take your pick. The cost roughly the same membership fees unless you can join a super-high-end outfit dealing in luxurious villas; if you have such a home yourself.

Then the procedure is similar to that of  a dating agency. In fact, I have compared these two searches before: In both cases you are looking for a potentially acceptable partner. The listings show pictures of the object you want to swap. You describe what you have to offer and what you are looking for.
Start off with a certain region of the world that interests you. How many members live in that country? It varies from company to company. If you can agree on a time where you both want to travel, you are one step closer to vacation haven! Most offers include a car deal, i.e. a car swap is offered. Isn't it marvelous to have a car waiting when you arrive and not spend major fees on rentals?
A contract or exchange agreement seals and binds the arrangement.

The search process can be lengthy or quick, just a matter of luck sometimes...just like in the dating business. And other than the one off membership fee that entitles you to use their database for a year as often as you like there are no other costs involved. An umbrella insurance to cover your back for all eventualities is advisable.

Some agencies specialize in seniors for obvious reasons: They typically have more time, prefer longer stays, no children if you don't want a family with children to visit your house. Every step of the way you have a choice and some say in who you commit to.

It shows that I was a matchmaker, doesn't it? Well, I'm the author of www.NextTimeLucky.com.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Ever Swapped Homes with Strangers?

A short introduction to home swapping who haven't read my blog or heard about this cheap way of seeing the world.
Why would you swap your beautiful home with strangers?
With more dash than cash it's hard to fulfill your traveling needs...Thinking of the top '100 places you should see before you die' always makes my tummy churn and my face green with envy.
After a wonderful vacation in the Fatherland -which cost a bomb- I had a brainwave. Somewhere and somehow I had heard about swapping homes. Well, on TV families are known to even swap spouses. With a little bit of investigation (thank you Mr. Google!), I found an app for that or rather several websites. Looking at all the beautiful homes worldwide nurtured my travel bug that bit me years ago. He started to grow and make himself heard: If you swap houses with some of these people, you can stay longer. Hey, there is a way to swap cars too. That takes a big load of your pocket book. The bug could no longer be ignored.
Cheap package tours are an option, at least occasionally, but not in our circumstances. Especially if you live in "Paradise" anyway. We want to travel to Europe as much as possible because of family reasons. And hubby loves France and Italy.

I was all for it immediately. More to come!

Monday, July 27, 2015

Alsace- We're coming!

We are at it again: Home Swapping with another family. You just can't beat it when it comes to economical ways of planning a vacation abroad or the States - no contest!
It's our 5th season. We had 4 years in a row of successful home exchanges.Well, one turned out to be a bit itchy but the others were all wonderful! I think we had 9 so far!
Our destination this year is France again but a part that is not well known here in the US unless you are a wine aficionado. The Alsace area produces  wonderful wines that are similar to German wines but to some drinkers maybe a little less suspect...:) As a former wine importer and distributor, I had plenty of opportunity to sample and compare them. Rieslings, Pinot Blanc and Noirs, Sylvaner and the inimitable Gewűrztraminer.
And the Alsace region is gourmet country! The cuisine is a little hardier than the typical French haute cuisine or cuisine nouveau you find in Paris or Lyon, again resembling German country fare. If you look at the proximity to my home country on the map, that is not surprising. The other factor is that Alsace belonged to Germany until World War II. Germany ceded the region to France under the Treaty of Versailles. For history buffs and other interested parties, there is more on Wikipedia.