Swapping Homes Anybody?


Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Home exchange is a unique alternative to mainstream tourism

I thought you might be interested in the underlying ethics and rules of the company we have been working with for 5 years now before I wrap up this blog and turn it into an eBook. It surely is important info about the whole process which will give the undecided some more safety of mind.
I've copied it from their website- without you giving the name of that outfit. Contact me and I will give it to you and it will be in that eBook as well.

Home exchange is a unique alternative to mainstream tourism, and has been for decades.

An ever-growing trend

The recent emergence of a more personalized approach to travel, as well as the worldwide economic slump, have both contributed to the current boom in home swapping. Attention from the press (thank you!) has also done a great deal in promoting the cause of home exchange. It has never been more popular – attracting an ever-growing group of open-minded people – as well as numerous new home exchange websites, often one-man-band operations offering free access to members and boasting staggering numbers of homes around the world.

At x we do things differently

Pioneers of home exchange since 1953, we are an international association based in Brussels, with 27 multi-lingual representatives around the world offering advice and local support to our members. X is the original network of active and reliable exchangers in the world. Our goal is to continue to defend the original values of home exchange: trust, mutual respect and support, open-mindedness and genuine interest in other cultures.

Request an interview or meet home exchangers in your region. This was news even to me!

Having them outline their business policy, I need to point out that for over a year we have been annoyed about their website.Major changes were made, resulting in time consuming screw-ups which haven't been fixed yet. Why fix something in the first place that hasn't been broken? Since hubby has a fairly good insight into building major websites and internet systems, we're put off by the ineffective way this company has been handling these glitches. Not that they don't offer personalized help about every mistake and question I have. Still, it is a time-consuming enterprise to start looking for exchange partners. I had to experience this in spring for our 2015 exchanges.And now that I have already started to look again for 2016 it is no better. Their filter systems do not work.
Let's say you're looking for house exchangers in Great Britain with no children who are non-smokers and have no pets, their  suggestions (site) will still give a big number of smokers or pet owners among them. If you're looking for  a specific area, it is not as easily accessible as it used to be. Based on an alphabetic system before, you now get houses and members all over the country you're interested in.Again a waste of time.
In spite of several complaints, nothing much changed. Extraordinary for such a big company that operates world-wide to be so under serviced in the technological department. To give us an extra 4 months membership, for us, is not the solution. As we say in German: We had the money to begin with!

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Farewell to Villa Villekulla (Kunterbunt)

Did you read Pippi Longstocking when you grew up? Pippi Longstocking was the protagonist of a series of children's books by Swedish author Astrid Lindgren. A tomboy living with her monkey, Mr. Nilsson, in a colorful villa, Vill Villekulla, was my hero as little girl. Ah, yes, and she had a horse living with her in it.
Because of the multi-colored decorations and wallpapers in our swapped home in the Alsace, my friend who visited us called it "Villa Kunterbunt" - meant in the most endearing way. We loved it and its decor.
It was time to pack and make arrangements for our return trip. Readers of this blog may remember that we often have to pay for a rental car to go to the house we are swapping. There we often pick up the home owner's car and have it at our disposal. 
The same happened this year. We had to go and pick up a rental car. Since that was not possible (due to their Terms & Conditions) in Strasbourg, it was a longer way to Stuttgart from where we flew back. The next day, having closed up the house,  we drove back to the airport and returned the rental.
It seems a bit of a nuisance to do the distance  (90min) twice, but it's the only possible way of getting back to the airport.
Our exchange family was lucky . They had a family member to collect them when they arrived (in Frankfort). At least I had helping to clean the house. It was a heart-felt good-bye with the 89 year old "Oma", grandmother' of our exchange family. She had looked after us and welcomed us in a very endearing way.
Maybe we'll see each other again.Maybe indeed as we have heard since form our exchange partners that they are interested in repeating this stay.
So we spent the last night in an airport hotel in comfort instead of getting on the road at an ungodly hour. Transatlantic flights depart around 9.30 -10.00 most of the time. With the drive to the airport or 90 min plus an extra 2 hours necessary for check-in we prefer to arrive at the airport the night before.
The inconvenience of stripping beds and cleaning a whole house is just too much for me to bear on an early morning. So you see: planning and organization is the name of the game of a successful home swap. More tips to follow in the upcoming eBook: Insider Tips for Successful Home Swaps.

                                                   (spacious terrace on garage roof top)