Swapping Homes Anybody?


Friday, May 27, 2016

Seven Days and Counting...

It's the usual race to the finish line of getting the house ready. Why do we never seem to finish on time in a leisurely way considering we’ve done swaps for 5 years running already? The To Do List gets longer instead of shorter.
In case you’re wondering what I’m on about: We do spruce up the house each year for our guests, i.e. exchange partners from overseas. Hubby, in fact, has several lists:
1. Well before
2. A couple of weeks before
3. Last minute

With only 7 days left, one would hope to have passed the second hurdle. Whenever I hear the word project coming from himself, my neck muscles get very tight and I have visions of more stuff that needs doing. I’m all for painting the bathroom before we leave. There is a lot to be said for a freshly painted bathroom; but why can’t the tools be put away as soon as the painting as such has been done? Oh, because caulking is necessary? Only after that the shower curtain can get back into place? Right!
So when I saw him ponder over a beam outside the front door yesterday which is rotting at the base, I knew I was in for another “project”. Hopefully not that lengthy, because we still have the remainder of the list points 1 and 2 to finish. Then my heart almost missed a beat: the scaffolding he put in place to hold the beam! He means business!  After several trips to the Homedepot he had all necessary materials at hand and the beam went up quickly indeed. Now, just some finishing touches like painting which I can do.
I tried a new strategy this year and warned him I wouldn’t go on our annual home exchange tour if he kept this up. But I couldn’t win him over: Then I will never finish my projects if you don’t give me a deadline.

Just got a text from our first home swappers in Berlin: “Thank goodness, the workmen left and the balcony is done…only needs pressure washing now. If it wasn’t for these swaps, these things never got done.”     

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!