Trading Sun and Sand on a Tropical Island for Cold and Snow for the holidays

From Thailand to Finland (with a huge temperature drop)

We are often asked the question, “You live in paradise, why would you ever want to leave?” Well, just like people who live in the mountains sometimes want to sit on the beach and beachgoers sometimes want to hike and smell the sweet pines in the mountains. Small town dwellers yearn for the hustle and bustle of the big city while big city folk just want to get away to the countryside for some peace and quiet. No matter where you live, sometimes a change of pace (and scenery) is needed.

My wife Sara grew up near San Francisco so Christmastime was not a cold one and definitely no snow unless you drove up into the mountains. I grew up in the suburbs around Atlanta, Georgia where we would get a white Christmas about once in a lifetime. Both of us have always dreamed of having an idyllic holiday trip with cold temps, lots of snow and Christmas markets. Although Christmas decorations and some celebrating can be found in Thailand (in the tourist areas mainly) it’s just not the same when it’s 33 degrees Celcius.

Brian and Sara’s Phuket Thailand home --

So, after joining PLU we hatched a plan to try and spend the holiday season of 2023-2024 in a cold climate. That’s when David and Michaela came to the rescue. They have a home in Vantaa, Finland just north of Helsinki. They contacted us about using our Phuket home for about two weeks over the Christmas and New Year holiday. After a video call and some back and forth we finalized a trade.

David and Michaela’s Vantaa home --

But, we didn’t want to fly all the way to Europe for just two weeks so we tried to add a couple of swaps on either end of our trade. After sending some messages (with some “no” replies, you have to be prepared for that in home swapping) we contacted Maike and Markus who have an apartment in Copenhagen, Denmark. We finally decided on a globe exchange as they have three children and they weren’t sure when they might be able to make it to Thailand.

Maike and Markus’ Copenhagen home —

For after Finland we got in touch with Tu and George and proposed a non-sim for use of their apartment in Prague, Czech Republic as they want to visit Phuket but it will be at a later date.

Tu and George’s Prague home --


Copenhagen was an incredible city (although an expensive one) and we loved using public transportation to get around and check out the Christmas markets as well as oddball stuff like the medical museum. Maike and Markus’ home was ideally located with two grocery stores downstairs and a five minute walk from a metro station. When the wind was howling outside it was so nice to be snuggled up inside their cozy place all nice and warm (and with a beautiful view of the water looking across towards Sweden).

Finland was a case of be careful what you ask for as we had plenty of snow and plenty of cold, temps at one point were -23 degrees Celcius. I even got the privilege (?) of shoveling snow for the first time. We had a grocery store and a bus stop about a 7-8 minute walk away but it was so nice to come home to David and Michaela’s nice, warm home after a day of touring Helsinki and the surrounding areas. Another great perk at all our home swaps so far is having a local give you great tips on shops, restaurants and local things to do that might not be in tour guides, gives you more of a locals perspective. Michaela put together an incredible guide on how to ride the buses to get into Helsinki and recommendations of local restaurants and attractions.

We only spent 4 nights in Prague but we are ready to go back, this is such a lovely town and Tu and George’s place was ideally placed only a 5 minute walk from a metro station and bus and tram stop. We spent most of our traveling using the trams that run around the city so you can get where you need to go and see the sights along the way.

All told we spent 21 nights in homes through PLU, using a globe, a non-sim exchange and a simultaneous exchange. PLU makes it so easy and we have since hosted a couple (Peter and Meher) at our home in Phuket.

Peter and Meher have two homes on PLU

Australia --

And India --

We loved our European trip and are already looking forward to our next adventure!

We made a video about how we used PLU for our Europe trip and it can be viewed on our Khaki Shorts YouTube channel here---




Sara and Brian
Travelling group
LGBTQ+ friendly Retired