As people are reawakening to travel after two long years I wanted to share why we decided to home exchange and the impact it has had on us as a family!
When we started home exchanging it was because we had long holidays as teachers but absolutely no spare cash. However we loved to travel. We wanted to spend the entire school holidays abroad but could not afford to do this until home exchanging came along.
My sister's friend home exchanged and she suggested it to ME - a frustrated traveller with many weeks holidays!
At that point (1987) I lived on a remote Scottish island (idyllic BUT in the middle of nowhere, both expensive and time consuming to get there and…. the weather not exactly reliable) However I was inundated with replies ( by letter and the amazing quick invention FAX!!!!)
We exchanged for the first time with a couple from Lucerne in Switzerland in 1987 when I was pregnant with my first child. They travelled by car to Orkney as did we to Lucerne. We met for an overnight in Canterbury en route and exchanged keys over a meal together. That set the ball rolling for many more.
We had a total of 12 weeks holidays/year and all were spent on home exchanges. In the early years in Europe and weekend breaks in the UK and as our sons got older we ventured further afield covering every continent.
When the boys were small our priorities were - outside space/garden and a washing machine, especially if away for 6 weeks at a time! My sons were used to big open spaces to play and were always outside so the outdoor space was essential to us.
Location has always been first priority overall, and to me the actual house is secondary. We have stayed In condos, ranches, cottages, mansions but all in great locations.
Out of 120+ exchanges over the years we have never been disappointed by any house/location.
However we had one long summer exchange in Canada where the weather was so awful for the entire time we were there we struggled to fill our days with activities as many areas were closed off due to excessive rainfall! We cycled, hiked and played tennis in the rain, but eventually all the routes closed. Our Canadians on the other hand had the most incredible summer weather in Scotland and had to purchase more summer clothes as they hadn’t taken enough!
Out of all of our exchanges that one stands out and was nothing to do with house/location but a weather anomaly!
I could write a book on all the exchanges we have done and the unique experiences each one offered but that’s in the future when I stop travelling!
It possibly should have been a lockdown project but reckoned it would be too depressing reliving the joys of travel!
To sum up and to any newbies out there, ask the questions, do your research and give it a go!
It has transformed my family’s life without a doubt, seeing the diversity of cultures in the world as well as the incredible sights and sounds this planet has to offer.