By Fredrica Syren
It is no secret that we like to travel, as do many of our friends. Before we had children, we did a lot of traveling together — my husband and me — and we’d stay in hostels, B&Bs, and hotels. But since having children, traveling has presented itself as more of a challenge because we have to plan everything to a T, and staying in hotels is really no longer an option. When traveling with kids we need more space, and access to a kitchen is a plus. Of course we could rent a house, but that can become very expensive. The option we (as well as many of our friends with kids) have tried is home exchange. With home exchange, we simply trade our home with someone else through an agency such as Homeexchange.com
On this site, you create a profile with pictures of your home, and information about it and your family. You also add the number of people who will be traveling, and the date(s) and the place you wish to go. Once you have done that, you have the option to explore other people’s profiles, and if you like someone you can email them with an inquiry. We tend to zero-in on families so that toys and kids’ rooms will be available, making our stay there so much easier. I was surprised at how many offers we got each time and how many different countries were available for us to visit. Our friends and we have done this so many times, and neither our friends nor we ever have had a bad experience. To make it safe and easy, we write a contract between us that includes what to expect from each other, etc. We also add friends’ and family’s contact information in case we have any questions or need help while staying in the other family’s home. Sometimes our cars will be available for each other, too, and of course not having to rent a car saves a tremendous amount of money.
We really like home exchange because it opens the whole world for us travel. It also makes us comfortable, saves us money, and saves the planet. As well, it’s easier on our kids, and we get great insider information from the other family about local interests, and things to see and do.