As Problems Go, This is a Good One – Too Many Free Opportunities for World Travel!


The Pont du Gard, a Roman built aqueduct, in Southern France; it’s just one of the dozens of UNESCO World Heritage Sites that home exchange has given my family the opportunity to visit! We were there during the summer of 2013.

It’s true!  Now that I’ve already arranged two fantastic home exchanges for next summer; I’m (kind of/sort of)  hoping that I won’t receive any more great offers!  But, the chance of that is pretty low.

In fact, I’ve received three more home exchange offers (for next summer) this week, and if my past experience is a good indicator,  I can expect to receive them in greater quantity as we get closer to next summer.  Most people plan about four to six months ahead, not ten months like me (and my two exchange partners.)

I’m thrilled to have made my home exchange arrangements so early, but, now every time I open my e-mail and find a new offer, I know I have to turn it down, however amazing it may be!  You see, I can’t extend our trip any longer (well, I could; but my kids would revolt!), so as much as I love to receive new offers, I really don’t want to get any that are too good to pass up.

This happened during the planning of our first big trip to Europe in 2009.  After arranging two wonderful home exchanges in Southern Spain and Southern France, I received an incredibly desirable offer for a home just outside of Paris.  Neither my husband or I could bear to turn it down; so we didn’t.  We added another two weeks to our already month long trip and spent a full six weeks in Europe that summer!  We never would have imagined such an extravagant trip –  before finding and trying home exchange.


This was the home outside Paris that we simply could not turn down. Great location, great house, great neighborhood, great exchange family, great exchange!

I can tell you that our 2009 trip was extraordinary from start to finish; truly a once in a lifetime cultural adventure, except for one thing…home exchange has allowed us to do it again and again and next summer…again.  I do not envision ever stopping.  Once you try home exchange, it’s pretty impossible not to become addicted.  That’s why it’s not uncommon to find home exchangers who have exchanged 10, 25, even over 75 times!  My newest exchange partner in Amsterdam has exchanged at least 25 times.

As for my families next trip of a lifetime, my husband and I would have no problem adding another exchange and spending six weeks in Europe.  After 2009, we spent six weeks in Europe again in 2011.  The dilema is…now that our kids are teenagers (12 and 17) they no longer want to be away from their friends for that long.  Being the understanding parents that we are…we only plan to force them to travel with us for a month next summer.  Teenagers!

So, that is why each time I receive a new home exchange offer, I get excited first, and then remind myself that I can’t accept whatever wonderful opportunity that offer holds… and that is the hard part!

As problems go, I realize this is about a good a problem as you could have – too many wonderful opportunities for world travel.  That’s kind of the point of all these posts; it’s not to gloat about my experiences, it’s to convince you to take advantage of the wonderful cultural opportunities-that could be yours just for the taking.  All you need is a place you call home (owned, rented, it doesn’t matter) and a strong sense of adventure.  What’s stopping you?  Really, let me know.  I’ll never cease to be amazed that more people are not taking advantage of something so incredible.

Now, back to my offers this week…

One of the three was from Amsterdam.  Yes, Amsterdam, again!  I was so afraid I wouldn’t find one home exchange in Amsterdam and I’ve actually received four of them (so far). This newest one is fantastic; it’s a canal house, on the Singel, the oldest canal in the city (once a moat), right in the heart of the city.  If you’re familiar with Amsterdam, the house is located behind the Royal Palace in Dam Square; if you are not familiar, this is about as desirable a location as you can find in this city; especially if you are a tourist just stopping for a few days for a quick peek at the city.  Since my plan is to settle in and enjoy life as a local for several weeks, I’ve selected a home exchange just outside the lively city, on quieter Haveneiland, one of several artificial islands that make up Ijburg, a  new suburban neighborhood raised from the Ijmeer lake to support the growing population of Amsterdam.  The area is very Dutch, lots of families, and very few tourists; just perfect for my need for a true cultural immersion.  However, had I not already committed to an exchange, this offer would NOT have been passed up!

So, here are all three offers that I have received this week.  Just so you know, I found the ‘will power’ to turn each of them down.  Ouch!

Canal House in center of Amsterdam (already committed, or this may have been the one!)

Casa in Rioja, Spain (Did I mention how much I adore Spain?)

Villa near beach in Southern, France (You know I’m a Francophile, right?  Can’t get enough of France.)


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Turning Down Paris – It’s So Hard to Do!


Our 2009 Paris hotel, Hospitel Hotel Dieu (a working hospital with small hotel on 6th floor), had this amazing formal garden courtyard, AND it was located next to Notre Dame Cathedral! Loved it! Amelia & Angelo pictured.

I recently received two more lovely home exchange offers.  I’ve had to turn both down, because, as you may already know, I’ve already arranged two fantastic home exchanges for my family for next summer.

We will go to Amsterdam for a home exchange of two plus weeks, followed by a second home exchange in Brittany, France for an additional two plus weeks!  Those exchanges coupled with three days in a hotel in Iceland at the beginning of the trip and two (or  three days) in a hotel in Paris at the end of it, should make for an extraordinary cultural adventure for my family next summer!

We may even add one more country to the mix, IF we decide to take a train ride from Amsterdam to Brussels, Belgium.  My 12 year old daughter has been talking (for a few years now) about visiting Belgium for their French Fries and Waffles.   She says both were invented in Belgium.  Who can deny such strong reasoning for the two hour train ride, each way!

Sorry for the tangent, but what I wanted to do was show you my last two home exchange offers.  The first was easier to turn down, but only because it is located within minutes of the home exchange that I have already arranged in the Amsterdam area.   Here’s the Amsterdam exchange I’ve had to turn down.

The second exchange is much harder to turn down.  The family is offering their primary home, located only five miles from the center of Paris AND their vacation home located mid-way between Paris and Normandy.  So why in the world am I turning this incredible offer down???

I can tell you, it is not easy to do; but it’s because we can’t add another two weeks to our already month plus long trip.  Not that we haven’t done it before.   In 2oo9 and 2011 we were lured by incredible home exchange offers to spend a full six weeks in Europe – not a hardship, I assure you.

Unfortunately, now that my kids are older, they prefer to return home sooner to have some summer left to be with their friends.  For that reason,  I am forced to turn down this amazing offer of two homes near Paris and Normandy!  The things we do for our children!

So instead of a free two week home exchange in a great family home in Paris, we will have to spend a minimum of $250 – $300 a night (I know, I’ve done extensive research) for my family to stay in a little hotel room in Paris for  two – three days at the end of our trip; and I can’t lie – that hurts!

As I’ve said before and I’ll say again; the only negative thing I’ve experienced about home exchange is having to turn down so many incredible offers of exchange!

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Iceland to Amsterdam – Makes Perfect Sense!

When I wrote my book, Have Home Will Travel, The Ultimate International Home Exchange Guide for Families, I spent a lot of time researching airfare; specifically, how to save a lot of money on airfare.  Before I wrote the book I knew enough tips to save a good deal of money, but I learned even more through my book research.  

So, ironically, I recently referred to my own book for advice about airfare for my families trip to Europe next summer.   I always start looking for airfare early; it’s the best way to ensure snaring a good deal.  However, another tip that I learned while writing my book, has also panned out for me.   It’s the tip about ‘stopovers.’  A stopover is like a layover, but longer; it can be days or even weeks instead of hours.  A stopover lets you leave the airport to visit a cool place for your choice of time, and then return to the airport to continue to your ultimate destination.  The great part is that the stopover may not increase your airfare rate.  In fact, it can reduce the cost of airfare!

I know that it can reduce the cost of airfare, because I tried it out on my upcoming trip. My family was planning to fly out of JFK airport in NY on about July 12, 2015 to begin our back to back home exchanges in Amsterdam, followed by Brittany, France.  Then we planned to take the train from Brittany to Paris at the end to spend a few nights in Paris before flying out of Paris back to NY on August 15th.

The cheapest air, by far, was on IcelandAir, only $1,052 – a fantastic rate for air travel from the US to Europe in the summer.  However, since Iceland is someplace my family would love to visit, and because IcelandAir prompts you to try a stopover, I checked it out.  What I found was that adding a three day stopover in Reykjavik, Iceland, produced even cheaper airfare, only $994 for the same flights (with the exception of stopping in Reykjavik for three nights, instead of a short layover, before flying to Amsterdam.  For my family of five (including my mom) that’s a savings of $290 for the family – and we get to spend three day’s in a cool place like Iceland!!

So, that’s what we plan to do.  Even better news is that I have accumulated enough rewards miles on Chase and American Express to get two free IcelandAir tickets (excl. taxes & fees), so I’ll only need to purchase two round trip airline tickets, instead of four.  You can find out how to utilize great credit card sign-on bonuses to accumulate award miles infinitely more quickly in my book, Have Home Will Travel, as well.

Iceland here we come!

 Check out Have Home Will Travel here in paperback, and here in Kindle.
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Home Exchange Brings American & French Family Together for a Day


Three of the Sadoine’s (l to r: Alain, Noeme and Sarah) in my yard in New Jersey

In January (2014), I received an enticing offer to exchange my home in Monmouth County, New Jersey for a French families home in the Rhone-Alps Region of France for several weeks in July (2014).  Unfortunately, I had to decline their desireable offer of exchange.  The reason being that my family only travels abroad every other summer and this was the odd summer that we stayed home.

Turning down fantastic offers of exchange is never easy for me.   I receive dozens of wonderful home exchange offers each year, and I have to decline the majority of them for practical reasons – like timing and the too high cost of airfare.   Some exchange offers are extremely hard to turn down; for me, offers from France, a country I love to spend time in, are particularly difficult.

The Sadoine families offer was for their home in the Rhône-Alpes region  (Eastern France, bordering Switzerland and Italy) an area I definitely want to, but have not yet had the opportunity to visit; making the Sadoine’s offer  ‘tres difficile’ to turn down.  See, I can throw around French with the best of them – not really!

My family has had the great fortune to engage in three incredible home exchanges in France.  In 2009, we experienced two wonderful exchanges, first in a 400 year old village home, in Tuchan, in the Languedoc-Roussilon Region in Southern France, followed by a second in Marnes La Coquette, a high end suburb minutes from Paris.  During that summer, we also toured the Normandy Coast for several days, staying in a charming B&B (Le Mas Normande) and a hotel on Le Mont St. Michel.  Then during the summer of 2011, we had a third exchange in Provence, this time in a pretty old village, Pelissanne, in a very desirable location between Aix, Arles & Avigon, for three fantastic weeks.


My son Matteo (16) left, then the Sadoine’s: Sarah, Lucas (15) and Noeme (18) and my husband, Angelo (front right)

As difficult as it was to turn down the Sadoine’s offer of exchange, something very positive has come out of it – a new friendship and something else too.

You see, as a passionate traveler, home exchanger and travel writer, I was immediately intrigued when I learned from Alain Sadoine that his family was about to embark on a trip around the world.  What made the Sadoine’s trip even more exciting to me was that the Sadoine’s who had never before home exchanged were planning to include as many home exchanges as they could arrange, then fill in with rental properties as necessary.

Since last January when Alain contacted me for a potential home exchange (and I reluctantly declined) we have continued to communicate via e-mail.   I invited Alain’s family to come to NJ to meet my family and to experience a typical American barbeque if/when they got to the New York City area.   The Sadoines hoping to connect with locals on their year long journey, accepted my invitation and visited my family in July.  So, while  we did not get to home exchange, we got to spend a really nice day together and get to know one another.  Our teenage boys even got to play on the x-box together.  Matteo and Lucas did not share a spoken language, but the language of video games is universal!

So let me fill you in a little on the Sadoine family.  Alain and his wife Sarah are both doctors.  Alain currently works in a hospital and works with patients with drug dependencies, while Sarah is currently teaching in the medical field.  Alain has taken a year off and Sarah will continue to teach on-line while she travels.

Alain and Sarah have two children.  Noeme is 18 and she is taking a Gap year off from her studies.  Lucas  is 15 and will study on-line as he travels.  Lucas will need to pass an exam, as required by the French public school system, in order not to have to repeat the year he misses while traveling.

Unable to secure a home exchange in NYC in July, the Sadoine’s ended up paying to rent an apartment from Airbnb.  It was located across the Hudson River in NJ, and with that location came fantastic NYC views, unfortunately, unlike home exchange, it also came with a price tag!

On the day of our meeting, the Sadoine’s took the train from NY Penn Station to my local station in Red Bank, NJ, about an hour ride; my husband and I met them at the station and brought them home for the afternoon.  It was a beautiful sunny July day.

I had cooked up a really traditional American barbeque, which was not easy for me, because as Italian Americans and gourmands my family rarely eats traditional American dishes ourselves, favoring more ethnic variety.  I did however make hamburgers, sliders actually, with cheddar cheese and caramelized onions, instead of a traditional burger.  I also made a greek salad as opposed to a say a cobb salad!  We had corn which my husband says Europeans look upon as food for cattle, and not real people food.  I can’t recall if the Sadoines ate the corn, but they did enjoy the American barbeque; I can tell by how well Lucas ate –  he managed to match my son Matteo’s appetite bite for bite!  That was good, I would hate for them to leave us thinking of us as ‘those gluttonous Americans!’

Each of the Sadoine’s had varying levels of English fluency, but easily good enough to allow us to communicate well.  Fortunately, I did not have to resort to my high school french, which would have been disastrous – although I did greet them ‘bonjour’ and see them off with ‘au revoir!’  Actually, I can muster a few more words, and I enjoy using my French language skills, when necessary, when in France.

Anyway, we had a really nice visit; got to know more about each others lives and careers.  At the end of the day, we escorted our new friends back to the train station to see them off.  So that was about two months ago.  Sorry for the delay in posting this, I’ve gotten very busy since the Sadoine’s visit.  You know, making my own home exchange arrangements for next summer.

I do plan to start reporting to you how the Sadoine’s home exchanges around the world have turned out.  The Sadoine’s are blogging about their travels and this will allow me to follow them and report back to you.   Plus, Alain and I remain in contact via e-mail, so I can contact him for more information as necessary.

That’s all for now, but I hope to post a follow up to this post soon.


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Home Exchange #2 is Secured! I couldn’t be happier!


Yes, my next home exchange will take me to canals in Europe, just NOT these canals (this photo from our 2011 trip to Venice)

It’s true, I am very happy.  I now have two amazing home exchanges to look forward to beginning around mid July next summer.  As you know I have arranged to exchange for at least two weeks with a family of five from France.  Gweneal’s family home, in St. Meloir-des-Ondes, is in northern Brittany, only kilometers from the sea (English Channel) and the intriguing cities of St. Malo  and Dinan, and so much more!

Yesterday, my family actually skyped with the family.  It was the first time for either family to skype with anyone, and it was actually really wonderful.  It’s so nice to put faces on the people with whom you are conversing regularly in e-mail.  It really makes it more personal.  So, that exchange is secure.

What I want to tell you about today is the second exchange that I have been working on for the last few weeks.  It too has been settled.  This exchange will take my family to ….drum roll please…the beautiful city of Amsterdam in The Netherlands!  I am so excited!  We will exchange with Gerard’s family of four for at least two weeks beginning mid July.  Gerard’s very cool home is located just outside Amsterdam proper in a very interesting location, which Gerard says is ‘very dutch,’ and therefore is extremely appealing to me.  The home is located on one of three artificial islands raised from the Ijmeer lake, east of Amsterdam proper, only in the last decade or so.  The three islands make up ‘Ijburg‘ and we will be on the island of Haveneiland with it’s own harbor.  There is also a very cool urban beach called ‘Blijburg’ nearby.  It seems that IJburg, has received much attention and acclaim for it’s  city planning and modern architecture.  I can’t wait to explore it.  Ijburg is connected to Amsterdam with a main bridge and is only a 15-minute tram ride to Central Station.  A biking/walking bridge connects it to Diemen and Amsterdam Oost.  There is so much to do in Amsterdam and it’s outer environs, that I will struggle to squeeze everything we will want to see and do  in two short weeks (so a couple more days may be necessary!)  Oh, and we will likely exchange cars as well.

So, my families month+ long trip to Europe next summer will go something like this:

-Fly to Amsterdam for a minimum 2 week stay in Gerard’s home in Ijburg where we will explore Ijburg, Amsterdam, and the greater Netherlands area.

-Then we will take the train (approx. 4 – 5 hours) to Paris and re-visit that amazing city.  (we home exchanged just outside Paris for two weeks in 2009.)

-Finally, take the train from Paris to Brittany, France (about 3 1/2 hours) to begin our 2+ week stay in Gwenael’s home in St. Meloir-des-Ondes where will be explore that beautiful region of France!

As I mentioned in my headline, I couldn’t be happier!  I have an amazing trip ahead of me.  Now, I get to plan it.  I’ve already picked up a handful of travel books (at the library) and have begun to read them.  I’m really liking Lonely Planet‘s and will likely buy that one and carry it with me.  It’s chock full of great information.  I love researching and planning almost as much as the trips themselves; and I am a big proponent of anyone doing their research before a big trip like this, to make the absolute most of it.  A good guidebook is tremendously useful.

Note:  I have received four offers from Amsterdam in total; three of which obviously were declined.

Now that I have arranged my two home exchanges, I will continue to post any offers I receive, even though I will be declining them.  I want to continue to show you the frequency and quality of my home exchange offers.

I hope seeing is believing and some of you are starting to think a home exchange is something you should seriously consider.

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Brittany It Is! One Home Exchange Secured, One more to Go!


I fell in love with  Mont St. Michel when I last visited Normandy, France in 2009.   Now, I’ll get to return to this amazing place next summer, it is only 40 minutes from my next home exchange!

If you’ve been following for just the last few weeks, you will have seen that I have been receiving quite a lot of interesting home exchange offers.  There hasn’t been an unattractive offer in the bunch.

Several offers have been extremely nice, but one in particular really excited me.  This offer was for a beautiful stone, 5 bedroom home, located in a picturesque village called St. Meloir-des-Ondes in the Ille-et-Vilaine department in Brittany, France.  So, for the past several days I’ve been discussing a potential exchange with the very nice home owner.  We’ve had quite a bit of back and forth e-mailing, as is usual and appropriate when making an exchange, and we have happily worked out the preliminary details for an exchange for two weeks next August, 2015.  Their family of five is as excited to visit my NYC/NJ Shore area as my family is to visit their Brittany.  We will be exchanging our cars as well.  It should be a fantastic exchange!

For those of you who are interested to know how much such an arrangement can save you, I’ve done some estimating for you.  Why… because, I want your family to give international home exchange a try.

I’ll be the first to tell you that international home exchange is about more than just the savings, the cultural benefits of home exchange are extraordinary; but money is obviously very important too.  So, here are the savings I calculated for my family’s two weeks in this home exchange.

I looked for a comparable home in the Ille-et-Vilaine department in Brittany.  I found that five bedroom homes, on average, rent for between $200 and $400 per night in August, depending on location and quality of the rental property.  I found the above listed rental and got a quote for the first two weeks in August. It rents for $295 a night or $4,130 for a two full weeks.

But since I want to give you a really conservative estimate, let’s just say my family saves $3,000 (and not the above referenced $4,130 for the two weeks of accommodation)  Now factor in the car exchange.  Again, I’ll be very conservative and estimate that I will save $1,000 on a large car rental for two weeks.   Combine the two and we are looking at a conservative estimate of $4,000 on accommodation and car for two weeks.   If you recall from my earlier posts, my family is looking for two back to back home exchanges, so it is entirely possible that I could double that savings by adding another two week home exchange.   If this sounds too good to be true, I assure you that it is not.  It is true, and it is really, really good!

I’ll continue to report on the home exchange offers as I receive them, and I’ll be sure to keep you in the loop when I secure my next wonderful home exchange.

If you are intrigued by international home exchange, here is a link to my book Have Home Will Travel, the Ultimate International Home Exchange Guide for Families.  It has everything you need to feel comfortable arranging your very first home exchange.  It is available in both paperback and e-book, and if you are not in the USA, the book is available on all amazon platforms:,, etc…

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This Home Exchange Offer from Sweden was Two Homes in One!

Croquet anyone?  Who would of thought, we'd have our own full size croquet court

Croquet anyone? Who would of thought, we’d have our own full size croquet court in our home exchange in England in 2011.  Oh, also a private pool and tennis court!  Pretty funny picture by the way!

It’s true, I received a home exchange offer for an very nice apartment only an 8 minutes   train ride or 30 minute bike ride into the old town of Stockholm City; and if that isn’t interesting enough, the family also offers the use of their summer cabin near the sea, only a 30 minute drive from their primary apartment.  The summer cabin also comes with a small motorboat for fishing!  They also offer a car as part of the exchange.

You can see the details of this listing, right here – in case you are interested.  The family spent three weeks on a home exchange in California last year and fell in love with home exchange-which does not surprise me in the slightest!  Now they want to exchange in the Northeast of the USA next summer.

My family had to turn down this lovely offer, simply because we will have too many people and require larger accommodations, so it’s still up for grabs.




Pretty special, huh?


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Two More Home Exchange Offers – Is One of Them ‘The One?’


My daughter posing for me in the middle of the charming village we home exchanged in. Provence, 2013.

Another interesting week of home exchange offers.  I received two more offers from France.

The first offer was for a very cute two bedroom apartment in the mountains in the Hautes-Pyrenees department and came with a car exchange.  Of course this listing is too small for my large family, so is not one that I will be considering.  I do want to point out here, that you do not have to own a large home to be eligible to try a home exchange.  You don’t even need to own the property, you can be a renter.

The second offer is for a beautiful 5 bedroom stone home on the coast of Bretagne (Brittany.)  I am very much interested in this home and am currently discussing a potential exchange with the family who owns it.  I have been dying to visit this northern coast of France, since I visited the Normandy coast, just east of it, in 2009.  This particular home is in a wonderful location to visit places that interest me greatly, like St. Malo, Dinan, and Mont St. Michel, just to name a few.  It’s also close enough to Paris, about a three hour drive, for us to revisit that wonderful city.  The only issue with this home is that the family only has a VW Beetle Convertible to exchange.  It’s a really cute car, but too small for my family.  So, the very nice owner is currently trying to arrange for a larger car to offer us for exchange.  I hope they are successful, because we are very interested in this wonderful home and location!

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France Beckons Me, Again Today – This time it’s the Rhone-Alps Region


This is a photo I took last summer in Provence, while on a home exchange in the area – isn’t it just …. so French?

The home exchange offers keep rolling in.  Yesterday, I received an offer to exchange my home for this home in the Rhone-Alps Region.  It comes with my two favorite amenities, an in-ground pool and a car!  It’s also very close the Lyon, a city I have on my bucket list to visit.



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House in the middle of Kings Loire Valley – It’s for Free!


This was one of our first home exchange homes outside Paris, France, back in 2009. It was lovely!

Last week, I indicated that I would be posting any/all of the home exchange requests that I receive, so that you can get a feel for the frequency and quality of the exchange offers that I am privileged to choose among.  As I mentioned, my family plans to travel for at least a month next summer, and we plan to arrange at least one but hopefully two great home exchanges.

In my last post, I showed you my offers from the Paris and Amsterdam areas.

I just received another offer from France.  This offer is for a five bedroom home, which sleeps up to 10 people, and is located in the desirable Loire Valley, near Tours.  The house has two of my favorite amenities, an in-ground pool, and a car exchange, and is situated in a perfect location to tour the Chateaux of the Loire – and to visit Paris on day trips!

Since it is possible that my family may travel with as many as 10 people next summer, this home is definitely under consideration.   At the moment, we are waiting to see if our friends, another family of four, is going to accept our offer and join us next summer.  I’ve had to give them a deadline of next weekend to decide.  Since offers are starting to pour in, I have to know if I need a bigger house, such as this one, or if I can accept a more desirable offer of a smaller home, if/when one comes in.  I actually really love the Amsterdam offer that I mention above, but it’s too small for both families.

The hardest part about home exchange is deciding from so many wonderful offers!





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