Just about anyone can benefit from international home exchange, but the majority of international home exchangers are families, and I anticipate that trend to continue.
Families derive the greatest financial benefit from international home exchange. Most costs associated with international travel increase proportionately per person; this includes: airfare, accommodations, transportation, food, entertainment, and souvenirs. It is infinitely more expensive to travel as a family than it is to travel individually or as a couple.
The benefits of a free house with use of a free kitchen, a family sized car, and a myriad of other free amenities will save a family significantly more money than it would save a smaller party. Some of the other amenities I am referring to are: washing machines, pools, bicycles, sporting equipment, beach gear, outdoor play equipment, toys, etc…
A simple fact is that with the incredible benefit of a free family sized accommodation; many more families could afford international travel. It is what made it possible for my family.
Families are more suited to this style of travel. While I can’t profess to be the ultimate authority on how people should travel, I do believe that the type of travel supported by international home exchange is perfectly suited to families with children. In an international home exchange, you do not have the frequent moving around that is common in other forms of international travel; and this is a good thing for families. What family is going to benefit from the stress involved in uprooting the family every couple of days? As a mom, I can tell you that packing, being in transit, and unpacking over and over again is not a pleasant scenario. What is pleasant is to stay put and experience a place, its people and its culture more fully. It’s a deeply enjoyable and incredibly enriching experience for the whole family.
My family’s first experience with home exchange was incredible; it took us to a tiny remote village in the Sierra Nevada Mountains in Southern, Spain (Andalucía). The area was unlike anything my children had ever seen, it was so remote, mountainous and rugged (so unlike New Jersey which is very flat and highly populated). The directions our home exchange partner gave us were really funny, in that she referenced things like a “cheeky” bull (which turned out to be a billboard), or a double garage with green doors, as opposed to street signs. When we arrived at our property, we could not believe our luck. Our temporary home was beautiful! My husband paid me a great compliment; he said “wow, good job” and then “I really was not expecting this to be so nice!” I believe he was shocked.
The villa was perched in the middle of an ancient olive grove, complete with peacocks roaming about, on the outskirts of a tiny little village. The villa itself was typical white stucco with beautiful wood window shutters and wrought iron grates. The inside was really inviting with beautiful tile work throughout. It had a huge eat in kitchen with typical blue and white Spanish tile, an impressive stove, huge farm table, and a comfy couch and TV. The large kitchen would have been the perfect room to relax in, if not for the perfect garden with in-ground swimming pool and shaded patio just outside of it. All I can say is that we spent some wonderful family time relaxing in this home exchange. In between seeing many incredible sights and enjoying even more local pleasures; we still had time to spend lazy afternoons reading, or playing games with the kids, and swimming in the pool. We even entertained some local guests, friends of our exchange partner, for an American style 4th of July barbeque!
I can tell you that this home did not disappoint. It looked just as amazing in person as it did in the pictures on the home exchange website. The experience of living in that home, in that location, was for me, a dream come true!
Please visit The Trusting Traveler to view more photo’s from our 1st home exchange in Spain, in My Family’s Photo Album.
If you find the subject of International Home Exchange intriguing, here is a link to my book, Have Home Will Travel, The Ultimate International Home Exchange Guide for Families http://amzn.to/1nowYrh You can be one of the first to read it, and if you like it, hopefully you will consider reviewing it! The book’s official launch is scheduled for May 15, 2014.
Kerry Ascione, aka The Trusting Traveler www.trustingtraveler.com @trustingtravel