Think you can’t afford to go abroad and take your family? Think again.
For a few years we had an absolutely wonderful neighbor who lived above us in our building. Suzanne is from Paris. She is an actress, married to a Physicist and they have two beautiful children. When they wanted to travel in the summer what did they do? They signed up on a home exchange website…you know, like the one Cameron Diaz and Kate Winslet used in the movie The Holiday…and they went. And saved a ton of money. And had so much more space to stay with their active family than they would have in a little hotel room. I had never really considered a house swap before Suzanne brought it up. I mean…it’s kind of weird right? Someone you don’t know coming and staying in your home? I mean…weird. Right?
But you know why we think that way? We’re Americans. And we’re uptight. We worry about our stuff breaking and stains on our sofas and what might go wrong more than other people around the world do. And because of that, we may miss out on wonderful experiences. I really believe that. I think the Europeans are way more loosey goosey…and possibly more adventurous than we are…and as a result, maybe they live more exciting lives than we do. They certainly pay less to travel!
Last summer when we were first thinking of a trip to France we looked at a few home exchange sites, but we never joined one. Still feeling too uptight. Still not sure. But we rented an apartment in Paris for so much less than we would have paid for a hotel. We had tons more space which with a child is just so wonderful. We saved money on food because we had a kitchen, stove and refrigerator. And we had the experience of shopping for groceries in Paris! I love a swanky hotel room as much as the next gal, but so much about that experience made me think that this is the way to go! Especially with a family. You Mamas know that little kids need room to spread out and run around and sprawl and nap. And I just don’t know how you do that in a tiny European hotel room. But you can do that in even a modest European apartment. And who says you have to limit your destinations to Europe?
So. When Love Home Swap approached me at the end of the summer to review their site…I signed up…sort of halfway. I browsed through the amazing properties available to swap and pretty much thought “yeah no one is going to want to stay in our crummy apartment…” And then people started inquiring. And I thought, holy cow this might work! I cleaned the apartment, waited for a bright sunny day, took some photos and said to myself, “you know, maybe this apartment isn’t so crummy after all.” And sure enough, a lovely woman from Scotland who has a beautiful home in the country, wrote to us. We exchanged several emails…and long story short I think we’re heading to the Scottish Countryside this summer.
Love Home Swap runs on a subscription basis. You can get a fourteen day trial for $30. But it costs nothing to browse and see the homes that are listed. So how does a home swap work? Create your profile. Say a little bit about who you are, where you want to go and when, and what your home and neighborhood are like. Upload pics of your home (or your vacation home or lakeside cabin) at its best. Then wait for offers to come in. Or go looking for homes that strike your fancy and reach out. Once you join if you connect via Facebook, Love Home Swap will even show you homes that are owned by friends of Facebook friends. So that whole creepy stranger staying in your apartment thing…is a little bit less.
So I think we’re gonna do it. We’ll pack up the breakables and jump off a cliff. Because if you spend your whole life sitting around thinking about what might happen if…then it seems like you never actually do. And this year I’m kinda all about the doing.
Oh and all the photos in this post? Yeah they’re homes that are available for swaps on Love Home Swap.
A little adventure in the Scottish Highlands. That’s something Mamas and Babies definitely gotta have.