Exchange houses: a family vacation in the new format

Home exchange: a new format of a family vacation

 To travel without overpaying for hotels and rented apartments? To put yourselves into another country culture, to learn the way of life and traditions of its inhabitants from within? All that is quite possible if you travel all over the world, exchanging houses with the same enthusiasts.

We are fond of travelling all over the world. We spare neither time, nor strength, resources or energy for this family hobby. Travellin gives you a feeling of freedom. Trips move apart the borders of our ideas of the world and of ourselves. We develop, get new impressions, meet interesting people and find new friends while travelling. Stagnation and monotony of everyday life are never able to capture us when we come back home, because after the end of a trip we start planning another one. That means that we begin to dream, to search for information about a new place, to study everything connected with a new country or city, to make notes, to exchange letters with new people…

Travelling without a travel agency
My husband and I have thought about independent trips for a long time. Each of us had travelled a lot over the world before we met. We haven’t used travel agencies services. We set up our trip ourselves. It is necessary to find cheap tickets, affordable housing, to study the peculiarities of the planned place. This is a well-tested, proven way.

But here is the problem. It is easy to travel without children. It is not too expensive. It is possible to get any dwelling and transport options. You are not restricted by child’s regime or school holidays. In principle it is not too difficult with the first baby either, but you have already to adapt to his routine, health and age peculiarities and so on. When there are two children of course there often can arise such complexities as a type of accommodation, the duration of a flight and, of course, the cost of a trip. We have been through all these phases without much pain. But after the birth of the third child it became clearl that we could travel considerably rarely. What is to be done? Let’s be honest. There is much joy, many everyday discoveries and sometimes great achievements in family life. At the same time it is full of routine, duties, weariness and monotony. That’s why it is important to “change the subject”, to bring in everyday stagnation something new, original and uncommon from time to time. It is interesting for children to see the world and for parents – to see each other from another angle, to recollect the glints in the eyes and to feel the butterflies in the stomach which you felt when love came. Sure it is not gone! But it also needs new impressions! To my mind, travelling is the most solid way to set it up.

So we decided that we should travel, but to do it as regularly as before we had to think out of the box. What? The answer came from where nobody expected it.. Home exchange!

How the idea of home exchange was born
Surely many people saw The Holiday with Cameron Diaz and Kate Winslet. Remember how the two girls in different places of the world began to communicate online without knowing and seeing each other. They instantly agreed to exchange their houses. One of them went to a swell house in California, the other one went to a tiny English suburban cottage. Then different happy Christmas story miracles began to happen…

I was kind of watching this movie for the tenth time when I thought – why can’t we do it? I decided to inquire about the idea of the exchange holiday. Google and Yandex gave me enormous amount of information. It didn’t take me long to digest it. It was as if I opened a new world! I found out that thousands and thousands of odd people consolidate in communities and travel all over the world exchanging their houses-apartments-flats and even pets as it came out later.

I talked to my husband. Our views of life coincide in many things essentially, but this time I was not sure he wouldn’t have said: “It’s like you, the Russians, always to make out something odd”. Fortunately my Irish husband appeared to be no less adventurous than me. He agreed to try it.

We were already used to independent trips. Our house was always open for friends, relatives and acquaintances. We enjoyed finding new friends. We had a share of sound adventurism. All those components brought us to the decision: to try to exchange our house with a family from another country. That was the beginning of a happy epic of our trips according to a completely new script.

In the following articles you will find out how to begin, where to look for the exchange, what extra bonuses you can get while exchanging houses, and why you shouldn’t be afraid to leave the house keys to unfamiliar persons.

Masha Barabash

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