Holidays and other peoples homes.......(1 Post)
If you've ever read an article on home exchange holidays and thought 'could I, couldn't I'?? ... I'd wholeheartedly suggest taking a leap of faith and going for it! We did a few years ago and have never looked back...
The thought of exchanging lives with someone else for a few weeks seemed strangely appealing.... maybe we could use their babysitters and enjoy a few grown up evenings out? The kids would have use of all the same kiddy stuff we have at home, so much lighter packing... and if we swapped cars as well, more money left to spend on the fun stuff.
So, we joined a home exchange site, and lo and behold, came across a family whose children had never seen snow or experienced a crisp frosty winter day.
In return for winter walks, log fires and ice skating in the Welsh countryside, they offered us the use of their beachside home with pool in City Beach, Perth. Use of their Swedish family car and their elderly parents to settle us in was also included.
We didn't think too hard about this offer and a few months later we arrived at Perth airport to begin our first home exchange adventure.
It was, without a doubt, one of the best holidays we've had. We did get a babysitter, a lovely 17 year old living next door....and we got invited to their neighbours BBQs and had use of their kids boogie boards, bikes, trampoline and Nintendo.
They got our waterproofs, wellies and winter coats for their use. We left wrapped gifts of scarves, gloves, slippers and woolly socks under the Xmas tree.... seasonal treats and liquid refreshment in the fridge ... and our parents waiting to show them where everything was.
They told us they had a fabulous time, walking in wintry woods close by our country based home. They enjoyed the local ale and home cooked food in the local village pub, complete with roaring log fire. They drank the New Year in with our neighbours and spent New Years day ice skating at the Cardiff outdoor skating rink. They even got to try tobogganing down Brecon hills in real snow!
A visit to a lovely old french townhouse in Brittany followed a year later and a stay in an old spanish hillside finca the year after that.
We never met the Australian family or the French single dad with young teen kids (though his lovely ex-wife took us to a great little country crepe house in Brittany).
But, the owners of the Spanish finca waited for us to arrive back at our house before departing for their return journey, welcoming us with tea, cakes and a pristine house.
Everyone treated each others homes with respect and care - I'm sure that standards do vary from family to family but you are not renting a sterile villa or apartment, you are staying in someone else's daily 'life'. Expect the kitchen cupboards to be crammed with cans & jars, the bathroom cabinet with toothbrushes and tubes. There'll always be some space cleared for your few weeks of belongings and room in the fridge for fresh buys.
We've just spent the last 3 years extending and doing up our house and have had to put the swapping on hold. We've enjoyed a few rented holiday villas and hotels. Nice... but so much more expensive after house swapping... not just the accomodation costs, but the car hire, kids stuff, eating out. So, looking forward to exchanging again for our next holiday.....
If anyone wants to swap with a family of 4 (housetrained kids ages 11,13!)who have a 5 bedroomed home in country garden setting just outside Cowbridge ... please let us know!
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