With the rising costs of checked baggage, it’s no wonder more and more travelers are forgoing jumbo suitcases for practical carry-ons. But how do you pack for a week-long exchange (or longer!) in such a small space? Don’t worry…we’ve got you covered with these packing tips!

Try a hardside. Soft-sided luggage is easy to overstuff, and you could easily find yourself going over the weight limit. Hardside luggage limits what you can pack and guarantees that your carry-on will fit in your overhead bin.
 
See what’s available. If you’re traveling from a warm climate to a chilly one, find out if your exchange partner is willing to lend you some cold-weather gear. Many will be happy to lend you their parka…they won’t need it when they’re staying at your home! You can also plan ahead with your exchange partner to leave items like shampoo and toothpaste for each other so you won’t have to pack them.
 
Spring for some packing cubes. Not only will they keep your socks and unmentionables contained, packing cubes are also great for…unpacking! Just grab the whole thing and stick it right in a drawer. You’ll go from zero to settled in under a minute.
 
Layer up. The key to a small but functional wardrobe is versatility. Does that shirt only go with one pair of pants, or can you wear it with a variety of outfits? Do you need to bring a heavy sweater, or will a lightweight cardigan over a long-sleeved shirt be enough? If you can only wear it with one outfit, leave it at home.
 
Remember you’re in a home. And most homes have washing machines! If swapping for two weeks, you really only need one week’s worth of clothing since you’ll easily be able to do a bit of laundry. Just make sure to ask your exchange partner to leave directions; foreign appliances can be tricky to decipher.
 
Don’t panic! If you arrive at your exchange home and realize you forgot something, chances are you’ll either be able to borrow or purchase it…and who doesn’t love an excuse to do a little shopping?

Do you have any packing tips? Tell us in the comments!

Photo: Highways Agency/Creative Commons

IMG_9316

Guest Post by Chelsea Foy of Lovely Indeed

If you’re hitting the road for a travel adventure soon, be sure you’re stocked up on all of the accessories that make travel fun and easy. And better yet, keep your hands busy by making them yourself! HomeExchange.com member Chelsea of Lovely Indeed shares 10 fun and simple DIY projects to have you traveling in style.

1. DIY Leather Passport Holder

Even a novice on a sewing machine can whip up this cool case for a passport. Find a scrap of leather and some fun fabric and you’ll have a new passport holder in a matter of minutes.

 

2. DIY Headphone Case

Keep your headphone cords organized and tangle-free with this super-simple cord keeper. Bonus – it’s made from upcycled and repurposed materials!

 

3. DIY Travel Candle

Take a little serenity with you on a long trip by packing this handmade travel candle! If you’ve never made your own candle, give it a try; it’s much easier than you think.

IMG_7493

4. DIY Polka Dot Luggage Tags

One sure way to guarantee no one has a similar luggage tag to your own is to make one yourself! Customize luggage tags like these and picking out your luggage at the baggage claim will be a snap.

 

5. DIY Travel Bags

These bags can come in handy in about a million ways. Whip up as many as you like to keep small pieces organized. They’re perfect for toiletries, accessories, and more.

 

6. DIY Travel Journal

I love keeping a journal when I travel! Compile a book like this one before you take off so that you can jot down all of your memories before they escape you.

IMG_9126

7. DIY Travel Tech Organizer

Have a lot of tech gadgets? Keep them organized with this super-cool DIY project.

 

8. DIY Travel Art Kit

If you’re an artist, take your materials with you! This little DIY art kit will hold everything you need.

 

9. DIY Sewing Kit

A little sewing kit on the road can be a lifesaver. This one will keep your needles, threads, and more safe and sound.

 

10. DIY Camera Strap

A strap is essential if you’re traveling with your nice camera! Make one of these striped straps and keep your gear safe.

About the Author

HeadshotChelsea Foy is the maker behind Lovely Indeed, a DIY and lifestyle blog about all of the lovely things in life. Her work has been featured on Apartment Therapy, Buzzfeed, HGTV, Better Homes and Gardens, and more. She recently co-authored Make Your Day, a digital crafting book. Chelsea resides in Los Angeles with her adorable husband, where they spend their time exploring and looking for creative adventures. Find her on InstagramPinterestTwitter, and Facebook. 
Life Swap

Home exchangers swap houses all the time, but HomeExchange.com members Agnès and Romina took it a step further…they swapped lives! Read on to discover how they did it.

Romina, from Buenos Aires and Agnès, from Barcelona, work at different branches of the same company and have similar jobs. Wanting to break out of the same routines, they each enrolled in their company’s office exchange program. “The idea was to live the life of another person who holds the same position as you do elsewhere in the world. In the agency we work at, there’s a program that allows us to work from a different office; we just needed to look for someone who would be able to continue our work for two months,” Romina explains.

Read More

10 Free Barcelona EN

What’s better than having fun things to do? Having fun free things to do. Welcome to our blog series, 10 Free Things. Today we’re exploring 10 fun and free things to do in Barcelona, an amazing city full of color, culture, and history.


1. Soak up some sun

Barceloneta beach is the city’s most popular, and on weekends you’ll find it full of sunbathing locals. If you’re feeling active, you can swim in the Mediterranean or bike along the promenade, but lying on the sand is just as good.

 

2. Enjoy free museum days

The Museu Picasso, Museu Nacional d’Art de Catalunya, CaixaForum, Centre de Cultura Contemporània de Barcelona, and Museu d’Historia de Catalunya each offer free admission on the first Sunday of each month. If you have a sweet tooth but would prefer to spend your money on treats than admission fees, visit the Museu de la Xocolata (Chocolate Museum) on the first Monday of the month for free.

 

3. Wander up La Rambla

Yes, it’s a little touristy, but strolling along La Rambla is a must-do while in Barcelona. Spend a few hours on this 1 km-long walkway and take in the buzzing atmosphere.

 

4. Be enchanted at the Font Màgica de Montjuic

This free show runs almost evening, with a fountain full of light, color and music; check out the schedule here. Local tip: keep your belongings close and beware of pickpockets!

 

5. Get active at Montjuïc

Montjuïc is the perfect place to enjoy a Sunday morning. Many spots in the park offer a wonderful view of the city. Go for a jog, have a picnic, or play table tennis on one of the many free public tables; just ask your exchange partner to lend you a paddle!

 

6. Party with the locals

Barcelona has so many festivals throughout the year that that it’s worth it to plan a trip around one. One of our favorites is Fiesta Major de Gràcia, a week-long community celebration in August. Visiting at the end of September? Get ready for the city’s largest street party, Barcelona’s La Mercè Festival, which welcomes autumn in with parades, fireworks, street performers, and more.

 

7. Go street art spotting

The Gothic Quarter is full of street art. The shutters of the shops are the perfect canvas for spray paint artists!

 

8. Marvel at the human towers

Every Sunday morning in Barcelona brings a remarkably unique experience – watching the centuries-old tradition of building castells. Check the schedule to find out where to see them go up (and hopefully not down!)

 

9. Experience the markets

Entering a market in Barcelona is a truly local experience. You’ll find all types of food and people from all walks of life at the Mercats de Barcelona. Even if you’re not interested in buying anything (although we bet you won’t leave empty handed), it’s worth it to check out the city’s three most popular markets, La Boqueria, Santa Caterina, and Barceloneta.

 

10. Keep exploring

There is always something going on in Barcelona! Check this site for free concerts, dancing, and exhibitions.

 

Previously: 10 Free Things Copenhagen

IMG_2421

Meet Christan and Chris from Cape Town, South Africa. Their beautiful home is full of light and thoughtful design touches that make us want to keep exploring!

Names: Christan & Chris

Listing ID: 108630

Number of Exchanges: 7

What has been your favorite exchange so far?

It’s difficult to say! We’ve never had a bad one – they’ve all been great. Our most recent exchanges to Paris and Berlin were fantastic. But Amsterdam and Barcelona were amazing too. It’s impossible to choose!

Read More

10 Free Cph EN

What’s better than having fun things to do? Having fun free things to do. Welcome to our blog series, 10 Free Things. Today we’re Scandinavia-bound with 10 fun and free things to do in Copenhagen.


1. Visit the National Museum

Denmark’s National Museum has exhibitions ranging from the Stone Age all the way to Modern Danish History. The museum is located in the Prince’s Palace, built in the 1700s to house the Danish Crown Prince Frederik V and Princess Louise. Although its royal days have passed, the Great Hall is still something to marvel at. The National Gallery is also free.

 

2. Have a beachside picnic

It’s an easy metro ride to Amager Strand, one of the most popular Copenhagen spots for locals and visitors alike. Pack some lunch and a bottle of wine and spend the afternoon by the clear, blue waters.

  Read More

Denmark Unlocked

Be in the know before you go! Our new series, “Unlocked” will help you live like a local at your next destination. First up: Denmark, courtesy of HomeExchange.com team member and Danish local, Anna.

How to say hello

Hej or Goddag

How to say goodbye

Farvel

How to say thank you

Tak

Currency used

Danish kroner (DKK)

Favorite national foods

For lunch: Smørrebrød – Danish open sandwiches, with fillings like roast beef, herring, fried fillet of fish, or shrimp. Always with trimmings.

For an evening meal: Frikadeller – meatballs made of veal and pork, served with potatoes and thick gravy. Or roast pork with crisp crackling and red cabbage.

Best month(s) to visit

May – August. But September and October are very beautiful.

Best way to get around

In the cities, a bicycle is definitely the best way to get around (they can be rented). Trains are best for traveling between cities, and some of the smaller islands are connected by ferries.

Local customs

Danes toast each other when they drink alcohol. You do this by saying Skål! and acknowledging everyone in your group by looking them in the eye and nodding briefly.

Danes do not talk much to strangers, but they don’t mind if you talk to them. It’s considered polite to greet everyone by shaking hands and introducing yourself when you arrive at a dinner or party.

Always stick to the traffic rules when you use a bicycle. Keep up with the flow on the cycle track and don’t insist on cycling side by side with your companion! Never stop suddenly. People can get aggressive if you hold up bicycle traffic.

A novel/film/song to learn more about Denmark

All of Lars von Trier’s films give an insight into the more neurotic side of the Danish psyche. Also, the Oscar-nominated film “The Hunt” (2013) by Thomas Vinterberg is a portrait of life in a small Danish town. Watch the television series “The Killing” for a taste of Denmark’s dark side.

Local websites or inside info for discounts in restaurants, theatre, cinema, etc

Buy tickets for the Royal Danish Ballet at the theatre an hour before performances for discounts.

Lesser-known towns or villages which are worth a visit

Visit one or more of the small Danish islands such as Ærø for their fairytale atmosphere. Bornholm is a larger island that has its own traditions and is really beautiful in summer. And visit the North coast of Zealand or the West coast of Jutland for really beautiful beaches.

The best kept secrets about Denmark

The high-quality food, especially in summer when the fruit and vegetables are in season – try Torvehallerne, a covered market place in the center of Copenhagen.

The Royal Copenhagen factory outlet.

The museum of modern art, Louisiana, North of Copenhagen (direct trains from Copenhagen). It is perched on the edge of the ocean and is full of really good modern art and modern design, as well as temporary exhibitions. And it’s a lovely, easy way to get out of Copenhagen.

The nudist beach in Tisvilde (and other places). In Tisvilde, you simply keep walking away from the car park, and pretty soon you’ll realize that you arrived at the nudist area.

The most unique thing about Denmark

It’s so small that everything is easily accessible. In the cities you can easily go everywhere by bike, and this means that there are a lot of people in the streets, using the city, and not much going on in the suburbs. So to enjoy Denmark, you have to sit outside a café and just look at the parents and kids in their cargo bikes, the mothers with strollers, and the hipsters drinking coffee. Also, Danes really enjoy the design that the country is famous for. Private homes and public spaces have well thought out interiors.

Common misconceptions about Denmark

The Danish pastries sold outside Denmark are not much like the Danish pastries sold in Denmark. Cheese Danish and almond Danish do not exist here. Also, Danes aren’t cold or rude; they’re shy.

Denmark’s best free activities

The free swimming baths in the harbors in Copenhagen and other cities. The ocean is clean enough to swim in.

Free tours of the Carlsberg breweries with tastings.

The park Kongens Have (King’s Garden) in the center of Copenhagen, where everyone hangs out in the summer. There’s also a nice play area for kids there and a free puppet theatre.

The amusement park Bakken in a large natural park north of Copenhagen – entrance is free, there’s admission for rides.

Free open air film screenings in summer.

In Tivoli Gardens, after paying the admission fee, the Pantomime Theatre and open air concerts are free.

Odds and ends

Denmark is a strange mix of its historic past and the 21st century. When you walk around the cities of Copenhagen, Aarhus, Helsingør, or Odense, you are in the middle of history with Medieval buildings, castles, cobblestones and crooked houses. Traditions like the Royal family, the Royal ballet and Tivoli Gardens are part of life. But at the same time, Danes are a very modern people who enjoy design, travel, and culture. Both sexes work, while 97% of all small kids go to daycare at least part time, so gender equality is almost a reality. Health care and further education are both free, so in general, people are healthy and well-educated.

Thanks, Anna!

How I roll when I travel

The idea of arranging a round the world home exchange trip is at once awesome, exciting…and stressful. Not to worry; we’re here to answer your questions and alleviate your anxiety so that you can focus on planning the best vacation ever.

Q: How much time does it take to plan a round the world trip?

A: As much (or as little) as you want! If you want to have everything planned ahead of time or your round the world trip includes home exchanges, you might need to start six months or even a year in advance. But if you prefer to jump right in and be spontaneous, you probably need only a few weeks.

Read More