Berlin Home Exchange

We exchanged keys and he went to catch a plane for Barcelona. Later, we were exchanging photos via whatsapp, of them on the Barceloneta beach and me on the red carpet, haha.

Katarina Orlandini, our UX Designer from Barcelona, recently went on her first home exchange trip. Here, she shares her experience about what it was like to visit Berlin as a home exchanger.

1) How long have you been with HomeExchange.com?

I started to work as a UX Designer for HomeExchange.com in October 2014, and I did my first exchange this February.

2) What do you like about home exchanging?

I love how the world seems so much closer with my HomeExchange account. I get exchange requests from Vietnam, Guatemala, Australia; basically from all over the globe. Although I’m obviously not going to exchange with everyone, I have a constant fuel for daydreaming and for making plans for the future.

I also love the personal contact and a possibility to meet new, unexpected people. A few weeks ago we also hosted another family in a non-simultaneous exchange and it was great. We became friends instantly and basically spent the whole week together. I would always choose staying at an actual real home over staying in a hotel! Read More

Gondola Venice ride

When we first started our home exchanges three years ago, it all seemed very easy. As time went on, we began to find it difficult to find what we wanted. There seem to be several reasons.

Number of offers varies with the country

First, all countries are not equal when it comes to home exchange. Let’s take a look at the figures. Home Exchange.com has 55,000 members, including 24,200 in Europe, 14,000 in the US, 7,500 in France (including 2,500 in and around Paris), 3,180 in Canada, 2,150 in Australia, 2,310 in Italy, 1,700 in the UK, 1,530 in Denmark, 960 in Germany (464 in Berlin), 850 in Sweden, 360 in the Netherlands, 340 in Spain, 223 in Hungary, 220 in Austria, 146 in Ireland, 136 in Turkey, 66 in Portugal, 50 in Poland and 15 in Slovenia.

sant_pau1

The capacity of the home

Then there are differences in the number of people per household. In Portugal, for example, about 50% of home exchangers have 3 or more people in their party which limits the possibilities considerably when you can only offer accommodation for 2 people and there are only 66 exchanges.

The first thing is therefore to take a look at the number of members in the country where you are looking for an exchange. If the figures are low, you’ll need to start looking well in advance and be flexible about dates. Don’t forget too that families with children will have to respect the local school holidays. Try to get the calendar for the country concerned.

Read the listing properly

Next, read the listing of the potential exchanger carefully before asking for a swap. Up until very recently, I did not want to do exchanges with the US. I said so very clearly in my listing. As I was living in a beautiful apartment in the centre of Paris, however, I received two or three requests each week from the US. Despite the fact that our apartment could only take two people, many were requests for couples with children!

commerce_square_lisbon

Choose the right time of the year

The time of the year is also important. If you are not flexible about dates, think about which countries might want to swap with you. You may want to get some sun in February while it’s still winter at home but there is no guarantee that someone from Madrid will want to come and freeze in Paris! On the other hand, the summer holidays in Australia are in December and January and many Australians travel to Europe during this period despite the temperatures. In France, the winter school holidays are staggered over six weeks (February/March) depending on the region.

A clear, precise listing

Your own listing must also be as clear and precise as possible. I have just seen a listing for a large apartment in the city of Blois describing the neighbourhood and indicating a small flat in the middle of Tours, which is an hour away by car. Very difficult to know what’s going on!

Take time with your request

Once you have checked that the exchange proposed corresponds to what you are looking for, you can send your request. However, it should be personal and indicate what you are looking for as briefly as possible. Don’t go into a long description of your own house and region without first given your exchange criteria and mentioning the other person’s home.

While you are still working out your swap, use the Home Exchange interface for all correspondence. That way you can easily find the information you need again at any time.

Don’t get discouraged

You will notice that I have not suggested that you change your own basic criteria if they are important to you. If you absolutely want a swap in the middle of the city or a certain level of accommodation or somewhere quiet, you will just have to be patient. There are new members all the time and one day you’ll find what you want.

Above all, don’t get discouraged! We were desperately looking for a swap in either Istanbul or Lisbon. In the end, we found both, but by changing our dates. Tell yourself that the aim is not only to find a place to stay, but also to make acquaintances (and maybe friends) in the country or region you want to stay in. Good luck!

monet france gardens

Have you ever wondered where great artists find their inspiration? What led to Claude Monet painting his water lilies, and where did he paint them? Did you know that it is an actual place that you can explore, take-in, and maybe even inspire your own creativity?

Here, we have found and assembled the unique destinations where Claude Monet and Leonardo Da Vinci found their muse.

1. Claude MONET
Giverny, France

Claude Monet Giverny France

While looking out of a train window, Claude Monet noticed the French countryside of Giverny unfold in an ever-changing tapestry of history and topography, and he decided that he wanted to call the rolling hillside he watched pass by home. Months later, he rented a house set on 2.5 acres there, which he decided to purchase in 1890. With his new home, he set out to create the magnificent gardens he had always wanted to paint. For 40 years, Monet settled there and painted his inspiring landscape until his death in 1926.

monet gardens giverny france

Giverny sits on the right bank of the Seine River where it meets the Epte River just 50 miles North West of Paris, in the old province of Normandy. So steeped in history, archeologist have found cave paintings from prehistoric times in the area. Drawn by the landscapes, history, and the presence of Monet, the area has been home to great artists like Willard Metcalf, Theodore Wendel, Frederick Carl Frieseke, and John Leslie Breck — their art also adorns the city’s museums.

Many of Monet’s paintings were of his garden in Giverny, including most of his work from his famous water lilies, wisterias, and azaleas projects.

Read More

680x375_he_writers_blog_featured_web

The city as a subject for literature came into its own at the beginning of the nineteenth century, as great writers turned their attention to these man-made worlds of both monumental architecture and horrendous slums. Here are the first two entries in an on-going series about cities which have inspired great writers, compiled exclusively for HomeExchange.com readers.

Read More

travel to spain tips

To get to know Spain better, we asked our Spanish representative, Violette, to give us some local knowledge about her home country. This is Spain Unlocked!

How to say hello:

Hola (Hi) or Buenos días (Good morning, more formal)

How to say goodbye:

Hasta luego (See you later) or Adiós (Goodbye)
With other declinations depending on the region of Spain!

How to say thank you:

Gracias

Currency used:

Euro

Tapas in Spain BarcelonaFlickr CC, El Bulli

Favorite national foods:

Made of different regions and climates, Spain presents a big variety of food. Here are only a few examples:

Read More

best museums in the world

They are the resources of our greatest collective knowledge, and as such, libraries are an architectural testament to the strength of the human imagination. Here is a list of our favorite top 10 libraries in the world.

1. New York Public Library
New York, New York

New York Public LibararyFlickr CC, Draelab

Spanning three city blocks, the Beaux-Arts landmark contains nearly 53 million items, and is the third largest library in the world. Filled with mosaics, the Rose Main Reading Room spans nearly two city blocks and contains 42 elongated oaks tables for visitors to sit and marvel.

2. The Library of Alexandria, Egypt
Alexandria, Egypt

Library Of Alexandria, Egypt

Flickr CC, Jonah Bettio

The original Library of Alexandria was one of the Seven Wonders of the World and the epicenter of some of the greatest minds in the ancient world. Rebuilt in 2002, the $220 million dollar library boasts a planetarium, museum, a manuscript restoration lab, art galleries and a conference center that aims to live up to its great predecessor. Read More

comm259_Golf_680x375

The next time you go on a golf vacation or on a vacation where you just want to get in a round or two, wouldn’t it be nice to stay for free in a lovely home right on or near a golf course?

Almost 20,000 of our 65,000+ Listings have indicated their homes as being accessible to golf. All of those homes have courses in the area, and many of them are actually on courses or in country clubs.
Read More

comm267-grfx-03-c-680x375