Guest Post by Shelley Miller
“I’d much rather sit down to dinner with a local family than go to a museum.” When Laurie Robinson said these words, I knew I’d met the perfect home exchange candidate.
Laurie and I connected on Facebook. We’d never met, even though we live only about a mile apart. Home swap brought us together, just like it brings people together from all over the world. Laurie and I agreed to meet for coffee so we could chat about what it was like to plan her family’s first home exchange.
“The very night my neighbor told me about home exchange, I joined HomeExchange.com.” Laurie said. “I completed the profile and uploaded photos. The process was pretty straight forward.”
Laurie hates short trips. She likes long vacations because that’s what it takes to really experience a city. However she wasn’t prepared to pay a huge hotel fee for a two-to-four week visit. Home swap seemed the perfect answer.
What’s unique about Laurie’s home swap scheduling efforts is that she didn’t send out any e-mail requests. Not one. But almost immediately requests began arriving to her inbox. Full disclosure, Laurie’s home has a killer view of San Diego Bay. To date, she’s had more than 30 offers.
Laurie and Peter exchanged several e-mails: asking questions, discussing dates, describing their homes. And finally they agreed that Peter’s daughter would visit the Robinson home. Once that happened the deal was sealed.
“My 16-year-old son and I will be in their home in Stockholm for four weeks. My girlfriend and her daughter will fly over with us, then my husband will come over for part of the time, and my mother and her friend will also visit.”
Peter’s main home is in Stockholm, but the family also owns a country home on a private island named Stegesund. The country home offers a boat and bikes and an all terrain vehicle too! Peter has arranged for his Swedish friends to accompany Laurie and her son to the country home where they will celebrate “Midsummer,” one of the most important holidays of the year in Sweden.
Laurie’s friends are looking forward to hosting Peter and his family for an Independence Day celebration at the San Diego Yacht Club.
Is it any wonder I think home exchange is the absolute BEST way to travel?
In my opinion one of the reasons for Laurie’s success in scheduling a home swap was that she was open to opportunity. “I didn’t limit my destinations to any particular country,” she said. She waited until the right one came along and when it did she booked it!
I asked Laurie a question I’m often asked. “Are you worried about something being broken in your home?” I loved her quick response, “Anything that my three boys and dog haven’t broken already, I’m not concerned about.”
“You want to know what I’m really concerned about?” she asked me, her brown eyes flashing. “Over-scheduling myself! The whole idea of doing a home exchange is so that we can feel like locals. Shop in the markets, ride bikes, visit with new friends. Be Swedish! I just need to be careful and include down time too.” Laurie smiled, “I think with four weeks, we can make that happen.”
About the Author
Shelley Miller is a Home Exchange Expert, speaker, award-winning writer and Huffington Post blogger who offers home swap tips to people who want to travel the world and stay for free. Shelley, her husband and two children lived in Europe from April to August, 2000 and exchanged homes with five different families in England, Ireland, Germany, France and Italy. Her family’s lives changed forever. The Miller’s have now completed 14 home exchanges in 13 years. Connect with Shelley on her Blog, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, or Huffington Post.