Making crepes

By Victoria Ortiz

“I hear they’re really snooty and don’t like Americans,” my high school friends said when I told them I was going to Paris. I practiced my French language cassettes. I made sure not to bring any clothes with the Nike swoosh or American flags. And when I walked down the flower-lined road towards the buttery aromas wafting from the neighborhood boulangerie I was met with nothing but smiles. “Bonjour!” I said, immensely proud of myself for being put in charge of bringing chocolate croissants back to our home exchange apartment. The Louvre is magnificent and the Eiffel Tower absolutely stuns at night, but what sticks with me eleven years later is the sense of independence and simple, addictive joy of entering another way of life. Read More

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Palm trees, beaches, hipsters and Hollywood! Who wouldn’t want to be in Los Angeles, California?

The truth is that Angelenos (the people who live in L.A.) sometimes do want to travel somewhere else. And people who live somewhere else want to be in L.A. Thankfully, it all works out in the world of HomeExchange.

First, let’s hear from locals who live in L.A….and leave to experience new amazing places!

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Throughout the ages, writers and thinkers have remarked upon travel as an educational tool that expands minds and inspires the human spirit. Educators agree – just look at all the listings for teacher exchanges – and HomeExchange asked some of its teacher-members their thoughts.

Educators were among the earliest advocates of home exchanging for its multiple benefits: cultural immersion, salary-affordable accommodation and flexibility in scheduling, and the chance to use vacation/holiday time to increase their knowledge base and develop new teaching tools.

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Experts agree: Language immersion – living surrounded by people and experiences that encourage constant speaking and thinking in another language – is the most effective method of learning.

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“Immersion works wonders,” said Jim Pickell, HomeExchange President and co-founder of online language school, OpenEnglish.com. “Language acquisition correlates directly to the hours that are spent immersed in that language, which is why my wife speaks to our children exclusively in her native Italian.” He also believes that equally meaningful for people, like so many HomeExchangers, are the amazing interactions that happen during the immersion process – one-on-one experiences in restaurants, shops, on the beach. “Yes, you can definitely gain by online or classroom reading. But actually doing it? That’s unbeatable!”

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Los Angeles is described by its natives as not one city but rather a collection of neighborhoods. Each neighborhood has it’s unique flavor and unique gifts.

Our Home Exchange team has compiled a short description of some great beach towns and nearby cities that deserve a visit. Each location can be enjoyed as a destination in themselves or as a side trip for a great meal, shopping excursion, or to enjoy the great outdoors whether it be beaches, biking or hiking. Welcome to Los Angeles!

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How does a single mom save nearly $11,000 in vacation expenses and have an amazing summer? By exchanging her home.

After doing the math, Emma realized just how much money HomeExchange had saved her in board and bicycles in just one summer after swapping her “decent-sized sunny Queens two-bedroom apartment” in New York City for 10 days on Lake Michigan and another three weeks in Copenhagen.

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The McCaleb family live in Tucson AZ, have been exchanging for 10 years and are proud members at HomeExchange.com. When people ask them why they travel so much, they simply tell them they “Home Exchange ”.

 

Here is a typical conversation I would have with someone after telling them we “Home Exchange”…

Really?! You let strangers stay in your home?!
Well, yes, we do. But by the time of the home exchange, we hardly feel like strangers anymore. We’ve been exchanging information via email and phone, finding out from one another what would enhance their visit, and letting them know what we hope to see and do in their area. For the most part a HomeExchanger is vested in their guests having a great experience. Some of our HE’ers have gone to great lengths to show us a good time. Some examples are, making reservations, leaving passes or admission tickets for us and arranging private tours at places we’d never be able to have seen or experienced otherwise:  an exclusive restaurant reservations with personal attention from the chef; Personal driver and live-in housekeeper & chef; A private tour of the Lamborghini factory in Italy; And a personal hands-on visit in Lexington KY with American Pharaoh, the world’s most winningest race horse. I tell naysayers that the concept is based on a mutual trust and respect. You are staying in their home, and they are in your home. That reciprocity results in a desire to both please our guests, as well as to BE a good guest. Read More