If County Clare isn’t on your travel list, you are missing out. This county on the West Coast of Ireland is a haven for outdoor enthusiasts, those interested in history and heritage can enjoy many famous landmarks and iconic sites, and families with children of all ages can enjoy the beaches, caves, and forests to name just a few of the activities available. Sure, it can get a little windy and wet at times but that only adds to the lush environment you find when visiting on a home exchange. Let’s dive in and “unlock” County Clare.
Where is County Clare?
County Clare is on the West Coast of Ireland and surrounded by pockets of rivers. To the southeast you’ll find Ireland’s third longest river, the River Shannon, Lough Derg marks the northeast, Galway Bay in the North and the Atlantic Ocean to the west. While the weather can be a little hit and miss, ranging from wet and windy to beautiful and sunny, it is Spring to Summer that showcases County Clare to its full glory in bloom!
What is County Clare known for:
With a strong history of traditional music, County Clare is the home of many Ceili Bands including Kilfenora and Tulla Céilí Band, Stockton’s Wing, Sharon Shannon, Noel Hill, Peadar O’Loughlin, Martin Hayes and legendary tin-whistler Micho Russell. Many traditional music festivals are held throughout the year so be prepared to sing and dance along.
What to do in County Clare:
If you’re looking for some active outdoor fun along the “Wild Atlantic Way” consider surfing, abseiling, mountain biking, pony trekking and fishing are all available throughout County Clare. Visit the Munster Vales with its gorgeous mountain ranges linking the counties of Tipperary, Cork, Waterford, and Limerick and everything in between. The Cliffs of Moher and the beautiful seaside town of Kilkee offer peace, tranquility, and more than its share of beauty.
What to see:
Bunratty Castle Medieval Banquet – Join the Earl of Thomond for a glorious banquet at this majestic 15th century Bunratty Castle
The Cliffs of Moher – Visit Ireland’s spectacular natural wonders and be awe-inspired. On a clear day you can see all the way to Galway Bay, the Blasket Islands, the cliffs of Aran and the Maumturk mountains. Simply unmissable.
Doolin Caves – Take an adventure underground and witness the Great Stalactite which suspends like a magnificent grand chandelier. At over 23 feet long and weighing over ten tonnes, prepare to be astounded!
Doolin Music House – This gem of a destination offers an evening of traditional music, history, Irish culinary delights, and storytelling.
Limerick Walking Tours – Explore this amazing city steeped in history.
Mountshannon Arts Festival – held at the end of May, this festival will treat you to traditional music, poetry, dance and a fairy trail walk.
Doolin Folk Festival – For music lovers, this family-friendly festival held in June is one of the places you can attend to listen to a diverse programme of powerful music.
Doonbeg Jazz Festival – If Jazz is more to your taste, go along and get those dancing feet ready to enjoy bands from Scotland, The Netherlands and, of course, from all over Ireland for a weekend of entertainment.
Photo of The Cliffs of Moher
If Yorkshire isn’t on your travel list, you are missing out. This county in the North of England is a haven for outdoor enthusiasts, those interested in history and heritage, and families with children of all ages. Sure, it can get a little damp at times but that only adds to the lush environment you find when visiting on a home exchange. Let’s dive in and “unlock” Yorkshire.
Where is Yorkshire?
Also known as ‘God’s own country’ Yorkshire is positioned in the North-Central part of England. Yorkshire is England’s largest historical county and is considered to be amongst the greenest of counties in England thanks to its vast areas of unspoilt countryside. The English weather is a little hit and miss, sometimes it is wet and windy, and other days it can be beautiful and sunny but Spring and Summer allow the full glory of Yorkshire to bloom!
What is Yorkshire known for:
From The Brontes in Haworth, Guy Fawkes, poet Ted Hughes, artist David Hockney to singer-songwriter Ed Sheeran, Yorkshire has its fair share of famous names from the county. Yorkshire sat at the heart of the industrial revolution in England. From Coal mining to the discovery of Stainless Steel in Sheffield, from Textiles to the world’s largest wool factory in Leeds, all offer insights into Yorkshire’s industrial past and present.
What to do in Yorkshire:
If you’re looking for some active outdoor fun you can find plenty of abseiling, mountain biking, pony trekking, and fishing throughout Yorkshire. Wander the history steeped streets of ancient York or visit one of the many National Trust parks where you can hike one of the many paths along the Pennine Way or in the stunning Yorkshire Dales and be overwhelmed by the beauty of the hills.
What to see:
Yorkshire Dales National Park – A place of outstanding scenery if you are looking for peace, tranquility, and beauty.
Turkish baths in Harrogate – Take a tour around the famous Roman baths in Harrogate and treat yourself to a health spa experience.
Visit York – the ancient walled city where you can explore the Roman, Viking and Medieval history.
Yorkshire Food and Drink Show – Join foodies for a display of live cookery displays, street food, local produce, real ales, and cocktails. Free entry!
Bolton Abbey – Visit the abbey and enjoy the Open Air Cinema event they are holding this summer with the backdrop of the stunning Priory ruins.
Deershed Festival – For music lovers, this family-friendly July festival is one of the places to see your favorite artists and enjoy camping/glamping or sleeping under the stars!
Photo of Yorkshire
Whatever sort of travel adventure you are looking for, take a look at Asheville. This gem of an area is tucked into the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina and features a diverse collection of culture, nature, and culinary delights. Join us on our journey to “unlock” Asheville.
Where is Asheville?
Located about two hours from Charlotte, North Carolina and Knoxville, Tennessee, the surprisingly temperate, Asheville is positioned in a region that can be enjoyed any time of the year. With temperatures rarely exceeding 80°F (27°C) in the summer, you can bask in the sun of July or return during the colder times. Tucked into the Blue Ridge Mountains, while Asheville itself only receives a dusting, the surrounding area features plenty of winter activities.
What is Asheville known for:
This unique metropolis is a study in contrasts. It showcases a vibrant architectural cross-section mixing Neoclassical with Beaux-Arts and Art Deco styles with more modern sensibilities. Through the years, it has become a refuge for artists, statesmen, and more. It has thrived in recent years with the revival of its downtown and the constant competition with Portland, ME to prove superiority in the realm of beer brewing.
Outside of the city, nature beckons. With the Blue Ridge Mountains surrounding Asheville, there is no shortage of outdoor activities to keep you occupied. Golfing, hiking, tubing, kayaking, skiing and more are close enough you can easily enjoy multiple adventures in a single day. Or take a stroll through the forest during the autumn months and bask in the blaze of fall colors as the impossibly green trees honor each of the four seasons.
What to do:
To have an authentic “like a local” experience, we asked a few of our Ambassadors to share their thoughts. As Tricia put it, “Asheville has something for everyone: from the beer, wine, and cocktail enthusiast to the patron of the arts looking to enjoy live music and theater. The area has beautiful vistas with plenty of outdoor activities as well as a delicious food scene. You can buy produce from the local farmers’ market, tube down the French Broad River or hike in the mountains, sample many different local craft beers, listen to some live music and have a fantastic meal all in one day.”
Explore for your next favorite read at the Battery Park Book Exchange, grab a cup of coffee (and learn a thing or two) at Counter Culture Coffee or take a stroll along the River Arts District and discover some incredible artisan work.
Here are a few other suggestions:
Hit the Blue Ridge Parkway: This extended 469-mile drive has not only scenic it has also been named “America’s Favorite Drive.” Grab a bike and take to the trails. No matter what skill level, there’s a track for you.
Seek out Waterfalls: A visit to Dupont State Forest in Brevard allows for the view of multiple falls or jump over to the “Land of Waterfalls” and visit Transylvania County.
Share some Tweets: Birders from all around flock to the Beaver Lake Bird Sanctuary. It’s the ideal location to grab some binoculars and practice your bird watching skills.
Discover the North Carolina Arboretum: For over 30 years, this public garden continues to inspire and entertain all who visit. It’s a perfect place to hike and bike for families of all ages and sizes (including those four-legged family members).
What to see:
Explore the Biltmore Estate: A visit to the winter chateaux of George Vanderbilt is an experience you are sure to remember. Especially if you upgrade to the “rooftop tour.”
Visit the Great Smoky Mountain National Park: While not in Asheville, this national park is a worth a visit. It is actually the most visited of all the parks according to Park Services.
Shindig on the Green: Every Saturday of summer, starting at sundown, locals and tourists alike make their way to Pack Square Park to enjoy a free glimpse into the Appalachian culture. Enjoy bluegrass music, take in some dancing and even pick up some clogging techniques.
The Mountain Dance and Folk Festival: the first weekend of August brings out the very best of local music and dancing.
Find the beat of a Drum Circle: Every Friday night Pack Square Park comes alive with the beat of many drums. Find your rhythm and experience this Asheville tradition.
“Everyone is so genuinely friendly here. It’s surrounded by so much gorgeous scenery that you can see it from almost any street, even from downtown. The general atmosphere is a blend of laid-back and sophistication – casual, yet cosmopolitan.” Bonnie
There is so much to see in Asheville that we have only just scratched the surface of the area. If you have suggestions, feel free to share them in the comments below. We can’t wait to hear about your next exchange experience.
While globally recognized days such as Earth Day (April 22) are vital, we know that the biggest impact, ecologically speaking, can be made by adjusting how we live our daily lives. We also know that, when traveling, thinking “green” can be a challenge. Thankfully, when going on an adventure through HomeExchange, we are already doing a small part. Here are just a few ways you can extend your eco-impact:
1. Think Energy-Efficient
“Going green” happens before you even leave for your exchange. By switching to LED light bulbs, utilizing reusable batteries, or having Energy Star appliances you’ll do your part in helping the environment and also save you money.
2. Travel Direct
If possible, whether by car, train or plane, take the most direct route to get to your destination. Airplanes use the most fuel during takeoff and landing, so the fewer vehicles you have to take to get there, the better. To make your travel even greener, consider purchasing carbon offsets to help neutralize the emissions used while on your exchange.
3. Pack Light
When confirming your exchange, make a point to check in with your Exchange Partner about some travel essentials. Are you visiting during a rainy season? No need to pack an umbrella when you can utilize one from the home you’re staying at! Heading towards the beach? Ask if they have specific towels that are “beach ready.”
We have a whole list of things you can leave at home thanks to HomeExchange (see you later hair dryer!). In the end, the less you bring with you, the more fuel-efficient you will be along the way.
4. Shop Local, Think Global
We know that shopping at local establishments is one of the best ways to not only get to know your destination better but also to support the local economy. Purchasing goods that are from the region helps to cut down on shipping costs, supports small business, and gives back to the area you’re visiting. An added perk; you can ask the merchants for recommendations and expand your “live like a local” experience.
5. Bag It
Whether going for a long weekend or for an extended trip, a reusable shopping bag is always helpful to have along. It will not only cut down on the use of plastic or paper bags from vendors at the farmers’ markets and grocery stores, but it can also act as a tote bag for activities while on your Exchange. This is another item to talk to your Exchange Partner about to see if they have bags that they use for shopping.
6. Free Refill?
Taking a BPA-free plastic, unbreakable glass, or metal water bottle is a great way to not only stay hydrated but also to keep from purchasing pricey single-use water. In fact, the Earth Day Network‘s initiative for 2018 is to help end plastic pollution. We can all do our part.
7. Keep Water Usage in Check
Water is one of the world’s most precious resources, and it is also one of the things hotels are known for wasting the most of. By opting to use a HomeExchange, you reduce the number loads of laundry that are required to offer fresh linens every day. Also, when given an option, choose for a shower over a bath. They tend to use about a third of the water required to fill up a tub.
When it comes to “going green,” every little bit makes a difference. You don’t have to completely retrofit your house to prove you love Mother Nature. Though you can always opt to exchange with some of the listings in our Eco-Homes Collection to take your eco-living up a notch. We know we have just scratched the services, so we turn to you! What other eco-tips and tricks to you do while traveling? Let us know in the comments below.
Whether you visit for Earth Day or any other day of the year, an Exchange to one of these globally recognized sustainable destinations is sure to be an experience to remember.
With over a third of the city’s land green space, it is no wonder that Stockholm was the inaugural city to be named the European Green Capital back in 2010. With sustainability planning dating back to the 1970s, the city has the goal to be free of fossil fuel by 2050. Between the recycling programs, the public transportation and the easy access to bikes, Stockholm is a role model to cities everywhere on how dedication to the environment can have a huge impact.
With a mission to become a “zero waste” city within the next few years, San Francisco paves the way for green cities in the US. Back in 2007, they banned the use of non-biodegradable plastic bags and continues to push policies that encourage the use of renewable energy. Between its extensive parks and the ever-improving public transportation system, San Francisco is a place to leave your heart and experience a more environmentally sound way of living.
Visit San Francisco
Over 450 parks and green spaces are just the tip of the proverbial iceberg when it comes explaining how eco-friendly Bristol has become. It is the only city in the U.K. to hold the title of European Green Capital (back in 2015), and it’s not hard to see why. The area, with all its nature, has become a haven for eco-entrepreneurs, sustainable farming, and culinary delights which utilize farm-to-table methods. Topping the list of as one of the most “livable cities,” being green goes beyond a cause and turns into a way of life.
Dubbed one of the happiest places to live in on Earth, Copenhagen is also a world leader in sustainability. It is so ingrained in society that, last year, over 50% of the city’s population rode their bikes to and from work or school. That is just one step in its quest to be carbon neutral by 2025. Grab a bike and discover the Danish capital’s impressive history of utilizing wind power, promoting solar panels, and the remarkable reduction in using fossil fuels.
In a city with eyes of the future, Singapore works hard to cultivate and maintain its “greenness.” Its sprawling Botanic Gardens is the first of its kind to be listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site. Between the solar power-harvesting Supertrees and the over 162,000 plants, the Gardens by the Bay marks an essential effort in respecting ecology today while planning for the tomorrow.
The sun and the sights are a huge draw for this coastal city. That is just part of what makes Sydney one of the most impressive eco-friendly metropolises in the world. After reinventing its concrete container wharf into an award-winning parkland featuring native flora and becoming the first city to be certified as carbon neutral by the Australian National Carbon Offset Standard, Sydney has transformed into a go-to location for green business and travel. In many ways, the cities environmental efforts are becoming almost as famous as the iconic Opera House, and that’s saying something.
While it might not be known the world-over, Nijmegen has the honor of being the European Green Capital for 2018. Disputably the oldest city in the Netherlands (2,000 years and going strong), the efforts of the citizens to become a recognized leader in sustainability are continuing to develop and proves that old cities not only can learn to adapt but are enthusiastic about the potential it holds. Discover the area for yourself.
As the global necessity for sustainability becomes an increased priority, it is encouraging to see so many influential cities embracing the call. Do you feel like we missed an important one? Share your thoughts in the comments below. We look forward to reading your suggestions.
If you live near a national park, a theme park, or water park you know how enjoyable it can be to stop by and have some fun. Don’t have a home nearby? No need to worry, with HomeExchange, you’ll find yourself feeling at home near some of these exciting attractions.
The Great Outdoors
Hit the Trails
Moab, Utah, USA: For the outdoor enthusiast, Moab is an all-encompassing destination. You have easy access to world-class bike trails, stunning hiking paths, rock climbing for all levels, and incredible rafting. Best of all, it can be fun for all ages. If you have young ones along for the ride, you can venture out and walk in the footsteps of dinosaurs!
Make your way to Moab
Take a Jungle Adventure
Costa Rica: Channel your inner jungle beast and explore the beautiful rainforests of Costa Rica. Whether zip-lining through the trees, spending days on the beautiful beaches, or spotting any number of the indigenous animals it’s an adventure you, and your travel companions, aren’t soon to forget.
Zip to Costa Rica
Make Some Fish Friends
Grand Cayman, Cayman Islands: If the white sandy beaches aren’t enough to entice you, perhaps the stunning blue water will. Relax or explore, this is an ideal location for whatever time of trip you are looking to experience. Make a point to visit Stingray City and discover the unique excitement of making friends with these mysterious and unusual aquatic creatures. Some legends say if you kiss a stingray you’ll get seven years of good luck. There has to be some truth to that tale because you are already pretty lucky to be spending any time in Grand Cayman.
Dive into the Grand Caymans
Let Adventure Reign
Queenstown, New Zealand: Looking for something a little more, shall we say, exciting? Head down to Queenstown and discover the go-to destination for adventure sports. Take the bungee jump plunge off the Kawarau Gorge bridge, find some rapids to paddle down, or take in some of the incredible skiing during the winter months. Or, for something a little more low-key, explore some of the astounding hiking trails. There’s no shortage of activities around Queenstown to help keep yourself occupied.
Rock out in the Canadian Rockies
Banff, Canada: Glaciers, hiking trails and indescribable lakes are just a few of the things you’ll discover in Banff National Park. The oldest park in Canada, you are going to find that the people are almost as friendly as the scenery is beautiful. Just watch your step on the glass path of the Glacier Skywalk. The next one is a doozy.
Discover Banff, Canada
Rust, Germany: Why settle for one country when you can visit the whole world? One day is hardly enough to explore what is consistently voted as one of the world’s best theme parks by TripAdvisor. Located on the border of Germany and France, this is an ideal stopping point while enjoying a European adventure with the whole family. Plan ahead and get tickets online.
Stay near Europa Park
Orlando, Florida, USA: Just one of the many Universal Parks in Orlando, Islands of Adventure takes things up a notch. Enter the world of Harry Potter and find your perfect wand, take out some aggression with the rush of The Incredible Hulk coaster or travel back in time to Jurassic Park. No matter your age, you are sure to discover some fun on these islands. Explore the map and plan out your day.
Find a home near Universal
Salous, Spain: Start your engine! PortAventura offers fun for everyone with various worlds and the rush of Ferrari Land. Located just an hour from Barcelona and right on the coast, you can spend the day experiencing all the fun of the park and still explore the area. If you swing by during the summer, make sure to stop by and take a dip in the water park. You won’t be disappointed. Purchase tickets ahead and save.
Stay close to PortAventura
Anaheim | Orlando | Paris | Hong Kong: No matter where in the world you might be, you are sure to find a taste of magic at a Disney Park. We dare you not to smile while watching the kids talk to Mickey Mouse or get to meet their favorite Princess. From the rides to the entertainment, few companies that get it quite as right as the House of Mouse. Make a wish, which park will you go to next?
The Canary Islands: Whatever speed you want to go, Siam Park will catch you in its current. From the lazy Mai Thai River to the rush of the Tower of Power, their expansive offerings will help you soak up as much sun as you and the family can take. It is no wonder they grabbed the top spot on TripAdvisor’s 2017 list of best water parks. Get your tickets ahead of time and be ready to make a splash.
Find a home on the Canary Islands
Krausnick, Germany: Located just an hour outside of Berlin, this converted airplane hangar is a world all on its own. With indoor and outdoor attractions, this is a fun place to experience no matter what time of year. Find yourself exploring the world’s largest indoor rainforest, take a break at the spa, or take a trip down the waterslide tower. It might be hard to decide what is the most fun. Plan ahead and pick up your tickets before making the trip.
Stay close to Tropical Islands
Orlando, Florida, USA: Two distinctly different parks and both with some much to offer. Explore the frosty fun of Blizzard Beach and find the run of your life on the Downhill Double Dipper. Or get more tropical and snorkel with sharks with Typhoon Lagoon. Whatever you decide, make sure to pack some sunscreen, it’s going to be a lot of fun in the sun.
Find an exchange in Orlando
Kuta, Indonesia: Most might think of Bali as the ideal destination for yoga retreats and romantic getaways, but it can also be the perfect spot for a little fun and excitement. That’s where Waterbom comes into play. We dare you not to scream (in delight or fright) as you feel for the force of the drop with the Climax. No yoga pose will prepare you for the feel of the 2.5 G-forces you’ll endure. Explore all their offerings and see what will help bring you inner peace.
Discover a different side of Bali
Whatever type of adventure you a looking for, you are one step closer with the help of HomeExchange. We can’t wait to hear where you go next.
Wondering where to go for your next holiday? Grab your swimsuit and get ready for some fun in the sun with these incredible homes. Scattered around the world, each one features a pool that is sure to have you wishing for a few extra days away from work.
Bali, Indonesia – If it’s a retreat from the everyday grind that you’re looking for, this is the place. Beautifully decorated, and in a prime location, your worries will float away as you relax in the meticulously maintained pool and garden.
Surfers Paradise, Australia – A home built for the outdoor enthusiast, you can make a splash in the pool or enjoy the private beach. Soak in the sun and enjoy the area called Paradise Waters. Yeah, that pretty perfect.
Galatas, Greece – Modern and contemporary design finds its way into the historic lands with this incredible home. Look out over the water and let the scent from the olive groves wash over you as you splash about in the exquisite infinity pool.
Bilthoven, The Netherlands – Explore all the joys of Holland, or… simply get lost in the incredible garden. With a natural swimming pond, you can float, wander and splash and then bike into town for groceries. Discover the magic of the Netherlands.
Flottes, France – Tucked between the wheat and sunflower fields, you’ll find this remarkable oasis. Away from the hustle of the city, this updated farmhouse offers all the modern comforts while allowing you to enjoy all the beauty of the outdoors. Relax in the pool and take in the Pyrenees, or soak up the local culture.
South Africa – This may be the smallest pool on our list, but it makes up for size in wildlife! We can’t say that about too many places in the world, which earns this Bush House a well-deserved place on our list. Plunge into your African adventure as Zebras and Giraffes roam freely in the background.
Garden Bay, Canada – Love nature, amazing sunsets and luxurious pools? This cabin is the spot for you. In addition to being sustainably constructed and designed, this exceptional home is surrounded by majestic wildlife including, Orca and Gray Whales, Eagles, Seals and a neverending landscape of lush wilderness.
Florida, USA – Fan of soaking in a refreshing pool while watching the sun dip into the ocean? This is a home where sunset dreams become a reality. Grab a kayak or paddleboard the day away and then come back to relax and celebrate another day in paradise.
Hawaii, USA – The island of Maui is waiting for you. Steps away from the beach but a world away from the hustle. This enclosed Mediterranean compound is warm and inviting and is just waiting for you to call it home.
Looking for more? Explore the Pools category and find plenty of homes that are worth diving into.
As an experienced HomeExchanger, you know how exciting it is when you get a response to an Exchange Enquiry. Even if that response is a simple “Sorry, not at this time,” it is nice to know that someone has taken a moment to give your request serious consideration. But what does that magic Response Rate number really mean?
Why should you aim for a high Response Rate?
- It increases your search presence
- It lets other Members know that you are more likely to answer their enquiries in a timely manner
- Your home can be discovered when someone uses the ‘Show only Members with high response rate’ filter.
- You will earn the ‘Expert Responder’ badge