The popular image of 20-something back-packers traveling the world on pocket change and wanderlust alone has given way to a new reality: older or retired travelers with freedom, and disposable income, who have decided it’s time to boldly live their dreams. Meet Tony, an experienced exchanger from Blackburn, England. He shares his testimonial and approach to Home Exchange.
Having retired in 2007 my wife and I decided that we were going to travel. Not SKI (Spending the Kids Inheritance) but fritter it away. We had met a lovely couple in Tucson who had told us about HomeExchange and decided this was for us. A sure way to travel further, for longer, for less.
We decided a plan was needed and a web site to promote our home; the great tourism in our area; a travel blog to record our travels for those times when Alzheimer’s and zimmer frames rule our lives and to save us having to constantly email friends and kids and an outlet for my daily rants; some basic commandments to survive retirement (without vegetating); and last but not least a site to find like minded HomeExchangers.
We explored the web for HomeExchange sites and soon settled on HomeExchange.com they seemed to have the best site and the most properties.
Here’s how we plan a trip…
1 We start by deciding on the area we want to visit. Inevitably we do a 90 day road trip to minimise interaction with the TSA, fewer airports and to keep flight costs down. The USA is our favoured destination. I want somewhere civilised. It has friendly people and a vast choice of destinations. When we’ve explored ALL the civilised places then we’ll look into the less civilised.
2 At least 6 months to a year before our trip we map out the cities / areas we want to visit on our road trip and try to allocate an approximate date and length of stay.
3 Then it’s onto HomeExchange.com to search homes in those cities / areas. We save them to favourites. As we’re away 8-9 months a year we’re able to offer non-simultaneous exchanges so we start by exploring “second homes” – more chance of success.
4 We prepare a personalised email to the selected homes and send to ALL our favourites.
5 Then we sit back and wait for the response. Amazing these can vary from minutes to months. Typically we might email 30 to 40 homes in an area and usually will get at least one positive response that leads to an exchange.
6 Then it’s a matter of timing, communication to build a rapport and co-ordination. We try to be flexible on dates. We like to spend about 2 weeks in each area and then have a few days on the road in hotels on the way to the next area.
For instance our most recent trip was to explore the South East USA. We started with 2 weeks outside Atlanta; 2 weeks in Blue ridge Georgia; 2 weeks in Black Mountain, Asheville; a 7 day road trip up the Blue Ridge mountains, across the top of North Carolina, down the outer banks to Kitty Hawk; 2 weeks in Myrtle Beach; two weeks in Seabrook Island; 1 week in Fairhope. In all 6 home exchanges.
Our two top tips are:
1 Have a comprehensive HomeExchange manual that details how to manage your home – see our example. If exchangers experience problems then learn from them and document the solution in the manual.
2 Have a arrival and departure check list – see last few pages of our manual. With back to back home exchanges this is a great way of ensuring that exchangers know that there’s fresh bedding on the beds, what to do on arrival and departure.
We’ve had some 20 home exchanges. Made some great friends, stayed in some stunning homes and places.
Our next jaunt in June is a road trip to Germany and Italy followed by an awesome California road trip this Autumn. We can highly recommend HomeExchanging and if you want any further tips or advice then please feel free to contact us!