Meet a Member: Travel Junkie Celebrates Her Birthday in Paris
Amanda recently moved to an apartment in Long Beach, California and needed a way to celebrate her 30th birthday. Her budget was limited, and it was an important birthday to celebrate. As soon as she learned about HomeExchange, Amanda started making plans.
I was at the Travel and Adventure Show in Long Beach on February 2014 when I met Keghan Hurst at the Home Exchange booth. Something about the minimalist booth with iPads caught my eye. Keghan was so friendly and explained to me and my sister the concept of a network of people who exchange their homes when they travel. I immediately thought The Holiday! Keghan said that was the magic word and gave us the DVD. (I love that movie!) She also had us sign up for a free trial membership. This got my wheels turning. You see, April 2014 was going to be my big 30th birthday, and I had no plans yet.
I’m a travel junkie and had returned from a year traveling abroad only 16 months prior. I had just settled into a new job and apartment in Long Beach with little to no money saved for traveling. However, with my big birthday coming up, airline miles accumulated, and this new concept of a home exchange, I began planning!
When I initially visited the Travel and Adventure Show, I had no idea where my future travel plans would be. After signing up for my free HomeExchange.com trial membership and by the time I got home, I had offers to exchange from all over the world! I really got into it, too! I took some well-lit photos of my sweet little beach apartment and described all of the reasons I love living there.
It wasn’t long until I heard from Olivier in Paris. He is a professional photographer who has second homes in Lille, Poland, and Paris, and he often travels to Los Angeles. He was curious to stay in Long Beach. The fact that his Paris apartment is not his primary home was very appealing since we weren’t able to agree on a simultaneous exchange. Olivier wound up coming to Long Beach in April for nine days over the Easter holiday while I visited family and dog sat at a friend’s house. It worked out perfectly since I was still in town, able to drop by and check on things, and even meet up with Olivier one night to show him around the city. He was a perfect gentleman and treated my home like his own.
I left for Europe in May 2014. I initially landed in England and visited a friend for the first week. From there, I traveled by train to Paris where Olivier met me at his flat with the key and a nice bottle of French wine. It was a gorgeous artist loft in the city you can imagine! There were three balconies, all windows, overlooking a large park, and a view of the Eiffel Tower! Staying for nine days in Paris would have broken the bank! Especially in a place this spacious and dreamy!
I’m so happy to say that I did get to travel to Europe for my 30th birthday celebration almost completely for free, minus my food and excursion expenses. I flew roundtrip completely on airline miles, and I stayed at my new HomeExchange friend’s place, Oliver’s loft! If you want something bad enough, you can make it happen! Olivier and I will exchange again in the future, and I’m hoping to find new HomeExchange buddies around the world to exchange with on my next trip!
Amanda found traveling on a budget can be easy, especially if you keep track where you’re earning rewards such as frequent flyer miles. It was even easier when she joined HomeExchange and took the time to connect with other members (who quickly became new friends) on the site. Gather your credit card rewards and frequent flyers, and start planning your next adventure.