by Chris and Hannah of Love, Play, Work
You could be forgiven for expecting a home exchange to involve swapping your home for, well, someone else’s home. But as we recently discovered on our trip to Australia, home exchange can come in unexpected shapes and sizes!
As we continue on our Round the World in Home Exchange adventure (16 consecutive exchanges across 5 countries and still going strong!) we are delighted by the new experiences home exchanging delivers on almost a daily basis. So when we were offered a two week non-simultaneous exchange, our apartment in a UK coastal town for a luxury Mercedes 6-berth motorhome, we jumped at the chance.
Figuring out how it all works
I confess, we were a little daunted when we arrived at the rendezvous point and set eyes on the beast which was to be our home for the next two weeks. It came with a comprehensive instruction manual and the owner gave us a very good introduction. Still, there is a lot to remember: switches to be flicked, hoses coiled, storage units secured… Luckily we had a ‘before take-off’ checklist to make sure we would depart safely from every stop. As we pulled away, curtains swinging from side to side and crockery rattling in the cupboards, it felt like a whole new sort of adventure.
We began by heading to a coastal campsite in Queensland where we could walk to local restaurants, watch the sun set over the peninsula, and ease ourselves into life on the road. From there we went a little more ‘wild’ with a pitch next to the ocean in a spectacular national park opposite Fraser Island, the largest sand island in the world. We glimpsed dolphins swim by at sunset watched 4-wheel-drive vehicles power up and down the long sandy beaches. We were careful to stick to the tracks ourselves; getting a tow out of a sandy bunker in an RV would not be fun!
From the coast, we decided to explore inland towards the Outback. The scenery changed dramatically and we found a dusty campground next to one of the few lakes in the area. We were concerned the steep track down to the lake would present a challenge, but RVs are more resilient than you might think! We ended our journey with a campsite in Byron Bay, an area with a wide range of organic eateries, live music, and boutique shops. While not as rustic as our other stops, tapas overlooking the bustling and colourful boulevard was a great way to end this part of the trip.
Top tips to getting the most out of your RV exchange
- Make a note on your profile if you are particularly open to this sort of exchange to make it easy for motor-home owners to find you!
- Exchange plenty of communications prior to the exchange to make sure all insurance issues have been dealt with.
- When planning your trip, don’t over-commit in an attempt to see as much as possible. You will never have time to cover everything you wanted to explore. Sometimes the best moments are when you kick back and give yourself permission not to cram everything in.
- Plan your route, but be prepared to go ‘off plan’ on occasion; that can be where you find some of the best gems and nice surprises.
- Check out the national and regional parks in addition to standard camp grounds as these can provide some of the most spectacular scenery and are usually much less expensive than privately owned sites.
- Plan to stop at a private camp ground every few days. If you have water and electricity in your motor home you will need to replenish tanks and recharge batteries and these sites allow you to do this. It can also be a wonderful luxury to have a proper shower!
- Make sure you are fully stocked up on all the essentials before you reach an isolated camping site. When you have found your perfect spot, unwound your awning, hooked up the BBQ, set out the garden furniture, and cracked open a beer you don’t want to suddenly remember you need milk for the morning!
About the author
We are Psychologist Hannah and IT expert Chris and we’ve spent 5 years traveling the world whilst running our own business. Home exchanging has been a big part of making that happen! You can learn the 7 refreshing ‘get there quick’ shortcuts to creating your own location independent lifestyle from our loveplaywork.com homepage. You can also follow us on Twitter for updates.