We are Hannah and Chris from Loveplaywork.com, and as of two weeks ago we left our home in the UK to embark on a Round the World in Home Exchange Experiment. Our mission is to prove how safe and accessible Home Exchanging is and how straightforward it is to run a business whilst travelling to all sorts of wonderful and unexpected places.
In the last two weeks, we have enjoyed hospitality exchanges where generous folks from the HomeExchange.com community have opened their doors to us and given us a place to stay. Not having explored this option before, we’ve been surprised by some of the things we have learned.
With Home Exchanges, your travel arrangements can often mean that you don’t meet the people whose home you will be living in (although the regular emails and calls beforehand will make you feel like you know them). A definite advantage of hospitality exchanges is getting to know, in person, the people whose home you are sharing.
Due to the short notice of our trip we weren’t able to arrange Home Exchanges for the first two weeks. It is possible to arrange exchanges at short notice, but you may need to keep your destination choices flexible. We knew we had to start our visit in LA and then move on to Portland for a conference, so the hospitality option was the ideal alternative.
Upon our arrival in LA, seasoned Home Exchangers Lovorka, Andre, and Isobel welcomed us into the beautifully renovated guest suite in their Redondo Beach home. In Portland, new exchangers Tricia, Charles, and their two young boys collected us from the airport and set us up in their large and airy self-contained basement. Being part of the Home Exchange community means that you are likely to have a great foundation of things is common, particularly a love of travel. With both families, we enjoyed sharing meals and tales of travel adventures with hosts who were not only great company but also generous people who we feel lucky to have spent time with.
One of the big plusses of being hosted is getting an “inside view” of a new area. In LA we accepted Lovorka’s offer of an early morning trip to the LA flower market to see where her craft as a florist begins firsthand. On July 4th, we spent our first US Independence Day mingling with the crowds at Hermosa Beach after being pointed in the right direction of a lively party atmosphere, and in the evening our hosts made sure we had one of the best spots along the coast to watch fireworks across the whole South Bay area. In Portland, Tricia and Charles recommended some great local breweries and introduced us to the fine tradition of having a “growler” – a large glass jar filled from the tap with unusually flavoured beer to take home with us! It was perfect with the wood-fired pizza from the great little place only locals know about.
Another benefit of staying with a family in their home is how willing they are to help out when you get in a tight spot. Tricia gave us rides into town when we were running late or the bus wasn’t running, making sure we arrived at our conference on time. Neither she nor husband Charles seemed to mind for a second when a slight complication in arrangements resulted in us staying on for more days than they had bargained for. In fact, we ended up sharing a couple of fun extra evenings chatting late into the night and enjoying speciality cocktails and home-cooked food on their front porch.
As fun as being hosted has absolutely been, our next homes will be more traditional Exchanges which will bring their own advantages. As welcoming and helpful as hosts are, you are still a guest so there is a different feel than when you arrive at an empty home. An additional consideration for us is how much time we need to spend working. When we are guests in someone else’s home, being buried for hours in our laptops makes us conscious of appearing rude or unsociable. This isn’t a problem with a direct Exchange, as you plan very much around your own schedule.
Overall, the first two weeks of our trip have been fantastic. We’ve enjoyed lunch on a Santa Monica terrace and cruised Hollywood in a stretch limo, watched a live magic show in a prestigious members-only club in LA, made lifelong friends at a conference in Portland, stumbled upon a mountain lion footprint in the desert, and watched surfers skim the waves at Laguna Beach.
Our trip so far has been fuller than we ever dreamed of and more varied in a hundred different ways than if we had just stayed at home. And it’s only just begun!
Have you ever done a hospitality exchange? Would you consider it? What did you think of your experience?
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.