After an incredible trip with HomeExchange, returning home and settling into your regular daily routine can a hard adjustment. Here are a few tips to make the most of your to-dos and keep that spirit of adventure alive until your next vacation.
Sort and organize your travel photos
Besides the memories you made, the photos you took while traveling are some of the best ways to keep your adventures alive. Make a photo album (digitally or physically) that collects the highlights of your exchange. It will help you remember the experiences, and the relaxation, that you enjoyed during your trip. You can also choose your favorite pictures and have them printed and framed, either individually or in a collage, to place them around your home. Every time you see them, they are sure to bring a smile to your face!
Make a world map of all the places you have explored
Every time you return from an exchange, add one more pin to your individualized map of the world. It is another subtle but exciting way to mark your adventures. Can you imagine where you’ll place the next thumbtack? Why not use a different color to mark the places you’d like to go!
Explore your own city
Sometimes exploring close to home can be almost as exciting as visiting a new location. Take a moment and look at your home city like a traveler and discover those unexplored corners. Have dinner at a restaurant you haven’t been to before, go up to that viewpoint you’ve kept meaning to visit, or take a bike ride and investigate from a different perspective. Another tip: check the schedule of local activities and try out something you haven’t before.
Plan a short getaway
Still need a break from your routine? Planning a weekend adventure is a surefire way to help you to escape. Pick a place that is close to home that has been on your list to visit. There are 52 weekends just waiting to be filled with your next exploration!
Organize a Member “Meet Up” in your area
It is easier than ever to organize a meeting of fellow HomeExchangers! As a part of the Members-only Facebook groups, arranging a Get Together is available at the click of a button! Go to the Group for your country and where you can “write something” click the “Get Together” option. Propose a date and location and explain a little about what you’re planning on doing. It is a great way to connect with the community and continue to share your experiences and anecdotes of your travels!
Accept a proposed Balloon Exchange
Do you have a pending Balloon Exchange request? Use this time to say “Yes!” Not only will you earn a Balloon that you can use on a future exchange but you can continue to connect with people from other places around the world. Listen to their traveling stories and maybe even practice another language. It is a perfect way to allow the world to enter your house!
Share your story with us (and with the whole community!)
We love hearing from you! Just like your family and friends, we love to hear about your travels. Share your experiences with other Members through the HomeExchange Facebook Groups. Send our Social Team an email (firstname.lastname@example.org) and tell us about your exchange. Or post through Facebook or Twitter and make sure to tag us with @homeexchange or by using #homeexchange. Hearing the stories of real Members who enjoy traveling around the world and exchanging homes is the best gift we can imagine. Plus, it will be a pleasure to share your story on our blog and through our social media posts.
Reconnect with the family
You may have been posting and sharing while on your travels, but that isn’t the same and hearing it firsthand. Sure, you were still connected through Whatsapp, but taking the time to sit down for a lunch or dinner and tell about that restaurant that you discovered or the person you met when catching a train, that’s the real treasure. Plus, they can give you more ideas for your next Exchange! Speaking of…
Start planning your next exchange!
We know you just got back, but there is no better time to start thinking about your next vacation. Make a list of your favorite destinations and begin searching for potential Exchanges. Start sending offers and imagine yourself in that “dream” place. Or maybe it’s time to say yes to that surprise offer in a location you never imagined visiting. It could be the beginning of a beautiful exchange.
Follow some of these tips and we are sure that your spirit of adventure will be alive and well until it can go exploring again. We’d love to hear how YOU the spirit alive. Share it in the comments below!
If you’re looking to escape, there is one thing that is guaranteed to transport you around the world and back again: the movies! Sure, nothing beats actually traveling, but you are sure to discover more than a little inspiration from this list. From the obvious to the quirky, we came up with a global overview of some of the top films that will have you dreaming and planning your next exchange within a few hours.
Roman Holiday (1953)
This Audrey Hepburn/Gregory Peck classic is proof that even a princess deserves the chance to “live like a local.” Hepburn, in an Academy Award-winning performance, is a touring princess who decides to escape her responsibilities and explore the Eternal City. Fortunately for the princess, and the viewing audience, an American newsman rescues her without knowing her identity. Once he discovers who she is, he realizes this could be the story of his career! He escorts the unwitting princess through the sites of Rome and, as he does, their connection blossoms in a beautiful way.
The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit Series (2001-2003 & 2012-2014)
What does this epic fantasy series have to do with travel? Not only is it a cinematic tourism guide to New Zealand but it is also a tale of friendship, determination and a whole lot more. You don’t have to be a die-hard Tolkien fan to be inspired by the incredible scope and scale of this award-winning series.
Unlock your imagination with this creative and feel-good romance. Amélie is a shy and reserved waitress with an active fantasy life who also enjoys a touch of mischief. When she discovers a collection of childhood memorabilia, she goes on a quest to reconnect the box with the boy who once loved it. Along the way she connects the people around her and gives viewers a grand tour of Paris.
Lost in Translation (2003)
This Oscar-winning modern classic is a beautiful exploration of two lost souls (Bill Murray & a star-in-the-making Scarlett Johansson) who get out of their hotel and unlock the marvels of Tokyo. As their friendship evolves, so does their understanding of each other and the world.
Under the Tuscan Sun (2003)
When a writer’s (Diane Lane) life takes an unexpected turn, she follows fate and ends up reinventing herself, and a house, in the gorgeous hills of Tuscany. She meets some colorful locals, builds a new life and discovers that home is, perhaps, where you make it.
Vicky Cristina Barcelona (2008)
Two friends, Vicky (Rebecca Hall) and Cristina (Scarlett Johansson), are spending the summer in Barcelona. Reserved and practical Vicky is looking forward to exploring the city and architecture, while vibrant and spontaneous Cristina is looking to absorb as much culture as possible. The two are drawn into the chaotic and all-encompassing orbit of an artist, Juan Antonio (Javier Bardem), and their summer leads to unexpected (and understandable) results.
The Before Trilogy (1995, 2004, 2013)
Director Richard Linklater is known for his expansive cinematic universe and the “Before Trilogy” is a stunning exploration of a relationship that tours cities and spans ages. Before Sunrise introduces us to a pair of students, young Jesse (Ethan Hawke) and Celine (Julie Delpy), as they meet on a train bound for Paris. Jesse convinces Celine to explore Vienna with him for a day before he returns to America. Before Sunset reunites Jesse and Celine almost a decade later in Paris, he has become a writer and she has tracked him down on his book tour. But, once again, he only has a few hours before he has to catch a flight. Before Midnight has viewers joining Jesse and Celine, another decade later, with their twin daughters on a family trip in the Greek Isles. The form is similar to the two previous films though instead of looking at burgeoning love it explores an establish relationship and the complexities that come along with it.
Drinking wine has never been so entertaining, or painful. Friends, Miles (Paul Giamatti) and Paul (Thomas Haden Church), go on a weeklong wine-tasting adventure through the Southern California vineyards surrounding Santa Barbara. Miles is there to enjoy the food and drink and celebrate his friend’s upcoming wedding while Paul is looking for one final fling before settling down. This dark comedy has good laughs, great acting, and notes to inspire you to savor California wines.
The Motorcycle Diaries (2004)
“Travel can change you,” they say. This is one such trip that does, indeed, change the man. Based on the journals of the revolutionary Che Guevara, The Motorcycle Diaries follows his and his friend’s adventures during the semester before Guevara is due to complete his medical degree. Together they traverse much of Latin American and change the direction of Guevara’s life.
The Holiday (2006)
No HomeExchange movie list would be complete without the inclusion of the romantic comedy starring Cameron Diaz, Kate Winslet, Jude Law, and Jack Black. Both Amanda (Diaz) and Iris (Winslet) are recovering from relationship drama they turn to the website of choice for house swapping (yes, it was homeexchange.com that they used in the film!) to find a last-minute getaway. Who could have guessed that they would find love in their new “borrowed” lives?
In Bruges (2008)
After failing at a job, two hitmen (played by Colin Farrell and Brendan Gleeson) are exiled to the city of Bruges, Belgium. For one, it is a vacation to a beautiful and historic city, for the other, it is a particular type of purgatory of which he sees only one escape. This dark comedy verges on absurd, but there is no denying the impressive backdrop of Bruges.
Eat Pray Love (2010)
Liz Gilbert took the world of personal quests by storm with the release of her travel memoir in 2007. Then “America’s Sweetheart,” Julia Roberts, played her in a movie that followed her same path. From a crumbling marriage to finding herself, Gilbert will have you craving pizza from Naples and gelato in Rome, will guide you to yourself in India, and then fall in love with the locals of Bali. Ready to take your version of this adventure?
The Secret Life of Walter Mitty (2013)
Two words can describe this Ben Stiller-showcase: Quirky and Expansive. Walter’s (played by Ben Stiller) career has allowed him to travel the world, through the photographs of others. But, with his job on the line, Walter breaks out of his comfort zone and imagination and goes on a remarkable journey.
Crazy Rich Asians (2018)
This new release is already making waves as the first film from a major studio featuring an all Asian cast in 25 years. Not only does it show an exclusive and opulent side of super wealthy but it also shows the dynamic and vibrant life of the other “normal” locals. And we dare you not to drool over the scene as Rachel and Nick dive into the food they bought from street vendors after they first arrive in the city.
This is just a taste of the many stellar films that showcase the joys of travel. Do you have a favorite that we missed? Share in the comments below!
Is time already to organize your end-of-year adventures?
Your summer (or winter, if you’re in the southern part of the world) is about to come to a close, and school is almost back in session. The time is fast approaching when you have to unpack your back and get back to work. But that doesn’t mean you can’t start planning for your next vacation! Now is the perfect time to get a head-start on thinking about where you’d like to go for the end of the year. Here are a few tips to get you started:
Tip 1: Think ahead for a better exchange
If you want to swap homes with your preferred destinations, it is best to take the lead! By starting now, you can beat the “holiday rush” and connect with Members who live in the most popular locations, before everyone else! Since there is a good chance your potential Exchange Partner hasn’t made their plans yet, you can start dreaming of what to do while everyone else is still figuring out where to go. Don’t wait! Send an inquiry message now and let them know that you’re interested in spending your next holiday exploring their area.
Did you know? You can now add the “Exchange Balloons” filter when you search for your next exchange! Balloons offer another way to organize a non-reciprocal exchange, so by utilizing the search filter, you will see the results of homes interested in redeeming your Balloon!
Tip 2: Turn to the HomeExchange community
Looking for some inspiration to avoid a “traditional” family vacation? Turn to the HomeExchange community and unlock a gold-mine of travel recommendations and home exchange tips and tricks! One of the best ways to connect with fellow exchange enthusiasts is through our Members-only Facebook groups. With over 19 groups available, you don’t have to pick just one to join. More Members are participating daily, and there is always a conversation going on in these amazingly active groups.
Did you know? Many HomeExchange regularly coordinate gatherings when they are in the same region! Feel free to start a discussion or create a meetup event in the group so you can get together and explore your shared passion for travel.
Tip 3: Surprise travel partners with unique activities
Build anticipation by having your travel companions (children and child-like adults) join in on the planning by asking them to help dream up fun, and different things do on vacation. Not only will it help pass the time but it will also get them excited about the experience. Are you heading to the snow? Try ice climbing or skijoring (skiing while being pulled by dogs). Choosing to go somewhere a little warmer? Plan on making ice cream using local flavors or explore a natural wonder. Whatever you end up planning, the fun comes from looking forward to spending time together and the chance to do something outside of your comfort zone.
We know that, in the end, the most unique and authentic experience you can organize for your family will, of course, be a home exchange! Explore, go on an adventure, and use the time to live like a local.
Now we turn to you, where are you looking to go for your next vacation? Share your year-end travel desires in the comments below.
Searching for an Exchange using a Balloon just got a whole lot less complicated.
Since we introduced the program of Balloon exchanges, we have been receiving messages from members asking for a better way to not only earn a Balloon but also find a place to use them. As the program has grown, we have observed how Balloons were used but also how members searched for them. That is why we are pleased to announce the launch of the search filter specifically for Balloon Exchanges.
Set Your Preference
Before you begin your search, click over to your Dashboard and look at the “HomeExchange Balloons” box that is at the top of the screen. On the right-hand side, you’ll see a graphic that shows you how many Balloons you currently have available to use and also how many you have redeemed.
On the left, you’ll notice a little toggle button has been added. This is where you can switch your settings between wanting to Earn a Balloon or Spend a Balloon. Simply flip the switch and your home will be tagged to show up in the respective search results. As your preference changes, come back here to click the adjust your settings.
Once you have your preference set, it is time to search. Type in a location you’d like to visit. Perhaps you’re looking for a place to spend the end of year holidays, or you might be on the hunt for a weekend away. Whatever your destination, type it in the Search box in the Navigation bar at the top of your screen and search.
Once the results come up, you scroll down and select “More Filters.” This will open up a whole collection of other search parameters you can use to refine your results. In the second row of filters, you will see that on the right-hand side there is now a box that says “Balloon Exchange.” By using this filter, you can switch between seeing “Members looking for a Balloon” and “Members looking to spend a Balloon.” Make your selection to automatically update your search results. Remember to click “Save Search” to easily reference updated results matching your search criteria in the future.
We hope this update makes finding your next Balloon Exchange a much easier process, but we’d love your feedback as well. Feel free to reach out 24/7 to our Happiness Support Team or comment below. We look forward to hearing from you!
Share your thoughts regarding the HomeExchange App so the next version can be even better!
Back in March we enthusiastically launched the HomeExchange App. You had been requesting it, and we were finally able to make the dream a reality. With six months under our belt, we’d love to hear your thoughts. Take a few moments and click over to your respective app store and leave a review so that your fellow members can learn from your experience.
Never left a review? No problem. Here are the steps for each operating system.
App Store for Apple Devices
Step 1: Click the link above or go to the App Store on your mobile device and search “HomeExchange: Travel Anywhere.”
Step 2: Click on the app name in the store. Note: If you already have the app, clicking “Open” will launch the app.
Step 3: Scroll down to the “Ratings & Reviews” section.
Step 4: Tap the number of stars you’d give us where it says “Tap to Rate.” Tap 1 for needs improvement and 5 for seriously loving the app.
Step 5: If you have an option you’d like to share, click “Write a Review” and leave your feedback.
Step 6: Give yourself a pat on the back for being such a valuable part of our community.
Google Play Store for Android Devices
Step 1: Click the link above or go to the Google Play Store your mobile device and search “HomeExchange.”
Step 2: Once you’ve found the app select it to open the details page.
Step 3: Scroll down to the “Reviews” section.
Step 4: Select the number of stars you’d give us and write your review.
Step 5: Tap “Submit” and you’ve completed your mission.
We appreciate you taking the time to share your thoughts and feedback. Your experience is the key to our success, and every comment helps us to shape the future of HomeExchange.
Our top destinations to enjoy the sun or the snow as the seasons change!
The weather in the Northern hemisphere is getting almost overwhelming, and the community member there find themselves thinking “how can I escape this…” Meanwhile, on the other side of the world, some members have to make a point to grab a jacket before leaving the house and wish they could be feeling the warmth.
The beautiful thing about being a part of the extended HomeExchange community is that you always have the option to “escape” whatever season you are currently experiencing. You can decide if you want to rest on the beach taking in the sun or by hitting the slopes and feeling the coolness of the snow. Whichever you choose, we have some options for you:
If you are looking for sun and heat, this is an ideal destination. The crystal clear blue of the Adriatic will have you falling in love in no time. From the sea to the fairytale cities of as Dubrovnik or Split, or by taking an excursion to some of the Dalmatian Islands, and exchange here is sure to be an authentic adventure. If you like nature, you can discover its amazing National Parks, such as the Plitvice Lakes National Park, or if you fancy staying indoors, an exploration of Zagreb, its capital, will be a peaceful walk through history.
National Park, or if you fancy staying indoors, an exploration of Zagreb, its capital, will be a peaceful walk through history.
This gorgeous island should be a must visit for any traveler. The climate of the country offers a beautiful range no matter what time of year you visit due to the magnificent diversity of the landscape blending mountains and valleys. In broad terms, its winter occurs (between June and August) offer the perfect escape. While the south island is colder, it is ideal for snow sports lovers, so make sure to grab your snowboard and skis to enjoy the slopes.
Another perk of traveling during the winter months is that it will allow you to see a quieter New Zealand. With fewer tourists (there is usually more during the summer season from December to February) you’ll be able to enjoy more of the mystical landscape and, who knows, you may take in the wonder of seeing the aurora australis.
Italy is variety in its purest form. From cosmopolitan Milan and elegant Lake Como to coastal Calabria or the rolling hills of Tuscany to the romantic oasis of Venice or the grandeur of Florence. It’s a country that has it all. Of course, there is also Sicily with its magnificent beaches; it is a perfect family destination. Choose a specific region or enjoy a road trip and explore several locations, like a stop over in the eternal Rome. Between the history, the food, and the sun, you are sure to come home feeling warm with memories.
Escape a heatwave and head down to encounter the breathtaking beauty of South Africa. Not only can you find some skiing, but it June to August is one of the best times of the year to go on a safari and discover some of the “Big Five” and other African animals. It is also an ideal time to hit the sea for whale watching. Perhaps your trip becomes a combination with your itinerary including of a safari in Kruger Park, and a visit of Johannesburg and Cape Town. You’d be hard pressed to find a more spectacular route to discover South Africa.
Everyone has dreamed on some occasion to relax on some Greek island, right? It may be time to make your dream come true and date that trip. Greece combines climate, history, gastronomy, incredible landscapes and dreamy beaches. Whatever your preference, you can find it in Greece. Travel through history in the Peloponnese, climb and be impressed in front of the Acropolis in Athens, go up to the North to the monasteries of Meteora, or let yourself be carried away by one of its beaches, not only in the islands.
The expansiveness of Argentina adds another dimension to your travel. An exchange there allows you to decide what area on which you most want to focus. In winter, the south offers snow in places like Calafate (and its Perito Moreno glacier), Ushuaia (to visit the End of the World Lighthouse) or Bariloche. Bariloche, in fact, is a famous winter destination with ski slopes renowned among winter sports lovers. In fact, it is the time of year when the area is full of visitors looking to enjoy their slopes.
Other recommended places to visit in winter are Puerto Iguazú (and its famous Iguazú Falls, one of the seven natural wonders of the world) since the temperature is cooler during these months, your visit will be more comfortable than in summer when it can reach over 100ºF (50ºC).
So, which do you prefer? Are you looking for more fun in the sun or does some briskness sound like the perfect relief? We’d love for you to share your thoughts and, of course, add any other destinations to the list in the comments below.
You’re planning your next exchange and are probably already feeling the buildup of excitement that comes with exploring new areas, seeing exciting attractions, and sampling the local cuisine. Maybe you’ve already started packing, or at least started considering what items and outfits you might pack. If you’re a serious planner, you probably already researched a few notable places to explore and the best ways to get there. In all that planning there might be one thing that you haven’t considered: how not to look like a tourist.
Let’s face it, no matter how much fun you might be having on a trip or vacation; it’s hard to shake off the “tourist” persona that can wrap around you. You might find that you enjoy yourself more if you didn’t look and feel like a tourist, but rather blend in like one of the locals. Don’t worry, achieving the “local” look and ditching the touristy outsider look is easy enough to do.
Follow a few simple tips to “de-tourist-ify“ yourself, and you can avoid being singled out in the crowd by sidewalk salesmen or stared at with annoyance by those who have little love for tourists! Besides, blending in and acting like a local has some advantages.
Dress the Part
When you’re researching what the weather might be like on your trip, consider beyond the type of clothes but also the style. We can tend to want to dress up when we go out on the town while on vacation, but if no one else on the street is carrying designer handbags and wearing fancy clothes, you are sure to stand out. Also be aware of cultural sensitivity when it comes to showing skin and wearing things like shorts or tank-tops. No matter how warm it gets, it is better to be appropriate than unintentionally cause disrespect.
The most important thing is to be comfortable. We aren’t saying to dress like a slob, but instead try not to overdo it. The more comfortable you feel, the more you’ll fit in and have a good time.
Tip: Make a point to avoid wearing those t-shirts that showcase the place you’re visiting. They can be fun souvenirs, but they are better worn once you get home.
Learn the Language
Will you be visiting a foreign country? Take a little time to learn some language basics. You don’t need to become fluent, but mastering basics goes a long way. Locals will appreciate that you’ve shown interest and taken the time to learn some of the native tongue, as opposed to gesturing at things while saying words they clearly don’t understand and expecting them to guess at what you’re asking.
Some of the most essential items you’ll want to learn how to read and speak:
- Greetings and thank you
- Basics on how to read menus
- Reading street signs
- Questions and answers for a taxi or Uber driver
- How to ask for directions
- Ask where the public bathroom or public parking is
- Ways to ask if they speak your native language
Look Like You Know Where You’re Going
Instead of wandering the streets aimlessly or pausing every few minutes to look at a map or your phone, plan your route ahead of time, no matter how close or far you are going. Looking like you know exactly where you are going (even if you don’t) goes a long way towards masking that tourist scent. If you do happen to get off track, because it does happen, you can now always easily ask for directions if you followed the above tip!
Think Before You Click
You’re on vacation, so we would never suggest that you avoid taking photos to remember your travels. That said, walking around taking snapshots of every little thing is definitely a signal that you are a tourist, and that may even attract unwanted attention by less-than-savory folks. By all means, take pictures and have fun but be aware of your surroundings when doing so.
Tip: Can’t quite get the shot you want? Often picking up a postcard is a quick and easy way to not only capture a memory but also get an image you’d have to be a professional to take.
Eat Where the Locals Eat
A lot of restaurants located in high-traffic areas purposely cater to tourists. If you want to experience local fare the way it was meant to be enjoyed, eat where the locals eat. What better way to discover the delicacies of the region than by exploring neighborhoods. Make a point to ask your Exchange Partner where they would recommend. After all, the food is most likely going to taste better, and it will be a more memorable experience than that restaurant that is more flash than quality.
Exchange Homes and Live Like a Local
Want real freedom and a new experience to create lasting memories when you go on your trip? Ditch booking an overpriced room or apartment and go for a home exchange instead. It’s cost-effective, unique, and lets you truly feel as if you live in the area. Plus, a home exchange gives you more flexibility to relax and enjoy the area without being restricted by “house” rules.
By using HomeExchange, you have more opportunity to travel and stay anywhere, and with the ability to select the ideal home for your vacation. You are guaranteed to have a much better trip. Discover HomeExchange for your next adventure.
Now that you know what to do to look like you’re one of the locals, the next step is to pick any exciting destination, pack your bags, and select a HomeExchange that works for you! Whether you take our advice or not, don’t forget to get out there and have fun. If you happen to look like a tourist, embrace it. Enjoy every moment of your adventure and savor your travel. Happy Exchanging!
Whatever the season, one of the best parts about home exchange is the memories that you return home with. We asked some of our Facebook Groups to share their summer adventures. Here are a few of the photos and highlights.
“We stayed three nights in a great location near Waikiki and transportation. Everything was new and clean and (our Exchange Partner) was so helpful with our questions and suggestions… We had a great trip!” Bobbi and Bodie, San Luis Obispo, California