HONEYMOON - THE HOME EXCHANGE WAY!
By Nikki - NYC, USA Click here for Nikki's listing.
When we were married, we managed to get eight weeks off from work for a grand tour of Europe. We bought two-month, unlimited Eurail passes but 56 nights of accomodations would have gotten our marriage off to a penniless start. Through home exchange, we toured England, France, Spain, Belgium and Holland. Besides bunks on overnight trains, in 56 nights in Europe, we did not spend a single Euro on hotels!
In Paris, we stayed in a student's attic flat. The neighborhood, while not touristy, was lovely, with cute cafes, excellent restaurants, and convenient shopping. We never would have discovered this area without home exchange. The apartment was small, but when we compared it to the average hotel suite, it suddenly seemed huge and luxurious, with its full kitchen and in-home clothes washing machine.
The Barcelona exchange was non-simultaneous, but our hosts provided a private guest cottage in their lushly landscaped courtyard that was as big as our New York City apartment. Again, it came with a clothes washer. At the end of the trip, in Amsterdam, we had the lower half of an authentic 300-year old canal house. It had been retrofitted with all the modern conveniences -- yes, that means a clothing washer!
Having begun our married life on home exchange, we've found it hard to go back to hotel rooms. Even the most lavish hotel suite rarely comes with a stocked kitchen, a back yard and full appliances. Hotels tend to be antiseptic and segregated from the real life of a city. By definition, hotels are filled with tourists -- not the people one travels in order to meet.
We see home exchange as helping us live happily ever after. Give it a try!