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Holiday at the beach for the entire family

By Helen Bergstein, Hoboken, NJ, USA

When my husband Joe and I were looking to make vacation plans during the holiday season (1997), we had lofty expectations considering our travel situation and special requirements. The challenge was to arrange a satisfying travel plan for our two children Meg (15), Lily (2), Joe's dad, a spry octogenarian, and my mom, a recent retiree. We also wanted to bring along Meg's best friend.

With a group like this, we needed a large enough place to insure privacy for all with well-equipped kitchen facilities to accommodate the diet requirements of a toddler, teenagers, and two seniors. To top it off, we wanted to be in a scenically beautiful location (beachfront would be ideal), with lots to do locally.

I felt confident that I wouldn't have to look far to find our answer. Myself, being a lifelong home exchanger with a wide network of home exchange enthusiastists, spent a few weeks making contacts and quickly found a few homes that met our requirements. I contacted the owners of a large vacation home in Montauk, on the eastern most tip of Long Island, NY to discuss an exchange for our apartment in Hoboken, from December 26, 1997 through January 8, 1998. After many e-mails and one or two brief phone conversations, plans were finalized.

On December 26, our family set out for our home away from home in Montauk, about three hours away by car with the teenagers arriving a few hours later by train. (This was undoubtedly a highlight for them!) The home was beautifully situated along the seashore and was large enough to graciously accommodate grandparents and children alike.

The couple, who owned the beach home, residing primarily in South Carolina, wanted to be in New York City for the holidays. A 15-minute train ride from Hoboken was very attractive to them, as they would be spending their time going to Broadway shows, Radio City, and walking around the city during this magical time of year. We enjoyed the space and comfort that could not have been found elsewhere - with no accommodations cost. Grandparents had the opportunity to spend quality time with the grandchildren while we had some very special (quiet) dinners out. Local excursions included purchasing freshly caught fish from the docks, a trip to the whaling museum in Sag Harbor, and short walks from the house with breathtaking views of the Atlantic.
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(Editor's Note: Since that time the Bergstein's has swapped many times, often bringing along friends of theirs (with children Lily's age, now 9)!

Contributed by Helen Bergstein, founder and expert in residence at the Digsville Home Exchange Club.

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