A recent note to the Digsville membership requesting their swap experiencies resulted in dozens of responses. Read along for creative tips, heart-warming accounts of friendship and more.
I would be happy to talk about our swap experience. We have done 4 altogether; 2 to US, 1 Spain and 1 UK. And all were great! We are a family of 5 and I'm convinced that our 3 children have received a huge amount out of it all, in fact I would no longer really consider a conventional vacation. Exchanging is a much more genuine and rewarding experience. If you really want to travel rather than just hang out in a resort which could be anywhere. It works particularly well for us with the children. I would say that although exchanging obviously does save you money, my main reason for doing it is that it's better than a normal vacation.
Exchanging apartments is the only way to travel when you plan to be in a country for an extended period of time because it allows you to reciprocate socially. This is especially true if you visit the country with any degree of regularity and have also developed a network of friends there. Just as I am invited to homes for dinner and conversation, I can offer the same hospitality.
As a retiree, who lives in a great neighborhood in NYC, it would be impossible because of the increased cost of real estate, for me to pay for the equivalent of what I have. Exchanging allows me ... and also my exchange partner ... to maintain our standards of living at no additional cost. That leaves more money for shopping and dining out.
Additionally, I really like the people with whom I have exchanged. So when I return, I always contact those with whom I have exchanged in the past and keep them in my network of friends in that country. When they are in NYC at the same time as I, we make at least one date during their stay. Even if I could afford to rent an apartment, I am sure it could not be better equipped than the homes I have been in. A home is more than a sofa, a bed and a roof; it reflects personality. The apartments I have had have been as wonderful as their owners.
Finally, I don’t think there is any way to have these experiences when living in a hotel. The entertaining you can offer from that vantage point is just not personal enough. Even when I worked hard and was too tired to cook, with the money I saved by exchanging, I hired someone to prepare the meal and my guests still had the comfort of a home, especially selected music, flowers and all the warmth and ambiance my guests in NYC receive. Not that all entertaining is fancy, because it is not; those are the special occasions. What is best is when friends can come by for a glass of wine, tea or coffee and conversation, and you have a wonderful space in which to relax. I cannot imagine any other way of getting to really know a country and making friends than having a wonderful home to share.
We do exchanges every year (my husband and me with our 2 children). My children have been doing this since they were born; indeed my oldest child (now 8) did his first international exchange when he was 15 days old!!!
We've been in different countries, some of them exotic, on this basis... We lived in New York City for 12 years (I got my PhD at Columbia University) and now we are back in Europe (Barcelona).
Yours, Helena Medina
We just completed a swap in August with a family in Italy. They used our home in the Turks & Caicos Islands. We were able to take our immediate family (two kids) as well as my wife's parents (who are of Italian descent and made their first visit to Italy). We have also done exchanges with members in Montreal and New York City.
Thanks and keep up the great work.
Our experience of swapping houses through Digsville was extremely rewarding and gave us a unique opportunity to visit parts of England and Wales we would not otherwise have been able to see. We have frequently – and will continue to – recommend Digsville to anyone who will listern.
Don and Lynette Bridger - Western Australia Read our full story
We've swapped a number of times -- all successfully. We are college teachers, involved with what seems like a zillion projects and swapping allows us to travel, go to conferences, develop projects, etc., without the horrid costs of accommodations -- and with the convenience of being 'at home' in NYC, Prague, Chicago, southern France, etc. We're also approaching retirement and swapping allows us to get a much better feel for what it is like to live in the places we're thinking might be the right retirement spot.
In 1997 Jean and I experienced our first home exchange to Church Stretton, England. To date we have done 22 more, the 23rd in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada next week. I think Jean and I are on to something here.
We've done about a half a dozen swaps. As a family with 3 kids we couldn't have afforded any other arrangement. We accumulate frequent flyer miles for 2 years, which gives us about 2 free round trips, swap houses so that lodging is free.
It's a perfect arrangement. We're pretty trusting and assume that people who stay at our how won't trash it, particularly since we're staying at their house, and we're not fussy so it's the ideal arrangement. We are also not interested in vacation as such--in resorts or sightseeing. We just want to go somewhere to live for 3 or 4 weeks, with a car to drive, and that's what home exchange delivers.
We just want to get to Europe in the cheapest way possible and this is it. I'm amazed that more people don't do it.
Hi Helen: We've had several repeat exchanges to NYC and hope to continue to exchange with these people who've become friends. They now e-mail us via Digsville and then 'phone (as do we) to ask if we (or they) feel like a "get-away".
We've told So.... many friends and acquaintances about you.
Cheers, Judy & Colin Nicol-Smith
We are a family with 3 children who grew up home exchanging. This Christmas we will have our 10th exchange. We started exchanging because it is cheap: we could afford to travel to special places or travel more than once a year. Meanwhile we are 'addicted' to home exchange and can't imagine any other way of vacationing.
We've had so many different exchanges but each one of them was fabulous!
We have never had the chance to swap yet, but we opened up our home to a couple from San Francisco who were coming here for the 100th Anniversary of Harley Davidson. The came all the way to Milwaukee on their Harleys, arrived on a Thursday. We left the next day for a three day weekend and they had our home to themselves.
They offered their home in San Francisco to us whenever we could get there, but we haven't had the chance.
John C. Savagian
We took our 1 year old Colin and 3 year old Brian to London for a two week exchange last April '04. We exchanged with a couple who did not have kids, but they were kind enough to borrow two cribs, a highchair, backyard slide, and many toys. I packed a suitcase full of toys for the boys, and never unpacked it because of all the toys and movies they had for us. We stayed in their lovely three bedroom, 1 bath house in a suburb outside London and we became very friendly with the neighbors and spent quite a lot of time with them. The neighbors had 2 boys ages 10 and 12 and the boys played together. The neighbors made a lovely brunch for us with traditional English food one afternoon. The stepfather of the homeowner came to meet us and brought us a huge box full of chocolates, cheeses, wines which were delicious and so thoughtful. We took the subway to many attractions in London including the London Eye, River Thames cruise, Children's Museum, Buckingham Palace, Covent Gardens, and so on. We took the train to other locations outside of the city such as Windsor castle and Cambridge.
We had a fantastic time that we'll never forget! It was our first exchange. We have never met the couple we exchanged with, but we remain friendly with them and still email with them. In fact, they had their first baby in June and we received pregnancy updates throughout the nine months, and then a birth announcement in June.
I am a retiree who in May 2005 spent 10 days in a 2 bedroom apartment on a canal in center of Amsterdam. The apartment owner went to my beach front 2 bedroom cottage in Hopetown, Abaco, Bahamas. We enjoyed perusing the center of the city and they enjoyed relaxing on the beach.
My fiance and I swapped for a month in Gent, Belgium. It was INCREDIBLE!
My three daughters and I, then living north of Boston, travelled to London and stayed at the Smee's home. Lian and Mike, and their children Lucy and Andrew, stayed at my house. We have kept in touch and I feel we made a lasting friendship. It was an extraordinary experience for many reasons, not the least of which was being able to spend that much time in London. I could never have afforded to pay a hotel bill for three weeks!
I love home exchanges and only wish I could do them more often!
My name is Nicole, I am 44 years old and from the northern part of Germany. Me, my husband (44) and our daughter (12) have made several exchanges so far. Our first one was to Australia (when Zoe was 5 years old) and we are still in contact with the people!
Last summer we went to the USA and had two exchanges - not simulteanous. Our big house gives us the possibility to exchange unsimulteanous as well. Next year for example two families from Brazil are coming for the worldcup 2006 here in Germany and a few weeks later we travel to Brazil!
Exchanging means not only saving a lot of money, it means also learning more about the countries where you go to, because you meet the people from there and sometimes you make friends forever! You can feel more of the spirit of the country! And that is a better experience than you'll ever get when you travel as a normal tourist.
Bye for now, Nicole
We swapped to the Netherlands when our two daughters were about 3 and 4 1/2 years and then the next year to Ireland (4 and 5 1/2 years). As well, this year we travelled mainly in the South Pacific for 4 months - no house exchanges but met someone in Cook Islands who also does swaps.
I have done home exchanges in Nova Scotia and England and am owed one in British Columbia and would love to help promote to concept.....have had wonderful experiences and made wonderful new friends.
I'd hardly know where to start. We've exchanged a total of 27 times in places as diverse as rural England, Scotland, Wales, Tuscany, all over eastern Australia, New Zealand, Brittany, Ireland, northern Italy, Spain, and we already have Germany and England lined up for next year. We've exchanged with beautiful mansions and tiny apartments, with places where the appliances were on their last legs, and places with all the modern conveniences. Cars have run the gamut from ancient Skodas to BMW 7 series. Is that enough information to give you an idea?
My husband and I made many vacation swaps. We swapped both our home and our second home. We swapped with people who had both, people who simultaneously swapped and those who swapped at a latter date. We have swapped cars, restaurants, and friends.
I have a scrapbook of our swaps with information on each one. In 2001, we made a three month trip from Florida to California and swapped seven times on that one trip. Our shortest swap was for a week end.
We once did a swap to Canada where each couple swapped their primary residence and their second home on the same vacation. We also swapped with people who knew they would not visit us, but who offered their home just the same.
I am now a widow and plan on may more swaps.
Dear Helen and the team,
We are currently in Australia and in the next few days we will be embarking on our fifth home exchange in Australia.
The motivation for "destination Australia" is that is where our grand children live with their mom and dad.
We have had such wonderful exchange experiences that we have become excellent salespeople for the system. We were fortunate to become friends with our third exchange partner and the next exchange and the one coming up were direct references resulting from that earlier one.
We figure that there are three things that make travel very expensive. First there is the getting there and there isn’t much that one can do about that except shop carefully. Second is accommodation and of course exchanging homes eliminates that. Third, the cost of meals; if one wishes it is possible to keep these costs quite in line with the costs at home. Fourth, we have also exchanged automobiles and so those costs there are minimalized.
We are fortunate that we are able to make our exchanges non-simultaneous so we can offer our southern hemisphere friends a summer vacation in Canada while we have a summer down under during their summer.
We will certainly be willing to be interviewed by your journalist but since we are somewhat on the move until the end of the year we will understand it is decided to pass us by.
I have ben exchanging for at last ten years and have been to New York City (2x) Paris (4x), London (2x),Budapest, Montepulciano, San Diego, Oakland, Virgin Islands, Key West and many other places.
Yes, it is because of the money, after all you only pay for your flight, but not only. It is also so much nicer to be in somebody’s home, with a personal feeling, than in an impersonal hotel. I have had only pleasant experiences, no bad ones. I have also made friends that I am still in contact with. Sometimes I see my exchange partners, but I have also left my keys at the airport information desk for pick-up by my exchange partners, or sent them through the mail.
Hope this gives a picture of my exchange story.
We have had such an experience personally. We tried a home swap for the first time in Annecy in the French Alps. It was our first trip to Europe with our two young children. We were able to find a beautiful home for a bargain price. The owners were exceptionally friendly and generous people.
I'd recommend home-swaps to anyone.
We did our first house swap this summer and had a wonderful experience!
We live in Milwaukee and took our 10 year old daughter to Hamburg, Germany.
We had rented homes in France in previous years, but found the exchange rate to be prohibitive. I started researching house-swapping, but was skeptical that anyone would come to Milwaukee. I kept an open mind and listed our house in early December of 2004 and had a commitment to swap by the first of the year!
People asked us how we picked Hamburg and we say that it picked us. It is a beautiful city and close to many other areas. I can also provide the contact information for the German people that we swapped with, as they have since moved to Wisconsin. The purpose of their trip was to search for a home here due to a job transfer.
We have done 9 exchanges so far and loved all of them. We swapped with a couple from Anna Maria Island, for us the closest thing to paradise, twice and are going for the 3rd time next May. We have become great friends with them (Digsville-members by the way), spend some days together in Holland early this year, took them to Volendam and had a picture taken of the four of us in old-dutch clothes and wooden shoes.. was great fun.
We are Dick (freelance journalist in The Netherlands!!) and Franca (bank manager for Rabobank). We exchanged for the first time with an elderly couple from Palm Coast, Florida whom we met since then about 5 times when we were in Florida or when they were in Europa (on a Rhine cruise..). we’ve become good friends with them as well. We’ve had other exchanges in New Jersey, Massachusetts, Marco Island Florida and twice in Canada, on the west coast
(Vancouver) and east coast (Nova Scotia).
Home exchange is not only a good financial deal, it also brings the opportunity to make friends all over the world. Here in Holland I started a newsgroup for home-swappers, with great enthusiasm among the about 75 members. We exchange experiences and discuss other possibilities, great fun!! Well, the exchange programs are so neat that we shout it to the whole world, that's my idea.. all the times we felt immediately at home in the homes we stayed, so much different than in a hotel or motel when you feel tourists.. in swap-homes that's totally different, you get along with the home-style in US or Canada for our experiences.. and until now our house was clean, eat off the floor it's called I believe, when we came back home.
Greetings.. Dick and Franca, Hellevoetsluis, The Netherlands
Jere and Connie J. had a great time at Paul and Laurel S. home in the Maine woods. They are wonderful hosts and it was a pleasure hiking their woods and examining the flora and fauna of our northernmost state in the lower 48. The people in nearby towns are friendly and anxious to please visitors from "away" (which is what non-Mainers are called). New Hampshire's Mt. Washington is less than an hour away and Portland is close enough to drive over for a day that absolutely must include a lobster dinner. We give the Santmires Digsville home listing 5 stars and recommend their rural Maine home
highly. Jere and Connie J, Divide, Colo.
We just returned to our own home after spending 10 days on one of the best vacations we ever had with our Digsville membership. This was our first exchange, and our expections were not so high since part of the reason for our trip was business and not in a destination we would have chosen otherwise. Our 'home away from home' was super comfortable, with a fantastic pool overlooking a great view, hiking trails minutes away that only the locals knew about (and graciously told us of course), and plenty of bikes and tennis rackets! We saved so much money (not wasting it on hotels and eating every meal out) that we were able to enjoy a few choice meals in really good restaurants (recommended by our host again) and treat our teens to many of the extras such as white water rafting. Thanks Digsville, we're converts!!!
Joan and Dan - Bennington, VT
Trading homes was the best deal in the world!
Through my Digsville membership I scored a beautiful NYC apartment with sauna, steam room, 3 bedrooms & fabulous views from the 12th floor. Because I'm a foodie and love wine (thus my home in the Napa Valley), the condo in the Flatiron District provided a fabulous jmping off point for Babbo, Cafe Bouley, Blue Water Grill, Gramercy Park, BuddhaBar and I loved them all. I shopped 'til I dropped, saw 2 Broadway shows (yes, THE PRODUCERS!) and ate and drank my way through the city. Then, I trained upstate to my swap partners lakefront estate, complete with turrets, swans and rolling green and lush gardens, and more shopping th those quaint villages. What a trip... I look forward to lots more trades, and feel fortunate for my association with Digsville! Martha K, Yountville, CA
We did 5 home exchanges so far and got really addicted to this wonderful opportunity to see the world. Started in september 2001 in Palm Coast, Floridal, then to Nova Scotia, Canada, Vancouver, Canada, Anna Maria Island, Florida and Monmouth Beach, New Jersey. We became good friends with our exchange partners. Digsville home exchange is the BEST way to spent time abroad. We had excellent experiences, both with the homes we were so lucky to visit and with the people who stayed in our house in the Netherlands. We are looking forward to our next exchange! Dick and Franca, Belfeld, Netherlands
We just completed a 3 month holiday in Europe that
included 10 swaps or hospitality swaps all arranged by
email. We had the most wonderful vacation that anyone
could imagine at a fraction of the cost and at a
premium of opportunities, experiences and new
friendships. I can't imagine traveling any other way
from now on. And certainly recommend swapping to all
my friends. Whenever I travel in the future, I will have "family"
to stay with and the same will be true for them.
Thanks to the pioneers of home exchange for the
vehicle for the trip of a lifetime.
Patsy and Roger W. of California
I've been doing home exchange for 12 years, and have found something positive about even the humblest exchange. Nikki, NYC
THREE MONTH SUCCESSFUL HOME SWAP
We are just now ending a 3 month successful house exchange that we worked out through Digsville. We are in Glasgow now, and the Millers are in our home in California. It has worked splendidly. After our first attempt at an exchange we are very pleased and plan on doing it again through Digsville. Thanks for all the work that you do and it really has been a great experience for our whole family.
The Bunnell Family-, CA, USA
LOTS OF PROMO FOR MY LISTING!
Thanks what you're doing for me on the web site. I see my house often when Canada is featured!!! Appreciate it a lot!!!! I have a family from New York coming for 18 days on July 01....They have a mountain top villa in the Dominican Rep. which I'll have in Feb/Mar. And this am got a confirmation on a family wanting a week at the end of July with an option to take an extra week.
P.T. - Nova Scotia, CANADA
TERRIFIC SWAP IN HAWAII
I couldn't wait to let you know (now that we've returned) that my partner and I found an amazing exchange in Hawaii (the Big Island). We've been in touch regularly with our 'new' dear friends. We're also in the advanced planning for two long weekends up the coast (California) later in the fall. Thank you, thank you.
Jamie V., Venice, Ca
HOSPITALITY AT IT'S BEST
I contacted a woman named April from Newport, Wales....also a gentleman by the name of Dave from Cardiff, Wales. I received two offers of hospitality exchange....Due to time constraints...I chose to stay with April and her daughter Gabby (who happened to be the same age as my daughter Abby...nine years old). I know I missed a lot by not visiting Dave and his lovely wife in Cardigon Bay...near Cardiff...but I only had two days in Wales. I have a memorable picture of Abby and Gabby covered in mud as April took us to a friend of hers who owned a B and B right on the coast of Newport....It was low tide and the girls literally covered themselves in dark grey mud! We saw some of the Wye Valley, an old castle....a 14th century manor home that her friends lived in and much more. We drank coffee together and had Welsh tea cakes....She was a wonderful host and I can't wait to the day when Abby and Gabby can come and visit. We also invited some of her friends who were wonderful folks. I suggest home/hospitality exchange to all who want to travel. Even if budgets are small...there would never be a good reason why one can't see the world, choosing this method...but more than a "free" nights lodging, hospitality exchange offers a way to meet real people living in real towns all over the world. Thanks you for this fine site and leading me to friends around the world!
M.C.- Port Orange, Florida, USA
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NYC THE 'DIGSVILLE WAY!
Please let our club know that in May my daughter and I spent a wonderful week in Manhattan, thanks to Digsville!
It´s really astonishing how your wonderful site works and how responsive everyone is! I keep telling all my friends worldwide about it.....
D. H. - Amsterdam, Holland
Just wanted to let you know that within two days of our home being listed, we have arranged a home exchange with a family in Boston. We have had so much contact that we feel like great friends already and we are sorry that we will be in Boston when they are here in Scotland! Thank you so much for making the idea of home exchange a reality of us. M.M. Scotland
PLANNING OUR FIRST SWAP
Thank you very much! I have arranged my first home exchange (through digsville) and I'm very excited about it. My daughters and I are exchanging with a family near London (West Wickham). It is working out very well so far... in fact, we feel as though we are not only exchanging homes, but starting a nice friendship. Thanks for a great service!
J.V.- Massachusetts, USA
Editor's Note: Read Janice's article of her completed swap! Click here
I'LL CHOOSE PARIS
I'm happy to let you know that after positive responses to my inquiries about swapping from a lovely San Francisco woman, as well as a request from an equally sweet Vancouver resident who wanted to study French here (both of whom I hope to exchange with in the future, and who may even stay here after my exchange has ended, but while I'm still in Europe) I've decided to choose Paris this summer. Warm regards and THANKS again for making this possible, and doing your darndest to talk up my place, our swap, and this fine city.
J.S.- Montreal, Canada
TWO EXCHANGES THIS SUMMER
We are very excited as we are busy negotiating our very first - not one, but two exchanges for this coming June/July. We will keep you posted as to what happens. It has been the greatest fun and I cannot believe that we have finally found people who want to come to beautiful Cape Town. We will start planning for next year as early as possible.
M.M.- Cape Town, South Africa
Love the site; glad to have been a member all this time. We have made a few connections so far....and expect to eventually trade with others.
Thank You Digsville Team
L.W and D.L.- Vancouver Island, BC
Dear Digsville: just a note to confirm how effective an internet home exchange service can be . . . we've arranged a home exchange with a family in Provence, France. Exactly where and when we wanted. Wonderful!
D&S A -Victoria, British Columbia, Canada
I want to congratulate you on your first class website. It's a super idea and you are the only exchange site on the net to go about this business in a fun way. Yet your layout is efficient, clear, comprehensive and you have the best program of all for editing listings and displaying photos etc. I am new to this exchange game on the internet, but as a publisher of my own e-zine for 4 years now, I know what a Herculean task it is to get a good website up and running well. Bravo!
Raichel L. - Greece
Wanted to let you know that I think this is a brilliant concept and I wish you the best of luck - I particularly like the Montreal revue - my wife and I are both from Montreal and now live in Hoboken - we really enjoyed the revue! Mike and Joanne
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Digsville customer service respond to my initial email about relocation ideas. When visiting and registering in your site, I found it to be extremely and unusually smooth and friendly. Your site has very good navigation ability (and brief instructions, yet!). Kudos to you.
J.J. Jones, Burlingame, CA
LOVE MY MEMBERSHIP!
Just wanted to congratulate and thank you for your expeditious approach... I just signed on last night, and saw that my listing is already up. Today I requested old issues of the newsletter and had them within an hour. You are doing all the right things for the right reasons and in the right way. I'm impressed!!!
By the way, I did find a great exchange potential on Digsville in Tortola, BVI and made an exchange offer. Although the answer came back that the folks were not interested right now; it was an immediate response on the e-mail form included with the offer... that's a great idea and obviously expedites communication. I haven't seen that capability on any other site. As I keep saying, you're way ahead of the game. Now we just have to get more visits and make the key contact. Talk to you soon.
Sylvia G., West Orange, NJ
Great website, and such a brilliant idea. Can't wait to make my first swap!
Jess A., New Brunswick, NJ
THANKS FOR FEATURING OUR LISTING
I must say that I've had some wonderful opportunities in a short period of time and have met some great people already. I'll keep referring people to your site. Thanks for selecting my place as the "home of the week" ... That is just great!
Paul T., Nova Scotia
We read all the news in your newsletter with much interest. We have been part of home exchange programmes before, however, we have never been part of such a lively and interesting group and enjoy just being part of it. Keep up the good work.
Maureen M., Cape Town, SA
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Want to add a testimonial? Contact our editor and we'll add it .
One liners (mostly) culled from the testimonial & tips message boards on Digsville.com
Home exchange has always been a part of our life (we're both teachers at the University), we saw most of the world with our children during their years at home. Now my husband and I are "living" for a month or so each summer in different locations looking for our permanent retirement home.
T.C.R. Frankfurt, Germany
Our stay in a quiet village in Sweden felt like heaven, we'll never forget it.
G.D., Shabbona, IL, USA
If it wasn't for exchanging (car and house), and the tremendous savings on hotels and car rentals, never could we have taken our family of 7 skiing in Utah for 2 weeks this past holiday season. We already are planning New Year's Eve 2000!
K.K., Easton, PA, USA
As a single woman with a lovely apartment and lots of space, I love having guests from my home country come and stay for a few days, a week, sometimes even longer. They get to see New York (that's what they usually come for) I get to speak my native language and they bring me "nostalgia food." It usually is great fun and it "helps me to pay the rent."
R.S., Jersey City, NJ, USA
Home exchange has greatly simplified travelling with a young child -- it's the only way to go.
P.L., London, England
The success of an exchange seems to hinge in large part on the generosity and hospitality of the exchangers. We seem to have been VERY luck this year!
C.A., Coral Spring, FL, USA
As grandparents of 11 grandchildren in three states in the USA and two countries in Europe, if it weren't for home exchanging we'd hardly know them. Now we spend at least several weeks a year living close by without being underfoot. We share some meals with them, go for ice cream in the evenings, we even do after school pick up when we can. Sometime we just stay "home" to recuperate for a few days. We love it.
J.A. and H.A., Nova Scotia
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Before home exchange I rarely traveled because of my animals. Since I heard about H.E. from my sister I've been away six times! Knowing my 2 dogs and 3 cats are being taken care of by another animal lover, I can relax. Plus I get to take care of some new dogs
K.A., Toronto, Canada
Our boys ages 6 and 8 can't wait for our next vacation. Last home exchange they were kept busy for hours discovering all the "new" toys our exchange partner left behind. (Our kids were similar ages.) They also had "built-in" friends from next door.
B.L. and D.L., Cape Town, S.A.
We rented a "beach house" in the off season in an extremely desirable area of Eastern Long Island. Along with two other families, we had plenty of room (all bedrooms had private bath), enjoyed home cooked meals together (we actually waited at the docks for the local commercial fisherman to come in from sea), and enjoyed the small town atmosphere without the bustling summer crowds.
M.A. and S.M., Montclair, NJ, USA
Home exchange is my way of learning Spanish the "immersion" method. For two years, I have been spending three weeks in the summer in a small, beautiful apartment in Barcelona. I am on my own to speak and learn Spanish, but thanks to my exchange partner introducing me to his friends and neighbors, I have help when I need it.
K.M., Bethpage, LI, NY, USA
My husband and I worried about strangers in our home for a week. But by the time we had worked out the details, we all felt as if we'd known each other quite a while. Now we home exchange not just for a vacation, but for the friends we make.
T.L., Barlston, Stoke-on-Trent, England
This is my third time exchanging my apartment in Madison with a couple from Paris. I must confess that when I'm there now, I always feel a bit superior to the tourists I see walking around on a schedule. (I used to be one of them, so I know.) Now, my "guide" is whichever neighbor I can talk into taking off with me and often I'm content to see Paris from the rooftop deck of my apartment.
N.B., Madison, WI, USA
We have seen a different part of the country this way for years and would never think of staying in a hotel. We started out to save money, but can't think of any way we'd rather travel now.
B.G., Henderson, NV, USA
Our Greek exchange partner has become my best friend. We have even exchanged children -- my daughter sailing with them in Mykonos, their kids visiting us every summer!
N.D.C., New York, NY, USA
My husband and I spent last year scouting colleges with our college bound son. We stayed in homes as paying guests and spent an average of 3 days in each place. We got to know the campuses as well as the towns pretty well, plus it was affordable!
D.S., Clinton, MD, USA
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