Home Swap Stories
Many HomeLink members have wonderful holidays every year - here's a selection of some great memories. See more Testimonials
Our Retirement Trip!
We have recently completed our 8 month Australian leg of our retirement trip. We have completed 19 hugely successful Australian house exchanges.
The full list was: Sussex Inlet, Nelson Bay, Safety Beach, Melbourne - North Carlton & Malvern, Hobart, Barossa Valley, Robe, Cape Jervis, Kangaroo Island, Brisbane, Mooloolaba, Woodgate, Yeppoon, Townsville (including Magnetic Island), Palm Cove, Albany, Perth and finally Mandura. What a fantastic country Oz is. We met some wonderful people and received unbelievable hospitality from exchangers and neighbours. The sights and scenes we experienced will live with us for ever.
The house exchange concept is wonderful. We have 6 New Zealand exchanges before arriving back in the UK late January having been away 1 year. What an experience. Our retirement plans will involve Homelink for a very long time to come (hopefully).
Mr & Mrs N, Scotland
Who knows what exchanging will lead to?
We have been exchanging for 4 years now, and have clocked up 10 exchanges in that time (why didn't we start doing this sooner?)
We are very picky, and have chosen wisely (having a place in Central Edinburgh to exchange means that we are always in demand). Most have been outstanding, and we have made some good new friends.
Our latest exchange was in Spain, in a little village (population 30), which is situated in the Sierras about 1 1/4 hrs drive inland from Alicante (our exchangers live in Alicante during the week).
At first we thought we had gone a little too far off grid, with the poor mobile signal, no wifi, and no shops (but with an outstanding rural bar/restaurant). However the stunning beauty of the area, the silence, and the people rapidly grew on us ...
... to the extent that we were back last week to complete the paperwork around our purchase of a house in the village. We weren't even looking for one to buy ....
Mr B, Edinburgh
Home Swap to Brisbane
Wow we really are having an amazing time, and would love to tell you all about it!
Oz is so great for the kids and us, from whales, dolphins and shark, to the kangaroos and koalas. There's great surf, beautiful beaches, the most incredible rain forests, waterfalls, fresh water lakes - you name it. And a few pretty good theme parks too! We have loved everything. A great house swap - gorgeous view, even had a dolphin swim past this morning!!
I would absolutely recommend it and thank thank thank you for opening this up to us.
Mrs A-P, Winchester
Homelink has changed our lives
Perhaps I can mention how Homelink has changed our lives and those of my family. Our first ever exchange was in Australia, in Manly, Sydney in 2007. Michele and Jim, our exchagners then, are good friends and we see them each year. We arrived in Auckland from Sydney for Christmas that year. Met by our exchangers, Dean - a Maori - and Andrea his Irish wife. We loved New Zealand and next year our daughter and family came out at Chrstmas, also to stay at Dean and Andrea's house.
It is a long story after that but suffice to say, Dean and Andrea are very close friends - I think we are accepted into the tribe! Our daughter and family emigrated to Auckland following that Christmas visit and were met by Dean and Andrea - who helped them to settle. We are now due to follow them in November, as perhaps the oldest immigrants this year. Before we leave here, we will have other exchangers, all now good friends, visiting us.
So our sincere thanks to you and to Homelink. You changed our lives, opened a new world and gave us so many very good friends. We are very grateful!
Best regards from me and my wife,
Mr & Mrs F, Buckinghamshire, July 2014
Travel Not Tourism
By Vanessa Robertson
New member Vanessa Robertson has just returned from her first exchange. Read her blog about her experiences.
Convenience, Comfort and Comparisons
By Valerie Martin, HomeLink Co-Ordinator for New Zealand
Having returned this week from our biennial trip to Europe I feel well equipped to report on comparisons between a home exchange and a B&B. I have to confess that we spent 2 weeks in a B&B in France but that is exactly what we did and for the following reason. Our trip was rather hurriedly arranged to coincide with the HomeLink Meeting in Paris. As it was very early in the season and still rather chilly in Europe we wanted to head for the South of France. Sadly there were no exchanges available at that time in that area but a German HomeLinker had a B&B just in the right place and for 'Mates Rates' via HomeLink. Right area and a pretty mediaeval village. As we parked our car outside Maison des Fleurs we thought how perfect it looked and indeed in many ways it was. We looked forward eagerly to 2 weeks of R&R and driving around the lovely Langudoc-Rousillon area. We have got so used to relying entirely on home exchanging during the 20 odd years we have traveled to Europe and the UK and had quite forgotten the inconveniences that can occur when you do not have the luxury of being in a fully equipped home.
- Breakfast was extra. 15 Euros per person per day. Not a problem as I had seen the little kitchenette in the pictures. 2 hotplates and fully equipped with plates, cutlery etc. No toaster, but we are in France and croissants from the local bakery sounded good.
- Yes, I know that you don’t usually have cooking facilities in a B&B but there was a kitchenette. No pots to be seen. When I asked I was told that cooking was not permitted. O.K. so we can have salads every day I thought. Eating out every day for 14 days in France was going to be very expensive. We were offered dinner by our hosts for 35 Euros per person.
- I purchased a small pot from the local supermarket and did some creative ‘boiling’
- No herbs, spices salad dressings of course
- No garden chairs to take on our outings
- No washing facilities
- Very small rooms apart from the bathroom which was enormous
- No pick up or drop off at the airport
- No possibility of a car exchange
- This was a tiny apartment. (The spacious house next door was kept for home exchanging but sadly they did not want to come to NZ.)
- On the plus side we did get our room cleaned and tidied daily.
Cost for 2 weeks………..$NZ1713
Fast forward to England where we had a home exchange in a small village in the Cotswolds. Our nearest airport in France was Nimes and the nearest airport to our destination was Bedford, which is a 2 hour drive from our home in the Cotswold. We knew we were going to like our exchange partners when they said “not a problem we will come and pick you up” We talked a lot during the 2 hours and got to know each other well. We were invited to a meal at the local pub that evening which was most welcome. Our exchange partners have 2 homes one of which is kept mainly for their dedication to home exchanging. This time our accommodation was……………
- A spacious fully equipped 3 bedroom, 3 bathroom home with a lovely garden
- A laundry with clothes dryer
- A huge kitchen
- A yummy meal in the fridge
- “Help yourselves to anything in the pantry” We did and duly replaced what we had used
- Use of a computer, maps, games, music, videos and suggestions of places to visit, use of car
Cost for 2 weeks…………….Nothing
Our next stop was an even better deal. 2 weeks in Central London in a spacious 2 bedroom apartment. No car, but who wants a car in London? The Tube was a 5 minute walk away and what's more two Oyster cards were provided for our use. Our host was obviously a gourmet cook and the spectacular kitchen and huge array of herbs and spices was so welcoming. This was a very special exchange and we were able to do some serious London study. This is the high rent area but…………………… Cost for 2 weeks ………. Nothing
This is our second exchange at Copacabana Beach. Just imagine the barbecue sizzling with prime steak, a cold glass of white wine in hand with a view to die for.
We just sit outside every night on the veranda (with a glass of Chardonnay) and watch the sun set over the bay of Copacabana. Then we pinch ourselves and ask each other 'is this January, the month I am usually shovelling snow off my driveway in Wales?
It don't get better than this!
Making Friends Around The World...
I was recently invited by our local WRI to talk about home exchanging - the concept as well as our own experiences. There were the usual polarised responses but everyone was struck, not only by how much we enjoy swapping but by how we've become part of a large extended family.
I hadn't given it much conscious thought but when I was organising photos for the talk, we realised we're still in touch with our first exchanger from California (1995, we think).
We have pictures of our third exchanger from North Carolina, now a close friend. Our Maryland exchangers visited us in West Virginia and the Massachusetts folks are arranging for us to meet family when we exchange to Santa Fe in May and spend a few days with them in Tucson Arizona, where they overwinter. We're also in touch with various people we met in each location as we know our swappees are at this end. It's even led to some privately arranged exchanges.
Our WRI is a very small group but I think I have a couple of converts. Hopefully, the Homelink family will continue to grow.
Thanks for all the great times.
Mrs E, Edinburgh, February 2013
"Glorious & Amazing" 9 months in Australia and New Zealand
Hi Caroline....... Have been meaning to get in touch - got home in May from our marathon 9 month trip to Aus and NZ - no adjectives to do it justice really... but it was GLORIOUS AND AMAZING - even more so was all the help, courtesy & kindness from all 9 (yes 9) of our exchangers.
- Freemantle - a lovely restored old cottage - also adopted by their friends and neighbours when I broke my foot 4 days into the trip.
- Geelong, Melbourne - picked up by friends over an hour away - again a lovely comfortable home.
- Katoomba - Blue Mountains - Very sociable exchangers with a georgous house with a view over the mountains
- Alexandra - NZ - Again georgous with views over the valley and river - also stayed with these lovely folks in Invercargill, where they took us to their Rotary Club Christmas Dinner.
- Toowoomba - Folks kept asking us - 'why are you going there?' - we loved it - an amazing 30yr old Mercedes 300 to drive - very 'Driving Miss Daisy'
- Alexandra Headlands, Sunshine Coast, Aus. - Tropical Thunderstorms and floods, but our son joined us for 3 weeks.
- Townsville - Just the best - these folks, a lovely friendship that will grow - also 10 days on their Magnetic Island holiday home.
- Rockhampton - A Working town - The Beef Week was on - other peoples culture is amazing.
- Cairns - a lovely lady in Palm Cove - turned out to be the Sister-in- law of the Toowoomba lady.!!!!
This was ALL organised on your site - just BRILLIANT - the other necessity is a year planner or spread sheet. Will we do it again - you bet when we have finished reciprocating to our wonderful exchangers.
Exchanging has added a new dimention to our life. Without this we could have travelled for about 4 months - instead - 9 BRILLIANT, WONDERFUL, FANTASTIC MONTHS - do you get the drift? We would highly recommend this to anyone.
Many many regards
June and David, Northumberland, August 2012
UK home swaps are fun too!
As we have just renewed our subscription for another year I thought you might be interested in hearing about our exchanges during 2011 even though we still have one left as we are exchanging over Christmas for the first time ever!
Our first swap of the year was in March when we spent a week in Cardiff for Paul’s 60th birthday. We wanted to explore “our” capital so it was ideal and we had a lovely week. We met them at a pub about halfway between our homes and got on very well. This is a thing we try to do with UK swaps as it is always nice to put faces to exchangers.
Easter found us in Acaster Malbis near York at a lovely old house. Our daughter and family came too, so we had a houseful! Luckily they left a few days before us so I was able to do all their laundry before we left. I didn’t want Annie to come home to launder bedding and towels for seven! The boys loved the trampoline in the garden, the gym with home cinema and the study with X-Box!
In July we spent a super two weeks in Norfolk again meeting our exchangers en route. Norfolk was entirely new ground for us and we really enjoyed it.
At the end of August we had our only foreign trip of the year to Bergen op Zoom where we swapped with a lovely old house called (in Dutch) The Brown Dog! It is right on one of the market places in the town so Thursday mornings are noisy from about 5am, but the market is wonderful, so we didn’t mind the early alarm call! We went by train and explored by train as we didn’t exchange cars. We went to lots of towns and cities in the Netherlands and Belgium. On our way home we spent two nights in Brussels which gave us the opportunity to visit Ypres, which was very interesting and moving especially the Menin Gate. When we got home we found that our exchanger had painted a watercolour of our house, which we have had mounted and framed see attached.
October brought two exchanges: the first week we went to Frisby on the Wreake. We made use of our Leicestershire base to visit a few cousins who live in that part of the Midlands as well as doing some lovely walks. At half term we went to Roughton, Lincolnshire to Hilltop Cottage (UK53767) - again, new ground for us and we loved the walking opportunities that the Wolds offer. Our final exchange of the year will be in Yarnfield (UK67515). It's only about twenty minutes from our daughter’s home and we will be there over Christmas. We plan to meet our exchangers on our way to Staffordshire. Like us they have two cats and that is also a big plus now that one of our cats, Dylan, has to have a tablet every fourth day. So far all our exchangers have managed very well with his pills even the non-cat people!
We have four swaps lined up for 2012 so far: Easter at Roslin, near Edinburgh (UK53926), May at Upton on Severn (UK54187), June in Bavaria (DE009345) and early September in Poole (UK67476). Our daughter is getting married in early August, so we are not able to swap in July or most of August - only four swaps how will we cope with only four holidays?? If it wasn’t for HomeLink I think we’d be lucky to get more than one! Many thanks again for all your hard work making HomeLink so efficient.
Paul and Jean, December 2011
Rugby World Cup 2011 home swap
Hi Caroline, yes we have tickets - been to all Scotland's [Rugby World Cup] games so far. Had a hospitality exchange in Christchurch, couple took us to Ruby Bay for a few days to stay with their friends and arranged for us to stay with another friend of theirs en route from Invercargill to Christchurch. Amazing welcome so far in NZ - currently on an exchange in Wellington, then on to an exchange in Hamilton on Thursday for 2 weeks, an exchange in Auckland for 2 weeks, one in Melbourne for a week and one in Tasmania for 10 days. By the time we go home via San Francisco we'll have gone around the World in 84 days, so will probably not venture too far next year! Been telling folk about Homelink.
Mrs McG, Ayrshire, September 2011
Perfect Italian home swap
Dear Caroline, I’ve been meaning to tell you what a great exchange we had. This was hands down the nicest exchange we had. We exchanged interesting and humorous texts regularly fortunately their English is excellent. Now we have a problem though as they said this was a benchmark of the perfect exchange. The location was fantastic, the house impeccable and the hosts couldn’t have been kinder or more helpful. They left our house in perfect condition too and with many ideas on how we could reorganize (Paolo is a super homemaker and has given me some ideas...). I see a trip to Ikea in the very near future.
Of course, I’m already browsing for next summer. My health was great in the mountains so much better than in this damp, grey climate but of course we won’t mention that to our Mediterranean friends.
Thanks again for all your help and your wonderful organization we can’t recommend you enough!
Mrs S, Oxfordshire, September 2011
Home swap gives a kitten a new home!
I just want to let you know that we have had the most amazing experiences with our home exchanges and been very lucky with the ones I have been able to organize. Our first swap was to a beautiful apartment in Montmartre in Paris, with a view of Sacre Coeur out the window. We have also had an exchange for a ski chalet in France, an unforgettable condo on the beach with a pool on Grand Cayman, and for our summer holiday this year we are going to a house on the beach in the Bahamas. In April, we did a local swap with a family in Lincoln and they were happy for us to stay in their house with another family, so there were eight of us in their fabulous house and we had a cycling holiday there. The best thing about that swap was that we looked after their cats, and my kids and I fell in love with them so that when we got home we got ourselves a gorgeous kitten, who is now the new lord and master of the house! Thank you for running such a fantastic site and I hope to enjoy many more wonderful years of exchanging!
Ms C, London, July 2010
New Zealand home swap
We returned to UK on 4 April after a great 9 weeks in NZ. We stayed with Homelink people the majority of the time, met some very interesting & hospitable folk. The 9 days when we were not in Homelink homes highlighted how comfortable & relaxing the swap homes were. We are great fans of Homelink & try to promote it whenever we get the chance. We reckon we saved about £3,500 on the cost of accommodation & on the strength of that we gave ourselves a few treats!
Thank you for all your hard work.
Mrs & Mrs T, Surrey, April 2011
A Year in Provence... on a home swap!
We always travelled a lot before we had children but then we found it far harder to afford the kind of destinations we wanted - until we discovered Homelink. In the last 3 years we have been to Norway, Sweden, Denmark, The Netherlands, France (twice), Germany and Austria as well as Yorkshire, London and Manchester. And every single swap has been amazing. So when the opportunity of a year in Provence came up we just knew we couldn't pass it up. Home exchange for us has been a completely life altering experience and we are completely evangelical about it.
Mr & Mrs R, Whitby, April 2011