Tag Archives: house swap

Our House swap to the Pyrénées

Regular readers may remember when I told you about the benefits of house swap holidays. Well I am delighted to tell you that we had an excellent house swap to France this summer and have now scheduled another to Germany, both arranged via HomeExchange.com. Let me tell you a bit more about our experiences with this website and our French holiday.

The website is simple to use. You set up your profile with a description and photos of your home, making sure to include all the basics like how many bedrooms and whether pets are welcome or not. You may optionally list specific dates that you are interested in a house swap and whether your car is available for use or not.

Then you can either browse around the 65,000 listings or sit back and wait for others to contact you. We didn’t have a specific destination in mind initially, so we opted for the latter method. The first couple of replies were nice houses in Spain and Italy, but both families wanted to travel 2 weeks prior to us. And of course, my dates aren’t very flexible, as I need to fit it around my shift pattern. But we hit the jackpot with the third reply and it was still less than a month since we registered with the website. A lovely house in France on the edge of the Pyrénées. Whilst we were finalising the details with the other family, I had a bunch of other enquiries that I had to turn down. All we had to organise were our flights and car hire.

Pyrenees holiday

Roll on a few months to the summer and it was holiday time. I made sure our home was clean and tidy. We flew to Lourdes, where we may have unknowingly passed our host family in transit. When we arrived, a tasty welcome meal was waiting for us. Most appreciated. We looked after our host family’s cat, who I’m sure was totally confused by the change of people.

Pyrenees holiday

We packed plenty of sightseeing and fun activities into our holiday. We visited the nearby towns of Pau, Lourdes, Nay, Tarbes and Bagnères-de-Bigorre. We did karting, crazy golf (2 courses), swimming (3 places) and caving. And son2 celebrated a birthday there.

Here are a few of our holiday photos.

Pyrenees holiday - karting

Pyrenees holiday - crazy golf

Pyrenees holiday - crazy golf

Pyrenees holiday - caving

Pyrenees holiday

Pyrenees holiday - water park

Pyrenees holiday

Pyrenees holiday

Pyrenees holiday - Chateau de Pau

A fab time and now we’re looking forward to doing it all again in Germany. I’d love to hear about your favourite holidays.

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Disclosure.  I have not received anything for this post.  All opinions are my own.

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Home Exchange including giveaway worth £100

So what do you usually do for holidays? Hands up who has ever tried a house swap. Here’s son1 outside one of the lovely homes we swapped to.

House swap

We had a couple of fantastic holidays via this method four years ago before son1 was diagnosed with leukaemia. He has now just finished chemotherapy last month, and hopefully by next year, will have completed other associated medical interventions. So I have my fingers crossed that we may be able to arrange a similar type holiday again next summer. We didn’t feel we could do one whilst he was on chemo, as if he ended up in hospital, it wouldn’t have just been our holiday at risk of cancellation, but potentially another family’s too which just wouldn’t be fair.

Therefore it felt a very good omen when HomeExchange.com contacted me offering a year’s free membership. And an even better bonus when they kindly suggested deferring the membership to next year.

HomeExchange.com is a global community of 65,000 like-minded people around the world across 150 countries. Members’ homes come in all shapes and sizes, from cosy apartments to sprawling estates and everything in between.

It means that other than the cost of getting there, a holiday anywhere in the world doesn’t have to cost anymore than staying at home, and the benefits of exchanging with a family are numerous.

It’s incredibly fun and cheap and means you can go anywhere, live like a local, and stay for free. Over half of the homes on HomeExchange.com are also family friendly, so there’s plenty to choose from and nearly 90% say they will accept children. Plus plenty of the listings have baby items available too.

Let me share 10 of the top benefits for families we discovered when we did house swaps.

PACKING IS EASIER as there will be linen, lots of toys and equipment waiting for you, so you don’t have to take it all with you.

AVOID LAST MINUTE WORRIES as everything is in one place and ready for you; the same as when you visit the grandparents.

ENJOY YOUR HOLIDAY and stay for free knowing you can keep to your family’s usual routine, just the same as if you were at home.

SLEEP WELL AND RELAX without the concerns of staying in a hotel where your loud and boisterous children may annoy other guests.

GET MORE SPACE as children and parents have their own rooms; no more stays in a cramped hotel room.

AVOID TIME PRESSURES as there’s no need to rush downstairs to catch the hotel breakfast.

HAVE A WELL-DESERVED BREAK and enjoy meeting new friends by venturing beyond your neighbourhood, your exchange partner may even introduce you to their own friends with kids.

SHOP AHEAD by organising an online grocery shop to be delivered on arrival.

GET INSIDER TIPS from your exchange partner on the best child friendly activities and venues.

PEACE OF MIND knowing your own home should be more secure since it is occupied whilst you are away.

home exchange.com

And I’m hosting a rafflecopter competition to giveaway a year’s membership to HomeExchange.com worth £100 for free holidays to 1 lucky winner. Open worldwide.

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a Rafflecopter giveaway – Please click on the link to enter.

And you may see my other giveaways here.

I’d love to hear about your ideal holiday.

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Disclosure. This post mentions a membership I will receive for free next year. All opinions are my own.

Travelling with young children – House Swapping

Mark Warner are challenging bloggers to share their experiences of travelling with their little ones for the first time or any precious family holiday memories. This challenge is in association with Kiddicare.

mark warner

This is an ideal opportunity for me to blog about house swapping which I’ve been meaning to post for ages.

House swapping is ideal for families with young children, as you can choose to swap with a family with similar age children. This means that all the equipment that you need like cot, highchair, etc will be there. Plus loads of toys. Also you can make personal arrangements with the family you are swapping with regarding linen etc. And you can organise an online grocery shop. So you don’t have to try to squeeze all this stuff into your car. And you’re going to have loads of space at your destination – not cramped in one hotel room.

Without extra luggage squashed around everyone in the car, makes for a much more comfortable journey to your holiday destination. But another top tip is to stop frequently enroute. We always stop about every 90 minutes to prevent my eldest son from getting travel sick.

Other benefits of house swapping are that you have no accommodation costs, so budget friendly. And your own home should be more secure as it is occupied whilst you are away. But you must let your insurer know.

We did a couple of house swaps in 2012 to Scotland and Lincolnshire whilst my husband was out of work and we thoroughly loved both these holidays. We also had another planned in 2013 but sadly we had to cancel, as it was scheduled only 3 weeks after my eldest son was diagnosed with leukaemia.

We have some lovely family memories of our house swap holidays. One memory is of my youngest son deciding to explore the water feature outside the Scottish Parliament. He got thoroughly soaked and I dread to think how dirty that water was.  And he had to dry out in the sun, as we were nearly an hour’s journey from our accommodation.

Son2 outside the Scottish Parliament

Son2 outside the Scottish Parliament

So if you are interested in the idea of house swapping, register online on a house swapping site. There are a number of these. We did it through the NCT, as we were already members. Then take some photos of your home and upload these to your page along with a description of your home and local attractions. Put together an information pack including instructions booklets for your appliances, local fliers etc.

Browse the house swap site to find a few families that you might be interested in swapping with. Then send a message to the first one on your list, specifying the dates you are hoping to swap. Bear in mind that Scotland has an earlier school summer holiday than the rest of the country. Also there may be geographical variations in half-term dates.

Or if a potential swapper contacts you, do them the courtesy of replying within say 7 days with a definite yes or no.

Once you’ve got a house swap arranged, then flesh out the finer details. Arrangements for swapping the door keys. Send a map and directions. Do you want to lock away your best china? Care of pets or plants? Leave a spare key with someone nearby that you trust.

Then just beforehand, do a good spring clean of your home. This is extremely important for hygiene reasons. Remember to empty stuff out of the fridge. Make space in the wardrobes, freezer, etc.

At the end of the holiday, leave their house as you found it. If anything got broken, then replace it. Accidents do happen with young children around. Replace anything you used like teabags and coffee. If you swapped towels and bed linen then please put a wash on before you leave.

Update – 20/8/16
I currently have a giveaway running on my blog until 14th September to win membership to HomeExchange.com for a year’s worth of free holidays. They have about 65,000 properties registered all over UK and worldwide.