We are a family of five and we love to travel, whether that is inter-county or intercontinental. I love getting to know a new area, discovering where the good coffee shops are, that unusual boutique or yummy bakery. Myself and my partner met whilst working in
Research carried out at
We have a big-ish family and love to travel but it can get expensive. Hotel and even AirBnb accommodation for five people adds up quickly. To meet this accommodation expense, we have been doing home exchanges and house sits for the past ten years. We house sat in London for four years before we moved back to Ireland with our first child and have been using our own house for exchanges ever since. Our first home exchange was actually in
I feel there is something a little daft about houses sitting vacant while owners are away and I also feel home exchanges offer those staying a much more real experience of life in that country. On our recent exchange in
My mad plan for our family to spend five weeks travelling around
House exchanges do take a little planning but for us it works well. We save money and the kids have a ball. Here are some Do’s and Don'ts that I have found work for us
1. We sometimes use Facebook groups for Irish exchanges but for longer exchanges I would say do use a house swap site. On the one we use, we draw up an agreement contract before we leave in which we sign off on things like are we exchanging cars, are pets allowed etc. There is also an Irish rep you can contact if anything goes wrong.
2. Do see any work, cleaning, fixing up you might do to your home before you go as an investment for you and your family. We put down new carpets in the upstairs bedrooms before we left for our last exchange. This was the first time we made any improvements to the house before an exchange but the timing was good. The old carpets were beyond manky and I saw with fresh eyes just how bad they were a few weeks before we left. We decided to spend a fraction of what we might spend on accommodation on new carpets and came home to what feels like a new house.
3. Do invest in a few boxes in which to store clothes. We usually leave a shelf free for clothing in each bedroom and I pack my surplus shoes, clothes and toiletries in boxes which I store under my bed or in the attic.
4. Likewise, do clear some shelf, fridge and freezer space for your guests. We have never cleared out our fridge or freezer but we do leave space for the guest to use.
5. Do write up a short housekeeping manual. We keep one which we update yearly. Things like how to work the induction hob, medical emergency numbers etc. It takes about 30 minutes to write up a few points and is so handy to email to your house guests in advance or leave a hard copy in the house.
6. Do arrange how each of you will exchange keys well in advance.
7. Do leave a few basics in the house for your guests. We usually leave some bread, milk, beer or wine and a few treats for children if we know they have children coming.
8. Do let the neighbours know some new folk will be staying!
My kids love leaving little welcome notes for the children staying in their rooms almost as much as they love receiving notes from the guest children. So do encourage this if your kids like this sort of thing. It gets them interested in getting their rooms ready
1. Don’t think, "Who in their right mind would want to stay in my house?"
There are so many people who want to travel to
2. Don’t get too wound up about how the house looks. Remember, if you are swapping with a family it is a lived-in house. You will also be going to a lived-in house. A (hopefully) clean but lived-in house.
3. Don’t let housekeeping issues like "should you strip the beds?" impinge on the trip. Sort out those things before you go so you don’t need to be over and back with emails while you are away.
4. And because travel is officially good for you, what are you waiting for?
Get planning and exchanging!