MEMBER STORIES
Home Exchanging Experiences

This is merely a very small sample of the many house swap stories from our HomeLink members.

 
Pat McCarthy (IEW 210107) - "Let sleeping dogs lie"

It was in the Australian outback, not far from Alice Springs, in 2010 that we had our funniest experience in many years of house swapping.Pat McCarthy in Australia

Our laid back Homelink partners apologised on our arrival that they did not have a key for any of the external doors. They never used one! We had already agreed to mind their two dogs, Mollie and Bella. These turned out to be two docile, friendly, old ladies of uncertain lineage and about the size (and temperament!) of small donkeys. The owners explained that the dogs normally slept in the master bedroom with them. But during our stay they would happily sleep outdoors under the Southern Star(s).

All was fine till it came to bedtime. Both of them steadfastly refused to budge from the rugs in the lounge! No amount of coaxing, bribing, threatening or pushing would move them. No option but to withdraw gracefully from the battle and let them sleep in the spot of their choosing. This pair were not going to be pushed around by any strangers. That was OK but next morning we got a strong - and rather unpleasant - smell on entering the lounge. You’ve guessed it. The search was on for a shovel, mop and some strong disinfectant. We had to think of a plan to outwit them.

We noticed that they liked to soak up every last minute of sun by the poolside till sunset. Simple solution - just close the doors before they had a chance to get back in the house. So we happily retired for the night.

About 3 am in the morning my wife woke me to say that she could hear someone breathing heavily in the house. Let us say that a slight bout of panic may have ensued. After all we were miles from anywhere in a house with unlocked doors. Nervously, I reached for the light switch and as I moved my foot towards the floor I felt it landing on something furry. It turned out to be Bella’s tail! She was sound asleep, and so was Mollie on the rug at the other side of the bed. Not only were they both sleeping soundly, but snoring as well. The clever ladies had outwitted us by themselves opening the door from the outside, and claim their rightful place in the bedroom. Mollie and Bella had the last laugh on the intruders in their territory!

 

Kevin Healy (IE12183)  - Greek Exchange:Kevin Healy Greece Exchange

It was our first night in Athens - and our very first exchange.  After enjoying a most delicious dinner prepared by our Greek hosts we decided to go for a short walk in the neighbourhood. 

We were staying in a most salubrious area of North Athens - large villas with  stunning gardens, each protected by one or more large dogs. It was night-time and the dogs were all on protective duty, all barking furiously as we passed.  It wasn't long before every canine for miles around had joined in the night chorus.

After half an hour's walk we decided to head for home and let the Athenians get some sleep. It was then we discovered that we were lost. While we knew our house was on Amynta Road we didn't realise that all the street names were written in the Greek alphabet! - entirely different to English. After much searching - and feeling very foolish - we eventually found a Greek couple who seemed very friendly and helpful. We explained that we were looking for Amynta Road. However, our pronunciation of the road was evidently not the best and it was only after five different attempts at pronouncing the street name that our Greek couple understood our problem and explained that our road was just around the corner!

After that,  I kept a photo of the Greek alphabet and its English equivalent on my smartphone.

The only expenses are travel costs. 


Fionnuala King and her husband Jim
have been swapping homes with families overseas and in Ireland for well over 20 years.

The now-retired couple, who live in Raphoe, Co Donegal, have holidayed in homes in Ireland, England, Germany, France and Belgium, but also as far away as Canada, the USA, Australia and New Zealand. They've been using the Homelink house-exchange website since 1997. "At the beginning, it was a case of perusing the book and then writing countless letters," says Fionnuala. "Now it is all online."

Even with their two children grown up, they rarely find themselves holidaying on their own. "One or other, or both, often accompany us or join us at some stage of our exchange," she says, while other members of their close family will often join them too. "I generally look for an exchange house or apartment that sleeps at least four, so as to have the flexibility of having family or friends join us."

Fionnuala says it is difficult to say just how much they save, but there is no doubting that they save considerably compared to someone renting a holiday home for two weeks.

"A home exchange allows you to stay in a place for a longer time as you don't have to pay for accommodation," she says. "The only expense is the cost of travel and whatever you choose to spend."

In addition, you can cook your own food, "so eating out becomes a choice rather than a necessity". They also generally exchange cars, so that cuts out the huge cost of hiring a car or travel by ferry.

P.Walter - We first heard of the concept of exchanging homes thanks to Meave Binchy's "Tara Road". Having looked at the various web sites available HOMELINK seemed the most professional and with the greatest variety of countries and members.
Once signed up with Homelink we were up and running within a few days.Exploring all the possible destinations for a holiday.
Within a very short period of time we had arranged a Homelink holiday, our first. The advice given in the introduction literature we found was well worth following and contained all the information required. And our Homelink advisor was only a phone call away.
We arranged a holiday in Germany. We had tried many types of holiday in the past but this was definately the best. The children had a great time as our exchange house became a home from home. All of the facilities required for a family, together with local knowledge of when and where to go.Would we do it again.....you bet!

Any advice for those thinking about it?....All advice given is relevant and worth following. We were lucky to meet our fellow exchangees at the airport both before and after our holiday which made it special. We also found email facility absolutely invaluable for communicating across the miles.
Here's to next year!

D.Moffatt - To say we really enjoyed our exchange this year would be an understatement, we have nothing but praise for the whole concept of Home Exchanging. The French family we exchange with had a beautiful house much larger than our own. They left our home in absolutely perfect condition, as we did theirs of course. I would thoroughly recommend exchanging homes with HomeLink, and have done so to family, friends and colleagues. We will definitely, be exchanging homes again, thank you for allowing us this experience.
Please send me a registration form for the next brochure.
 
Eamonn - Only just back from hols and already planning next year's!! Well - its what keeps us going, isn't it?.
After much agonising last year, we agreed to go to the Czech Republic. brilliant decision! It was certainly different from any other exchange - different culture, different lifestyle, a great learning experience, magnificent buildings (Prague!!!)very friendly people. The things we needed to buy were basic but cheap. As an aside, one great benefit which we have gained from house exchange is the facility for a "double exchange". Almost every year since we began, we have had a visit from friends who were exchanging 5-6000 miles away and/or we visited our friends at their exchange house. As a result, we have been in houses in many parts of Europe. I believe this adds an extra dimension to a holiday.

B.Fennell - How time flies - it's time to re-register with HomeLink for another year. Last year's exchange was the best yet - 2 weeks in a beautiful hill village in Corsica - wonderful in every way and a hotel just couldn't match the ambience, beauty and location of our "holiday home".
We have much pleasure and look forward to renewing our membership.


P.Powell - I am taking this opportunity of sending in our Exchange Agreement form regarding our trip this year. I can honestly say that each of our eight exchanges over the years have all been first class, and we think that all our exchange partners have also enjoyed their stay at our cottage. It is also interesting to note that we have made very firm friends with many of our exchange partners.

 

If any member would like to make comments or include their stories please forward them to us, along with a few photos if possible,for inclusion on this page

DISCLAIMER: The comments and stories displayed above are unsolicited, and have been received over time by HomeLink Home Exchange in written correspondence from its members. Some of these members may no longer hold current membership status. HomeLink Home Exchange is unable to verify the accuracy of any statements or assertions made by its members, and waives any responsibility for same. These are not to be considered a representation as to the likelihood of similar results being attained by any other person in future.