With wide-eyed amazement, these 15 kids entered their vacation home exchanges seeking new adventures. They weren’t disappointed. From pet-sitting to dashing down mountains, these kids show how much fun they had during their vacations. Sort of makes you want to be a kid again!

“Holidays are more fun than in a hotel!”

diego galan“In my first exchange, I was eight years old. We went to Asheville, North Carolina. When we got to the airport, Alex and Rachel’s grandmother was holding a sign with our names on it. I told my mother that she was right; there were people waiting for us there! The home was so different to mine. We found bikes, a canoe and a room full of toys. It was then that I realised our vacation would be far more fun than what we ever had in a hotel. The best part was when I went to sleep in Alex’s bed and found under the pillow a letter telling me how to get to his secret hideout in the house. I found it, and it was full of goodies!!!”

Diego, 12, Spain

“Getting to know how other children live”

photo 2 (1)“As far as I can remember, holidays were always thought of as ‘Holidays in a Home.’ I’m always very excited to discover a new room, new toys, new books, new…. Everything!! I guess we were very lucky having parents who decided to travel this way. Also, during our holidays, I really like that we pick up a little bit of the other children’s lifestyle. It’s nice to see that all children are playing with more or less the same games, are having the same heroes and have our own language to communicate. I hope all children are lucky enough to travel this fantastic way!”

Ersi, 10, Greece

“Swimming pool crocodiles, fireplaces and boats”

eliza_skijanje“I will never forget how great it was to share a big crocodile and other toys in the swimming pool when we were in France. I want to go there again. I like to get out of the house and ski. Also, I like it when daddy makes a fire in the fireplace, and we watch it while it’s cold and snowy outside. When we were in Canada, I loved going on a boat with my family. We had lots of fun together. My friend Lara was also with her family in another boat.”

Eliza, 6, Croatia

“Pet-sitting and a PlayStation in my room!”

valtteri_kala“HomeExchange is the best way to travel. On those vacations, I learned how people live and that all kids in different countries like many of the same things. I had a chance to care for the exchange families’ pets like a turtle, cats, bunnies, guinea pigs, fishes, and crayfishes. Meanwhile, other kids have cared for our hens and rooster here in Finland. In Switzerland, we were living in the mountains and went walking there with dad. In Germany, we went bike-riding many times to the vineyards near our house. It was fun. In every house, I have had tons of “new” toys to play with. In England, I even had a PlayStation in my room!”

Valtteri, 10, Finland

“Playing with the neighbors”

DSC_0370“My best home-exchange was in Amsterdam. From the exchange family, I got a football as present. They had a big garden with a goal post. We played football all day. Also, I got to play football with a neighbor boy. We also exchanged bikes, and I could ride a new bike. That was really great. The house was next to a lake, and we could see all the boats passing by. I slept in a loft bed. I wished I could have such a bed at home. The boy next door was very nice. He showed me the best places to climb. Also, he spoke a little German.”

Matthias, 7, Germany

“A great house for the holidays”

sebastiano “My mother organizes the trip, and I’m always happy to go! Our first exchange was in Brittany. We took a trip together with my uncle and cousin. The house was huge and had a lovely garden. I immediately went into the house, quickly scanned all the rooms, and picked one for my cousin and I. It was a great house. It had everything one could wish for – from the fireplace to the garage, from the trees to the vegetables. I kept saying to myself, ‘HomeExchange's founder is a genius.’ It is quite true because having a real house to settle in is fantastic, and it is also very economical.”

Sebastiano, 14, Italy

“Sharing our toys with other kids”

Family on HomeExchange“We like sharing our toys with other kids that stay at our house. We really like playing with their toys at their house, because they are toys that we don’t already have. Our favorite exchange was in Marietta, Georgia. We loved that house because it was big with lots of childrens’ bedrooms and toys, and the backyard had a trampoline and zip line.”

The Smith family, several ages, USA

“Playing soccer in the garden”

freek“I went on about eight exchanges. I loved Spain most because we had a great garden to play soccer in, and we got Spanish soccer shirts. It was also within biking distance to the ocean. The house was in a little village, and we could order ice cream at the bar at any time. I always liked the old, big buildings in cities. I also liked Switzerland because we climbed mountains and up one mountain was a great lake. We went to New York, Switzerland, Italy, France, Norway, and Spain. I like sharing my toys, because they also have new toys for us to play with.”

Freek, 9, The Netherlands

“New toys, ice creams and zoo visits”

DSC04675“What I like most are the new toys to play with. It is always exciting to enter a new home. I like to exchange bikes and cars, too. Sometimes, there is a pet. It is great to have a pet. I learned to take care of the others’ toys because I don’t want my toys to be broken. The best exchange was in Canada. We had a big house and a whirlpool. We saw many animals like a groundhog and a squirrel. The guest family gave me a nice toy to welcome me. The best part is that we don’t have to pay, and we can spend more money for other things, like ice cream and zoo visits.”

Elizabeth, 9, Germany

“New games to play and mystery drives”

exchange-ireland“There are a few things I liked about staying at the house in Orlean, France. There was a window in front of the sink, and Mom and I liked pretending that we're working in a restaurant. Also, I discovered a great game. Although the instructions were in French we (mom, dad, Finn, and I), figured it out and played it for hours outside. It was so good that Santa got us the English version of the game that year! While sitting outside, Finn and I got to see the family’s wild hedgehog that we feed each day. We had great fun chasing lizards in the garden. Each day, we went on a mystery drive and would go to see some awesome chateaus. Some of them had funny stairs, some were dusty, and then others were so cool, like the one that went across a river. But the best mystery drive was the day mom and dad took us to Disneyland, Paris for a whole weekend! It was crazy fun.”

Clodagh, 8, Ireland

“I was only 1 year old”

homeswaptoflorida“I have done 11 exchanges. The home I liked the most was one where there was John, the cat, and a pool. In my first home exchange, I was only one year old, and we went to Florida. This is a photo of that exchange with my parents. I like the games of other children because they are new to me. When other children use my games, I am happy to share them.”

Alice, 6, Italy

“Living in a national landmark”

home_exchange_kids“In 2010, my brother and I did a HomeExchange for Father’s Day. It was with a very cool home located in Boston, Massachusetts. We exchanged several times in the past, but this one was pretty cool. What made this stay very nice was that Helen Keller, a historical figure here in the United States, had lived there. The house was actually designated a national landmark. The house was so nice. We each had our own bedrooms. It had a very large theater room in the basement and a very nice swimming pool with a hot tub. We went around Boston and went to a Boston Red Sox baseball game. It was very fun, and the weather was perfect for our entire stay. I’d love to go back. I know my dad keeps in touch with the family as they also love Chicago. It was a great way for Zach and me to spend Father’s Day in a beautiful home and city. I love home exchanging.”

Danielle, 11, USA

“Always living in the same house is boring”

home-swap-denmark“What I like most about home-exchanging is getting to meet the pets when we get to the new exchange home, especially if they are little kittens. I like going to another home because hotels are boring and have only one room. Instead, in the homes, we have everything we need. Always living in the same house is boring. It’s much more fun discovering new homes. It is also cool to have neighbors. In Denmark, we had a very nice dog, and the family lived in a big loft with a huge garden.”

Irene, 11, Spain

“Cycling, canoeing and even bears!”

Vancouver, Colombie Britanique, Canada, 08-2013“I like home exchanges because we discover new cities. We live in real houses. I like it when there are girls my age so we can share our games. I always prepare my room for the children who are coming to my house. In Canada, I cycled and canoed. I even saw bears! It was very cool!!! When are we leaving again?”

Ludmila, 9, France

“Sharing makes me happy!”

shaila “I like getting to the other house and discovering lots of new toys. This is one of the things I like about home exchanges because I can use the other children’s toys as well as skateboards and bikes. I love the moment we enter a new house and discover all these new dolls, cars and games. In my first exchange, I cried a little bit when I thought that other children would go to sleep in my bed and use my games, but now I understand it and do it with great pleasure. Sharing makes me happy!”

Shaila, 9, Spain