Aliz Ertler, avid traveler and member of HomeExchange has written a book about her adventures around the world, some of which were made possible by HomeExchange. This article takes you on a journey to discover her exciting global experiences.Discover how HomeExchange works
Exploring the world with HomeExchange: a globetrotter's perspective
About the book : travelling from Brazil to Kamchatka
I’m a graphic designer, marketing consultant and have been to around 100 countries around the world. My book Wanderlust – Trips outside the comfort zone from Brazil to Kamchatka has just been published in Hungarian and in English.
100 stories · 40 countries · 32 themes in alphabetical order:
Art, Biking, Camping, Death...Home-Exchange...Wildlife, Xanadu, Yesteryear....Badacsonyörs.
The book is about countries that are perceived as dangerous, dirty, uninteresting or just have poor infrastructure. I also write about popular destinations but from an usual angle. The stories are about everyday and not-so-everyday topics, which give us a sense of how different the same things are in, say, Colombia, Madagascar or Indonesia, and it is precisely this difference that makes our world interesting.
In the epilogue I go through most of the themes in relation to my village, Badacsonyörs, Hungary.
Embracing the HomeExchange lifestyle for this journey
When travelling, it is often the cost of travel and/or accommodations that can blow the budget. For longer journeys, accommodation becomes a second home. You can get bored of a hotel room very quickly, and of course it’s not an option financially. It is important to have space to work, relax, and cook; the place should preferably be nice, and it doesn’t hurt if it’s even cheap. We found the perfect solution almost six years ago: HomeExchange.
We have become such enthusiastic users of home exchanging that we often arrange accommodation first and tailor our travel accordingly. In five and a half years, we’ve had more than 120 exchanges. And it’s not about money, on the contrary. It’s a way of life. Everyone is offering their own property. Not only do people share their own property, there is also a review process in place. Both ensure in 99% of the cases people really take care and try their best to keep the property clean and tidy. Very often guests leave behind small gifts or goodies from their own country to show their gratitude for having stayed there. Sometimes the host has even surprised us with wonderful things: a fridge full of goodies, a big basket of fruit from the garden, the use of the owner’s car or a tour of the area. Often we don’t even meet the exchange partner, but sometimes we may see them more than once because they live nearby. We have maintained good relations with several of our exchange partners and have been in contact for years.
And the cherry on the cake: the variety of apartments and houses! From a small bamboo bungalow to a luxurious multi-storey house. As experienced users, we have already tried out a very wide range, and one of the aims of the HomeExchange chapter is to present a few specialities. The other is, of course, to describe the fantastic world of HomeExchange.
We agreed on a couple of nights exchange in a villa in a wildlife estate. Giraffes, zebras, antelopes and warthogs roam free, so we had to drive carefully. A close friend of the owner, an interesting older gentleman, lived nearby and told us a lot about the area, and we spent several evenings drinking wine with him.
On our last day, he said, “Wow, the wind has changed, I’m off to fly.” Turned out he has a Swiss glider from the 1980's and loves flying around the nearby canyon. A little shyly, we asked how many seats the plane had. Two, Marek replied, and the second half of the sentence was an invitation. He took us both for a half-hour flight. The sights made up for our air sickness: It’s not every day you get to see the green forests, the grassy savannah, the canyon peaks, and giraffes from above without the hum of an engine. And the amazing attitude we often experienced with fellow homeexchangers: Marek hardly wanted to accept that we would pay him for the fuel.See homes in South Africa
As guests, we were given the top floor room with the on-suite bathroom. Meals were always very enjoyable, we didn’t have to think too much about where and what to eat; our host, Sean is a great cook and loves to spoil his family and his guests. He also took us to lots of restaurants to try the local specialities, so we were able to try oyster pancakes, Chinese goose steak and a variety of dim sums. Sean took us to a sculpture museum where we saw some exceptional works of art. There are very rich marble deposits in the area, with sculptors coming from all over the world to work here. We also went with Sean to the largest Buddhist temple in the area to celebrate with the locals during the Lantern Festival that accompanies the Chinese New Year (see also the “Joyfulness” chapter).
The following year, Sean planned a European holiday with his family, looking for home exchanges in Germany, Austria and Budapest. He managed to arrange it all, so when he was in Hungary, we invited him to Lake Balaton and hosted him and his family as friends.See homes in Taiwan
In Cordoba, we stayed with Fanny and Elena, who do a so-called hospitality exchange, whereby they put up guests in one of the rooms in their house, and they and their five dogs also stay in the house. We were travelling by public transport in Argentina, so we were delighted when they planned to spend the weekend with us: We tried the terrace of their favourite café in a chic golf club, and they took us to Alta Gracia, where Che Guevara spent his childhood; the house is now a very interesting museum. We were welcomed as if we were old friends. We were on the same page right away, although communication was not easy. Fanny knew English quite well, but Elena’s knowledge was rather limited and we didn’t know more than a few words in Spanish. Google translate helped and we ended up having a great conversation and laughing despite the difficulties.
A few years later, Fanny and Elena visited Hungary, but unfortunately we were not able to get together, but we nevertheless hoped that one day we would meet again. And yes, it did come true, 5 years later, see the “Unexpected Encounters” chapter of my book.See homes in Argentina
We visited Japan for the first time in 2010, but that time we only visited the main island. A few years later, I heard about Blue Zones – places in the world where people live the longest and are the healthiest. Five such zones have been identified, one of which is Okinawa. This piqued my interest, and a few years ago we finally managed to spend a few weeks there.
Naturally, we turned to the HomeExchange platform again, and although there weren’t many houses available, David from the US was happy to welcome us. David lived in a big house with his two dogs. We had the whole upper floor with a huge terrace, but we were almost always together in the evenings and on weekends; we became friends quickly and never ran out of things to talk about, as David had spent most of his life outside the United States, living and travelling all over the world. He showed us great local eateries, took us to some of the best snorkelling spots on the island, and one night took us to a great local jazz club. We even went to a pachinko hall together.
David’s son attended a university in the United States but spent several months in Okinawa in the summer, so his little car was parked outside the house. David immediately offered that we could use it whenever we wanted.See homes in Japan
The country has become one of our best HomeExchange success stories. We started planning our two-month trip to Colombia in Autumn 2022. After a lot of reading, we had a rough idea of where we wanted to go. We cross-referenced these ideas with apartments and houses listed on the HomeExchange platform and sent out introductory messages saying we would be travelling in February-March, planning to stay roughly 5-6 days in each place. It was amazing how quickly and positively most people responded. We then started a nice puzzle game: We knew where we could go and when, which had to match with a logical itinerary in terms of transportation, while also keeping an eye on airfare. In the end, we managed to organise 52 of the 60 nights of the trip through HomeExchange.
We stayed in a bamboo house on the beach on a tropical island, in a beautiful Spanish-style hacienda with a lovely porch and stylish furnishings. The cherry on the cake was the house’s garden, which I should prefer to call a park or botanical garden.See homes in Colombia
You can find more incredible HomeExchange related and other stories in my book which I’m happy to ship to European countries but we found some creative solutions to have them shipped to many overseas countries too. Don’t hesitate to contact me.
> How We Take Five Vacations a Year on a One-Vacation Budget
> Why is HomeExchange The Best Airbnb Alternative?
> Elena's story: "20 back-to-back home exchanges during three-month USA road trip"
> Elena’s roadtrip: "HomeExchange has been my partner in self-discovery"
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