Jennifer Allen is a special needs mom and disability travel blogger who shares her experience on her blog, Wonders Within Reach. Here, she shares how to find a great vacation home using HomeExchange.

How do you plan your vacation destinations?

We have a long list of places we want to go. Typically, we look at that list for what best fits the time frame we have. Then, we figure out transportation and accomodation. With the ever changing entry requirements around this post-pandemic world, it’s not quite so simple anymore!

This summer, we tried an upside down planning approach. We started with the accommodation, and everything else came after!

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Upside Down Planning


This year our focus was less on seeing the touristy destinations, and more about spending quality time together. We planned a getaway for our extended family so we could catch up on some much needed cousin and grandparent time.

If we’ve learned anything over the past couple of years it’s that our time together is the most priceless gift. Since we were avoiding the crowds of revenge travel, anyway, our search began with a home that would not only fit us comfortably, but also provide options that would make it fun to just hang around.

What if your HomeExchange became your vacation destination?

Did you know you can filter your HomeExchange search by things like pools and playgrounds? Because our kids are so young, we ended up choosing the playground over a pool. If your crowd is a little older, you may want to skip straight to the Jacuzzi and fireplace filters.

We always start with disabled access and children welcome, but the optional amenities are impressive! You can start a search with just dates and your preferred filters and find a dream home anywhere in the world! You can also search without dates, but that will require a lot of flexibility on your end, since home availability widely varies.


We ended up in a house with a big yard and play area, a pool table and ping pong table, gaming systems, and a deck set up for cookouts and family fun. The house was also just outside of a lake park with fishing, boating, swimming, and hiking options.

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Play Like a Local


Choosing our vacation based on a home as our destination removed the pressure of having to see it all, and freed us up to enjoy each other and to play like a local.Every home we’ve stayed in has come with great suggestions from the home owners for their favorite restaurants, coffee shops, parks, trails, views, and so much more. One family had created their own map of the town - and that was what we used for our stay to check out all of their favorites! You may not find these things on travel sites or in magazines, but they’re the best hidden gems!

On our last trip, we didn’t have an itinerary. Our HomeExchange was our main destination, and we explored the area based on the information they gave us. We swam in the nearby lake, went kayaking, explored the town, and ate our way through almost all of the ice cream shops to determine a favorite.

Maybe no one will remember where we went or what we saw on vacation this year. I guess we didn’t do anything very bucket-list worthy. What they will remember is the time spent together creating memories. Isn’t that what we really want, anyway?


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