The story of Sue and Kathleen

What happens when two home exchangers get together to share? A whole lot of fun. Meet Sue and Kathleen. They don’t know each other, but they do share the similar values and aspirations for home exchange. Sue started to exchange her home in Canada using GuesttoGuest, while Kathleen is a Member of HomeExchange from Maine, US. HomeExchange asked them to interview one another to discover what they had in common. What results is a conversation about their experiences and fears, their expectations, and their opinions about the world of home exchange.

Sue: Hello Kathleen, are you still working or are you retired?  

Kathleen: My husband is semi-retired (we own a small communications company). I am a full-time volunteer for a gun violence prevention organization. When I was working professionally, I was a project management consultant in the software industry. I left the professional workforce when my kids started school full-time.

Sue: There are four people in your photograph. Who is the other one, since you said in your write up that you only had one daughter. Perhaps the answer is somewhere on your page, but I couldn't see it.

Kathleen: Yikes! I better check my write-up… We actually have identical twin daughters. They are now 23… Guess it’s time to update our HomeExchange profile! :)

Sue: So, how long have you been doing home exchanges? And why did you start?

Kathleen: We started exchanging in 2011 and have done more than 20 exchanges all over the States, Canada, and Europe. A friend told me about it, and I was intrigued. It is truly one of the best decisions we have made. We have had only positive experiences… though we did have one funny (odd)  experience in Ireland. The son who was supposed to meet us at the apartment (his lived there when he was at school) apparently had finals the day before and went out celebrating a bit too much. When we arrived in the morning, he was sound asleep (passed out) in the guest room and could not be roused. Luckily we were not in a hurry to settle in an decided to let him sleep it off for the day. When we returned that evening, there was a sheepish note of apology from him. Despite that minor inconvenience, Dublin was one of our favorite exchanges, and his parents invited us back for another long weekend. So it all worked out well.

Kathleen: What about you, Sue?

Sue: We started house exchanges four years ago, partly for cost as we like to travel A LOT and secondly, for the authenticity. We have gone to France, Italy, South Africa, Toronto, Costa Rica, and now Morocco. I am currently looking at Croatia, Vietnam, and several Greek Islands as possibilities. It is a wonderful way to travel!

Kathleen: About how many inquiries do you get each year and how do you decide what to accept or decline?

Sue: We get four or five inquiries a year and we choose on prospective guests by how it fits our plans. We have a summer home that we can go to when people stay at our place, but if we have things we have to do in town and it doesn't work, then we just tell them it is not convenient.

Sue: What's your favorite home exchange memory so far?

Kathleen: I have so many awesome memories… kayaking the canals and riding bikes in Huntington Beach, CA, enjoying a hot tub in the middle of a snowstorm in Red Lodge, Montana, hiking in Yosemite Valley while staying at one for the cabins right in the village surrounded by waterfalls, the holiday markets in Munich one Christmas ...and speaking of Munich, our exchange partner from Munich was a female doctor who was also very artistically gifted. I have jars piles of sea glass just lying around our house in Maine. She created three gorgeous works of art by emptying the jars and arranging the glass in the space next to it. One was a beautiful seascape ocean, trees and sky form the blues, greens, and whites. And two stunning abstract floral patterns. It meant so much that someone created art for us to enjoy out of something that I love but do nothing other than fill jars with it!

Kathleen: And you? What is the most pleasant surprise you've had through your home exchange experiences?

Sue: We have had SO MANY pleasant experiences through our exchanges, but I will just tell you about one. We had arrived in San Jose, the capital of Costa Rica, and by the time we had gone through customs and collected our rental car, it was 11:30 at night. Not only that, but the GPS we had brought from home was not working. I phoned the couple whose place we were going to be staying at and told her we would just get a hotel for that night and come to their place in the morning. She and her husband insisted on coming to get us at that hour and bringing us to their home, even though she was seven months pregnant! Lovely, lovely, thoughtful people!

Sue: Where are you planning to go next?  

Kathleen: We have two trips lined up and one banked for later. Late summer, we will be exploring the Upper Peninsula of Michigan (they stayed at our home two years ago). Then next October, we are going to the Great Smoky and the Blue Ridge Mountains thanks to a GuesttoGuest (our first) inquiry. We have a banked exchange for Corsica, France… we had no immediate plans (we spent 3 weeks in Europe this summer), but it was too good to pass up, and they said there was no hurry to use it. Lately, we have stopped planning where we want to go and instead are just fending the many offers we get.  We have decided to be open to almost any destination that we haven't already been too.

Kathleen: I hope this answers your questions, Sue. Happy travels wherever you may go!!

Sue: Thank you and happy exchanges!

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