Open up your second home for exchange possibilities, and you could be surprised where you’ll be traveling next. Be it a vacation home or weekend getaway cottage, you’ll have more opportunities and flexibility in exchanges. As HomeExchange member Nina discovered, by including her cottage by the lake, they were able to take advantage of more exchange opportunities that lead to new adventures.
Nina shares her story of home swapping in Canada.
My family joined HomeExchange in February 2011, a decision that has completely changed our holidays and also otherwise had a huge impact on our lives.
What used to be one or two short European holidays a year has become six to eight weeks of interesting stays abroad every year – both in Europe and overseas.
Traditional house swaps
The first swaps were traditional simultaneous exchanges of primary homes and we were really satisfied with our experiences. Then the following year we got a request from Spain where the Catalonian family offered their vacation home in a beach town as the proposed exchange would take place in October and because of school their teenage children would not be able to travel so their home in Girona was not available. They could, however, include cars in the exchange. We agreed and had a beautiful autumn week exploring the Costa Brava area. We did have some doubts about the size and equipment of the house, but since we are only three it really was big enough for us (and there was less to clean in the end!) and we had everything we needed. Our wonderful exchange partners even arranged a laptop with internet connection for us as there was no wi-fi in the weekend home.
Long summer home exchange in Montreal
Once we had taken the first step of accepting our exchange partners’ holiday houses as our exchange homes it was time for the next one. When looking for a long summer exchange in North America we found a family in Montreal who were interested in coming to Finland, but wanted to see more than one place in our country and asked if we have a second home.
They have one and were hoping to exchange both primary and second homes. We do have a summer cottage in the lake area in Eastern Finland, but as the buildings are old and the place is virtually in the middle of nowhere we hadn’t even considered offering it as an exchange home. But guess what – they REALLY, REALLY wanted to spend some time in an old cottage by a lake especially when they heard there is a rowing boat and a sauna!
So we agreed again. We spent four amazing weeks in Canada, visited “our” second home in the Laurentians twice and couldn’t stop wondering how lucky we were. The hikes in Mont Tremblant National Park were some of the highlights of the trip.
What about the Canadians? I wouldn’t have needed to worry – they absolutely loved fishing and swimming and taking saunas in the middle of nowhere. This is one advantage of home exchanging – you learn to appreciate your own home, neighborhood or even your very remote cottage when other people tell you how beautiful and amazing they are.
Mont Tremblant National Park, in Quebec, great for hiking and since then we have included the use of the cottage in our exchanges when it has been possible and our exchangers have appreciated the opportunity. Last summer our longer exchange was in Switzerland and we got to use the family’s cabin in the mountains. The view was breathtaking and this really is a place I hope I can return to one day.
Exchanging your second home
Offering our second home for exchange has brought new dimensions to our exchanges as it has made two centre holidays possible for both us and our exchange partners. It has also increased our flexibility – we got to spend Christmas 2013 in sunny California and the Californians came to Finland in the summer to enjoy the light nights by the lake.Of course it means there is more organizing to do but I would say it is well worth the effort. We are really looking forward to our next second home exchange: this time it will be an old country house – finca- in the Mallorcan countryside!