The world is wide and I want to make some memories! This summer, I have some travel goals and some flexibility - which is the perfect combination for planning a road trip through HomeExchange. Here’s how to make the most of your next road trip!

Jennifer Allen, a special needs mom and disability travel blogger, shares her planning expertise with a step-by-step guide to using HomeExchange when mapping out your roadtrip destinations.

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Pick a starting point

If you have a bucket list location you want to include, start there.

If you’re just looking for an adventure by car, start 6-8 hours from home - or whatever driving distance is reasonable for your travel crew. The best way to do this is to look up your location on the HomeExchange app, then zoom out for the range you’re open to and click “Update results” at the top of the map. This will show you all available homes for your dates.

If you’re looking for an adventure by plane, start with a great flight deal or a budget friendly airport. For example, places like Los Angeles, Atlanta, Orlando, and Las Vegas are known as cheaper travel hubs. They’re all also great places to launch an adventure!

We started with San Francisco because it’s a cheaper airport and because it’s close to an event we wanted to include.

Plan for blocks of time

HomeExchange is the ultimate way to slow travel. Your host knows all the best ice cream joints and local secrets to enable you to explore the area like never before. Make time to take advantage of that. Your HomeExchange is also a great launch pad for day trips. It’s easier to drive an hour and a half to explore a nearby mountain range and come back back to cozy up on the sofa at the end of the day than it is to pack up all of your things to stay on site for the night.

Our first stop is six nights because it’s an easy day trip to the coast and to Napa or Sonoma. Our second stop is a little shorter because it’s a more secluded region in Lake Tahoe.

Be picky

Depending on where you’re heading, you may be overwhelmed by all of the options. How do you choose the right home out of 200?

Start by dreaming big. You don’t necessarily need a pool, a game room, and one bedroom per child, but starting with filters for preferences can help you to narrow down who you want to contact, first. You’ll want to message your top three or four choices right away. Some will say no, and not everyone will respond. If none of that first batch works out, send a new batch of messages 2-3 days later. You can begin removing unnecessary filters if your first tier of options gets thin.

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Zoom out

Once you have your first stop nailed down, repeat the first step for an adventure by car. Zoom out from your first home and find a new hub. About four hours is a good range, because it’s too far for a day trip but not so far that the drive is taking away from vacation time. Again, if there are too many options, add some filters for preferences. Always contact a few people at a time and never assume that your first offer will come through.

Our search could’ve taken us either up or down the coast or farther inland. We ended up in Tahoe, because that was the first home that was able to confirm.


Repeat this step for as many vacation days as you have, and see where it leads you! We haven’t booked return flights for our trip because we still don’t know where we’ll end up. That’s part of the joy of planning a road trip through HomeExchange! We know we’re going to have great homes and that we’re going to explore new places like locals, but the exact locations will depend on which homes are able to do an exchange.

Kids posing with the Louvre during summer vacation

Be flexible

One important note before you begin. While it would be ideal if every person you contacted wanted to do a reciprocal exchange and stay in your home for the exact dates you happen to be in their area, that is not likely to happen.

Utilize HomeExchange’s reverse search feature to find travelers who are looking to come to your region. Even if they’re not in an ideal location for you, they may be open to a points exchange, giving you what you need for your own points exchange.

Another way to build a reservoir of points is to offer your home when you’re traveling over holidays and not using HomeExchange for your own needs.

While some homeowners are excited about last minute exchanges, some will have booked their calendars months in advance. Last minute planning is possible, but requires true flexibility with your destination.

Plan Your Next Trip with HomeExchange

HomeExchange has more than 100,000 members in over 130 countries and is looking forward to welcoming you. Join our community and start organizing your next vacation with HomeExchange.