Liz and her family have planned their summer vacation despite coronavirus unpredictability, but they have total peace of mind doing so because they are home exchangers.
Liz and her husband Greg and daughter Isabel have done 10 exchanges in the last year after learning about HomeExchange from a friend who recommended it. The couple had previously used Couchsurfing, then switched to Airbnb, but Liz’s friend thought HomeExchange would fit the family’s style best. Liz said they love using HomeExchange because it fits their budget and lifestyle, and it’s easy to do longer-term exchanges.
“Traveling with a child in a hotel is hellacious most of the time,” Liz admitted. By home exchanging, her daughter Isabel gets to have her own bedroom, new toys to play with, and a yard to enjoy.
In the last year, the South Carolina family has house swapped in San Diego, Quebec, and Jacksonville, to name a few. They’ve also hosted families from around the world and had “really good experiences across the board” welcoming travelers into their home, Liz said.
This summer, the family is traveling to Chicago, while their exchange partner stays in their Charleston home near the beach. The trip was planned in January before COVID-19 hit the US, Liz said. “It definitely feels like a risk, and we’re a little nervous,” she said.
Ultimately, the family decided to move forward with the exchange as planned because they got a direct flight and feel they can have minimal contact with other passengers.
Talking to their exchange partner also helped assuage their concerns about traveling. “I trust that she’s a reasonable person, and that makes me feel like we can still move forward” Liz said. Their exchange partner is comfortable with the exchange because she’ll be driving to Charleston from Chicago, thus also minimizing her exposure to strangers.
Liz said she will have her home professionally cleaned before and after the exchange so she can be more comfortable. “Everyone should do what feels right to them,” she said. “There’s no concrete way to know if you’re doing the right thing— trust your instincts.”
While in Chicago, the family hopes to ride bikes around the lakefront, visit the art institute, breweries, restaurants, and museums. Liz said they will be careful to wear a mask and gloves, wash their hands frequently, social distance from others, and follow any other guidelines that are in place in Chicago this summer.
However, though the family has plenty of plans for what they’ll do in Chicago, they’re uncertain what will be open and what the guidelines will look like in a couple months. “We might be staring at each other over a different kitchen table!” Liz said. But a change of scenery, bike rides around a different neighborhood, and the vibe of being in Chicago, will be a welcome change for the family anyway.
“We’re dying to get out of our house and see a change of scenery, probably like everyone else in the world,” Liz said.
The family is already on the hunt for a second home exchange for the summer. Liz said they’ll go just about anywhere in the US to get out of Charleston’s summer humidity. “Everyone we’ve contacted [to do an exchange] is in the same boat and they don’t know what will be happening this summer,” she said.
Home exchanging gives the family a sense of security during these uncertain times. “Our exchange partners are open, communicative, and want to build trust and make sure that you both feel safe,” Liz said.
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