You can have the summer in Europe you've always dreamed of

Cathy, a travel writer and long-time member of HomeExchange, shares her story of spending three months in Europe on a budget.

Budget travel to Europe

Barcelona, Provence, Tuscany. For three months and pence on the Euro— how is this possible!?

I have always wanted to travel the world but as a self-employed consultant and freelance writer, it always seemed just out of reach. So it was something of an epiphany to come across a referral for the international home exchange programby an LA-based architect I was covering for a story. He and his wife had been trading homes for years and just loved it. With his endorsement we began to search the web for highly-regarded exchange sites and came across HomeExchange, finding their high marks and adaptable GuestPoints system compelling. With the points system, we found we could jump right in and begin exchanging almost immediately.

Budget travel to Europe

That, and the strong numbers of participants from Western Europe and France, together with the site’s highly responsive team and after hours SOS emergency staff made us feel secure and comfortable with this choice. Additionally, we found we didn’t have to come out of pocket financially and the site offered certification, as well as a security deposit and modest insurance. All of this boded well for our first international exchange adventure.

Planning in earnest for what would become one of the best trips of our lives, we spent nights combing the site to prepare for our three-month tour beginning in Barcelona, Spain, and then on to the South of France and Italy. This was to be a dream itinerary!

Travel to Barcelona with HomeExchange

As we traveled and a few hiccups came up from the road, HomeExchange made good on its promises, assigning their wonderful member support team – essentially available 24/ 7 – to navigate us through to resolution.

It was a good thing we allowed just about half a year as it took nearly this much time to learn the ropes and nuances of the site – and we’re still learning. Some prospective home exchanges came to us. Those are the first lucky offers that cannot and should not be refused except for obvious reasons. These early offers shaped the foundation of our trip. Others came as a result of tweaking the filters, mastering the art of the reverse search, translation at the hit of a button and generating 100’s or more letters themed “Why you should really consider our artistic lake-front home in Atlanta, GA near Stone Mountain in the heart of the Southern US even though it’s not currently on your radar.” These investigations often went late into the night remembering many of our recipients were six hours ahead.

Europe budget travel home swapping

While figuring out the site, the customer service team was an invaluable ally. “Planning” a home exchange trip is not like “planning” a regular trip. It has a kind of life of its own and we needed to allow it to unfold on its own terms, especially one as lengthy and ambitious as ours. We began by choosing a rough pass dream itinerary (Southern France and Tuscany, Italy) and our route kind of came into focus as we went.

Even well into the summer, we were still drafting notes to other HomeExchange members, tweaking our trip sequence as are plans remained in some degree of flux for the duration. That is one of the joys and advantages of HomeExchange. The super flexible GuestPoint system continued to allow us spontaneity, keeping possibilities and last minute changes open to us for the duration.

Travel with HomeExchange