Discover home exchange with our top home exchangers from 2016

HomeExchange loves to share stories from our members. Looking back on 2016 we thought it would be a good idea to share stories from our absolute top home exchangers from this year. Our top 3 members have organized and insane amount of exchanges and who better to give their scoop than the members themselves.

Rosalba – Top home exchanger of 2016

Rosalba is number one on our list of top members from 2016. She has organized 46 exchanges in many different destinations.

Tell us about you…

I’m Italian, à la retraite, mother and grandmother. I have a French partner, Jean Pierre, also a retiree, father and grandfather. Our respective children and grandchildren live scattered between North Italy, France and London. That’s one of the reasons why we travel quite regularly.

I do a thousand different things on a daily basis, but I always put time aside to study my passions of history and archaeology. I am very curious, perhaps too much! I think that life should be lived to the fullest and we should leave no stone unturned.

In the past I worked in corporate finance. It was not my dream occupation, but in life you often need to divide your time between dreams and reality, and that was the case for me.

There are times when I become overwhelmed with the feeling to travel and discover, never adventure, and other times when I would prefer to sit at home or follow a soft routine enjoying my hobbies and my friends.

Contact Rosalba to organize an exchange at her home in Perugia or Rome!

Why did you start exchanging your home?

At the start of 2015 I needed to find accommodation in Paris for a month. While surfing the internet, I came across the GuesttoGuest website by accident. At the time, I didn’t know it, but my home exchange adventures were about to begin (even though I don’t like adventures too much…). I actually knew about home exchange, because I have a friend from Rome that has been exchanging her home since the early 90s. A few years ago, I would have never imagined that one day I would be exchanging my home to travel. But … never say never! I guess you can say that at the time I made an impulse decision.

The home of Rosalba in Perugia The home of Rosalba in Rome

How did you feel about your first exchange?

The first exchange was difficult for me. I am very fussy, precise and demanding, and I was afraid that I would not be able to take care of my guests properly. The days leading up to my first exchange I was worried and intrigued at the same time. My partner was very understanding and he helped me make our guests’ stay very pleasant and comfortable. Our first-time hosting went very well and this encouraged us to continue participating in the home exchange experience.

What do you think are the advantages of exchanging your home?

Apart from the pleasure of meeting new people, with a similar attitude to openness and curiosity, there is another significant aspect that has encouraged us in our decision to exchange our home – economic reasons. In today’s world, with the rise of low-cost airlines and other modes of transport, most of our travel budget is spent on housing and accommodation. Organizing a home exchange allows you to further reduce your spending and enables you to enjoy more tourist attractions in the destinations you visit.

Do you find home exchange different from your previous methods of travel?

It certainly is a different way to travel, especially if you are going to a particular place for a minimum of four to five days. It is interesting to stay in someone else’s home, where they live their everyday life or vacation time, if it is a secondary home. When we travel by home exchange we try to be as discreet as possible, respecting our host’s private spaces. Obviously, you discover a few personal things about your host from the family photos and the different books that line the shelves. This new discovery is like a little trip within a trip.

rosalbas-trip-to-lecce Rosalba 's trip in France rosalbas-trip-to-siracusa-1Rosalba's trip in Syracuse

Can you tell us about some specific home exchange moments?

Some memories … honestly there were no real significant moments. We really never got to know our hosts or guest very well, but that was mostly because of forces outside of our control. I can say that all or hosts and guests have been very kind and easy to speak with. We made friends with a few couples here and there, but it is not easy to keep in touch if you do not live in the same place and if your travel goals change from time to time.

Can you tell us about your last exchange?

The last exchange as a host was actually a cancelled exchange….A French couple had planned to spend a week in Rome in mid-November. The finalization process went smoothly and after communicating by email we understood quickly that the exchange would get on well. Unfortunately, at the last minute I had a health problem that forced me to cancel everything. GuesttoGuest assisted me in finding different hosts for the french couple and they succeeded in finding an alternative solution in the heart of Rome. We felt really bad that we had to cancel the exchange, so to make up for our little “betrayal”, we invited this french couple to our place for a typical Italian dinner. It was a very nice evening and in the future we plan to spend a few days near Biarritz, in their home.

Our last exchange as guests we did in Antibes. It was actually the second time in the same apartment and we had, as usual, a great time. Our hosts are always very attentive and friendly. The French Riviera is full of beautiful landscapes and wonderful sea trips.

Rosalba's trip to PragueRosalba’s trip to Prague

Are you happy to be in the list of top member from 2016?

I do not know if I can be proud of being one of the top 3 members. Honestly, I did not really have a set goal of becoming one of the top exchangers. I am also able to organize exchanges at a very fast pace because the demands for Rome are always so high and it is hard for us to say no.

Where would you like to go for your next exchange?

We haven’t made any plans for the next few months. We’re taking a break. In late April we will travel to Marseilles, we already know the city, but we enjoy going back because it is very interesting and has nice landscapes. The sea and light in Marseilles are also great. I think after we will go to Tours to visit the castles of the Loire. You can probably tell by now that France is our preferred destination. I am also trying to organize something for the Canary Islands. I would love to go to Lanzarote. I started researching homes with GuesttoGuest and I saw that there are several possibilities.

Rosalba in Saint TropezRosalba in Saint Tropez

What would you tell someone that is hesitant about exchanging their home?

We always talk with our friends about our home exchange experiences. It is true that since this is a significant commitment not all are willing to take the step. For us, home exchange continues to be an advantageous way to travel. There are definitely more advantages than disadvantages. I think it would be a good idea to overcome your initial resistance and trust others that are also opening up their own private spaces.

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