Michael has been home exchanging since 2006, and he’ll be the first to tell you it’s the best way to travel. But with his travel partner’s recent diagnosis, home swapping this year has taken on a new urgency as they plan to see the world together.

Michael travels with his best friend, Fernando, who he met in 2004 when the two were neighbors (“I locked myself out of my house and it was pouring rain— they could make a movie about us,” Michael said). This year, they plan to travel to Mexico, Palm Springs, South Beach, Puerto Rico, Peru, and several countries in Europe, and they're wasting no time. Last month Fernando was diagnosed with ALS, a progressive neurodegenerative disease.

Fernando and Michael

"Fernando is very dear to my heart and he has been a close friend for many years, so it was a real shock to hear about his diagnosis," Michael said. "Given the nature of ALS progression, we plan on traveling as much as possible."

The pair is planning to see as many countries as possible this year, fitting in sunny beaches for Fernando and European cities for Michael.

“We’re going to make the most of the year to come,” Michael said. They’ll spend the year traveling all they can, using HomeExchange to make it an affordable option. “With HomeExchange, we’ll save money so we can travel more and spend our money on other things,” Michael said.

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There are plenty of reasons Michael loves HomeExchange besides the budget-friendly benefits. “The nice thing about HomeExchange over hotels that I’ve loved since the beginning of time is that hotel rooms are so sterile,” Michael said. “With HomeExchange, you get that personal touch, you see how other people live, you see their family photos, you feel like you’re in a real home instead of a hotel room.”

Fernando on the Oregon Coast

HomeExchange is a welcoming, authentic community full of genuine travelers who care about each other. “A lot of people say they don’t know if they could trust someone in their home,” Michael said. “But they’re giving you their home too. I have found wonderful people that not only gave me their home but left us welcome gifts.”

Michael has plenty of experience with HomeExchange: he joined in 2006, swapping his top floor apartment in Seattle with a view. He’s exchanged homes with people all over the world, including Vancouver, Portland, and Monterrey, and has “fallen in love with home exchanging."

Michael and Fernando's exchange in Mexico

Traveling during a pandemic is made easier with HomeExchange, thanks to the flexibility and safety it provides, Michael said. “You can do home exchanges and be isolated from others,” he said. “You’re in a home by yourself instead of a hotel exposed to a lot of other people around you.” He and Fernando are also mindful of avoiding large crowds and adhering to local COVID-19 guidelines and recommendations.

In December, Michael and Fernando went to Rockaway Beach and had “a very relaxing trip,” enjoying being right on the beach and the balcony overlooking the ocean. Now they're on a sunny beach in Mexico, and they have big plans for the rest of the year. They book their travels two months at a time, since “we don’t know how Fernando’s ALS will progress.” They’ll also be home exchanging in Portland in conjunction with Fernando’s clinic visits.  

Michael will be sharing his travels with Fernando this year on the HomeExchange blog, so stay tuned to watch their year of adventure unfold!

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