Julie and her husband Peter have been members of HomeExchange since 2012, during which time they’ve enjoyed more than 150 exchanges! Having swapped their homes in Italy and Devon for incredible locations as far afield as the Caribbean and Australia, they're well-versed in what it takes to arrange an unforgettable vacation. We asked Julie to share her experiences…

Discover HomeExchange
Lady in pink t-shirt with man in striped blue shirt at the rapids in New Zealand_HomeExchange
Julie and Peter at the Aratiatia Rapids at Lake Taupo in New Zealand

How did you start swapping your home with HomeExchange?

“Peter and I took early retirement and moved to Italy. Around the same time our daughter was thinking of going traveling, so I was doing some internet research on how she might do it, when I came across the concept of HomeExchange. It seemed too good to be true, but we signed up, then activated our membership a few months later. My decision was made when I realised that just one night in a HomeExchange property would pay for itself when comparing the membership fee to the cost of hotels.”

What were your early exchange experiences like?

“Well in the first year alone, we did three exchanges to the Caribbean! One of these exchanges was a week-long stay on a Catamaran that was crewed by the couple who owned the boat. Peter loved sailing, so it seemed like a great intro to HomeExchange. We combined this trip with a few hotel stays and another two HomeExchanges, so we stayed away for nearly four weeks in total. We were absolutely hooked on the idea after that, and we’ve since travelled to lots of places like Australia, Bali, New Zealand, Venice, Switzerland, Germany, Denmark and Port Isaac, as I wanted to see where Doc Marten was filmed!”

Lady and her son wearing sunglasses on decking overlooking Lake Clifton in Australia_HomeExchange
Julie and her son at the Thrombolites at Lake Clifton in Australia

Do you have any favorite HomeExchange memories?

“We have so many, as I think we have traveled to 17 countries across Europe, Australia, New Zealand, the Caribbean, Asia and South Pacific.”

For my 50th birthday in 2013, we did 12 back-to-back HomeExchanges over a 3-month period, combining Tazmania and Singapore with mainland Australia. Our son was living in China at the time, so he joined us for part of our travels. It felt incredible that we could see more of him, by embracing this way of traveling.”

“From that point on, we went away every year for 3-months over the Italian winter months. It was lovely being able to escape the cold and the snow to stay in Australia and New Zealand in their summer months! And of course it meant our son could come and meet us in various places.”

“Another time we used HomeExchange to meet our future in-laws. Our son was engaged to a Chinese girl, and we wanted to meet her parents, so we all traveled to Bali. The property was fantastic and we had a housekeeper who would cook for us. It was a great way to meet and get to know them in such a relaxed and beautiful setting.”

Six people sitting at a dining table_HomeExchange
Julie and her family with the new in-laws in Sydney!

What are the key benefits of HomeExchange for you?

“Obviously the savings we’ve made have been incredible, but we love getting off the beaten track. I’m not a ‘package holiday’ type of person, so it’s amazing to discover real neighborhoods and experience local life that isn’t geared towards tourists. We’ve also met the most fabulous people. It takes a certain type of person who is willing to share their home, so you’re meeting people just like you. Most importantly, HomeExchange has enabled us to be with our children more. We’ve met them in countries around the world, and we’re even using HomeExchange to travel through Europe on our way to our daughter’s wedding in Italy!”

Lady and man on a snowy mountain with a helicopter in the background_HomeExchange
Julie and Peter on the Franz Josef glacier, with their means of transport - a helicopter!

Has traveling with HomeExchange enabled you to vacation more regularly?

“It absolutely has - plus we have saved hundreds of thousands of pounds! Three-month stays in Australia are very expensive and we did one every year for many years, so there’s no way we could have afforded to do that without exchanging our home. The places we’ve stayed in have been amazing too. In the Cook Islands we stayed in a villa on the seafront. That would have cost thousands alone. In New Zealand we stayed in a property where we had a vineyard and tennis court, while in Auckland, we stayed in an incredible property that was round the corner from the Prime Minister’s house. But we’ve also stayed in beach shacks and small apartments, and they’ve also been incredible.”

“With the money we’ve saved on accommodation, we’ve been able to treat ourselves to once-in-a-lifetime experiences. For example, in New Zealand, some of the adventures we have been fortunate to experience whilst Home Exchanging have been whale-watching, hiking on the Franz Joseph Glacier (and taking a helicopter to get there), exploring Cape Reinga at the very tip of North Island where the Maori believe we depart this world to the next, and walking amongst the giant Kauri trees.”

“In Australia we swam with giant manta rays off the Ningaloo Reef and watched reef sharks at the cleaning station - I got picked to hand-feed the wild dolphins at Monkey Mia which was my absolute dream come true. We have watched the most incredible sunrises and sunsets at many locations on our trips, and the sunset at Uluru was probably the best. The scenery has been breathtaking and resets your soul!”

Discover HomeExchange

You might also be interested in:

My HomeExchange story: Tips and tricks for a successful exchange
Plan a budget-friendly vacation
The best beaches to visit in Australia