Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Affordable Travel - How it Works

We have joined three Home Exchange sites as well as the Affordable Travel Club.  Each site charges a nominal fee, ranging from $60 to $100, for an annual listing.  On the listing, you provide all the information which would be useful to potential visitors:  pictures of your home, preferred dates, destinations etc.  Once you have registered with an agency, you will be provided with weekly emails which will inform you of new and updated listings of other members who have indicated their preferred destinations which coincide with yours.

The listing agency does not do any vetting of the integrity of the individual listing.  It is up to the individuals to develop that sense of trust.  The underlying assumption of course is that you will take care of the home of the other people as they will of yours.   Arrangements regarding an exchange of cars,  care of pets, accommodation of children,  etc. are all negotiated by the people interested in the exchange.  Our experience has been in the positive without qualification.  One tends to get people who are professional and like-minded.  To this day, lasting friendships have developed because of our home exchange experience.

In the case of the Affordable Travel Club, no exchange is involved or any responsibility to reciprocate.  

Both, the Affordable Travel Club and Home Exchange Agencies list people who are interested in house sitting or pet-sitting.  We spend six wonderful weeks in the Basque Country of France, looking after four cats, when no reciprocal arrangements were negotiated. 

I have selected this picture of a typical Turkish meal which was offered by our home exchange hosts in Istanbul.   It illustrates the fact that a home exchange gives one an opportunity to savour the life-style of another culture in a way that is rarely possible through other means of travel.   I have a cookbook,  Extending the table of the World.  That is what home exchange offers:  an opportunity to extend one's experience of the colour and diversity of another culture different from one's own.  Food is a wonderful way to do just that. 

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Don't pre-judge the possibilities...

We often wonder:  "Why would anyone want to come to Brantford?"  It's hard to imagine why anyone living in Paris or St. Petersburg would want to spend time in our town.   But then, again and again, we are surprised by the number of people, living in what we consider "exotic places", want to do just that!  I guess we are too close to the place in which live to appreciate its attractiveness to others.

Recently we received an invitation from a couple living in the heart of New York city to consider a home exchange with them.  We are now in the process of working out the details of that possibility.    Imagine, living in that exciting and vibrant city for a period of several weeks!  But the other people are probably saying the same thing:  "Imagine, living in Brantford with its hiking trails, wild life, proximity to vineyards and live theatre, fishing, sailing, golf,  for a period of several weeks"

The point is:  Don't pre-judge the possibilities of a home exchange.  

Friday, December 9, 2011

Recently we had an enquiry from a couple in Holland who wanted us to do a home exchange.  Unfortunately, we were not able to consider because we had other plans.  We suggested that they might stay in our home in Canada while we are away visiting relatives and friends on the East coast, with the understanding that at some future time we might stay in their home in The Netherlands.   It's a kind of "I owe you" idea which seems to work quite well  in a home exchange. In other words, home exchanges don't have to be simultaneous.  The same idea works quite well when someone has a second home, a cottage or whatever.