HOUSE-SWAPPING AND HOMEEXCHANGE.COM

Would you exchange your view for this view of Paris, France, which is one of 16,000 homes offered on www.homeexchange.com?  In Part 2 of our series on home exchange vacationing , Kim Orlando speaks with Ed Kushins, president and CEO of HomeExchange.com about his personal home exchanges:

Kim: What was your first exchange?

Ed:  My first home exchange was to Washington, D.C . in 1992 with my then 14 and 11 year old kids.
It was a big house—so big that we ended up asking some friends who live in Georgia to come up and stay with us, of course with the permission of the owners. So we had two families staying at this home and it was just perfect—it was everything that a great home exchange is supposed to be.

Kim: Did knowing that you had all the amenities of home at your fingertips take some stress off?  

Ed:  Yes. For grown-ups and kids to come back to a single hotel room after an exhausting day walking around Washington, D.C. is not fun. As much as you love your kids, 24/7 just does not work. Because we had a big house, each of the kids had their own room. This place was really neat. It had a living room and a den, a pool table and pinball machine in the playroom, and there was stuff in the kitchen so we could just go grab a snack. I had actually done a couple of hotel trips to San Diego and San Francisco with my kids, and having that as a counterpoint really showed me that home exchange was by far the best way to do a trip.

Kim: When we house-swapped in California, we got to know some of the neighbors and the kids became instant playmates  The neighbors were very helpful in helping us find a babysitter or whatever else we needed. Is that common?

Ed: Plenty of people who have traveled with kids, one year old and younger, have said they would never have been able to take that kind of trip had it not been for home exchange. If you are traveling with kids, you’ll almost always do an exchange with someone else that has kids. The people that have left will typically say, “Call my friends—they’ve got a couple kids that are your kids’ age.” This gives them the opportunity to meet some kids their own age and get to see how kids in another area live. And the adults often end up getting together socially.

Kim: Did you ever get any pushback from your kids as they got older—they really want to stay in a hotel because there’s a pool?

Ed:  We still ended up doing some hotel stays. But when we did a home exchange, they realized this is way better than staying in a hotel. As they got older, they really liked the idea of having a little independence and being able to go to their own room.

Kim: Home exchange is a great family deal, but even if you aren’t traveling with young kids, it can still be appealing. Have you done any house-swaps since you’ve become an empty nester?

Ed: Yes, many. When my daughter was at Boston College, she spent her junior year studying abroad. I did a home exchange so I could go to Lancaster, England and visit her. Two years ago my wife and I went to London , England for ten days. London is tremendously expensive these days. For a “nothing” hotel, it’s got to be $300 to $400 a night. We got a beautiful three-bedroom house in a fantastic area. Because we went in November, the airfare was cheap, and we probably cooked half our meals at home.  It didn’t cost us much more than staying at home. In fact, that’s one of the tag lines we use.

My wife and I have also gone to Palm Springs, San Francisco and Santa Barbara, all local exchanges, and to a wedding in Grand Lake, Colorado last August. This is probably the fastest growing segment of the home exchange business. Instead of doing a two-week international trip, people are doing four, five or six local and regional home exchanges a year. A lot of people establish a relationship with their exchange partner and it’s almost like they’re using each other’s home as their own second home. For example, I was just talking to a guy who lives in San Francisco who has two girls that are nine and six. They established a relationship with a couple in Santa Cruz, which is only a couple hours drive and they have been exchanging on a regular basis. Now they just say, “You want to come up to a play? Great, we’ll come down to Santa Cruz and spend the weekend at the beach.” 
 
Read Part One, Here