Home Exchanges 2014

Old Jun 7th, 2014, 09:27 PM
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I leave on this trip this week. You can follow the adventures on my website if you want to:


Specific blogs will be set up for each leg of the trip. You can see those in the drop down menus on the upper right of the home page of the website. I have the blogs set up but, of course, they are empty until the trip begins.

Have fun wherever your travels take you.
lauren_s_kahn is offline  
Old Jun 20th, 2014, 01:52 PM
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My goodness, what a traveler. I shall view your websites perhaps with some envy. However, at my age I realize I'm not likely to travel forever...61st wedding anniversary this very day.
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Old Jun 20th, 2014, 02:05 PM
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I exchanged my home for a golf cart and now I go everywhere.
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Old Jun 20th, 2014, 06:05 PM
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So you are on the ball with long range targets in a striking way and avoiding all traps?
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Old Jun 20th, 2014, 06:14 PM
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Happy Anniversary Ozarksbill . . .
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Old Jun 20th, 2014, 09:48 PM
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Ozarksbill, I have worries about how long I can continue to do this. This is a very ambitious trip. Next year, if I go to Europe, I will plan only 2 home exchanges, as it's less complicated. This all happened due to multiple cancellations and substitutions. Normally, it's one exchange in July and one exchange in August and I try and make them near one another so the transition is easier. Adding Belarus was a huge deal. I had to get a visa and find out how to get to Brest. The bus was the only option as all flights to Belarus from Warsaw arrive in Minsk. Between Brest and Minsk, I'll take the train. Once I get to Istanbul, I stay 3 1/2 weeks so the trip becomes easier. I have been to both Istanbul and Stockholm before so familiarity makes it easier. Some years I do a lot of driving (like last year). This year I only have a car in Warsaw and I probably will use it only 1-2 times. I purchased and pack a Garmin GPS for Europe as home exchangers do not often give you one. I leave a Garmin for the US which I leave in my car in North America.

In Poland I have not had a phone--which is a problem--but I do have a laptop with me, as you can see. I thought about bringing my phone--which I am going to do next year and just get a sim card for it. This year that would have been complicated and I would have needed sim cards in all the different countries. I leave my smartphone behind (adjusted to remove the data and internet) so my exchangers have a phone. Now that everyone has mobiles--and not landlines--that is not working well. Each year there are changes.

One problem with home exchange is that people make deals and then cancel simply because they change their minds. I had a woman in Cairns, Australia (on the Great Barrier Reef) that I had been discussing an exchange with for 2 years. She cancelled due to "family reasons". I was about to cancel her as she was too difficult to deal with (not answering email, etc.). At the time of cancellation--after 2 years of discussion she FIRST tells me I would not have had a car. If I am not in a big city with good transportation, I would not take an exchange without a car and her Cairns house turned out to be a second home. I never exchange for vacation places because sometimes they look like nasty vacation homes in the US. So, I was glad all the interaction ended.

Home exchanges require a lot of work and a certain amount of frustration. You rarely end up where you thought you wanted to go. Sometimes, as in Warsaw, the house turns out to be way in the suburbs with difficult bus transport to master. It is wise to remember that every location has its advantages and disadvantages. The more you exchange, moreover, the better you get at it.

Home exchange is definitely not for everyone and I have taken package tours and do not condemn them at all. I do believe you have to be careful about what package tour you take and avoid one with a lot of one night stays. Those sorts of tours make everyone grouchy because packing up and putting your suitcase outside at 7:00am is not fun. On the other hand, you don't have to handle your luggage--a nice bit about package tours.

If people only want a certain location, say, Paris. I recommend renting a place because home exchange might not give you a deal there.

I am also generally a solo traveler. Elderhostel/Road Scholar will match you with a roommate so you do not pay the single supplement. That is a risk--and I do ask friends about trips--but that is a risk too. Often they are not interested in any thing but conventional destinations (e.g., London, Paris, Rome) because they are not experienced travelers. I have had "friends" who really turned out to be terrible travel partners and expected me to cater to their needs on tour. Most of my friends are, of course, elderly and some just can't do it anymore.

However you travel, I wish you good trips.

Ozarksbill, if you look on the top right side of the blog there is an area on Spain. If you click on it, there is a drop down menu for Salamanca and Madrid. There you will find information about what I did last summer in both areas. I did a lot of driving on that trip!

Ozarksbill, I wish you happy 61st anniversary once again!
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Old Jun 21st, 2014, 01:31 AM
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Old Jun 21st, 2014, 01:06 PM
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bookmarking for future reference
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Old Jun 23rd, 2014, 11:10 AM
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I did glance at your photos in Salamanca...platteresque facades, hanging meat, etc. Also of Bergen one of my favorite places. And read notes from Rome where you did have an unexpected event.
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Old Jun 23rd, 2014, 12:16 PM
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Yes, that Rome holiday was not the best, was it? I made the best of it but I could not wait to get home. No one wants to land in a hospital on a holiday and, if it happens, you just want to go home where you know how the medical system works.

Today was spent walking around remnants of the Jewish ghetto in Warsaw--another interesting day on a trip.

I just hope some of what I write inspires other seniors to travel and learn as long as they can. You obviously are one of the inspired ones, but I had nothing to do with it. I look forward to hearing about your trip to Spain and Portugal. When you put a trip together by yourself, it is a lot more work than just letting the tour company do it all. You do make mistakes, but they are YOUR mistakes--not someone else's.

I owe myself another home exchange in Rome, but hope for no wet cobblestones.
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Old Jul 5th, 2014, 04:03 AM
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The adventure continues. I am now in Istanbul:

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