If you’re wondering about doing a home exchange but aren’t sure if it’s for you and your family, here are some things to consider.
When planning a vacation, you’re probably going to research the hotel or resort where you’ll be staying, maybe even extensively. You’ll do the same thing with homes when looking for a home exchange. In my opinion, if you’re traveling with kids, a home exchange is way better than any hotel or rental.
Sure, some hotels offer cribs or rollaway beds for smaller travelers, but if your whole family is stuck in one hotel room, what do you do for naps? Does EVERYONE take a nap when the baby naps? Or do you keep on traveling and hope that your baby snoozes while you’re out and about? Same thing for bed time… Does EVERYBODY go to bed when it’s lights out time for baby? I don’t know… maybe some people are more relaxed and flexible when it comes to stuff like that with their kids, but we prefer to make sure that #ToddlerGoodwin stays on schedule and is as well-rested as possible for our adventures. Well-rested kid = happy kid = less stressed parents. This is much easier to accomplish if #ToddlerGoodwin has his own room.
In addition to having more space to spread out in a house or apartment during an exchange, you can also coordinate an exchange with another family that has kids of the same age. When looking for home exchange partners to swap with, look for people with kids in their profile, or that mention that they have baby items. A lot of people will post that they have cribs, pack and plays, and toys – so you don’t have to worry about where your kid will sleep or what you’re going to do to keep the kid entertained.
Speaking of keeping the kid entertained… If you’re doing a home exchange with a family who has kids, that can really cut down on the amount of stuff you have to bring, especially if the kids are close in age. Sure, you might want to bring some favorites from home, but if you’re going to another family home, there’s likely to be books, blocks, and dolls to play with. You also probably won’t have to worry about things like high chairs and booster seats. Depending on how you set up your exchange agreement, you may even be able to arrange to borrow a stroller or car seat, too, if you need them.
If you’re staying at a house, you’ll have a kitchen and can buy and cook your own food if you don’t want to eat out for every single meal. It’s much easier to keep a stockpile of snacks, drinks, fruit, and milk if you have access to a refrigerator. You might also have a washer and dryer in your house, too. While you might not like the idea of doing laundry on vacation, it does mean that you can pack less clothing and travel a little lighter. (Which is always important, especially when you’re traveling with little ones, because they always seem to require so much stuff!)
One final thing – look closely at pictures of the houses you’re considering. When browsing homes to inquire about, it helps to scrutinize the pictures to help you determine if a home is safe for your baby or if you’ll be comfortable staying there. Don’t like all those windows? Cross that house off your list. Don’t want a house with a balcony? Skip it. Not a fan of that wrought-iron spiral staircase? Maybe that’s not the house for you. But at least when you look at the pictures, you can get a sense of what your house will be like before you get there. That’s not always the case with a hotel room, and let’s face it… There’s nothing to a hotel room. The good news is, there are lots of families out there who are interested in exchanging with you!
The best part about doing a home exchange? You don’t have to pay for your accommodations; you just need to be willing to share your home with another family and treat their home with respect. Not having to pay for a hotel room leaves you a big chunk of change to spend on travel, attractions, food, and souvenirs.
Meet the Goodwins – Jess is an author, freelance writer, mommy blogger, and former teacher. She retired from teaching after #ToddlerGoodwin was born to stay home with him and work on her writing. Tommy is currently the lobbyist for the Project Management Institute (PMI), the world’s leading not-for-profit professional membership association for the project, program, and portfolio management profession.
Check out the Go With the Goodwins blog: https://gowiththegoodwins.wordpress.com