Wednesday, 20 January 2016

Arranging holidays with Home Exchange

I'm not very organised when it comes to family holidays. Don't get me wrong, I am a big fan of a holiday, but I'm an even bigger fan of holidays that someone else organises for me!

I mean, where to go? What to do? How to get there? And my main issue - why choose there when there's everywhere else?

I get swamped with wondering, and I hate those websites that claim to make finding flights easy but then tell you that your best route involves a 24 hour wait for a connecting flight to travel 50 miles.

I wondered if a travel agent might be my way forward. But no! They just gave me more options, and when they found out I had kids went on and on about kids clubs (by the way, I'm not paying good money to take my kids abroad and then leaving them in daycare, I do not get the point of that in the slightest). And then phoned me (I had to give my phone number for them to be able to help me apparently) again and again to see if they could help me with anything. I don't want them to help me with anything... ever.

So when Home Exchange suggested I might want to try arranging a home swap through their website, I jumped at the chance*. I had some places I wanted to go, and I messaged those people, but this was back in Spring of last year, and most people were already booked up. We did do a swap with a lovely family in Dunblane, which was awesome (and you can read about that here), but any other swaps that came up as possibilities just weren't feasible.

But this year we have a plan! A family member has moved to Barcelona, and we want to visit. 

Many thanks to my sister, Helen, who let me use her picture of Barcelona, because she has been.

So before Christmas I searched for home swaps in Barcelona. It's easy to search, you can get the homes up on a map, with plenty of details about each place, including how many people can fit and whether they have any animals. I got in touch with lots of people in Barcelona...

...and they all got back to me with a no.

They were all very lovely and polite, but they all said no.

We were looking into other options, and I was getting swamped when January arrived. It turns out that January is when lots of people organise their swaps. It makes sense I suppose, this is when holidays are getting pushed on the TV too. The weather is miserable, and people are thinking of holidays. 

We've been offered exchanges in America, Germany (I'd so love to go back to Germany), France, Norway, all sorts of places, but one morning I checked my messages and guess what? 

I'd got a message from a family in Barcelona! I'd not approached them before because they're actually outwith Barcelona, but they're close enough! We managed to not quite bite their hands off in accepting the offer, and we're in the process of arranging it now. Keep your fingers crossed it all goes to plan. I'm hoping I stop singing this song by the time we actually go.

We've also been in touch with people in the UK to arrange house swaps, and I love that people get in touch with you and suggest somewhere you might never have thought of, but that actually is a lovely place with loads to do. We are hoping to take a few people up on their offers for smaller holidays through the year. The kids are particularly keen on a swap in the Midlands because they want to go to Cadbury World because chocolate.

I shouldn't be talking about this yet probably, because nothing is set and I don't want to jinx it, and how many chickens was that? But, I didn't want you to miss out, so I thought I'd mention that it's all happening right now at Home Exchange. You don't have to be a member to check it out, and you can get a free trial period to start off with. Happy swapping!

*full disclosure: Home Exchange gave me a year's free membership so that I'd have something to write to you about dear reader. These perks help me to provide you with stuff to read for free.