Using Family Vacation Rentals for Part of the Trip
Many years ago (over twenty) when I was single, I bought an inexpensive timeshare close to my hometown. When I married and then had kids with fixed school schedules, I learned to get really good at trading, so that my family would go on long trips, but a portion of the trip we used accommodations that were part of the swap (a timeshare trade through a trading company).
We have done this mostly for ski trips, but also other trips including Cape Cod, Williamsburg, hiking in Southwest Utah, and of course, lots of Orlando trips.
This year my oldest will start college and I am thinking of a 3 week trip, where we would incorporate part of the trip this way. Has anyone had experience doing this in Europe or Australia?
On our sister site, www.independenttraveler.com, we have a long time member who ONLY travels by doing Home Exchanges and she has been all over the world, including Europe and Australia. I believe she is nearing her 50th Home Exchange!
She has a son who now is either at college or done but with whom she has done many exchanges with and she has written about her experiences extensively. Nowadays, when she's on an exchange, she posts to our boards while she's there and keeps us updated on what she's doing which is great.
She plans all her exchanges through an exchange specialist with which one registers their homes so it is never done "willy-nilly" but with members who are carefully screened. Members then contact each other to try and work out an exchange. For years I've been reading her Home Exchange account posts on our site and I've never really heard of any disappointments with an exchange. It seems that the only downside is that sometimes a planned exchange might fall through (Life Happens!) but there is always time enough to go for another exchange. Obviously, booking air immediately is not advised but exchanges usually get firmed up (contracts are signed) with time enough to shop for air. In fact two of our member's most recent exchanges were in Finland and Australia and as you may know, owner's cars are usually included in the exchange.
This can be a great way for families to travel because they obtain an entire home and all its conveniences and auto to use giving them a great amount of space, means to get around and there is no cost. The only cost is the membership in the Home Exchange company you choose. Here are two of the most prominent exchange companies:
I have traveled and stayed in private homes, but with friends that I've made in my travels around the world so I didn't do exactly the same thing but I sure do enjoy visiting a country or city when I am in a home and feeling very much like a local - it has made for much easier travel planning, comfort while visiting a place and the price cannot be beat although as an appreciative guest, I always brought gifts for my hosts. With a home exchange, there is no need to do that an quite often, friendships form between exchangers which can be an added benefit for the future. The veteran home exchanger to whom I refer in this post has remained friends with so many of her fellow exchangers! She now mostly travels alone but historically traveled with her child and I believe occasionally travel together when schedules permit.
I understand how this might sound like an odd thing to do, but as the website members can attest, once they start doing it, they keep on exchanging!! Comfort, convenience and virtually no cost makes Home Exchanging a very appealing and practical way for families to travel. It might not be for everyone but for some, it might be the perfect choice!! FYI, both Domestic and International exchanges are options.
I've not mentioned the name of the member on our sister site out of privacy since she is not on this site, but if you click over to sister site www.independenttraveler.com and type "Home Exchange" in the Search Box while on our Message Board Forums section, you will find this person in recent posts (and if you scroll through all the results pages, you'll find past posts re: prior exchange trip reports) that there are two exchanges planned right now for Scandinavia and Australia.
Home Exchange Vacation? Maybe it's just what you are looking for
Wow. I watched "The Holiday" last night which is based on the home exchange concept. I think some of that may be perfect when the kids are out and my DH and I can take extended trips. Interesting to think how I change as a demographic.
In Florida last year, the Legislature pre-empted local governments from enacting new ordinances that would prohibit short stay rental houses in traditional neighborhoods. I think there will be a trend towards more unconventional lodging. Bonita Springs did not take a position (the City has a rental requirement, but more for long term landlords and to make sure the housing meets life safety and buildiong codes) but there are some other communities that object to it. My personal take is that I would rather see a neighborhood filled with occupants than a second (or third or fourth) home investor that keeps the area as a ghost town for a large part of the year.
Wasn't "The Holiday" a sweet movie? It surprised me when I first saw it last year and has been nice to re-watch again now that the holidays are here again. Someone involved with the screenplay or story idea must have done a Home Exchange because I think it was the first time I'd ever seen anyone take a vacation like that on film though I surely knew about it. Interestingly, both websites I posted mentioned that film!
As far as demographics go, well I guess we all pass through them depending where we are and what's happening in life - but one thing is certain.....every demographic needs to take vacations! Another attraction is that at any age, Home Exchanging is a big money saver. Whenever it is the right time for you, it's good to know this option exists.
The information on Florida's legislative efforts statewide and in your Community was indeed very interesting. Given that Florida is one of the most popular destination states in the country, on a State or Community level it would make no sense at all to place such restrictive measures on the rental of residential real estate. It would seem contrary to the thought of revitalizing real estate in Florida, which has sustained such losses in recent years. Even though exchanges are generally free, having people dwelling in properties makes any community look lively and appealing to potential buyers/renters. Empty houses = less curb appeal and we want Florida real estate to be shining as bright as the sun!! I am glad they were not successful in imposing restrictions!
Perhaps by living in a hugely popular travel destination, Florida residents will jump on board the Home Exchange band wagon in planning future vacations. Also, maybe by doing a Home Exchange may enable some families who might have had to skip a vacation due to the economy, going this route might suddenly make a trip possible! Free accommodations and a car? Gotta love that, although it might not be for all families it might be ideal for some. Another option is always a great opportunity.
What have you got planned next, Bonita? Last I recall was the big family trip to Mexico. I hope there is something fun in the works for your family, aside from Holiday travels which most of us are working on right now - near and far!!
I swap existing timeshares because I have one and I can get some good deals that way (Park City lodging for the week cost me just the exchange fee).
Colleen is talking about the Home Exchange. I may do that in the future (and I have friends who have been successful). This is best when you find someone who wants to go to your location and you to theirs, and probably best when both parties are within the same economic expectations range.
We also got political about my home state, Florida, and new legislation. There is a lot of tension between permanent residents, seasonal residents and visitors, primarily because the seasonal residents do not like tourists (even though they came here as a visitor not so long ago) and take ownership of the whole area, even when they are not physically present, meaning that there is a vocal minority of no growth and static desires for change. The permanent residents generally like visitors becaue (1) they are happy while here and (2) they support the economy.
I perused HereStay.com and saw a mix of info. Money magazine had an article on the value of renting a timeshare (I saw a few on the HereStay.com site) and to compare pricing and avoid brokers, I suggest using that site to find interesting locations and then contacting the timeshare resort directly for nightly lodging. What you may give up in daily room cleaning (and frequent flyer miles) may be more rewarding in kitchens and space. RewardHunter, its not worth getting a reward if you can keep cash in your pocket for other things, like more travel.
Colleen, sorry I have not caught up, but we just did Park City / Salt Lake City for 12 days, which came in at under $5,000 for airfare, lodging, 5 days of ski lift tickets and rentals (demos! - - my husband found a 50% off coupon), food & rental car. Splurge was the skeleton bobsled ride at Olympic Park and most bizarre souveneir was a radio station / museum raffle where we got 2 shirts of the museum and a recycle tote.
Next trip will be a Florida college road trip (with week-ends at Busch Gardens & Sea World because nothing to do on campuses as a parent on week-ends -- both parks offer the unlimitted Fun Cards for less than $100 pp for the year).
I am so very glad you enjoyed a nice trip in Utah and did so with such amazing value! Kudos to your hubby for finding a great coupon too. I truly believe that almost anything is possible in the realm of travel hopes and dreams becoming real if one is willing to do a bit of searching, negotiating and using other strategies for saving money on a trip some might think impossible or cost prohibitive. I'd heard reports of not enough snow, my friend's Dad had to cancel a trip to Utah that he takes with his brother every year - but it was earlier in December. My sister in Colorado had tons of snow on Christmas Day.
The college tour of FL sounds fun - I always wanted to see Busch Gardens in FL on my countless trips down there but never did although I made the one in Virginia which we loved. The price on the passes is awesome!! Which campuses - there are many great ones down there....the aforementioned sister and two of my cousins were Gators. But then there is FSU, FAU, UM, (FCU?) and more including an Aviation school which my Vet's daughter attended. Weather is nice and refreshing this time of year, I hope you have a lovely time visiting and enjoying the parks!!
Happy New Year and Happy Travels in 2012 BonitaFamily!!
It's tax season, in "real life" I'm a CPA and it's been busy.....so very sorry to get back in the chat!
Did you do the road trip yet? Or more importantly, have there been replies from schools? I forget when the news arrives!! It's a nice ride through Florida to those college towns, interesting stops each one of them, although saying Orlando is interesting probably is inadequate! Theme park heaven!!
Let us know how it goes/went and which school! My sister and two cousins were both Gators so I have a slight bias, but respect each and every school and wish that any student ultimately ends up in the best possible environment for them to live, learn and grow. Oh and TRAVEL!! It's the one regret I have is that I couldn't really do a study abroad, but maybe it just wasn't the time for me; I think it's great for students to do now.....and as for me, well I did eventually get all over the world!
Good luck, keep us posted. I'll check back in between tax returns!
Almost forgot......while accounting is consistently listed among the top 10 fields to enter, if I had to do it all over again, I'd have chosen something else.
The message: I hope your college-bound child takes time to explore the options in college and really, to do what they love....doing so will ensure they have the "TRIP" of a lifetime! Our world is so global now right down to the tiniest town, and aside from working, well education and working will hopefully give college grads "wings!" It's a wonderful world to see.
Some know they want to be a doctor forever; athlete etc. But for everyone else - explore - always be curious and one will go very far! Hopefully enjoying many vacations or even in a position where work takes them places they never imagined.
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