Home Exchange is Like a Box of Chocolates

Home Exchange is Like a Box of Chocolates

This entry is part 2 of 8 in the series Home Exchange

You never know exactly what you’re going to get … but it’s probably going to be good.

If you’re a frequent business traveler and you always choose the Hilton because you know that in every Hilton around the world they use the same pillow that you like so much … home exchange might not be for you.

But if an element of the unknown, a dash of surprise and a hint of excitement is more your cup of tea, home exchange might be that variety box of chocolates you’re looking for. In fact, if you’re the Hilton type, you probably don’t get the variety pack, you get the box with all of the same type–the type you know you like. But just like I tell my 7-year old, “How do you know you don’t like it if you’ve never tried it? If you try it and you don’t like it, that’s fine, but you have to at least try it.”

[box]It’s almost as unique as fingerprints–you’re never going to get the same experience twice.[/box]

Of course, you’ll look at the photos, read the reviews and do a little research on the area, the town, the country. You can do the same with the hotel. Maybe it’s a bit like getting to know someone online and then finally meeting them in person. You have your ideas of what they’re like, but you really won’t know until you meet them in person. Then the Getting to Know You truly begins.

Sure, a Bed and Breakfast can be far different from a hotel. A vacation rental is probably a surprise, too … hopefully a positive one. But there’s something about the personal connection of home exchange that just is on another level.

Oh look, in the room next to ours, the bed is on the other side of the room!

I’m actually in a hotel as I write this. The room next to ours is the exact same as ours, but a mirror reversal. Daring! It’s going to come down to what you find exciting:

The comfort of the known versus the thrill of the unknown.

My mother-in-law wants to always stay in the same hotel year after year. My wife says that they went to Spain for years and years in a row, stayed in the same town, the same hotel, even the same room. I’m in the same hotel as we were last year. (Different room! Woo!) I know where the restaurant is and, well, where everything is. That brings her comfort, security, and peace. It makes me restless. Is it just age? I want to explore, see new things, be surprised by the new place we’re staying next time.

Do you get the box of chocolates with all of the same kind? Because you know you like that kind? Or do you go for the variety? I suppose, if you really don’t like the gooey filled ones, you might suggest that you shouldn’t waste room in the box with something you don’t like. Agreed. But what’s exciting in your life? Do you know? What are the unknowns that are not scary, but something you look forward to? What’s going to happen next?

If you’re really adventurous: don’t choose, be chosen.

One little-known concept in the world of home exchange is to open up your mind to going … anywhere. In home exchange, you can choose to say you’re willing to go anywhere and see what happens. Or if you want to tone it back down closer to reality, maybe choose some countries (or even counties) near you, but farther than you’d normally go. See who picks you, see who contacts you. You’d be surprised who’s looking to stay in your town. Keep an open mind. See what happens.

Home exchange allows for some of the thrill of the unknown into your travel plans. Again, you’re going to look at photos and read about it, it won’t be a complete crapshoot. But when you open the door to “your” new (temporary) home, there’s the adventure of the unknown that you’re opening the door to. What are you going to do all week? How do you turn on that weird washing machine? How is that wine going to taste on the balcony? What would it be like to live here?

Open the box, close your eyes, pick one.

  • Possible: stay in the same hotel as you always do.
  • Impossible: live where you don’t.
  • Repossible: stay where you might someday live.
Did they say County Pumpkins or Country Bumpkins?

Did they say County Pumpkins or Country Bumpkins? [Holland]

Series Navigation<< How We Stayed in an $8,400 Villa in the South of France for FreeLet Me Live That Fantasy >>
By |2017-05-24T13:28:06+00:00July 8th, 2013|Travel|8 Comments

About the Author:

Bradley Charbonneau was sitting with his 8-year old reading a bad children's book when he said to his son, "We can do better than this ... and you're going to help me." Then they did it. He hasn't stopped since.


  1. Write Every Day Challenge July 9, 2013 at 2:38 am - Reply

    […] Home Exchange is Like a Box of Chocolates (Jul 8) […]

  2. […] Read more about Home Exchange is like a Box of Chocolates. […]

  3. CasaVersa ✈ (@CasaVersa) July 14, 2013 at 2:27 am - Reply

    Love your post Bradley! Home exchange makes travel far more exciting and real – instead of staying in a neutral hotel room, you get to experience a real home in a new country, with all the cultural quirks that go along with it. You never know what you’re going to discover (or which flavor you’ll choose!)

    • Bradley Charbonneau July 15, 2013 at 11:32 pm - Reply

      Thanks! You mentioned “real” and that’s a great point. I’m literally sitting in the living room of a house right now in Amsterdam looking out onto the garden in back and this house is beautiful and there’s no way that I could rent it, know the people and have them offer it to me as friends or buy it. But it’s “real” because, for a week at least, it’s ours.

      It’s just too fun. I can’t get enough of it.

      Thanks for stopping by!

  4. Home Exchange is such a great way to travel and it is not just for the huge savings that can be made but also for the experiences it provides. It is not surprising that Swapping Homes for a vacation is becoming more popular, especially with the retired, as we have more time available and have the flexibility that the concept often needs.


    Brian Luckhurst

    • Bradley Charbonneau July 15, 2013 at 11:39 pm - Reply

      Hi Brian,

      You hit on some of the “secret” ingredients of home exchange (and lifestyle in general) that I’m trying to get at. You said, ” … we have more time available and have the flexibility … ” I’m not retired (yet!). I want to live my life with the “time availability” and “flexibility” of someone who is retired.

      You also mentioned “huge savings.” I think these go hand in hand. Friends talk about their extravagant two-week vacation in Hawaii … but they spent most of their hard-earned cash on the fancy hotel.

      For me, part of it is simple math: if I can save the thousands that go to a hotel, maybe I could make that two-week vacation a four-week vacation. If I have to work in there, hey, I’m happy to work if that allows me the flexibility of having a longer (and richer) experience.

      Thanks so much for the note, I really appreciate it.

      • Brian Luckhurst at Home Exchange 50plus July 17, 2013 at 2:54 am

        Yes the more you can save on the accommodation costs the more you can spend on other items which may include staying longer. It is not just the savings on accommodation though also the fact that you are self catering and don’t have to eat out every night which can get very expensive and boring after a while.

  5. Bradley Charbonneau July 17, 2013 at 10:18 pm - Reply

    Hi Brian,
    You’re right, thanks for bringing that up that you have a kitchen. It makes such a difference that you don’t have to eat out every night. We had a great dinner last night here in our little outside garden here in Amsterdam. Kids could then easily go to bed and we can stay outside and enjoy–and not have to return from a restaurant.

    “Expensive and boring” is right! Thanks, Brian.

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