We know you will enjoy these house swap stories from our HomeLink members.
“A wonderful way to travel …. Jack, thanks to you and ‘HomeLink the friendship maker!’ for making this all possible … À bientôt.”
Hélène et Wilfrid Lavallée from Chelsea Québec
HomeLink members N° CA91393
New friendships through HomeLink
‘In September 2016, we had an exchange with Claudette and Daniel in La Salvetat Peyrales in the Aveyron Region of France. As soon as we met at the Toulouse Airport we knew that we would become friends with this endearing couple. The four of us even regretted only having a few days at each end of our exchange to spend together. But thanks to technology (Messenger and Skype) we stayed in touch. At the end of 2017 Daniel and Claudette informed us they had concluded another exchange in Chelsea for 3 weeks in February 2018 (non-simultaneous) as they really wanted to discover a Quebec winter; the exchange house would be about 5 minutes from ours. At our end, as we waited for their arrival, we prepared a menu of winter activities that they eagerly accepted. These included Ottawa Winterlude, free museum visits on Thursday nights, Omega Park to witness the wild animals in winter, the Alpaca Farm of Chelsea, Montebello and Mont Tremblant ski resort and spa for a day, dinner show for Valentine’s Day and they even joined us for our aqua fitness classes. This is just a glimpse of the three weeks with our friends.
Then in September 2018, we had an exchange in Ascain, southwest of France and Claudette and Daniel rented a nice chalet in Hendaye 15 minutes from our house. We spent time together discovering the Basque Country. And now, in early 2019 we have concluded an exchange in Victoria, BC and at the same time in June-July. They will have one in Vancouver which will allow us to make the most of both destinations but specially to spend time with these wonderful friends who enrich our lives.
Happy New Year to all HomeLink exchangers
~ Hélène et Wilfrid Lavallée from Chelsea Québec
For more on our previous adventures, check out my book ‘Before it’s too late‘
“Before it’s too late, I wanted to share anecdotes of our travels of the past twenty years doing house exchanges. From Québec to Europe and from Australia to New Zealand, I invite you to join me on this road trip where you will discover all the benefits of this unique way of travelling…before it’s too late.”
[Please see HomeLink’s NewsBytes webpage for more information]
~ Hélène Lavallée, Chelsea Québec
Hello again, Jack and Leanne,
Wilfrid and I are back from a wonderful exchange in Queen Valley, Arizona where we had access not only to the house but also to a beautiful cabin in the mountains and I thought I would share our Shutterfly album with you. Probably too long but it was such an incredibly beautiful journey through 5 of the major Parks of Arizona and Utah that I wanted to share it with you.
We wish you the best for the New Year and a very Merry Christmas.
Best regards to both of you and thank you for making our trips possible through our house exchanges.
~ Hélène Lavallée, Chelsea Québec
The thing I like about HomeLink, compared to other home exchange sites, is generally the members are very serious about doing an exchange. Requests are answered promptly and members don’t dilly-dally on making a decision. At the moment I do have an exchange for 2018 for Hawaii. We haven’t finalized anything yet as we agree on the year but will need to work on the dates. These people are so incredibly flexible on dates that I have no worries. I am the one who is often not as flexible as I would like to be.
Again, thank you for your help. Happy home exchanging!
~ Andrew S., Victoria BC
We are very glad to have had the chance to exchange homes with Carol.
Because it was a non simultaneous exchange, we had the opportunity to meet each other. We had such a wonderful time sharing a Raclette and talks together.
Carol and Don are open minded and loveable people. We found everything best prepared for us in Carol’s cozy and gorgeous home in the middle of Vancouver downtown and enjoyed our stay very much. This was one more of our best exchanges we had. Carol and Don left our place in Switzerland in perfect condition. Thank you Carol and Don, you are great hosts. You deserve a 5-star-rating.
~ Karlheinz, Savièse Switzerland
We had a wonderful time at Lin and Frank’s home in Somerset. They left us dinner the first night we arrived, cookies, a bottle of local cider and fruit which were very much appreciated. We thoroughly enjoyed staying in Dairy House with its old slate floors, large rooms and beautiful new conservatory at the back. Their garden and the surrounding homes, roads and fields are charming. Frank and Lin provided a wealth of very helpful information about their house and the local area and suggested many activities for us to do while visiting. We were able to explore Bath, Wells, Glastonbury, Stonehenge and Cornwall with the flexibility and convenience of their car. I was very glad to have a chance to meet Lin and Frank when they arrived at my house in Victoria. This was a wonderful house exchange for us on our first trip to England.
~ Carol B., Victoria BC
Amazing Trip!! WE loved their beautiful home and big beautiful backyard in Plerin Brittany. The fresh eggs from the chickens were a lovely treat!!
Excellent people to exchange with. They welcomed us with maps and ideas of things to do. Definitely a home you will feel welcome in.
~ Jane & Lloyd, Toronto ON
This home exchange was absolutely wonderful. We were picked up at the cruise terminal by their son and brought to their lovely home in a small town called Schoorl. Every day was an adventure either by car or by bicycle. There are so many bike routes to discover and the bike lanes make it so safe and easy. The excellent communication between both parties made this a perfect home exchange. Thank you Rietje and Hans for everything.
I believe you had a great time too.
~ Sandra and Georg, Tsawwassen BC
Our exchange with Tom and Leila was our very first HomeLink experience. From the very first communication, they were prompt, clear, and helpful, and we had a lovely weekend at Scotch on the Rocks in Vernon BC. Their neighbours, Dennis and Karen, were also helpful and kind, and the house was comfortable and perfect for our mini holiday. They left our home in perfect condition, and we would be very happy to exchange with them again.
~ Lynelle and Tim, Victoria BC
David D., Vancouver BC says :
I was asked by a friend : “Would you mind sending me the name of the home swap company you used.”
I told him: This one ‘_____.com is the “largest database” site, but I felt that they were ‘too big’, as the response for Exchange Requests were mostly ignored. I attempted to exchange last year with people in Maui………..futile!
I absolutely like this site HOMELINK the best for ease of use, functionality and responses were much better from these Members. Had about 6 or 7 wonderful Exchanges, ALL from THIS site only. We are actually having a couple from NZ over for lunch tomorrow, who we exchanged with in 2009, and are just travelling through Vancouver from an Alaskan cruise, and we have stayed friends with. ……….. I would strongly suggest starting the search early (about 6 months to a YEAR before you wish to go away) and Good Luck!!
Bernie and Ann Johnston, Comox BC
We have been members since 1998 and have had a wonderful time with our exchanges. I can’t begin to tell you how much we have enjoyed the people we have exchanged with through the years.
We’ve been twice to Australia, to Germany, Holland, England, Ireland, California, Vancouver, Pitt Meadows and have had many adventures along the way. Bernie developed a bad cold on his hike through the Gap of Dunloe, turned into pneumonia and was taken to the doctor’s house for two days to recuperate!
We went the wrong way on a train out of Sydney, rode to the end of the line and the guards set us straight and made sure we went the right way back to Sydney to catch our real train.
We’ve been to Rugby World Cup and rubbed noses with the Maori and we lived the dream as the kids say all because of HomeLink.
Thanks so much for a wonderful 16 years and know that we are bowing out with grins a mile wide on our old faces!
~ Bernie and Ann
Seamus ‘Shay’ & Sherry McAuley
Seamus ‘Shay’ sent this testimonial to an acquaintance in Northern Ireland, who was interested in finding out about Home Exchanging.
“I emigrated from Northern Ireland in 1971. Looking back on about 25 years as a member of HomeLink and 20+ amazing Home Exchanges later, plus the many lifelong friends we’ve made along the way, Sherry and I both feel that we won the Lottery when we joined HomeLink. Back then we were just 2 working people with 2 young boys and we Loved to Travel whenever we could afford it. Unfortunately, the cost of Accommodation and Transportation were prohibitive – until HomeLink eliminated BOTH – which has enabled us to Travel more Often and Stay Longer. We both firmly believe that home exchanging is ABSOLUTELY the BEST way to travel. Whenever possible we also try to include a vehicle exchange as well, which really cuts down on costs. I’m not sure what the regulations would be at ‘home’ re Vehicle Insurance but here in Canada it’s really simple…..we make an agreement with our Exchangees that if either of us has an accident – we agree to pay the Deductible or Excess or whatever your policy calls it …..and our /their insurance will take care of the rest and so far we have never had an issue. A recent Exchangee from NZ told us that their 6 week Home Exchange with us had saved them $12,000 on their Canadian Ski Holiday.
“Besides the cost savings……….and this is something we hadn’t anticipated – one of the Biggest benefits of Home Exchanging is that …… when you stay in Motels and Hotels, you meet other people who are on the go and whatever friendships may be formed are fleeting and fast forgotten ……. BUT When you do a Home Exchange – You Become Part of a Neighbourhood – and very often you get to know your Exchangees’ Neighbours, Family and Friends better than you know your Exchangees, because often you’re both in Transit at the same time.Sherry and I have found Home Exchanging to be a wonderful experience and it has provided us with some wonderful memories and experiences and even after 25 years, many of our Exchangees remain friends.”
~ Cheers, Seamus” (Fruitvale BC)
Peter & Tanya MacLeod
Hi HomeLink, Congrats and well done. We always get questions about our various exchanges and refer them to you. and… a few interesting stories too!
“Our exchange in Utrecht was in a houseboat…” always raises eyebrows.
“They settled us into their hillside luxury apartment overlooking Lago Maggiore near Locarno in southern Switzerland, asked us to leave the keys in their mailbox when we decided to leave and drove off in their Mercedes.” It is always an adventure…
Cheers and thank you,
Peter K. MacLeod (Gatineau QC)
We have just returned from an extended family vacation that began with a three week exchange in France. This was our first exchange and it was a fabulous experience that would not have been possible without the services of HomeLink. So, many thanks to all your efforts in creating an avenue for such opportunities to happen. Since our holiday extended beyond the exchange we were even able to meet our host family and share a meal. It was great to spend some time with them as we feel they are friends through our many HomeLink correspondences. The experience has enhanced our travels by giving us much more insight into the culture and way of life in France.
We would encourage anyone to give HomeLink a try and are fairly certain they will be happy with the results. Living in the fairly remote city of Sault Ste. Marie we were skeptical that anyone one would want to come here. However, we had many offers of exchange from all over Europe. Our exchange experience has greatly exceeded our expectations and we will be planning for more exchanges in the future.
Cheers, Kim Caldwell (Sault Ste. Marie ON)
Your management at HomeLink reminds me of the old ads for Speedy Muffler. You’re making us feel like “somebody.” We greatly appreciate your assistance. When we are successful in our search it will be entirely due to your efforts. Thank you very much. David and Lawrie Scott (Bracebridge ON)
I wanted you to know about a rather extraordinary exchange we did this Summer. We had arranged an exchange with Ms. Elana Scraba and Mr. Peter McNab in Oak Bay, Victoria, B.C. However, about three weeks before we were due to leave, we received a message from Elana saying that they would be unable to do the exchange due to family issues. But that we weren’t to cancel our plans because they would move into a friend’s home for the three weeks that we would be there. At first we presumed that they had simply changed their minds about exchanging and were counting on our refusing their offer, which we did initially. To our surprise they wrote back asking us to please not cancel because they would feel terrible if our vacation were to be ruined because of their problem. In all they sent us three messages to that effect and we felt that it would be insulting to their generosity if we continued to demure. So, we went ahead with our travel plans.
These lovely people not only vacated their home for three weeks, they also met us at the airport and saw that we were comfortably installed in their home before they left. We had a great holiday and were able to visit with family, all because of the generosity of two perfect strangers.
We feel that their act of kindness went far beyond the normal exchange protocol and would appreciate it if you could post this letter on your forum.
Lise and Robert (St-Basile-le-Grand QC)
Just letting you know that we had a wonderful exchange with Jennifer & Jeff in Australia. It was their first and our second exchange and all went exceedingly well. Although we haven’t formally met Jennifer & Jeff, through our web communicating they have become new/old friends.
We have been singing the praises of HomeLink to all who are interested. Thank you for being there and providing assistance when we needed it. Happy Holidays!
Phyllis Harris & Rod Sills (Toronto ON)
Ron and Phyl – “We have been members of HomeLink International since 1986 and have been enjoying frequent, wonderful, local and overseas home exchange holidays – now twenty-plus! All of them in comfortable homes and interesting locations at minimal costs, while making some lasting friendships with ‘exchangers’ and their friends.
During our eighteen exchanges we have never had anything missing from our home or damaged, except for the accidental breakage of crockery or an ornament – which we have also accidentally done in our exchanger’s home.
We would not be able to afford so many holidays if we had to pay for motel accommodation, rental cars, and dining out all the time.
Wishing you and your members lots of exciting future exchanges.”
Jason and Meredith – “Hi, we have just got back from a major trip from UK, we had 3 home swaps in UK in the one trip. We also traveled with a 2 and 4 year old – wow what a hoot!!
We traveled right across England from Devon County to Scotland to Ireland and back, around 20,000 kilometres in 4 months, 85 castles and a hell of a lot of B&Bs to boot. I loved it, my wife … well just put it this way, I’m still sucking up to her as she ended up being the baby sitter.
People still look at us as if we’re strange. They say “You went where? For how long? With two kids at that age? Are you all there?” The answer to that must be “no”. But you only have one life, LIVE IT. By the way we don’t live in the grand palace, but do have a nice three bed with a spa on the Sunshine Coast 5 min from the Beach.”
Wendy B. – “Last year we made four hospitality exchanges to France, Holland, Germany, and England. This year I am returning to Europe to spend more time with friends made on previous hospitality exchanges in the Lake District, and in Burgundy in France.
“There are some very special experiences that are unique to hospitality exchange holidays. The most important has been friendships that last long after the visit is over. We like the sense of being a part of the place where we are staying. And having your hosts there to make suggestions each day about what to see, often away from the beaten track, makes for experiences and memories different to the usual.
“If you can’t live without every aspect of your life being predictable, if you don’t really like meeting new people, if you don’t think of life as a wonderful adventure with surprises around every corner, then hospitality and home exchange are probably not for you.
“But if like us, you travel to meet people and learn about how different and similar we all are, then hospitality is the holiday for you. Good luck, enjoy the experience, give it a go!”
June A. – “Well, we have just returned from our 7 week UK holiday, when we explored England, Scotland, and Wales, and it was great! Our hosts met us at Heathrow, had the flat stocked with food for us and anything else we might need and went out of their way to assist us. Our home base at Newmarket near Cambridge provided us with a ‘home away from home’.
Now it is our turn to do the same for them when they come here at Christmas. We trust that we can make their stay as enjoyable as ours was.
Long live HomeLink International!”
Leanne W. – “Using the HomeLink International directories we arranged a world trip with three exchanges, one in Italy, one in Switzerland, and the other in the USA.
I constantly tell people that our world holiday was better than we ever could have wished for.
Norma W. – “Since we wrote last year we have been home and hospitality exchanging to England, France, the Hunter Valley, Runaway Bay, Mildura and the Barossa Valley. And we have also hosted people from Germany, and USA Now we have invitations to spend time in Lake Tahoe and Napa Valley in California, also the Burgundy region of France and the Black Forest in Germany.”
Rob and Judy – “We have had two successful exchanges so far. Our first swap was to Beechworth! We had never thought of going there for a holiday, but thought “Why not!” as this was the reason for holiday swaps. We met with our exchange couple on the way. I was a little nervous, thinking what if we don’t like them! But all was well – they were a lovely couple and we filled each other in on the finer points of our homes.
“Our second swap was to Kangaroo Island – what a delight! It was our exchange partners’ first swap and they were really apprehensive. However, we talked to them on the phone and during the exchange, they said that if this was what holiday swapping was about then they were completely sold on the idea.
“We have been pouring through the latest HomeLink listings online and look forward to our next trip soon!”
Kate Q. – “Our first exchange was with an English couple – we swapped our holiday unit on the Sunshine Coast with their luxury holiday apartment on the French Riviera. Overlooking the Marina and the Bay des Anglais it was very centrally situated. We then had the use of our German exchanger’s apartment in the French Alps, set in the most marvellous scenery, while their home was in a small village just a few kilometres from the Rhine. This was an ideal base to explore the many medieval castles and villages in the area. We then stayed with the Netherlands couple in their home on a dyke – a hospitality exchange.
“We were delighted with our exchanges. We went prepared to take what was offered, any small inconveniences, which were no fault of our hosts, were rendered insignificant by the warmth of our welcome and the delightful setting of the homes. All the homes we stayed in were very comfortable and welcoming to come home to. Our days were filled with relaxing at the beach, picnicking by the Rhine, feasting on mussels in Belgium or sampling the wines in France. Even just shopping for food supplies in Europe was a cultural experience in itself. We definitely recommend home exchange and we are now planning our next trip!”
Christine H. (AU) – “My husband and I have just returned from a round-the-world-holiday experience of a lifetime, thanks to a large contribution from HomeLink International. Our first two swaps were in Alberta Canada for 8 weeks – 5 weeks in Rocky Mountain House, a small town east of the Rockies, and 3 weeks in Calgary.
“Next swap – Vienna, a hospitality exchange. We were a little uncertain about accepting hospitality exchange, but our host was so keen to have us visit we could hardly have said no. It was a wonderful visit in a small village, 20 kilometres by train from Vienna and next to the famous woods.
“Then back to England for three weeks in Nottinghamshire. Our fellow exchangers were teachers and the timing was perfect for them – in the August school holidays – a happy coincidence. We didn’t actually meet, but our cars passed on the A1! Everything worked perfectly. Thank you HomeLink for this wonderful adventure.”
Ian and Silvi – “Our first exchange was last year to Norway and we are waiting for our family from Spain to come this weekend. A second Spanish family will be here all of March. We hope to travel to Spain in Sept/Oct next year. We will then catch up with our Norwegian exchange family. We will be searching for more exchanges in Europe before our trip. So far everything has worked very well for us.”
Barry and Maureen – “We spent a wonderful 2 weeks in Wenduine in Belgium on the coast. To travel by train we bought a 50 euro train pass which enabled us to travel as far as possible in one direction for 5 euros each and then the same for return. We visited a lovely town called Ipers and went through a fantastic museum which has a simulated no-mans land complete with sound effects. Our host, who moved out of his apartment for us, took us to Paris for the weekend and we saw so much as he had spent a lot of time there. Highlight of our trip.
His daughter came to our home for 2 weeks the next year and she was a great person to have around. Not a member now (but still hoping to be again if husband’s health improves), I would only stay in apartments with handy access to rail or transport, close to shops, and with good security. Houses out in the sticks with no conveniences would be a no-no. Always go to the local pub, even if you don’t drink, and the locals will be delighted.
HomeLink is a great way to see the world! Thanks for sending us past members your friendly reminders.
DISCLAIMER: The comments and stories displayed above are unsolicited, and have been received over time by HomeLink International in written correspondence from its members. Some of these members may no longer hold current membership status. HomeLink is unable to verify the accuracy of any statements or assertions made by its members, and waives any responsibility for same. These are not to be considered a representation as to the likelihood of similar results being attained by any other person in future.