There is a reason that I named my blog “Trading Places.” When I travel somewhere, I like to try and experience what it would be to live life in that place, as much as possible. Yes, checking out the must-see spots and tourist attractions — there are certain sights and activities you just wouldn’t want to miss. I mean, I wouldn’t go to Paris for the first time without seeing the Eiffel Tower, or China without seeing the Great Wall.
Grafton Street, Dublin #travel #ireland #TravelerInDublin #wanderlust #lovedublin
But I also like to explore, and wander. And try my best to discover how it feels to be a part of that place. One of the best ways to do this is by staying in a home, rather than a hotel or even a strict rental apartment (although of course, being in an apartment or home in a neighborhood gives a more local feel!). And one of the best ways to stay in a home is through home exchange.
Best, of all, exchanging homes is ENTIRELY FREE.
Seriously, you can’t beat that. Free accommodations AND you get to experience a destination more in the way someone who lives there does.
I did it!Kissing the Blarney Stone. #blarneystone #ireland #travel
What is home exchange, you might wonder? At it’s most basic, it is exactly how it sounds: you stay in someone else’s home, and they stay in yours. The exchange can be simultaneous, or arranged at different times if both parties agree. I have been a member of HomeExchange.com for about 10 years, and have completed dozens of exchanges around the world including Europe, Canada, Central America, and all over the United States.
Most recently, last month I traveled alone to Ireland (my first visit), and I arranged two home exchanges:
Here I renewed contact with a Dubliner who had emailed me a year or so ago, asking if I was interested in an exchange. I stayed in her quaint brick row house just south of the city center (with a bus stop at the end of the street), and enjoyed a few days of exploring Dublin.
This is a small, charming seaside village in County Cork. My exchange was a cute flat on the 3rd & 4th floors above a fish and chips shop, right on the main town road. From here I walked around the town, and did lots of driving along the Wild Atlantic Way in County Cork and Kerry, as well.
Staying in a home like a local really made my trip. Not only did I save a HUGE amount of money on not having to pay for accommodations, but I saved money on food by having a kitchen and not having to eat out for every meal if I didn’t want to. And my exchange hosts, like most of them are, were great about recommending their personal favorite neighborhood places that really gave me more of the local feel.
This is what “trading places” is all about!