We have probably had 18 exchanges. In addition, several of them have stayed with us several time and others have visited us afterwards. We have also had non-simultaneous exchanges, people who have come to us, with whom we have not exchanged, eg from New Zealand.
Over 30 years ago, Ikea had a home exchange catalogue. I brought it home and thought it looked exciting to go on holiday to another country, without costing a fortune. We had 3 children and not much money, as well as the fact that I had a fear of flying.
I have a husband who is probably a little less spontaneous than I am and I knew for sure that he would say no if I asked him if we should try to exchange homes.
After all, this was at the time when we were sent a printed catalogue and there weren't that many people who had pictures (only room for 1) in the catalogue. It was really exciting to sit and browse through the catalogue. I found 2 places in Sweden and wrote letters to them. I got a letter back and both families were interested in coming to Lura.
In one letter a lady said that they had not thought of going to Norway that year at all but when they saw the picture of our house they thought it looked so nice that they decided on a trip to Norway anyway.
Then one day the phone rang and on the other end was a Swedish lady. We just HAD to come to them! They were staying in the �caravan by the beach� in the summer and her husband was somewhere else working during the holidays. They couldn't come to us, but we were to stay in their apartment. She was so persuasive that I finally said yes to her too.
Thus, we were to stay with 3 different families during our 3 weeks of holiday (we then learned that clearing out 3 houses was not smart, so then we would only go to one place each holiday).
Then it was time to tell my husband and children what I had found. Oops - it went as I had thought. My husband and our eldest son were not too afraid to travel to other countries and live there. But - who would come to live here? And what would our house look like when we got home?
The 2 youngest were completely all in, right away. Imagine being able to travel all the way to Sweden! This was simply huge!
Of course I had to explain why I had just agreed without telling them in advance. My husband naturally agreed that he would have said no if I had asked him. I explained at the same time that if we didn't try this, we would never know how this would work for us.
The holiday came and we left for the family who lived in "V�gen vid stranden". We were invited to a barbecue party on the beach the first evening and it was a blast. Our 2 boys aged 15 and 13, even went on a day trip to Denmark with their eldest daughter and her best friend. Guess they were satisfied?!
The next place was in Norrk�ping. There we stayed with a family we had never met. And the last place was with an elderly couple in Angelholm. We arrived to the set table with everything you could imagine. Very nice people. They had filled the entire fridge with food for us, so it was quite embarrassing. They have also visited us later.
There was never a question as to whether or not we should change homes several times. The question was: Where should we go next year?
Here is a picture from one of our great house-swapping trips to Thailand:
Home exchange in Thailand. Here is the reception committee, which consisted of the Host�s mother's secretary, maid and her staff. We had a completely different holiday than I had imagined, a great experience, which you probably wouldn't have got on a charter trip.
Thai Take Away
Good work on the beach is rewarded with ice cream, the Thai way.
We had a unique opportunity to be part of a relief mission in the Burmese Triangle. These are refugees who do not have an identity.
It was absolutely wonderful to be able to participate and distribute food, water, sweaters and blankets for everyone. And at the end, they each got a piece of candy. We were thanked with a song by a girl, at the end. Probably none of us had a dry eye.