4 Romantic Destinations for a Winter House Swap Getaway

House swapping can be one of the romantic trips you’ll go on, if you choose the right destination! We’ve got the perfect places for a romantic winter getaway in 2014 or 2015! You’ll find the areas below have exchange homes that you’ll find yourself never wanting to leave. This winter, find some romance and relaxation at the following locations. They’re all part of The Vacation Exchange, a travel network that lets you leverage a stay in your vacation home for a stay in another party’s vacation home.


Yes, Wyoming is romantic! Just imagine the scenery that awaits you on a house swap in Wyoming. We have Wyoming vacation properties in Jackson, Jackson Hole and more. You could take a trip to the see the majestic Yellowstone National Park, which features an abundance of wildlife, or indulge a little shopping in some of Wyoming’s quaint small towns, browsing for antiques and more. Want some adventure while staying at one of our exchange homes? Head out on the slopes, then end the day with a cozy fireplace crackling and cups of piping hot chocolate!

New Zealand

New Zealand received a lot of attention from the Lord of the Rings films, and the views are amazing. Picture yourself enjoying yourself in one of our vacation properties available for house swapping, headed to the beach. That’s right, the weather in December in New Zealand is nice and sunny! You can have a splash in the water, and catch some rays on the gorgeous sand. Imagine a barbecue for two grilling out on the beach, or playing golf as a duo. Love wine? New Zealand has some great wine trails!

Photo used under Creative Commons from Sarahtz

Photo used under Creative Commons from Sarahtz

St. Kitts

St. Kitts is a top destination for honeymooning, but you can make a vacation to remember when you go on a house swap. Our St. Kitts and Nevis vacation properties bring all of the comforts of home right to you, so you can focus on your vacation. The area is small, but there’s plenty to do, like snorkeling, exploring the rainforest, and fishing.  If you’re an adventurous sort, you can beat going to a volcano! Mount Liamugia is a 3,792 dormant volcano that you can explore on a guided tour. Several activity options including horseback riding and four-wheeling are also nearby. While the folks back home are stuck inside due to snow, you’re out exploring a volcano with your sweetheart. Could it be better? That’s the beauty of house swapping.


Illinois has a certain appeal in the winter. The streets of Chicago look magical, with lights and snow, but there’s also Galena. It’s a big destination for weekend getaways, and our Galena properties are perfect exchange homes. Maybe you take in a bit of arts and culture, with a stop at one of the area’s galleries, or maybe a show at the Diamond Jo Casino. We have homes in resorts that offer plenty of ambiance and activities for a couples weekend of fun! Horseback riding, spas, and more are available when you on a house swap today!

The Vacation Exchange has properties throughout the world, just waiting for you! Come try a bit of relaxation in a quaint cottage or tear up the slopes at a cabin tucked high in the mountains. Our properties are all vacation properties that are completely second homes!



10 Clever Travel Gifts for the Holidays

Finding the perfect gift can be hard, and sometimes it may seem downright impossible. However, if you have a travel lover in your life and need to have a thoughtful gift, you’re in luck as I’ve chosen 10 unique gift ideas for travel fans, or maybe even yourself! As home swapping experts, we know how great travel can be, and what travelers love! Read on and get a few suggestions for your gift list.

Scratch Travel Journal

Perfect for the friend who loves to travel the world, this journal is by Uncommon Goods. It contains a trip planner, checklist, journal pages and more for use. Inside the traveler will find continent maps that feature scratch-offs so travelers can mark off where they’ve been and where they’re going to go on their voyage to a new place.

USB Portable Chargers

Nothing sucks the fun out of a vacation like a phone or tablet out of juice at the airport or in the car. You can minimize the chance of this happening with a portable USB charger. Many of the brands on the market are equipped to handle a number of device types, including Apple and Androids. It’s perfect for anyone who forgets to bring the wall adapter for their charger when on a home exchange.

Custom Instagram Photo Products

Everyone loves taking photos on their home exchange vacations, and many people share their photos on Instagram. Don’t let those photos sit online dormant when you can make them into a great travel gift! How about a custom-printed book featuring your favorite Instagram photos? Print Studio will let you put your photos not only in a book, but also on t-shirt, calendar, and more. You can share your memories of each house swap together.

Personalized Airport Departure Board

It’s time to step it up a notch with a personalized travel gift that will make them smile all year long. Think about your favorite destinations, either places you went together, or places you’ll go on a home exchange soon. You can have them added to a board and include the year of departure. Up to 10 places and dates can fit on the board, and the text recreates the same familiar text of a real departure board. It’s a great way to celebrate all of the home swapping you’ve embarked upon over the years.

GoToob Travel Bottle

This next option will stop the worry of remembering to pack a travel-size bottle of your favorite product in your carry-on. Humangear’s GoToob Travel Bottle has a no-drip valve and are airline-approved, holding 3.o oz of product. Plus they’ve got a sleek design and will make sure you know exactly what product is which since they have a spot for you to write the contents. It’s a good to get your packing all ready for your house swap.

Custom Luggage Tags

If you fly a lot, you may notice that bags at the airport all look alike. Why not minimize the chance a travel lover’s bag getting confused with another traveler’s bag, and offer custom luggage tags? Etsy is a great place for handmade luggage tags you’ll want to take on your next home swapping trip. We’ve linked to one set, but you can get them made of all types of material, with your choice of text, font size, and more.

Packing Accessories

Helping someone get the best packing for their time and energy is a great gift for this year.  Travel Packing Cubes let you organize and pack everything efficiently, so your clothes and belongings aren’t disorderly when you arrive for your house swap. By compartmentalizing your stuff into these or similar packing cubes, you don’t have to dig in the bag through everything just to find one thing, such as a charger or toothbrush. Giving the gift of organization means you give a gift that can last year after year – each time they travel!

Travel Books

Giving travel inspiration is always a good choice, especially in the form of a beautifully illustrated book or travel memoir. Wild is an upcoming movie that features the tale of Cheryl Strayed, who hikes the 1,000 miles of the Pacific Crest Trail, and is a bestselling book that will probably be under many trees this Christmas! If you’d rather go for a coffee table book, you can give a gift that will last all year long with an option like Drives of a Lifetime: 500 of the World’s Most Spectacular Tripswhich features pictorials of 500 scenic drives around the world. It’s by National Geographic and offers gorgeous photos they’ll want to look at again and again.

Noise Canceling Headphones

Riding on a train or plane, or any type of public transportation, sometimes you need to escape into your own thoughts. Here’s why a good pair of noise-cancelling headphones comes in. Some, like this Bose pair, even integrate with your smartphone, helping you take calls as well. The recipient of these or similar headphones will be able to listen to the music without disturbing other travelers, and slip into a world of their own sound. Plus they’re way less likely to get tangled than Apple headphones.

Travel Tea and Coffee Tumblers

It doesn’t matter where you go, a good drink should always be at hand. Whether it’s coffee or tea, a solid travel tumbler is just the thing to start off your days. Try a large 14 oz or big thermal mug that can keep drinks nice and hot until the end, or pt for something to help you get the perfect cup of loose tea, even while on vacation! A glass option lets you not worry about plastic and is easy to wash in the dishwasher. You can even get options that reflect the recipients interest, such as nature or books, with custom-designed tumblers. Maybe even decide to give a picture of the two of you together on a mug. Think it through and you’ll find a great one.

Please visit The Vacation Exchange Network’s site to join our home swap network, to learn more about how home exchanges work, or see all of our properties at great destinations all over the world. You can also follow us on Twitter and like us on Facebook!






A Winter Without Snow: Best Hot Climates for a December Vacation

If you’re currently in a cold climate, you might be wishing for a holiday exchange in warmer temperatures. At The Vacation Exchange, we have properties in some of the best hot climates around the world. The snow may blow and the ice may come in your hometown, but you’ll be comfortable in a t-shirt and shorts when you head to some of these destinations on a vacation house swap. Here are five picks for hot climates this winter.

South Africa

Photo used under Creative Commons from Flickr user mariya_umama_wethemba_monastery

The Kirstenboch National Botanical Gardens – Photo used under Creative Commons from Flickr user mariya_umama_wethemba_monastery

Recommended by The Lonely Planet and Conde Nast, South Africa is a great destination for a house swap this winter. Our exchange homes are available in areas including the Western Cape, Western Province, and Umlodti. South Africa’s winter is in June and runs to August, so if you’re looking to depart for a warm climate in December, it should definitely be on your list! Several of our Cape Town properties are available year-round, and feature amazing views and more. Capetown is a popular pick, and you might consider visiting attractions like Cape Point Nature Reserve or the Kirstenboch National Botanical Gardens while there.

The Bahamas

A classic for vacation for good reason, The Bahamas are a great place to visit during a winter vacation. Our Bahama vacation homes are only second homes, they are not regular residences, and thus, they offer a great place to retreat from the cold. The area is perfect for fans of deep sea fishing, diving, and other aquatic sports. Some of our exchange homes even have a dock attached. Visit areas like Nassau or Harbour Island are great for a house swap this winter. There’s activities galore, and don’t forget the great restaurants! Swim with sting rays, catch some rays on the beach, and just relax.


Ever wanted to visit Australia? December is one of the warmest months for Australia, so it’s a great destination for a holiday exchange. The continent is a good place to watch wildlife and do sight seeing at attractions like the Sydney Harbour Opera House or Blue Mountains National Park. Our vacation homes in Australia include locales like Sydney and Queensland. Stay for a while in Melbourne and try attractions like the Opal Mines, St. Patrick’s Cathedral and the Royal Exhibition Building. South Australia is fun as well for a vacation and you can head out on the Fleurieu Peninsula, located 45 minutes away from Adelaide. There’s surfing, animal farms, canoeing, and plenty more for you or your family to do you when you stay at one of our exchange homes.


Watch any vacation-home hunting show on HGTV, and you’ll see a number of episodes shot in Belize. Why? Belize is appealing for a vacation because it’s full of lush natural beauty and has a great climate. The Belize vacation homes available in the network so you can have a home swap in Cayo, San Pedro or Stann. Besides the breathtaking wildlife such as wild toucans, jaguars and more, Belize has multiple Mayan ruins to visit and climb – if you can stand the steep stairs! These ruins include Xunantunich and Cahal Pech. Whether you want a guided tour or just want to visit the structures at your own pace, Belize has options for your wishes on a holiday exchange. Want to do more in Belize during your trip? Try visiting some of the beautiful botanical gardens, underground caves, or even the butterfly ranch. For those who want a taste of adventure, there’s rafting, canoeing, ziplining, and all kinds of outdoor recreation.

Santa Rosa Beach, Florida

How about a warm weather vacation that doesn’t require a passport or a long flight? Yes this is Florida, but it’s a gem of vacation place, especially for families. Why go to Destin when several of our Santa Rosa Beach, Florida vacation homes are just as splendid as a Destin condo? Most of our properties are three or more bedrooms, plus have pools and easy beach access. You could even walk to Seaside, the famous Victorian-style beach town where the movie The Truman Show was filmed with Jim Carrey. If you want to leave the beach for awhile, there’s golf courses, chartered fishing services, and charming shops.  Don’t forget to try a visit to seafood restaurants while you’re there! Once you’ve wound down, you can start your next day off with a fun lesson in sandcastle building, and learn how to sculpt sand into captivating scenes on the beach. The waves may wash away your work, but the memories will last!

If you look out your window and see frost, it may be time to get away this holiday. Consider having a vacation in some of these great sunny and enjoyable areas this winter!

Please visit The Vacation Exchange Network’s site to join our home swap network, to learn more about how home exchanges work, or see all of our properties at great destinations all over the world. You can also follow us on Twitter and like us on Facebook!



15 Items Most People Forget on Vacation

Embarking on a vacation is often a fun experience, but planning your vacation can take a lot of work. With The Vacation Exchange, your needs for accommodation are met when you participate in a home swap, leveraging your home for a stay in another’s home – whether it’s at the same time or not. However, once you’ve decided where you’re going to stay then comes the part of packing, which is a task in itself. It helps to make a packing list, but sometimes you just forget something, and only remember when you need it! Save yourself the trouble of having to make unnecessary purchases by adding these items

1. Chargers – We’re all guilty of forgetting a phone or tablet charger at some point on vacation. Either it was plugged in, and you didn’t remember to take the charger, or you simply forgot to pack it all together. When you need to get a charger, it involves going to a store. If you’re participating in a holiday exchange on vacation, you may pay $12-20 per charger you purchase in an airport, convenience store or drugstore. Save yourself the money, and pack your charger.  A good way to keep it from getting tangled in your luggage or purse is to keep it in a hard sunglasses case.

2. Ponchos – Rain happens, and when it occurs on vacation, we don’t want our clothes to get soaked, especially if we’re outside on an adventure.  Last time I went to a theme park, it poured and I was considering shelling out $12.oo for a bright yellow Disney poncho. Save yourself the trouble, and head to the local discount center, look on Ebay, or visit a dollar store to get ponchos for everyone in the family. They’re often packaged in their own resealable bags and don’t take up much room. You’ll appreciate not having to spend $12.00 and up for your child next rainstorm – keep this in mind for a home exchange in Florida, which is known for its random patches of rain.

Photo used under Creative Commons from Flickr user hansel5569

Photo used under Creative Commons from Flickr user hansel5569

3. Umbrellas – On the topic of rain, how many times have you forgotten an umbrella on vacation? The forecasts for your vacation while on a holiday exchange can change from day to day, and you don’t want to get caught in a storm without an umbrella. You’ll soon find that if you’re in a popular vacation spot that items like umbrellas can cost around $10 and up, and who wants to pay that? Buy a small “mini” size umbrella, pack it in your bags, and you’ll be prepared.

4. Bandages and First Aid Needs – Have you ever cut yourself on vacation? Trying to find a band-aid in a public place is sometimes a hassle. You should pack a simple first aid kit to have in case of a minor cut, scrape, or bruise. Having several sizes of bandages is a good start, then consider aloe for sunburn and burns. When you need a first aid kit, why waste time scrambling to find one when you can tote along your own? If you want to save space in your suitcase or purse, try packing the bandages, aloe, and anything else in an Altoids tin. Many blogs online recommend including alcohol wipes, q-tips, a couple of a strips of waterproof tape, and cotton balls.

5. Bathing Suits – Sometimes we think that we won’t have time to swim on vacation, because we have too much planned during the home swap vacation, and then the water looks so inviting that we just have to jump in. Only what if you didn’t bring a bathing suit? Well, you can purchase a fairly unattractive one at the local WalMart if you’re lucky, or you can just go out in a t-shirt or shorts. Sometimes in all of the flurry of packing, we simply forget the bathing suit altogether. Don’t forget the bathing suit for! Roll it inside one of your shoes right away so you know it’s packed. Try packing a beach towel too, in case there aren’t any at your accommodations.

6.Over-the-Counter Medicine -Having a headache on a vacation is no fun. You can be on the best holiday exchange ever and if you need to grab a bit of Aleve or aspirin, it may entail driving to the drugstore. I can’t count how many times a flight or jet lag gave me a headache, and I ended up having to pay for $3.99 for a tiny pack of aspirin at the gas station. If you don’t want to take a full bottle of medicine, grab a trial size bottle from your local Target or drugstore.

7. Makeup and Other Beauty Products – We ladies want to look good on vacation, don’t we? What happens if you forget your mascara or even your powder? You might want to buy a replacement, but some cosmetics cost big bucks even at home. Be sure you take care to pack your make up bag. Also important? Makeup removal wipes or creams. You can buy them in a small size that’s perfect for travel, but if you have to buy a jar of say, Noxema, at the local store, you might be stuck with a cumbersome thing to jam into your suitcase later.

8. Socks – We can never pack enough socks! Roll them up and put them into your shoes, even if you plan on wearing sandals the entire trip. Tennis shoes and socks are a must for vacations, especially if it rains. Be sure to pack enough socks at least a pair for each day of your vacation, plus one more pair!

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