Must-Have Apps for Traveling Abroad


It used to be when you went abroad, on a house exchange or cruise, that you had a few time-tested tools of navigating your way around the places you visited. It wasn’t uncommon to have a pocket guide for common phrases, currency exchange rates, and another travel needs. Now that we have smartphones and tablets, everything has gotten a little easier, and that includes travel. Here are some great apps for your next house swapping trip abroad.

Languages: Google Translate (Free on iOs and Android)

Need to say “Where is the hospital?” or “Is this the right train?” on your next Paris house exchange? Communication is no problem with these translation apps. Travel + Leisure declares Google Translate the most comprehensive app, and it’s definitely that. Google Translate is free and features 64 languages for typed and spoken translation. You can even translate with your camera and offline, which saves that valuable data as you participate in a house exchange in areas where data charges are high.

Transit: Moovit (Free on iOS, Android, Windows Store)

There is nothing more I hate than wandering a city clueless about its public transportation system. Google Maps always makes me download a separate transit app for the area or a generic Transit app that may work with the bus or subway, so finally I decided to get an app that could handle everything. That’s Moovit. Moovit is a crowd-sourced transit information app for 55 countries. It informs you on the best routes for public transit, as well as any interruptions you may face. It also lets you see what’s nearby, and shows you points of interest, so you’ll never be bored on your next house swapping adventure.

Currency Exchange: XE Currency (Free on iOS, Android)

XE Currency has been a currency exchange tool for years, first in the form of a website, now in a mobile app. It’s free, and helps you calculate the currency exchange rate for over 180 currencies. The Pro version unlocks a few more features and doesn’t feature advertisements. No need for the currency exchange charts that get outdated within weeks now.

Documents: CamScanner (Free on iOs, Android)

When traveling abroad for any reason, we often need to have important documents with us. We may need medical papers, papers for our animals, and other documents. CamScanner is a good way to take a photo of them and create an easily accessible as a PDF. It’s a free app I’ve used to catalog receipts and other things while traveling or at home, and it’s easy to use.

Hopefully your next house swapping trip will be a little easier thanks to these apps. Just be aware of your surroundings and be sure you don’t app and walk, or you may end up in a fountain or out in the middle of a strange street!

Contact us for more information on house swapping either in the United States or internationally, because we have properties located throughout the world, and want to let you travel the world your own way!





Just Added: Stunning St. Thomas, Virgin Islands Retreat

Do you want to go to the Virgin Islands this summer? We’ve just added this great new property to The Vacation Exchange Network! You can make this your home away from home.

Spacious deck offers great views.

Spacious deck offers great views. A nice option for outdoor dining!

This 3 bedroom beach house features breathtaking panoramic views, and has a gorgeous pool. Only a two minute walk to a private beach, you’ll find it’s comfortable for your family thanks to a spacious Master bedroom with a king-sized bed, and two additional bedrooms with bunk beds and a queen. After a long day enjoying the sights and sounds of the beach, you can relax in the TV lounge room or on the property’s deck. The property overlooks Pillsbury Sound, and is a few minutes walk or drive to markets and nightlife entertainment.

St. Thomas House Exchange Property at The Vacation Exchange

Comfortable and luxurious furnishings make you feel right at home.

Interested in a house swap with this property? Contact us today, and find more information on the property ID page. Our vacation exchange properties are located throughout the world, and we want to help you leverage a stay in your home for a stay in this or any other properties we have in the network!

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15 Ways to Have Fun on a Beach House Exchange with Kids 

Embarking on a beach vacation on your next house exchange? The beach offers swimming, and fun in sand, but if you’re in need of a few more ideas, we’ve got you covered. No matter what age your children are,we’ve got plenty of tips and tricks for you to make entertaining them a snap. After all, you’re on vacation too, right? You may find that some of our house exchange properties even have private beach access! Let’s see what you can do with your kids this summer at the beach!

Original image used under Creative Commons from Flickr user Lukema.

Original image used under Creative Commons from Flickr user Lukema.

1. Fly a kite. Kites are inexpensive, and it’s fairly easy to fly one.  Stop by a discount store and pick up a few colorful kites for fun.

2. Erect a beach tent. Not only will you have fun, but you’ll also be providing some good shade for the little ones. This is a good way to use an old sheet, and a few sticks to make a good place to play.

3. What trip to the beach is complete without building a sandcastle? Be sure to pack your bucket (stop by a dollar store before leaving to grab one), and start sculpting. You can decorate with shells, coral and all even food coloring for fun, colorful sand.

4. Do a nature walk. Take time to look up facts about the nature in the area, and make a checklist of things you can see. You can include options

5. Have a picture scavenger hunt. Take your camera or phone, and see if you can snap photos of any the sights and sounds of the beach. Your targets can include a hermit crab, a piece of driftwood, a pink sun hat, etc. Make a list of 10-12 things and get hunting!

6. Get out on the water. Many properties that are located near a beach for house exchange are not far from kayak, paddleboat, and other watercraft rentals.

7. Have a water fight. Grab your water guns and some water balloons, and chase each other down the beach (just be aware of other visitors!), seeing who can splash who first.

8. Make a sand volcano. It looks messy but it’s really just a lot of sand and water, but it’s big fun. Pile the sand into a mountain, carve out the crater where the water (lava) will erupt and start dropping buckets of water into it to see the way the lava flows down the sides of the mountain. Little kids can do this over and over with fascination.

9. Play musical towels. It’s like musical chairs but with towels, and is the perfect game for more than two kids. You can play the music on your smartphone then turn it on and off to start the race to towels.

10.  Turn a towel into a checkerboard and use shells for pieces. You can use a ratty old towel or one from the discount store to be your board by just coloring on it with a Sharpie. Be sure to use a ruler to get the lines sharp!

11. Collect shells. Start collecting shells and sand in small jars to make memory jars later. You can also keep your treasures in a Ziploc baggie.

12. Have a treasure hunt. This one can get kids playing for quite a long time. Try hiding a small box in the sand with small prizes, such as a card game or keychain, inside. Then make a “treasure map” with a few clues, and let the kids start the hunt.

13. Visit the Boardwalk. Most beaches have a Boardwalk area with a fun souvenir stores, dive shops, etc. You can browse and maybe even snag a piece of salt taffy.

14. Boogie board race. Kids 5 and up love boogie boarding, and why not turn their fun into a race? You can see who can get to the shoreline first.

15. Go beach bowling. Take one beach bowl, a bucket, and some sand, and what can you do? Beach bowl! It’s easy to make the pins and kids will have fun trying to knock them down.

What are your favorite activities on the beach?

At The Vacation Exchange, we know vacations and offer a wide network of house exchange properties. Our network lets you join for the first year for free, and leverage your vacation house for a stay in anyone else’s in the network! So you can own a house in Portland, Oregon, and leverage it for a stay in Destin, Florida, even if the homeowner doesn’t stay in your home! Contact us for more information, and find out how you can travel the word.





How to Unlock Valuable Vacation Savings On Your Next Trip


Piggy bank used under Creative Commons from 401kCalculator on Flickr

We all know that vacations can be expensive, especially if you choose to do a lot of activities or dine out often. Depending on what’s on your itinerary, you may spend a couple thousand on your next trip, but if you follow these tips below, you can get valuable vacation savings on attractions, services and food. If you’re a member of The Vacation Exchange, you already know how to save on accommodations by house swapping, but let’s look at these suggestions too on saving money on your vacation.

Look Local for Savings 

Many highway restaurants such as The Village Inn and local diners will have coupon booklets at the front of their restaurant. Once you’ve picked your destination, if you’re driving to your vacation home, try snagging a few. You can also find these at state visitor centers for free as well as rest stops. You can also try purchasing the Entertainment Book, which is available for many U.S. cities. The book includes coupons on everything from mini golf to meals to spa services. You’ll often find these for sale in local bookstores and newsstands. Don’t be afraid to phone the visitor centers and see if there’s any place you can look for discounts, or if they can send you any either.

Don’t forget AAA

If you’re a member of the AAA, you have access to multiple discounts. AAA offers a long list of savings from thousands of retailers, and you can find it on your local AAA chapter website. For example, some of their discounts include up to $5 off tickets for Sea World and Busch Garden parks, 10% off Hard Rock Cafe meals, and more. You can even locate savings on car rentals, train tickets, and other transportation options.

Save on Gas

Many of our vacation home members who do home swapping may drive or rent a car for their trip, and with that comes the necessary expense of gas. You can save on gas by looking at the cheapest gas destinations with Gasbuddy, which is a mobile app that finds gas stations near you and displays the current prices. The prices are updated by travelers just like you and are often correct. Keep using the app throughout your trip, and the savings will add up.

Visit City Forums

You may be able to get local advice before you even go on a vacation! If you’re staying in one of our available vacation homes in the Bahamas, for example, you can visit an online forum for your vacation destination, and get tips about good deals. You may find out, for example, that a museum will let you enter free after a certain time on Monday or Wednesday, or perhaps places where kids can eat free.

Do you find this post interesting or helpful? Share with your friends at the links below! You can also contact The Vacation Exchange to learn more about house exchange for your next vacation if you own a second home or vacation property. You can travel the world with us!