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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11 Free and Cheap Souvenir Ideas for Your Child’s Next Vacation

One of the most fun aspects of going on a vacation for children is the ability to get souvenirs. Whether it’s a shell plucked from the sand of a beach, or a ticket stub from a favorite theme park, children like to collect souvenirs as a reminder of a favorite trip. If you’ve ever been to a gift shop while on vacation, you know prices can be steep, particularly in popular tourist destinations. However, you can get free and cheap souvenirs for your children (and maybe even yourself!) on your next house swap vacation. Read below to find out your best options!

Photo used under Creative Commons from Source

Photo used under Creative Commons from Source

Stamped Pennies

Many theme parks, such as Disney Parks, have stamped penny machines. These machines take a common penny, and for the typical price of $.50 to $1.25, will flatten, elongate, and stamp a penny with a random image. Did you know that you can find these machines all over the United States? Next time you decide to take a vacation with a home exchange, look for a penny stamping machine. Websites like PennyCollector.com will provide you with a list by state and country of penny machines, so you can visit one or several machines on your trip. Once home, you and your child can arrange the pennies in a frame, and maybe include a note about where you got each penny. If going overseas, having a few pieces of the local currency is always a good way to get a souvenir as well.

Pins and Buttons

I like to collect a pin from every place I travel, whether it be a theme park, zoo, museum, or just a new city. I display my pins on a lanyard on my walls, where they’re a patchwork of memories of fun vacations. Encouraging your children to opt for a small souvenir, such as a pin, saves room in your suitcase (and avoids you having to pay pesky overages!), and lets you stretch the souvenir budget. Most pins range between $3.99 to $8.99 in price, and some locations will have a variety of designs, so you can choose your favorite. Next time you visit a place on a house exchange, consider purchasing a pin so you can remember your trip to Dallas, Texas or Venice, Italy, or wherever you may end up! Once home, you can display them on a lanyard, or try putting them in a piece of cork board. If you frame the cork, you have an attractive display of souvenirs that are cheap, fun, and small, yet eyecatching! Your visitors will comment on the clever display and ask you questions about where you’ve been – it’s a perfect conversation piece for adults, and fun for kids.

Photo used under Creative Commons Source

Photo used under Creative Commons Source


Magnets are another option for a cheap souvenir while on a house swap. Some travelers love to cover their fridge’s surface with magnets for every place they’ve been, while others like to just buy a few as they travel. Whatever your “style,” you can rest assured you will find a magnet for any place you travel, if there’s a gift shop handy! For your kids, you can issue little challenges when collecting magnets, such as “for this trip, collect magnets that feature animal” or “choose a magnet for your favorite stop on the vacation.” You can also get a dry erase board with a magnetic surface, hang it up, and display all of your magnets there.

Brochures, Pamphlets, and Menus

Souvenirs don’t have to be expensive. Are you visiting a number of good local restaurants and attractions? Why not just collect the brochures and various other “ephemera” to bind up in a scrapbook? You can collect them for your child, and then when you get home, you can make a scrapbook together. Let them decorate the pages with stickers, photos, and drawings illustrating your vacation, and write about why they liked each place. It’s a personalized souvenir that didn’t cost you anything, except maybe the materials such as crayons, etc. Your next home exchange with The Vacation Exchange will probably provide plenty of options for this souvenir type!

Fill Up a DIY Passport

Why can’t kids have a “passport” of their own? There are multiple printable versions online for your child to use on your next home exchange. You can take the example of this crafty mother and make your own. Sit and browse with your child online, looking for things to do, places to visit, and restaurants to visit on your trip. Then fill in the journal with each “thing” and let your child illustrate the “passport” throughout. If you want, you can even purchase inexpensive stickers to give to your child for each destination. As you visit each place listed in the book, they get to collect a sticker. At the end of the trip, they’ve checked off the places, added their drawings, and have a sticker to commemorate the events. This version of a souvenir is a much more personal option than a gaudy gift shop stuffed animal or plastic toy, and also won’t take up room in the suitcase.

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5 Exciting Places This Winter for a Vacation Exchange

As winter arrives, you may be thinking of a good destination for a home exchange vacation. While Aspen is one of the most popular winter vacation destinations, if you’re looking for a new set of ideas, we’ve got plenty. Consider a house swap vacation in one of these exciting spots this winter.


Have you ever visited Michigan in the winter? The state is known for its ample amounts of snow and an abundance of activities. It’s time to consider Michigan for your next house swap, because we have plenty of options for you to explore the state.

Frankenmuth is known as Michigan’s “Little Bavaria” and is less than three hours from several of our Michigan home exchange properties. This charming town features has things to do for adults and kids alike, including indoor and outdoor activities. The town has a magic about it, and you’ll feel you’ve been transported to a quaint German village. Tourists and residents love watching the clock tower at noon, 3 p.m., 6 p.m., and 9 p.m. daily as the landmark plays a 35 bell Carillion and then depicts imagery from the Piped Piper of Hamlin folk tale. A Christmas museum, and Frankenmuth’s famous fried chicken are just a few of the reasons to visit for a quick day trip.

Photograph used under Creative Commons - Flickr user eepaul

Photograph used under Creative Commons from  Flickr user eepaul

If you’d like to indulge in winter sports, you can’t go wrong with Michigan. Tubing, sledding, skiing, and snowmobiling are just some of the options for this great state. Nubs Nob is known as a great ski destination for families, and features 43 slopes. For a departure from winter sports, consider a little cultural exploration. Do you love exploring wineries? Suttons Bay has several wineries for you to visit, such as Black Star Farms, L. Mawby Vineyards, and Longview Winery. If museums are more your taste, Michigan has several throughout the state worth seeing, including The Henry Ford Museum, Great Lakes Children’s Museum, and the History Center of Traverse. When the snow is falling, you can take in art and history at your leisure at these attractions.

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