Home Exchange on Mother's Day

Celebrate Mother’s Day with a Change of Scenery

Mothers Day, Mothering Day, Dia de las Madres, Mama’s Day – however you say it, it’s coming up in May in most parts of the world, and unless you want to live with wrenching guilt for another year, it is a day not to be ignored. 

Property #0647 -- Devon, England
Working mothers and stay-at-home moms both deserve a day of recognition and bit of time off.  Empty-nester moms -- for all they’ve done to prepare you for the world and set you free -- deserve quality time with you and your family.  And grand mums, God bless ‘em  for all their cuddly love, deserve more than a greeting card. 

A Mother’s Day vacation at a home exchange would be a nice accompaniment to a bouquet of roses.   It doesn’t have to be in an exotic location. A get-away place close to home would thrill mom all the same. But someplace she’s always wanted to go, or someplace that holds a special memory from days past, would be an outstanding tribute to a woman who holds a special place in your heart.  So what would be a good vacation for your mom?

If she is sedentary but still in pretty good shape physically, take her to a place where there are activities that will get her up and going.  Bungee jumping and parasailing, probably not. Swimming, fishing, beachcombing, golf, sailing, and biking are possibilities. Maybe even zip-lining. It’s really quite safe, and thrilling for almost any age.
If she enjoys good food, she might like a tour of vineyards and wineries or cooking classes. If she is a multi-tasking maniac, she needs, and will oh-so-appreciate, a yoga retreat or a pampering spa. If she enjoys the theater,
Property # 0757 -- Malaga, Spain
classical music, opera and ballet, most large metropolitan cities offer these in spades.

You know your mom best.  Pick a destination from the International Vacation Home Exchange property search, then sort by number of bedrooms or number of guests. You can also view collections of property types. Many of our Boutique Hotels, Resorts, and Bed and Breakfast accommodations are particularly suited for carefree stays with mom and family.

Then check out the description of the property, its amenities, and activities available in the area and see what might be appropriate for your mom. If she uses a walker or wheelchair, disabled-friendly accommodations are noted.  For special help in this area, contact IVHE for assistance.

 Membership in the International Vacation Home Exchange is ideal for vacation home owners looking for ways to utilize their property in addition renting. Check us out at www.ivhe.com  and click WHO WE ARE and HOW IT WORKS.

For information and additional pictures of the properties featured above, click on the property #.  And wish your mom a happy day.

Blogsmith: Mike DiPrima

Luxury Vacation Home Exchange

Home exchange for the disable

Open your doors to the disabled and let the good times roll

  Image source: free digital photos.net/cooldesign

 A change of scenery, new experiences, new people – vacations relieve the stress of everyday living and energize the spirit. We all need them occasionally, but none more so than the disabled.

If you are a vacation home exchanger who welcomes disabled people – including the elderly -- with accommodations and amenities suited to their special needs, you own a special place in their hearts. And you know what it does for yours.

By all means highlight your accessibility features in your property listing. Update your listing if necessary by revisiting the tick options and checking “Disabled friendly.”  If you have a lift in your home, there is a new tick option for that. 

There is a growing demand, stoked by aging baby-boomers, for homes that are wheelchair or walker accessible. If you’ve thought about modifying your home, perhaps for your own Golden Years, be assured it’s a worthwhile investment that will enhance your property’s value in addition to serving you well. And, of course, it will open new possibilities as a home exchanger.

Assess your accessibility. If your house is single story with no stairs, has enough room for a wheelchair to get through the doors, roll down the halls and negotiate turns in the bathroom, you may only need relatively minor modifications or renovations. 

On the other hand, if your house is two stories tall, has stairs inside and out, and no bedroom or full bath on the main floor, you’d better call a good contractor. Or at least install an entrance ramp and an inside lift.

Easy access, convenience and safety are the bathroom considerations and may require the greatest remodeling.   The shower should be walk-in with a seat and no doors. Tubs should be walk-in as well, also with a seat. Both need safety bars, grips and non-slip floors.  Wheelchair-high toilets make for easy transfer on and off, along with handles and grab bars within easy reach. And a low sink that a wheelchair can roll under is also a helpful feature.

Adapting kitchens to allow someone in a wheelchair to operate the stove, prepare food at the counter, or reach dishes in the cabinet can also be an expensive proposition. But unless you plan to include all the wheelchair aids necessary for independent living, you could minimize changes here; realistically expecting that anyone who is wheelchair bound will be traveling with relatives, friends or caregivers who can at least handle the kitchen duties.

This IVHE property on the Caribbean island of Tobago is a good example of a house that people with disabilities, and their traveling companions, will love. It may not have all the aids for complete independent living, but it can add immensely to the vacation pleasure  of everyone in the party -- http://www.ivhe.com/properties/home-exchange/listing/0792  

If you are a physically-challenged person, or have hosted people with special needs, share some of your vacation experiences with us, particularly regarding housing accommodations, in the comments section of this blog.

If you are not a member of the International Vacation Home Exchange, find out more about us at www.ivhe.com. especially if you have a vacation home equipped for the disabled traveler.

Blogsmith:  Mike DiPrima

Luxury Vacation Home Exchange

Home Exchange Paris

Ooh La La,  a Vacation Home Exchange in Wonderful,  walkable Paris

Photo Source: flickr, Mark Mitchell
 What is it about Paris that makes it the most popular tourist destination in the world?
History? Culture? They are deep and rich in Paris.  But the city also has a big measure of that compelling something extra, the quintessentially French joie de vivre (joy of living).

You hear it in the music that drifts across the left bank on summer evenings and in the playful laughter of young people. You smell it in the aromas from bistros,  creperes  and sidewalk cafes, or in unhurried dinners with haute cuisine and fine French wines on the menu.  You see it in the drawings and brush strokes of would-be Renoirs and Chagalls creating in public places, and in the flowers and landscape of sweeping gardens and parks.

For all its romantic images and urban sociability, Paris is still an enormous city with typical big-city problems, not the least of which is horrendous rush hour traffic. But Paris works hard to keep Paris a people place and the air of romance alive.

Home Exchange Property #0702 – Paris
2-bedroom flat in popular St. Germain area

Paris has always had walkable areas -- certain neighborhood streets devoted to pedestrian and bicycle traffic only. The Latin Quarter, for example, features a few pedestrian-only streets lined with bars, restaurants and shops. On Rue Montorgueil, one of the oldest market streets in Paris, fish mongers, green grocers and other food shops come together sans cars in a small village atmosphere. And the many parks of Paris warmly invite strollers.

In recent years, Paris has made an effort to increase and improve its walkability by reclaiming some areas and streets that motor vehicle traffic laid claim to. An historic traffic roundabout with a monument centerpiece, Place de la République, was transformed from a circle of traffic snarls and fumes to one of the biggest all-pedestrian squares in the city. Some of the surrounding roads were incorporated into the new 3.4 hectare plaza creating a peaceful space with trees, water features, lighting columns,  and a new café pavilion. 

 A 1.4 mile stretch along the Left Bank that was previously car territory has been transformed into a pedestrian-only promenade with gardens, restaurants and music.

Home Exchange Property #0717 

Exploring Paris by foot is always fun -- if you know where you’re going. You can walk from the Arc de Triomphe on the Champs Elysees to Notre Dame Cathedral along a route that takes you by some of the chicest stores and restaurants in Paris, the Place de la Concorde, the Petit Palaise and the Grand Palaise, major monuments, the Eiffel Tower, Musee d Orsay, Tuileries Gardens, the Louvre, and the Latin Quarter. But one wrong turn and you’ll wind up where countless tourists have wound up – lost. Fortunately, for the walking explorer, there are aids to keep that from happening.

Guide books and maps are readily available. Don’t leave home without one.  And now, if you have a smart phone, iPhone, iPad or other tablet-type computer, you can tap into a ”Paris Walking Tour” application that uses GPS technology to show your current location, nearby attractions, and how to get to them. It’s free and doesn’t need to be downloaded or installed, but it does require Internet access.  This is a great app to bookmark in your browser. Learn more about it at www.ToursGPS.com.

Home Exchange Property #0062 -- Paris 

If you prefer a more personal experience, book a walking-tour guide to show you the way and share anecdotes, stories and insider information on restaurants and nightlife. One of the more popular tour companies, Discover Walks, offers free 90-minute walking tours comparable to a jolly Parisian friend showing you around (donations and tips are appreciated).  Discover Walks also offers specialized tours, including a French cooking class, at reasonable rates.  Learn more at www.discoverwalks.com/paris-walking-tours.

Maybe walking is not your thing and you just want to go from Point A to Point B without all the sightseeing in between.  Then make friends with the Paris Metro, one of the most extensive subway systems in the world.  It’s convenient, efficient and economical. An astonishing 6.75 million Parisians and visitors use it every day.

IVHE Home Exchange Property #0061
For a comprehensive and critical guide to Parisian attractions, dining establishments, nightlife, and things to do, visit http://www.timeout.com/paris/en.

The International Home Exchange properties in Paris are cozy apartments or studios  within walking distance of some of the city’s major attractions. Find out more about each one by clicking the property # links.  If you are not a member of IVHE and would like to learn more about it, visit us at www.ivhe.com.

Here’s to Paris --  city extraordinaire, city of joie de vivre.

Blogsmith: Mike DiPrima
Luxury Vacation Home Exchange

Spruce up Your Home Exchange Listing


Photo source: flickr, brockvicky
The March equinox is almost here and for those in the northern hemisphere it marks the start of spring. It’s a time for new beginnings, spring cleaning, and tidying up your IVHE listing. If you are in the southern hemisphere, it’s still a good idea.
Revisit your listing in this time of renewal and see if you can make it more enticing with a few edits. Start by asking yourself a simple question:  “Do I tell enough and show enough to stimulate interest and reassure a potential guest?” Here are a few points to keep in mind:

– Accurately and honestly tell potential guests what they can expect. Accentuate the positive, and address the negative if it warrants calling out. Since this section is the first one read, mention special features that might also appear in other sections -- such as Amenities or Activities – to emphasize unique experiences a guest may have.

– Be as specific as you can. Name the nearest city or town, and don’t just say “A charming village on the Adriatic coast.” If the town is quaint and small, also mention the nearest city with an airport used by commercial carriers. Guests need recognizable points of reference.
The best location information you can provide is a map. This element was added to new IVHE listings beginning June, 2013. If your listing is older than that, you can add a map link by simply updating details of your location.  “Map” will automatically appear in the listing header next to your availability calendar. A click to open it will show your general location, and a zoom-out function will show surrounding cities and landmarks.

Getting There
– This element of your listing is a necessity. If you say your property is located 550 km west of Paris, don’t leave it at that. It begs the question: What is the easiest or quickest mode of transportation to get there? Train? Motor coach?  Is there a closer commercial airport? If driving is the only option, what is the best route and are there interesting things to see along the way?

– Are the beds kings, queens, doubles, twins, futons, sofa beds, bunk beds, or air mattresses? Couples want to know. Unrelated people traveling together want to know. Parents want to know. And anybody with back problems wants to know. Are the bathrooms shared, private, ensuite, down the hall, or outside? Is there a tub, a shower, or a combination? Everyone wants to know that they’ll get a good night’s sleep and that the bathroom facilities will suit them.

– Your IVHE listing shows a checklist for amenities – general, kitchen, entertainment, external, and services.  Most are not uncommon. But if you have checked an extraordinary item like a private hot tub or sauna, or the availability of a housekeeper, cook or nanny, it is a good idea to call out these items in your general description to engage a potential guest early on.

– This section is one of the most important in your listing. People don’t come to a vacation destination just to eat, sleep, and watch stunning sunsets over the mountains/ocean/desert, etc. The IVHE checklist in this section is pretty thorough, but if there is not enough items to cover everything to do and see at your location, add to or elaborate in the Description or Location narrative with emphasis on the unique experiences your destination has to offer.
What activities does your location offer the sports enthusiast?  The culture aficionado? The foodie or wine connoisseur?  Are there places where music lovers or nightspot partiers can go?  Are there any special events, festivals, or local celebrations that the guest might enjoy?  Every vacationer buys something to take home.  What are typical handicraft souvenirs or exceptionally good buys at your local shops and stores?  For people who just like to stroll and sightsee, where should they go?
Convenience should be a consideration in the activities you mention.  It is a bit of a stretch to say “A championship golf course is a mere hour and a half away.”

House Rules –
Guests will want to know how to act around your antiques and art collection, where to clean fish, and if it’s okay to invite the local motorcycle club over for a beer and cigar bash in your living room.  Just state your rules in a friendly, straightforward way to avoid misunderstandings and problems down the road.

-- One is never enough. Two or three, not hardly. Seven is getting there if they at least show the property exterior, the view, bedroom, bathroom, kitchen, dining room and living room. By all means include more than seven to show patios/terraces, pools/spas, or any unique features or amenities. Also, if you are making a car or other vehicle available to the guest, include a picture of it. Don’t forget to add a caption to each photo.
Personal Profile – A photo of your smiling face, along with your personal profile, creates an immediate connection. Tell a little about yourself, where you’re from, your interests, and perhaps a bit about your IVHE experiences.

Meet and Greet
– If you will be available to welcome your guests at check-in, to give them an orientation tour and do the key exchange, say so in your personal profile. If someone else will have that responsibility – a property manager or other go-to person – your guests will appreciate an introduction in your profile and seeing a picture of that person’s face.
Bottom line: you’ll be a great host if you think like a guest. If you have any questions about your listing or any edits you may want to make, contact Suzie at IVHE.com.  Happy spring, or autumn as the case may be.

Blogsmith:  Mike DiPrima
Luxury Vacation Home Exchange

Home Exchange Charleston's beach islands

Charming Charleston and

The Spoleto Festival USA


Photo source: Spoletofestivalusa
Spoleto USA, in Charleston, South Carolina, is internationally recognized as America’s premier performing arts festival. It is  a 17-day extravaganza of chamber, symphonic, choral and jazz music;  opera, dance, and theater. More than 150 performances by renowned artists, as well as emerging performers, take place at venues, indoors and out, all over the city.  

It began in 1977 as a counterpart to the Festival dei Due Mondi in Spoleto, Italy – the brainchild of Pulitzer-Prize winning composer Gian Carlo Menotti. And it has steadily grown in scope and prestige since then, today attracting fans from around the world. 

The dates for this year’s Spoleto USA is May 23 through June 8..  For complete information on shows, schedules, tickets, and venues, go to  www.spoletousa.org.

It’s only fitting that an event of high culture should find its way to the “low country” and Charleston. Low country is where fresh water and ocean water merge in beautiful estuaries and marshes.  It’s an area of the South Carolina coast where great plantations thrived and aristocratic gentlemen and genteel ladies held sway.  

Charleston is a grand ol’ southern lady as genteel as they come.  She has withstood wars, fires, earthquakes, hurricanes, and hard economic times with her fan still fluttering. Her historic downtown district still boasts beautiful  pre-revolutionary and antebellum homes. Her neighborhoods and parks are as graceful as ever, adorned with majestic oak trees draped in Spanish moss, and azalea bushes that burst into spectacular colors in the spring.

The  marshes of the Low Country teem with shrimp, crab, oysters, and a wide variety of fish. Rice grows easily here. Seafood and rice dishes, influenced by Caribbean and African cuisine, are integral to  traditional Low Country cooking.  Many of Charleston’s  fine restaurants feature the favorites, such as She Crab Soup, Hoppin’ John, Shrimp and Grits, Frogmore Stew (no frogs involved), and upteen variations of rice pilaf.

Charleston won the CONDE NAST TRAVELER  2013 Readers’ Choice Award for “Top City in the U.S.”  And it won the award for the two preceding years as well. The Readers’ Choice Award is based on atmosphere and ambiance, culture and sites, friendliness and  restaurants. Charleston has also received accolades from TRAVEL & LEISURE and SOUTHERN LIVING magazines.

Not far from downtown, on several barrier islands, ocean side resorts give the grand ol’ lady a leisurely edge with luxurious places to relax and enjoy the palm trees and sea gulls,  or play golf on manicured fairways and ride horses on the beach. 

One such place is Isle of Palms, an affluent community on a barrier island 16 miles from
Charleston. It is joined to the mainland by a bridge spanning the Intracoastal Waterway.
 Isle of Palms vacation-home owners and year-round residents offer some fabulous properties for exchange.

Property #0626: Isle of Palms -- Five bedroom house with two master suites, elevator, and salt water pool.
Another choice spot with easy access to Charleston (24 miles away) is Seabrook Island, a private oceanfront community made for fishing, sunning on the beach, and challenging golf.

The closest beach island to Charleston is Folly Island, 12 miles away.  The IVHE home here -- Property #0049 -- is located on 18 acres of private land and offers seclusion, nature, and stunning sunrises. The three-bedroom house has the Folly River on one side and beaches of the Atlantic on the other

For more information on these Charleston-area beach homes, click the property number link. If you are not a member of the International Vacation Home Exchange and find the idea intriguing,  visit us at www.ivhe.com and check out WHO WE ARE, ABOUT US, and HOW IT WORKS.

As they say in Charleston, "Ya'll come back."

Blogsmith: Mike DiPrima

Luxury Vacation Home Exchange

Home Swap Dublin off season


Oh, sure, it’s a little cooler in March than in the summer tourist season, and the pub crawl tour only operates four days a week instead of daily. But a pint of Guinness is just as stout and cheery.  Exhibits, museums and galleries are just as awesome and free (no admission charge). And the music scene – from Bono to Beethoven – is just as lively. But the big off-season magilla is St. Patrick’s Day – March 17 – when Dublin, and all of Ireland, heats up in celebration like a leprechaun who's found a pot o’ gold.
Photo source: flickr, Informatique, W. Murphy
St. Patrick’s Day started as a simple religious holiday in recognition of the patron saint of Ireland.  But it has evolved into a national holiday celebrating Irish heritage and pride.
In Dublin it’s become a sort of Gaelic Mardi Gras with marching bands, floats, extravagant costumes, and fireworks. The unwritten dress code is, of course, green, green, and green.
The morning after, your face may be green, green, green.  But perk up. Have a cup of strong Irish tea, and set out to see and do.  Your home-exchange base in Dublin will be this elegant Georgian townhouse within walking distance of the city center.

#0801: DUBLIN HOME SWAP-- Beautiful three-bedroom period home, stylishly decorated, overlooking a secluded tree-lined square in a grand old Dublin neighborhood.

It’s only fitting that your St. Patrick’s Day holiday tour begin at St. Patrick’s Cathedral, the largest cathedral in Ireland and one of the few medieval buildings still standing in Dublin. Exhibits highlight the history of the building, celtic grave slabs, and an unusal collection of monuments and brasses.

Stop at Trinity College in the city center for a look at the famous Book of Kells, a manuscript of the Gospels lavishly illustrated by 9th Century monks. Nearby is the National Gallery of Ireland with over 12,000 works of art. And don’t miss the extensive archaeological collections – dating from 7,000 BC – at the National Museum of Ireland.

Head for Temple Bar -- a cool bohemian section of town with cobbled streets and no cars – for lunch at Merchant’s Arch on Brewery Lane;  pub grub and craft beer in all its glory.

If it’s toe-tapping traditional Irish music you fancy, spend an evening at O’Neill’s around the corner from Trinity College.  Enjoy it with a meal and a pint seven nights a week, no admission charge.

 #0723 COUNTY WATERFORD -- Three bedroom detached house on the grounds of an 18th Century mansion and championship golf course. Mansion amenities included.

Dublin is certainly warm and welcoming year ‘round with lots to see and do. But other parts of Ireland are as well. Choose one of these home-exchange properties to experience the Emerald Isle from its legendary countryside and coast.

# 0795 COUNTY KERRY HOME EXCHANGE– Lovely three-bedroom country cottage with both mountain and ocean views overlooking Brandon and Tralee Bays. Authentic Irish country living.

#0514: COUNTY CORK Home Swap– Seven-bedroom Dunmahon House in the two-pub village of Kilcrohane on the beautiful Sheep's head peninsula. Wonderful ocean views.

 Click the link on any of these properties for more information. If you are not a member of the International Vacation Home Exchange and would like to know what it is, how it works, and the money-saving benefits it offers, visit us at www.ivhe.com. Here’s wishing you the luck of the Irish and a great home-exchange vacation.. 
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home exchange for Empty Nesters

EMPTY NESTERS: Revisit Places for Children of
All Ages With Home Exchange Convenience

Somewhere, not far from where you live in an empty nest, is an attraction of some kind that draws children.  Maybe it’s a theme park, or a special museum, or a zoo.  You may have taken your children there years ago on a day trip and vowed “never again” after returning with aching feet, something sticky in your hair, and tired, cranky little tykes who buzzed around happy all day but later became qualified for adoption.  

Now that the kids are grown and gone and it’s just you and the other old bird in the nest, wouldn’t it be fun to go back to that attraction and do what you did before, except this time at a more leisurely pace with no kids to keep up with?  And even more fun if you did it mid-week during a month when children are still in school. And fun beyond belief if you found a home exchange at the destination and turned a day trip into a mini vacation.

You’re never too old to marvel at scientific, archeological, or historical exhibits; or to be amazed at the diversity of life in a zoo or aquarium. Okay, you can pass on the roller coaster ride at the amusement park, but there’s always something age appropriate and fun, maybe even romantic in a teenage sort of way. If you haven’t been there in years, you can almost bet that new things are waiting for you to see and do

After your attraction revisit is over, go out for dinner and enjoy a cocktail or glass of wine and reminisce about the time little Johnny threw up on the Tilt-A-Whirl.  Or take in whatever entertainment opportunities the city or town has to offer. Try new things.  Be as open to adventure as your kids were those many years ago.

And when it finally comes time to turn in, your exchange house, apartment, condo or whatever will be waiting nearby with all the comforts of home.

This is also a splendid idea when your kids come to visit with their kids. Of course, grandparents want to share in their grandchildren’s joyful experiences, but if that gets tiring after awhile, one of the great things about being a grandparent is you can always say “You guys carry on. We’ll meet you at the gift shop cafe.”

To find out more about available home-exchange properties in a destination you wish to rediscover, go to “property search” at www.ivhe.com.  If you are not a member of the International Vacation Home Exchange, check out “about us” and “how it works at the same link.

Your Blogsmith  Mike DiPrima

Luxury Vacation Home Exchange

What Ever You Call Home for Exchange

Seasons greetings fromIVHE-vacaton home exchange
Longhouse .. Cluster Home .. Garage Apartment .. Weavers' Cottage .. Cracker House
Hawksley BL8 Bungalow .. I-House …Laneway HouseQueenslander  ..Saltbox ..
Shotgun House .. Souterrain ..Tudor Revival.. Tuscan  .. Unity House ...Shop House


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home exchange FAQ- kitchen

 Home Exchange Kitchen Tips: 

There is no need to clear out all cupboards for your home swap guests, in fact it is very nice and useful for your guests if there are some basics  like; flour, oil, dried herbs in the kitchen for your home exchange guest to use. 
Essentials should be included whenever possible, as you know from your own travels arriving somewhere with nothing in the cupboards is a bit of a pain, having to buy a kilo of sugar for a couple of cups of coffee. So for a cheap price but a very nice thing to do is have the basics there, sugar, salt, pepper, coffee, tea etc. 
Remove or simply leave a note about items that you do not wish to be used, best would be if you put them on a separate shelf, leaving at least 1 shelf for your guests own supplies, similarly items you leave in the fridge, please move them to a top shelf if you do not want them used and leave a note saying so. 
Do have look though the use by dates and though out any that have passed their prime. It is nice for your home swap guests to have a bit of space in a cupboard and fridge for their own food supplies. There is a general courtesy code of ‘replace what you use’ this does not mean going out to by the kilo of sugar to replace the few spoonfuls you have used, but if you have used a selection of things or a fair amount of something like olive oil, leave something for it, this may be the bottle of oil or a packet of coffee. 
A welcome pack is always very welcome or if possible ask your guest if there is a small shopping list that you can arrange for them, particularly well received by guest travelling long distances and from different time zones, a home exchange welcome pack could include; milk, bread, orange juice, eggs, butter.
Like the rest of the house, it is very important not to have too much clutter in the Kitchen, leaving a clutter free and clean kitchen is really important. Most kitchen appliances are fairly standard but it is worth leaving a folder with the instruction booklets as there are global differences, north American dishwashers tend to be big and quite simple, many US guest going to a small apartment in a European city could easily find themselves looking at a half size dishwasher with up to 10 programs! It is also fairly common for Europeans to have their washing machine in the kitchen, which should always have at least basic instructions included.
Some important things to have in your home swap kitchen, even a city pad that most guest would not be cooking a gourmet dinner in should have enough to make breakfast and light lunches/dinners in. Have a minimum plates, cups, glasses including vine glasses for the amount of guest that you property sleeps, having extra ones is even better.

Luxury Vacation Home Exchange


Jungles, Jaguars, Jade and Jolly People

You will find more vacation home exchange opportunities in Costa Rica than in any other country in Central America. The reason is simple --  It’s a great place to own a tropical getaway home; and for many expat North Americans and Europeans, a great place to live or retire.

Aside from its natural beauty and impressive biodiversity, Costa Rica is a happy, healthy place to live. It ranked first place in the Happy Planet Index of human well being measured by the New Economics Foundation in 2009 and 2012.  Its standard of living is one of the highest of any Central American country. The literacy rate is 94.9%. It has the second highest life expectancy in the Americas – higher than the United States. To top it off, Costa Rica is a peaceful country with a stable democratically-elected government. It has not had a standing army for more than half a century. 

#0787: Costa Rica, Puntarenas --Home Swap Villa, four-bedroom luxury.
Costa Rica is not a big country. You can drive from its Pacific shore to its Caribbean coast in about three hours.  Although small, the country boasts five percent of the existing biodiversity in the world. Over 25 percent of Costa Rican territory is dedicated to conservation in natural parks, biological reserves, wildlife refuges, and a series of protected area that capture the attention of ecotourists and adventure travelers from around the world.

Costa Rica is a land of volcanoes, eleven to be exact; seven are active. The most awesome is Poas, 20 miles from the capital city of San Jose. Nearly a mile across, Poas has the largest active volcano crater in the world. You can hike to the crater’s edge, see a lake at the bottom of its slopes, and experience the uneasy thrill of knowing what power lies beneath it.

#0197: Costa Rica, Guanacaste --  Three bedroom home near the cloud forest
 The jungle -- its rain forests, waterfalls, and rivers – tumbles across the mountainous landscape westward to the Pacific Ocean and eastward to the Gulf of Mexico.   Pristine beaches separate the jungle from the sea. 
#0267: Costa Rica, Guanacaste, Liberia
  Private five-bedroom home swap
 If you like adventure, you can go zip lining through the jungle canopy in the company of howler monkeys, toucans, and macaws; or be adventurous at ground level on a rafting trip down a jungle river where you’re likely to see tapirs, sloths, manatees, river otters, all kinds of birds and reptiles, and, if you’re lucky, a jaguar.
#0704: Costa Rica, Guanacaste
 Three bedroom, gorgeous condo
International Vacation Home Exchange properties are located in four popular holiday regions of the country: Puntarenas, Guanacaste, Limon, and San Jose.

Puntarenas, in the central pacific region of Costa Rica, is a port town where cruise ships docks and passengers disembark to mingle with non-cruising vacationers for beach-front dining and shopping. Other boats dock there as well -- tour boats to take you to exciting places like Tortuga Island or Costa Rica’s exotic pacific islands; and charter boats to take you to unparalleled sports fishing

#0487: Costa Rica, Puntarenas
 Two bedroom condo near the beach
Guanacaste, Costa Rica’s northwestern province is a favorite with tourists who enjoy strolling on white sand beaches, exploring volcanoes and waterfalls in magnificent national parks, or dining and dancing with gusto in Tamarindo or Liberia -- Guanacaste’s two largest towns. Liberia is home to Costa Rica’s second international airport, where many visitors from abroad enter the country.
Limon Province encompasses the entire Caribbean coast, from Nicaragua to Panama. Here is where pristine beaches meet majestic mountains and prehistoric rainforests. Tortuguero National Park, in the northern half of the province, is a protected sea-turtle nesting area. You can observe turtles, and other wildlife in the park, from boats that cruise the area via water channels. For city life, head for Puerto Limon, the provincial capital where you’ll find of a variety of attractions, unique architecture, and beautiful 
San Jose, the capital city, is the cultural hub of the country with excellent museums, art galleries, restaurants, and bustling night life.  A visit to the Jade Museum presents a fascinating look at the world’s largest collection of Pre-Columbian jade art, some objects dating from 500 BC. Lush parks dot the area, among them Los Quetzales National Park, which covers three types of rainforest and 14 distinct ecosystems. The diversity of animals and brightly colored tropical flowers is amazing.
#0707: Costa Rica, San Jose' – Mountain meditation retreat
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Mike DiPrima
Luxury Vacation Home Exchange
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