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Traveling With Your Pets? Some Helpful Tips

Many of our members ask if they can take their pet on home exchange vacations too.  This is ultimately up to the hosting owner of the property, today around 50% of the owners do allow pets to visit.  To find out if the property you are considering visiting allows pets, click on the House Rules button below the main picture, this will let you know what the owner has stated.  Always a good ideas to directly ask the owner, which can be done via the IVHE communication.    This guest blog is courtesy Sara @ WorldWide Lawyers , Thank you.  

Want to take your pets on Vacation? Here’s how.

More and more of us are taking our pets on vacation! If you are thinking of taking your four-legged friend with you on your upcoming trip, we have provided below some information below that may help.

There are various rules surrounding the movement of pets. The rules that apply to you and your pet will vary depending on your destination country. To help make sure everything goes smoothly, will need to understand the requirements relevant to you and your furry friend before you finalise your plans!
The regulations discussed below apply to dogs, cats (and ferrets!). For other pets you should check the applicable national rules.

Travelling within the EU (or into the EU from another listed country*)

Under the EU pet travel scheme you can freely travel within the EU with your cat, dog or ferret if it has a European Pet Passport.
European Pet Passport demonstrates that your pet has been:
  • micro-chipped
  • vaccinated against rabies
  • treated by a vet against tapeworm (this one applies to dogs only)
Top Tip: Make sure that your pet receives the rabies vaccination at least 21 days before you plan to travel and that the vaccination is received after your pet has been micro-chipped – otherwise the vaccination will not count for the passport purposes!
A pet passport must be issued by an Official Veterinarian (OV). Your vet should be able to advise you how to contact the nearest OV if there is not one at their practice.
Minor changes were introduced the EU pet travel scheme on 29 December 2014. The main changes are that a new style pet passport will be introduced (although the old style ones will remain valid for the life of the pet) and the introduction of pet passport checks when entering EU countries.

Traveling into (or returning to) the EU from a non listed country**

If you are bringing your cat, dog or ferret to the UK or other EU country from a non listed country, they will need to have been:
  • issued with an official third country Veterinary Certificate
  • micro-chipped
  • vaccinated against rabies
  • treated by a vet against tapeworm  (this one applies to dogs only)
In addition to this your pet should have a blood test to show that the rabies vaccination was successful. The vet must take the blood sample at least 30 days after the rabies vaccination was given. Your vet should give you a copy of the blood test.
You will have to wait until at least 3 months from the date the blood sample was taken before your pet can travel unless your pet was vaccinated, blood tested and given a EU pet passport before travelling to the non-listed country,
If however a pet fails to meet entry requirements when it arrives in the EU country, the pet will usually be placed in quarantine at the owner’s expense until disease-control requirements have been met.
Travelling into a Non-EU country

Depending on you destination country there may be additional requirements to bring your pet into the country such as import permits, health certificates, additional vaccinations and blood tests. The destination country may also impose quarantine or other rules depending where you are traveling from.

Transporting your pet

Your pet must travel in a container that complies with the International Air Transport Association (IATA) regulations. 

Certain other conditions will also need to be met before your pet is able to travel, for example they must travel via an approved air, sea or rail route with an approved carrier.

To ensure that you are not parted from your beloved four-legged friend for longer than necessary you should ensure you understand what is required by your destination country and the relevant timescales involved well in advance of your trip.

* Click here for the list of EU listed and Non-EU listed countries
** a non-listed country is a country which has not been included in the list of EU or listed countries because of their higher rate of disease instances or less vigorous veterinary systems.

Car Rental - What to consider and 10% discount!

Things to Consider when Renting a Car  
There is nothing quite like the freedom of exploring new roads on vacations or road-trips in your personal rental car. When public transport can become restricting and frustrating, we are often left feeling like we've missed out on precious vacation time. Renting a vehicle can enhance your journey, and allow you and your family to feel much more comfortable. However, there are several important factors to consider when you decide to rent a car to make sure everything goes to plan.
Consider an Upgrade or Add-on: Whether you're traveling alone or with a large group, certain optional extras can minimize the potential for wasted time and hassle. If you have plenty of destinations in mind, or are simply just bad at navigating, GPS add-ons can be a life saver. Baby and booster seat upgrades can also prove helpful when bringing along children and this means you don't have to bother bringing your own from home. Unlimited Mileage packages provide supreme freedom, whilst specific services can tailor each hire car to your needs.
Share the Driving Experience: On road trips or cross-country travels, being the sole driver can burn you out pretty quickly. Additional Driver policies with your rent a car allow you to share long-distance burdens with friends and family. This useful extra can also allow you to divide the thrilling road trip experience with someone else, especially when your rental car is fast and thrilling.
* Make sure you are Protected: Driving a car that has been previously used to a high extent can be a daunting option. Whereas many new vehicles come fully equipped with important safety features, you can never quite be sure if your rental car is suitable. Make sure your customer service advisor goes through your car's past life and safety features for peace of mind. Unlike many other rental car companies, Sixt replaces each vehicle with the newest model after six months.

* Don't Forget Insurance: If anything was to go wrong on your vacation, repairs can end up costing you a fortune. When booking your rental car make sure you are informed of each insurance policy, what it covers and how much it costs. Having the correct insurance can save you plenty of time and money if unfortunate accidents do happen. Some rental companies seem cheap initially yet this is because insurance costs are not included; research into these options to avoid nasty surprises.
* Have the Right Documents: Some rentals require you to pay with credit card, and proper documentation such as return flight itinerary and driver's licenses are mandatory. Ensure you have all you need before booking and picking up your car rental to avoid disappointment on your travels. When returning your vehicle, it is important to remember to fill the tank beforehand as you will be charged extra if not.
If you're looking to improve your next trip with the addition of a rental car, choose Sixt for a stress-free and satisfying rental experience. With a selection of useful services, large fleet of top quality cars and 10% discount, renting a car with Sixt is made affordable and easy.

Do You Have the Right Type of Insurance for Home Exchange?

Keen home swappers and credit traders with IVHE know that one of the best aspects of these types of holiday are the cost savings. Whether you are in the mood to lounge by the pool in a dreamlike villa in Sorrento, or you feel like taking in the sights and sounds of a buzzing city like London, all you need to do is either make a direct home swap, or earn credits for future holidays by letting someone else stay at your home, or by introducing new members to the vast IVHE network. It’s a win-win situation for everyone, though, as is the case with every holiday, you need to ensure you don’t pay more than you bargained for by incurring costs that could have been avoided with a sound insurance policy that will cover any losses incurred. When shopping for a policy that covers your next swap, try to make sure the following is covered.  
Try to find a dedicated home exchange protection plan: Seek out a company that can provide a plan which specifically covers home exchange. The plan should include the following:
* Reimbursement if you have to cancel travel plans: Issues like sickness or injury can force you to cancel a trip; this can mean a big loss for you and your family, especially if you have already paid for items like your airfares. Top insurance companies will offer you a reimbursement that can run into a maximum of thousands of dollars, which is good news as far as security is concerned.

* Reimbursement if the trip has to be cancelled owing to unforeseen circumstances; these can include poor weather, which may cause a flight to be delayed or cancelled. Also, your policy should take into account any natural disasters (such as floods or fires) in your area, or any problems that may occur in your home. This can include damage caused to your property, or even a robbery or the destruction of your property by third parties.

* Home exchange damage waiver: Your insurance policy should cover any damage you may cause to the home of your exchange partner. You will most likely be expected to pay the immediate cost of repair, though this will be reimbursed, provided the amount is less than the maximum limit. Although it is right to assume that members will take good care of your home and vice-versa, accidents do happen so it is a good idea to up the maximum limit to the extent you can.

*Medical costs: Your plan should cover things like emergency dentistry, medical and surgical needs, supplies, etc. If you have a pre-existing medical condition, try to ensure any treatment or services you require for your condition while you are on holiday, will be covered. Your transport costs to the nearest hospital or emergency center should also be included, so long as the doctor who is treating you deems such assistance necessary because you are unable to drive or otherwise make your way to the hospital/emergency center, by yourself.

* Additional expenses: Sometimes, the least likely things can cause economic loss. This can include the loss of luggage or passports, or the unauthorized use of your credit card. These should be included in a clause on reimbursement for personal effects. When baggage is lost and isn’t found immediately, this will involve purchasing new clothing and personal items. What you spend, provided it falls within the limit, should be reimbursed.

* Assistance: In the event of loss of personal items, you may need help with a host of administrative tasks, everything from obtaining a cash transfer to obtaining a new passport. When you are in a country you are not acquainted with, even obtaining a referral to a good doctor or obtaining transport, can be a challenge, especially when you do not speak the local language. Some insurance companies offer travel assistance, given by dedicated professionals who can arrange paperwork and recommend quality professional services in the local area. Whether you are driving on an unknown highway and you suddenly find you have a flat tire, or you need to make a quick change in travel plans and need help making a booking, travel assistance will do plenty to put your mind at ease. 

This is a freelance article sent in by site reader Sally Smart - THANK YOU   

New Ways To Use IVHE Home Exchange Credits

Put Executive Quarters to work--  If you are a business owner – or corporate executive – and have residential property in your company’s name for meetings, retreats, temporary quarters for traveling executives, sales people, or customers – you can “rent it out” for credits when not in use, just as if it were a private property. You can, in turn, use the credits on accommodations around the world where traveling executives or sales people might go, or on exotic, romantic places that can be featured in incentive travel programs for employees.  Your cash flow and travel expenditures will thank you.

Book great venues for special events – Many larger homes, villas, chateaus, boutique hotels, and spas in the IVHE program are suitable as wedding and/or reception venues. Fathers of the bride love this cashless idea.  These same properties may be perfect for any number of social or business gatherings.  

Give the gift of memorable places -- Give the gift of a luxury suite in a romantic location to newly weds, couples celebrating milestone anniversaries, or anyone deserving a special vacation and memories to last a lifetime.

Give the gift of credits -- Any amount of credits can be passed on to family and friends to choose any property the credits will buy. As the IVHE member, you will have to request the booking, vouch for the guests, and be responsible for damages if they occur.

Give the gift of membership in IVHE -- And earn a gift in return.  You will receive five free credits for generating a new member (a referral ) worth $500 of vacation home exchange value, and your recipient also receives five credits to launch their own IVHE experience. When they make their  first trade, you will get another bonus of 50 percent of  the trade’s credit value. There are three membership plans to choose from:  
         DIRECT EXCHANGE               $159 per year
           For direct swaps only, unlimited exchanges.   
         SILVER CREDITS PLAN         $159 per year
            For those with second homes looking for the freedom to choose a location
            without the ties of a direct home swap.
          PLATINUM-DELUXE PLAN     $375 per year
           All the benefits of the direct and credits exchange plans, plus Credits Protection
           Program, Personal Travel Researcher, Top Up Credits, Exclusivity.

For more information on the opportunities and benefits of membership in The International Vacation Home Exchange, full details on each plan, and a look at some of the properties available, click us at

All information above correct at publishing in February 2015.  Subject to changes, please see Terms and Conditions. 

Get the Best Home Exchange (Swap) Membership

You are ready to begin your search for the best home exchange membership for you.  How do you determine which of the dozens of home swap clubs are going to meet your requirements?

The following 14 points are a great place to start when evaluating home exchange networks:

  1. Offer Direct Exchanges - best if you are only swapping with your primary home. 
  2. Offer Non-Simultaneous Exchanges - best if you are exchanging with your vacation or second home.
  3. Offer Seniors Only options - you might want to exchange with only 'like-age' people.
  4. Many Search Criteria (activities, locations, bedrooms, amenities) - makes your job easier when looking for your next vacation destination.  Plus, makes your property stand out for others that are looking for your features / location / etc. 
  5. Flexible Credit System (by season, property size, etc.) - optimizes the value you get for your property and creates greater choice for you in choosing your trade.
  6. Secure Communications Between Members - keeps your emails private to only those that you choose.
  7. Privacy of Personal Profile Information - ensures that your personal information is only viewed by whom you authorize.  
  8. In-built Trade Agreements for Members - makes the entire process easier and identifies areas where you might have special requirements. 
  9. Easy Communication with Exchange Network (phone / email) - it is always nice to be able to communicate with the home exchange network to answer your questions. 
  10. Property Location Map (general area, for privacy, not exact address) - makes searching for a property easier and allows you the ability to promote your home's location. 
  11. Verification of Members (identification) - helps ensure that you are dealing with the person that they say they are. 
  12. Verification of Properties (utility bill, etc.) - confirms the relationship of the member to the property. 
  13. References and Guest Book of previous exchanges - gives peer membership reviews, giving you candid feedback on the home and other members.  
  14. Trade Coordinators / Researchers - supports you in your trade requests by communicating with the other members.  They also assist with finding activities for you to enjoy while on holiday or vacation.
If you would like a PDF version of the above list, simply email us with 'Membership Checklist' in the subject line.   If you are new to home exchange, there is a free Home Exchange Guide available here.  Included in the free guide is the above checklist with many hints and tips to help you get started.   

Want to hear or read about IVHE member experiences, visit here.   Enjoy traveling with, your choice for home exchange.  Join Now.  

Direct Swaps vs.Credit Exchanges, What is the difference?

 The Basic Direct Swap (simultaneous exchanges)

Typical scenario: I let you stay in my primary residence or second home, if you let me stay in your primary residence or second home of comparable rental value at the same time.  Even though the value of our respective properties is based on rental potential, there is no cash transaction. It’s a coordinated direct swap -- My $1000/month condo from, say, April 1-30 for your $1000/ month house from April 1-30. Tit for tat.

My house may have five bedrooms, three-and-a-half baths, and a secluded solarium in the garden, while your condo may have only two bedrooms and one bath and be located on the 12th floor of a downtown high-rise. Your condo rental rate (or direct swap value) is competitive for your location; and my house rate is competitive for my location.  If we do a direct swap, I know I can’t find a comparable place at a better value in your location, and you know likewise about my house.

As members of IVHE, we can make direct contact with each – initial inquiry and follow- through – via a secure members’ area on the IVHE web site.

Home Exchange for Credits (non-simultaneous exchanges)

Typical scenario: Let’s say I have a second home that I use on an irregular basis.  I might call it my place on the beach, my place in the mountains, my place in the city, my place on the lake, my place in France... you get the picture.  To make owning such a place worthwhile, I feel obligated to occupy “my place” as often as possible. This tends to loose it's initial excitement after awhile.  It’s still a great place, but I would like to vacation in other places for a change. I’m not getting any younger.

When my place is vacant, I open it up for rentals. I can either handle the details of booking and billing myself, or I can pay a management company to handle all that for me.  In the first case, checking references, verifying the renter’s identity, and keeping up with billing and credit-card payments can be a major headache. In the second case, my rental income is depleted by a sizable chunk for the management company’s fee.

The IVHE concept is conveniently different.   What if I didn't quote you a rental rate in dollars (or pounds, francs, marks, or any currency) but rather in credits – one credit for every $100 of rental value?  Instead of offering my place at a rental rate of $1,000 for seven nights, for example, I offered it for 10 Credits?  Then you come around and occupy my place for seven nights and pay me 10 credits?  More accurately, you transfer 10 credits from your IVHE account into my IVHE account. IVHE handles all this for both of us (for a small processing fee) in addition to listing our properties on their on-line catalog of homes worldwide.
When I’m ready to travel myself, and not stay at the same ol’ place, I can withdraw those 10 credits from my account and apply them to any property at any location where the host offers his place for 10 credits or less.   I didn't spend any money and the host didn’t make any money, but credits are like money in the bank.

If I don’t use them straight away, I can build up credits in my account every time I do a transaction for credits.  Before I know it, I might have credits totally much more than the credit value of my property.  That means when I’m ready to use them I can trade up to some fabulous accommodations. And all for a fraction of the real value.

Blogsmith – Mike DiPrima

Portugal's Algarve Home Exchange

Beauty and the Beach
Photo source: flickr, GreenLakeBlue Photography

Coastal Algarve in the sunshine is sheer visual poetry. Quiet beaches tucked away between shoreline cliffs and majestic rock formations. Colorful umbrellas in the sand shading children, families, seniors, and young lovers. Music and song from a guitar strummer mingle with the chatter of sea gulls and the soothing roll of the surf.   Wine and cheese spread out on a blanket beside an open picnic basket. Sail boats on the shimmering ocean horizon. Ahh …..  
After the sun goes down,  it’s time for a delicious seafood dinner and a glass of Medronho brandy by candlelight. Then, in cities like Albufeira and Lagos, the bars and clubs come alive and the nightlife parties begin.

Monchique is an old hillside town with charming whitewashed houses and cobbled streets. Quaint shops invite browsing for local handicraft such as pottery and knitwear. Local food specialties feature traditional sausage and smoked ham, be sure to try some on your lunch break.  A day in Monchique, the mountains, and the country is a perfect way to round out your Algarve holiday.
Algarve, the southernmost region of mainland Portugal, is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Europe. Visitors come for the sun, sand and surf, for sure, as well as a myriad of other things to see and do in the beautiful Algarve.
History and archealogy buffs have ancient castles and Moorish ruins to explore in cities like Lagos and Silves, or traditional Arabic archiecture to admire in the original city of Albufeira’s Old Town. 
Lagos is regarded as an important city in the early days of the Portuguese Empire and the Age of Discoveries.  The patron of Portuguese exploration, Henry the Navigator, began many of his expeditions from Lagos.
The sports minded head for Portimao, known for its worldclass events in sailing, surfing, powerboating, and car and motorcycle racing. Kitesurfing and beach soccer are also big in Portimao. 
Marinas are everywhere in coastal Algarve, as you might suspect, and where there are boats there are boat trips and fishing. Many believe the Algarve's waters offer the best big game fishing in Europe with a variety of bill-fish, tuna, and shark waiting to challenge the skill of determined sports fishermen.  

If you’re a golfer, you’ll find  beautiful courses in many cities and towns in the Algarve, especially in the region’s capital city of Faro and in Porftimao. Thousands of tourists come to  Loule and Sao Marcos da Serra not to play but to pray. These are the Catholic faithful  who make pilgrimages to important Marian shrines in these cities.
The Algarve region is so rich in history and scenery it would be well worth your time to take a day to explore the countryside.  You can’t go wrong by making the town of Monchique one of your destinations. It is located in the Monchique Mountain Range and is only about 20 km inland. Getting there is a pleasant drive through picturesque farmlands, fruit groves, vineyards, and leafy forests. 

Learn more about the home-exchange accommodations available in the Algarve by clicking the photos.   To view properties in Portugal and neighboring countries click here.  If you are not a member of the International Vacation Home Exchange and would like to find out more about it and how it works, please go to

Thank you to Mike DiPrima

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