Belgian Family Reaches the Magic Number of 100 Exchanges

Two fantastic years of home exchange

Jos and Lieve Janssen-Moons had their 100th exchange this summer.

The Belgian James Bond (BE007) accomplished his mission by having his 100th exchange with a Spanish family from Barcelona.

Jos and Lieve started exchanging houses in the summer of 1981. Their first exchange took them to Linz (Austria). A second swap followed in Leeds (England) where they faced rain for two weeks.

All Over Europe and North America

Over the course of 34 years, they reached the magical number of 100 exchanges, scattered all over Europe and across the Atlantic Ocean. They got to know houses and made friends from Helsinki in the north of Europe to Lisbon in the south and from Devon in the west to Thessaloniki in the east.

Teachers, Jos and Lieve, experienced 20 exchanges in Germany and some 17 with Spain ever since their son started his family in Granada. Of course, they speak Spanish fluently now.

The USA and Canada became favourites and they lived in New York, Fort Lauderdale, New Orleans, Washington DC, Chicago and Seattle. In Canada they were very glad to visit Montreal and Vancouver. During the exchange they became friends with a family of Windermere whom they exchanged with a year later. They even had the opportunity to swop houses with a family living on an Indian reserve in the Rocky Mountains. And yes, there they were confronted with a grizzly bear in their garden.

Of course, they also did some small holidays and long week-ends closer to home during Spring and Autumn months. 2008 was a fabulous year with 9 exchanges in 12 months! ! Nowadays Jos and Lieve are exploring Poland from Zakopane to Lublin and from Warsaw to Danzig. They even did some house-sitting in France, Switzerland and Belgium.

Intervac-People Become Friends for Life

Jos and Lieve proved this when they arranged and enjoyed an exchange together with the Spanish family they had exchanged with before. This time together, they visited Weimar, doing the Bach tour. Afterwards they renewed their friendship again - a third exchange in the Catalan Pyrenees. And the same thing happened with families from Marseille, Granada, Helsinki, Sevilla and Göttingen.

The family they exchanged with in Granada even supervised building Jos and Lieve’s son’s house there when he moved to Spain.

Not only their son, but also their daughter has taken up exchanging houses (Washington DC and Paris) making their family members of the 2-Generations Home Exchange Club.

Although Jos and Lieve moved from their home to a flat in Hasselt 20 years ago the offers to exchange keep coming. This year they have swapped houses with 5 more families.

During those 100 exchanges Jos and Lieve have just had 1 bad experience … Just 1 ! ! ! So, if you ask Jos and Lieve their best travel advice : Enjoy holidays …. Enjoy Intervac ! ! !

Categories: home exchange stories Posted on: 28 August 2015 Author: Intervac Belgium

Lots of Improvements at Our New Site!

New homepage 2015

Intervac gets a new look and you get functionality you’ve been asking for!

And not only does it look good, it’s got improvements and little luxuries that will make the search for your next vacation adventure more comfortable and lots more fun.


What’s New?

  • Give our new search by location a try. You didn’t like it, we changed it. From now on, our search results will only show listings near the location you requested.
  • We have a separate map view for those times when you want to go somewhere, but you’re not sure where.
  • Search filters, anyone? Many of the ones you have been asking for: non-simultaneous, exchange hospitality, swimming pools, youth exchange, hospitality, and lots, lots more. Read more in our guide article Filtering Your Search Results.
  • Easy and fun to use via mobile phones and tablets without a special app.
  • Display your photos in the order you choose. They are easy to sort via drag and drop.
  • And lots small surprises. We hope you like them.

UPDATE: Members Are Talking!

“So, I’m testing out the new features and I especially love the contact history feature.” (US1008120)

“Hello, new look again … There are certainly good things.” (SE6274)

“Congratulations on the new look of Intervac. Now it is much more attractive and comfortable to use.” (ES277362)

Whether you love it or you hate it, let us hear from you via our webfeedback form, or send me a mail and I’ll pass your comments on to the Board of Directors and your national representative. They are working hard to please you.


And while your are here, don’t forget about the fun with our Happy Home Exchange Photo Contest happening over at our Facebook page. The deadline for entry is September 30, 2015

Categories: intervac Posted on: 01 July 2015 Author: Nancy Carroll

Happy Home Exchange Photo Contest

Photo credit: Photos courtesy of Unsplash

We did it two years ago to celebrate our 60th Anniversary and it was so much fun, we think it’s high time to do it again. Come join the fun and share your happy memories and your best vacation photos with other home-exchangers!

How Do I Enter? / What’s to Win?

Enter by posting up to three photos with a short comment about why you love Intervac and the home exchange lifestyle on our Facebook page!

The 10 best photos will win a free Intervac membership of 6-12 months.

Competition Photo Tips

  1. We’d love to see your happy family moments ideally with your exchange guests or guest families.
  2. Think photos of your houses/flats/gardens that might help us promote the home exchange lifestyle.
  3. Photos with comments on the advantages of home exchange will get the maximum number of points.

Come on, you know you have some great photos and we’re dying to see them! So, do it today or do it tomorrow but be sure to enter before the deadline, September 30th , 2015!

We’re doing it again! Have you entered our #Intervac 2015 Happy #HomeExchange Photo Contest yet? #timesawasting

Categories: intervac Posted on: 11 May 2015 Author: Nancy Carroll

Tips from our Chairman

Karl Gemfeldt I made my first exchange as a young boy in the 60’s. When I had my own family it was natural to continue with vacation exchange. Intervac has been a big part of our way of life. All the nice people we have met as a result of our exchanges over the years and many we still have contact with.

Intervac is led by home-exchangers, and we have the ambition to provide, with the help of our national representatives and our unique online presence, the best available service.

Members are, just now in the middle of a busy period, and our platform is working “around the clock” sending messages and inquires between members.

What should you do to get the exchange you want?

  1. Take action immediately! After having filled-up/updated your listing, search for offers which suit you and send an exchanged proposal to your favorites. You will receive spontaneous requests too! Please, as a matter of courtesy be sure you respond to all queries, even if you are not interested at this time.
  2. While negotiation with another member for an exchange, remember that if you have more than one page of text to send them, be sure to use the option to attach a file in our messaging center.
  3. For more tips and tricks, see also our growing knowledgebase/FAQ which can be useful even for experienced members. Do you miss a topic? Send us a message or leave a comment and we will try to add it.

-Karl Gemfeldt, new Chairman of the Board for Intervac International

Categories: intervac Posted on: 25 February 2015 Author: Karl Gemfeldt

Two Fantastic Years of Home Exchange

Two fantastic years of home exchange

Denmark, Belgium, Finland, Netherlands, Iceland - Home Exchange is the only way!

Dear Intervac friends,

We spent two fantastic years with you and Intervac. We would like to thank you for these wonderful memories. In 2013 we visited 5 European capitals. All these were great experiences.

2013

We started with Groot Ammers in the Netherlands at Easter 2013 and visited Amsterdam. The lovely house was right on a small canal and in the distance we saw a windmill. Our very first home exchange was perfect.

Dear Willeke, I haven’t forgotten that we want to swap again. Whenever you want to - with great pleasure again.

Our second home exchange on Ascension Day was also very nice. Leuven is a very imposing city in Belgium close to Brussels. Shopping in Brussels is a real delight. But the kids mostly loved the Jacuzzi in garden.

Our summer holidays we spent in a stunning country which we took immediately in our hearts. Finland really surprised us.

The flight from Bremen to Tampere Kangasala takes only two hours. So great nature, such nice people and luckily very few German tourists. From Helsinki we flew into the white nights in Lapland. No words can describe this adventure. This fascinating country we want to visit again soon.

In autumn was scheduled Denmark. In Roskilde we learned a lot about the Vikings and of course we visited Copenhagen. Sagnlandet Lejre - Land of legends was a whole new experience of the journey through time for us. We can recommend it to everyone. Thanks for this valuable tip.

New Year’s Eve we spent in Sweden. We were looking forward to a lot of snow, but there was not a single small snow flake. Stockholm is a charming Capital and so easy to explore by public transport. Vasamuseet - The Vasa Museum has most impressed us and in the house of fantasy play - - Junibacken (Museum of Astrid Lindgren) kids and parents have a lot of fun. In Gamla Öxelsund nearby Nyköpping Pippi Longstocking would have felt well also.

2014

In 2014 we went at Pentecost in the Netherlands for a second time. We had fantastic weather and a very relaxing stay in Stiens. We bathed in the North Sea, as we visited the island “Ameland”. It was so restful for us. All of us are now great fans of the Dutch lifestyle.

In the summer followed the most challenging exchange. In late summer 2013 we started countless requests for an Iceland swap. After 6 (!!!) months, towards the end of March just as we wanted to give up, we discovered fortunately the member profile from a very nice family in Alftanes . A dream came true and in summer 2014 we explored Iceland just like a great number of other German tourists also.

We have seen many amazing landscapes. Iceland is really an incredibly fascinating country. For the first time we met our exchange family very personal. That was wonderful.

In Alftanes we arranged a barbecue with our exchange family from Stiens, who stayed at the same time in the vicinity. It was really fantastic - the pure spirit of Intervac.

By the way - Happy Birthday Akke :-)

Our final exchange in Fall 2014 led us to Besançon in France. It was once again an overwhelming stay. End of October there was warm and sunny weather. The Vauban citadel was a real highlight and Arc-et-Senans - - the Royal Saltworks an architectural masterpiece. At Christmas we ate the very last piece of cheese from the region Franche-Comté. We have to exchange again to buy new cheese 😉

We would like to thank all of you for these last two fantastic years. They have opened so many new opportunities. In all of your houses and in all places we visited, we felt very comfortable and safe. Each home exchange was a great success for us.

2015

Even in 2015 it will go on. We have agreed an exchange for Easter with a nice family from Dublin. We are curious and delighted.

Dear Shannon, we booked our flights on Christmas Eve! If a former exchange family will be at the same time in Dublin, we will be happy to meet all of you.

We wish all of you a happy new year and lots of wonderful moments with Intervac in 2015.

Kind regards, Anja & Henning

Categories: home exchange stories Posted on: 15 February 2015 Author: Nancy Carroll

Third Generation Intervac Home Exchange

Beltman the Founder to Beltman the Grandson

Beltman the Founder to Beltman the Grandson

We owe a lot to our organisers who have long been a devoted part of Intervac, Roel and Willemien Eissen among them. They have been responsible for excellent membership development in the Netherlands since 1978. Recently Roel, writing about our history, said:

You can read on our Faces of Intervac page, in 1953, there began formal contact between the Dutch National Teachers Union (NOV) and the Swiss Teachers Union (SLV). At various Congress-Meetings, Mr. Gerrit Beltman for NL and Mr. Lehmann for CH, go to know each other well and privately started to make home-exchange holidays.

This idea of home-exchange worked so well, they extended and developed it further to benefit the members of their Unions. Many successful holidays later this is the seed that has developed into our worldwide Intervac organisation.

All this has struck my mind again, after I had not thought about our history it for some time. However, it suddenly hit my attention when I had a pleasant telephone-conversation some weeks ago with one of our NL-members. The lady just told me, that her husband is a grandson of Mr. Beltman.

Home Exchange - A Family Way of Life.

“Not only has home exchange really enriched our lives with many nice contacts and stories of holidays, friendships, but I am also very pleased to know that the name Beltman is still enthusiastically being used inside Intervac.”

If you are in Spain, France, Italy, South Africa or USA and you are interested in exchanging with our now-famous first-family in the Netherlands, here is a link to their listing.

Categories: intervac Posted on: 09 February 2015 Author: Nancy Carroll

Je suis Charlie

Je suis Charlie

Categories: intervac Posted on: 11 January 2015 Author: Kristina Calliaud

Reasons to Visit: Bury St. Edmunds

Greene King Brewery Tour

Photo Credit: karen_roe Greene King Brewery Tour 28-07-2011

You might be curious as to why I would want to introduce you to Bury St. Edmunds? It’s a small town in Suffolk and just because the innimitable Bob Hoskins was born there in 1942, or the world premier of Charlie’s Aunt was staged there in 1892, or even further back, in 1818 John Orridge was asked to advise the Empress of Russia on the subject of the ideal prison, and besides all the fascinating historical bits to be explored; I’ll be honest and tell you it was mostly the happy smile on my face when I read that the sensible voters of this town elected (with a majority vote) the Abolish Bury Town Council Party to the Town Council. Yes, folks, that’s via Wikipedia and it’s an admirable act of political silliness that should not go unrewarded.

So, I started looking for more fun and silliness and was not disappointed.

The Clandestine Cake Club

Holy Torte, Batman, The Clandestine Cake Club is a dream come true, and I’d say the Bury St. Edmunds chapter qualifies as a reason to visit. Be still my growling stomach, it looks like the chapter in Bury St. Edmunds is a public one, so maybe, if you contact the organizer you could bring a cake and attend a meeting. A great way to make some new friends. You know, having your cake and tasting theirs too.

Turns out they have chapters worldwide which is making me hungry just thinking about it. Have a look at their Pinterest Board if you dare and then find (or start) a chapter near you.

The Nutshell

The discussion rages on, but according to The Nutshell it’s official: The Guiness Book of World Records says it is the smallest pub in all of Britain. And who cares that I couldn’t find a source link because what’s a good pub without some good gossip and a little gossipy press? It’s not easy to be the owners of such a small bar. The decisions one must make are gargantuan.

To round things out and prove that small must not be lacking The Nutshell has, as every world-class pub must have, a gossipy rumor that it is haunted by a young boy who died there. It is very bad luck to touch the mummified cat hanging above the bar. Trust me, folks, there’s stories, there’s proof. I’m not touching a mummified anything - ewwww.

The Nutshell in Bury St. Edmunds is a No-Miss on any trip to Suffolk.

Festivities?

  • The Christmas Fayre is coming soon : November 27-30, 2014 - Over 300 stalls, world market, stage and street entertainment.
  • Bury St. Edmunds Festival : May 16-19, 2015 (unconfirmed) - 10 days of music, theatere, film and art.
  • And visit-burystedmunds.co.uk has more here…

More About Bury St. Edmunds

Are You Thinking Suffolk Is Beyond Your Budget?

Here are more possible home exchange partners in Suffolk.

Log in if you would like to contact the owners of these listings. If you’re not already a member - Do join Intervac today. We’d love to visit your home town.

Categories: travel Posted on: 18 November 2014 Author: Nancy Carroll

A Reason to Visit: Athens

Athens - Modern Mythos

Photo Credit: deepstereo - Untitled street art (2013) • photo

Art - And By That I Mean Street Art

I know, me too. When I think of Athens I think of ancient art; statues of old faces without noses, scantily clad women with wings and dogs. Clichés, I know, but there they are. Clever travelers know the truth about clichés - they are only a starting point; a reason to get out of the house.

Athens street art scene started in the 90s but since the financial crisis it’s taken off. The creativity hums in the streets and the art that is being made while we sit here, reading and writing, is exciting, thought-provoking, social, political, authentic and life-affirming.

Street art in Athens

photo credit: (left) the euskadi 11 - cc - cropped • (right): Dimitris Kamaras - cc

Street art puts a new face on “old rocks”. Oh, it leaves the rocks stacked by the ancients and mythological rocks pretty much alone, but the buildings on the street, those are taking on a modern patina.

“Graffiti ultimately wins out over proper art because it becomes part of your city, it’s a tool; “I’ll meet you in that pub, you know, the one opposite that wall with a picture of a monkey holding a chainsaw”. I mean, how much more useful can a painting be than that?” ― Banksy, Banging Your Head Against a Brick Wall

Street art in Athens

photo credit: the euskadi 11 - cc

Is street art Greek to you? Ever wonder why in the world…, and who would want to…? Don’t quite know how to appreciate an art form about which that most iconic of street artists once said:

“People look at an oil painting and admire the use of brushstrokes to convey meaning. People look at a graffiti painting and admire the use of a drainpipe to gain access.” ― Banksy, Wall and Piece.

Street art in Athens

photo credit: Bryce Edwardscc

Curious For More?

Here is an opportunity for anyone curious about street art and the people who make it: Discover the Streets with a Street Art Guided Tour from Alternative_Athens. Your guide achilles speaks super English and is a street artist himself. His walking tour lasts 3 hours and you can be very sure that you’ll experience Athens in a way your friends, who spent all their time cruising museums and ruins didn’t. Learn more about contemporary Greek society first hand. Discuss their politics, their worldview, ask questions and get personal answers from the streets.

And when you get back, please write to me and tell me how you liked it, what you learned and what surprised you the most.

Are You Thinking Athens Is Beyond Your Budget?

Here are some possible home exchange partners in Athens.

Log in if you would like to contact the owners of these listings. If you’re not already a member - Do join Intervac today. We’d love to visit your home town.

More About Street Art in Athens

Categories: travel Posted on: 03 November 2014 Author: Nancy Carroll