Happy Home Exchange Photo Contest

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!

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.

Third Generation Intervac Home Exchange

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 = Nederlandse Onderwijzers Vereniging) and the Swiss Teachers Union (Schweizerische Lehrer Verein). At various Congress-Meetings, Mr. Gerrit Beltman for NL and Mr. Lehmann for CH, got 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.

Reasons to Visit: Bury St. Edmunds

Photo credit: Greene King Brewery Tour 28-07-2011 by karen_roe ( cc 2.0 )

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 in 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.


  • 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…

Are You Thinking Suffolk Is Beyond Your Budget?

Here are some 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.

More About Bury St. Edmunds

Formatting Text in Your Listing

Photo credit: DSC_0007_denoise.jpg by imelenchon ( morgueFile )

Hello, Intervac-Friends. It’s been awhile since I met with the Belgian Members Advisory Board, but one of the questions which came up during our conversations was how to format text within your listing. This post will show you how to add bold or italic text to your listing, how to add lists and how to format text with a link. Let’s start with the easiest of all: bold and italic text.

Formatting Italic Text

To make text italic you should put either a single “*” (star) or a single “_” (underscore) character before and after the text you want to italicise. For it to work, there must be no spaces between the star or underscore and your text. The same thing goes for bold text.

Typing this:

*This text is italic*

Or this:

_This text is italic_

Displays this: This text is italic

Formatting Bold Text

To make text bold, you should put either “**” (two stars) or “__” (two underscore) on either side of the text you want to bold. Again, no spaces between your stars/underlines and your text.

Typing this:

**This text is bold**

or this:

__This text is bold__

Displays this: This text is bold

Formatting Lists

To tell the Intervac system that you would like a list in your text you need to format it like this:

  1. Put one list item on each line.
  2. Begin each line with 2 empty spaces
  3. Place a “* “ (star space) before your text

So, typing this:

* Here is the first item in my list.
* Here is the second one.
* And I have this third item too.

Displays like this:

  • Here is the first item in my list.
  • Here is the second one.
  • And I have this third item too.

You probably already know that the simplest way to add a link to your listing is to simply put the whole url into your text. The system will automatically format a link and display the address for you.

So, typing this:


Automatically displays this: www.intervac-homeexchange.com

But what if you want to link some text in your listing? It’s not complicated, you must format your text like this:

  1. Place the link text you want in your listing inside “[]” (square brackets)
  2. Directly next to the square brackets place the link address inside of “()” (parenthesis)

If you type it like this:

You will really love [home exchange with Intervac](http://www.intervac-homeexchange.com).

The system displays: You will really love home exchange with Intervac.

I hope you found this helpful and with the information you are able to make your listing more attractive than ever. Please leave a comment at the bottom of this page if you are having trouble or if you have further questions about formatting text. I love to hear from you!

A Reason to Visit: Athens

Athens - Modern Mythos

Photo credit: Untitled street art (2013) • photo by deepstereo ( cc 2.0 )

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

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 11cc

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

Meeting Belgium’s Member Advisory Board

Meeting the Belgian Member Advisory Board

On Saturday I had the very great pleasure of sitting together with Intervac Belgium’s Member Advisory Board for coffee and lunch. They were in Stuttgart on a weekend getaway to exchange ideas in a relaxing setting, do some sightseeing and they didn’t even think of letting strikes at the Deutsche Bahn get in the way.

We agreed to meet at 9:30 in the morning at a bistro nearby. The owners were very kind and agreed to open early just for us and to cook us a wonderful Käsespätzle lunch. We got started very nearly on time even though most of our group had to take the scenic route to a neighboring village and then on to our meeting place by car and foot. They were real troopers!

We chatted a long time about their needs and wishes for our online system, how to make this blog something useful for our members, but also for those of you who don’t know much about home exchanging. They told me stories of welcome gifts from partners and friendships sealed by nice touches and common experience.

I’ll be telling you more about those things in the future so hang tight. Good things are on the way!

Looking for an Amsterdam Weekend Exchange?

Photo credit: Lies Thru a Lens by danrocha ( cc )

If you are, our member Patrice Grellet has a recommendation for you.

Bonjour, J’ai effectué récemment un échange avec Bob Stevens et de la famille NL0342. Tout s’est très bien passé. Leur appartement à Amsterdam est très confortable, paisible (avec un très beau jardin), à une distance raisonnable du centre ville (transports très pratiques). Je le recommande pour un long week-end aux Pays-bas.

And once again, this time in English.

Hello, I recently made ​​an exchange with Bob Stevens and family NL0342. Everything went very well. Their apartment in Amsterdam is very comfortable, quiet (with a beautiful garden) and a reasonable distance from the city center (very convenient transportation). I recommend it for a long weekend in the Netherlands.

BBC Home Swap TV Series

HI GB Members, you may be interested in following this up!

A new BBC television series is looking for sociable people who want to try out a home swap in a great British location.

Do you live in a lovely home or in a terrific location? Would you like to swap your property to have a memorable experience in a fantastic part of Britain? If you’d like to taste superb local cuisine and take part in fabulous activities that go beyond the guide book, then we want to hear from you!

For an application form or just an initial chat please email Kieran McCarthy (the assistant producer) at homeswapholidays@bbc.co.uk with your contact details or call us on 07944 794 088

The closing date is 31 Aug, 2014