Happy Home Exchange Photo Contest 2016

It's photo contest time again!

Dear Intervac Friends
It is our very great pleasure to announce the 4th edition of Intervac’s #‎HappyPhotoCompetition‬ 2016. Curious about the rules and how to enter? Find out more here.

If you don’t want to enter, but do want to vote, come on over to our Facebook page and Like the photos you think should win.

Ewa Krupska Ewa Krupska has been Intervac's enthusiastic national representative in Poland since 1992. She moderates our Facebook page and is the mastermind behind our annual photo competition. When asked what she loves most about Intervac she says: "The comfort and safety (somebody looks after our house,pets and the garden) and of course the economic aspect - money saved may be spent for nice restaurants, admission tickets, shopping and...more travelling!

Home Exchange and the Sharing Economy

There is enough for everyone if we all just share.

We are all #richerwhenweshare. Try home exchange.

When we talk about home exchange with people who are not familiar with the concept, their eyebrows raise and all sorts of objections immediately surface.

But, as soon as the discussion turns to the “new” Sharing Economy, the same people suddenly get truly interested, They understand.

The Sharing Economy is making something you have available to others, when you yourself are not using it. Think about how you loan your neighbor your electric drill, garden tiller or car, when you are not using them and in return he loans you his tools, etc when he is not using them. We all know that this is a very economical way of getting things accomplished around the house.

And it is pretty much what we do when we exchange our homes for vacations. We are applying the “NEW” Sharing Economy concept to the home we, and others around the world, live in. When you are on vacation and not using your house there are other, very nice people around the world who are on vacation and not using theirs either. Why not share?

It is really simple. When sharing someone’s home the same rules apply as when sharing tools with your neighbor: Return it in as good or better condition than when you found it. Home exchange is the modern (and most economical) way to travel the world. Home exchange makes sense!!!!

Hans J. Brouwers "The first time I read about home exchange I knew it was for me! My first exchange was 5 weeks, the next 2 months, the third 3 months. I recommend home exchanging and Intervac to everyone who wants to listen!" Hans Brouwers is Dutch by birth and upbringing. He has an insatiable taste for adventure and lived in Canada and the US before retiring to sunny Mexico.

Second Generation Spanish Members Anticipate First Exchange

The second generation knows: Home Exchange is the best way to see the world with children!

Dear Maria Angeles:
Thank you very much for all the information.

I’m the second-generation of Intervac members in my family and I see how things have changed. In the past, my parents received a lot of letters from foreign families with brochures from foreign places and, at most, two or three pictures of the house.

Now, I see that my parents were very ahead of their time!

Today, I am the one exchanging my house to travel with my own family. This will be our first exchange and we are looking forward to it with great enthusiasm. My parents never had a problem during thier nearly 30 years of exchange. I hope to have the same luck with my exchange to Britain.

Letters like this are “honey to our eyes”. I am sure our member’s parents must be very pleased by that compliment too. It is true that there are very few complaints and there is no more comfortable way to see the world with your family.

Kids love home exchange. It is exciting for them to stay in someone else’s home, to play with different toys and explore a new neighborhood. Parents love home exchange with children - there’s lots of room and plenty for them to do.

In fact, kids love it so much that when they grow up and have kids of thier own, many continue the home exchange tradition. They want to offer their own children the chance to make warm travel memories and foreign friends of thier own.

Come on, give Intervac a try today. You know you want to.

Don't Miss The Flying Scotsman in 2016

The Flying Scotsman in Doncaster

Photo Credit: Richard Benson The Flying Scotsman - Photo taken at the Doncaster Works Open Day 2003 where this Scotsman was built eighty years prior.

The thing about home exchange is that you get to see and do things that you otherwise don’t have time to see or do. Railway fans how about a trip to England this year? The Flying Scotsman made the news recently by returning to work transporting travelers from London to Edenburgh after ten years and £4.2m worth of restoration.

A National Treasure

The Scotsman began it’s story in 1862 as the “Special Scotch Express”. A comfortable service linking the capital cities of England and Scotland. Weekdays at 10:00 a.m. a train departed London King’s Cross and Edinburgh Waverly simultaneously, crossing paths in York with a half an hour stop for lunch the Scotsman ten and a half hours after departure. A day’s trip to be sure, but a thrilling one compared to other ways of travel.

By 1888 the trip time had been reduced to eight hours.

The current Scotsman, the one you can see today was built in 1923, is 21 meters long and nearly 4 meters tall. It’s maximum speed is 100 mph (161 km/h) and was officially named The Flying Scotsman in 1924 after the Times started calling it “The Flying Scotchman” in 1875.

In the 1930’s travel on the Flying Scotsman had taken to the opulence and style of the time like a duck to water. The fine ladies onboard could “retire” to a room away from the gentlemen for quieter pursuits, a hairdressing salon provided haicuts and shaves and the a newstand had the latest newspapers. There was a luxurious restaurant car in the style of Louis XVI and in the bar awaited The Flying Scotsman’s very own cocktail.

The Flying Scotsman Cocktail
1 1/2 ounces / 60 ml Scotch whisky
1 1/2 ounces / 60 ml sweet vermouth
2 dashes Angostura bitters
1/2 teaspoon superfine sugar
3 or 4 ice cubes
Source: Epicurious.com

The Flying Scotsman - The Film

Icon that it is, the Scotsman is also a film star. Here the film Trailer from the 1929 film starring Moore Marriott who apparently “had no teeth in real life and took four different sets of false teeth with him in order to achieve variety in his characters”, Pauline Johnson, Ray Milland - Academy Award winner for his role in The Lost Weekend directed by Billy Wilder, and the otherwise forgotten Alec Hurley,

That really was “back in the day” and the actors and Miss Johnson herself did their own stunts on the moving locomotive. Have a look, that is Pauline Johnson you see walking along the edge of the moving train wearing high heels.

First Film with a Warning Label?

According to the article at gutenberg.us:

Allegedly Sir Nigel Gresley, chief engineer of the LNER, was so concerned at the unsafe practices shown in the film, such as the decoupling of the locomotive from the train while in motion, he insisted that a disclaimer was placed in the opening credits explaining that such things could not happen on the LNER.[7] The notice stated “For the purposes of the film dramatic licence has been taken in regard to the safety equipment used on The Flying Scotsman”.[8] Film historian John Huntley claimed that Gresley subsequently forbade any further filming on the LNER until after his retirement.[9]

Over at The Arts Desk they have a nice clip of the restored version (DVD) of the movie which was shown in Glasgow in 2011. If anyone knows where I could buy a copy, I’d love to hear from you in the comments!

Off to America!

And so, you’d think that after all that glitz and glamour the Scotsman would settle down to a routine, but you’d be wrong. In 1969, the famous locomotive did what all famous folk do and went to America for a tour. Then to Australia. Then back to America where, this time, sponsorship fell through and the Scotsman was stranded.

I was about eight years old and remember my father, at the breakfast table, reading in the paper about how Alan Pegler, then owner of the locomotive had gone bankrupt and William McAlpine stepped in to save it and ship the Scotsman back to Britain. It was 1973 when the Scotsman made it back home again - and after a little relaxing on Britain’s rails - another overhaul - another trip, this time to Australia, it became clear that owning an iconic locomotive is hard on the wallet. In 2004 came the last in a line of “new owners”. This time British Railways, bought it with money donated by locomotive lovers all over Britain and a little help from Sir Richard Branson put them over the top.

See the Scotsman

After this week’s happy return, the Flying Scotsman will continue to delight railroad locomotive fans as a working museum exhibit and the oldest mainline working locomotive on Britain’s tracks.

Stunts, Speed and Style - March 25, 2016 - May 8, 2016 More special events: The Scotsman Season

Travel with the Scotsman

Today to travel via Flying Scotsman will send you off from Edinburgh at 5:40 am and deliver you precisely four hours later at King’s Cross. You will have stopped just once at Newcastle and enjoyed all the conveniences expected today; Wi-Fi, device charging points and a variety of catering options.

Dates for special Scotsman tours around Britain - A very few seats are still available but there is plenty of space trackside and you can look for a home exchange in Great Britain here.

For You Trivia Lovers

The book: Murder on the Flying Scotsman by Carola Dunn takes place on the Scotsman of 1923

Other Famous Flying Scotsmen

Eric Liddell was also known as the Flying Scotsman. His life and story are the basis of the film Chariots of Fire.

And then there’s The Flying Scotsman a 2006 German/British film about the Scotish bicyclist who broke the world’s 1 hour record on a bicycle he designed and made himself out of scrap metal. An old washing machine, I think…

Steam Locomotive Daytrips

Finally, wherever your home exchange in Great Britain takes you this year Steam Dreams can fix you up with the Flying Scotsman or you can take your pick of historic steam locomotives with daytrips and destinations all over Britain. Their new brocheure is due out in April.

Happy Home Exchanging and if you see the Scotsman, leave me a comment. I’d love to hear about your trip!

Questions from New Members

The reverse search check box is here.

Member Question. I wonder how I can search for those who want to go to Sweden? When I do my filter I can search on selected countries but the members I get on the list are not always interested in an exchange with Sweden.

Try this: On the search page, under the section “Preferences” > Reversed Search there is a check box “only show listings interested in my area” That should only return members who have Sweden (your area) in their Destinations Wishlists.

Our search engine will also show you members who have “Europe” in their list. Please, don’t hesitate to write to these members too. They are very open about their European destination and your home might be just what they are looking for.

Member Question. What would you say are the most important things I can do to make my listing attractive to other members?

Be sure to add lots of photos of your home and your neighborhood. But, also add photos of yourself and your pets. You can mark these to be visible for members only if you are uncomfortable with the idea that visitors to our site could see them. Also, it’s very important to keep your exchange dates and your destinations wishlist up-to-date so that our search engine can work to help you find the perfect exchange partner.

Here are the instructions for adding exchange dates and here is more about your destinations wishlist

Member Question. Our exchange from last summer doesn´t show at our page. It was our first exchange and we would like to be sure our listing is complete.

If this should happen to you, the best thing to do is to contact your local representative. They can change this for you and will pass the general problem along to our development team for checking.

As always, we appreciate the time you take to let us know when something doesn’t work as you expect it will. Your feedback helps us to improve our online system every day.

Improved Search Returns

Improved search returns make it easy to see if you already contacted a member about an exchange.

The green checkmark is your clue…

Lots of you have asked us for an easy way to know if you already contacted a member about an exchange in the past. Up until now, you had to click on the listing to see if there was a contact history involved. Now, you can see that directly in the search returns. Any time you see a listing with a green checkmark beside it, you know you have already been in contact with that member.

How about a non-Simultaneous exchange?

Enjoying our own balcony in our last exchange

Enjoying our own balcony in our last exchange

I started doing home exchanges for my holidays in 2005. I love any kind of home exchange and now that my family has grown and I home exchange with kids… even more so! It is great to feel at home when we’re travelling with our kids.

Sleeping in late on our last home exchange

Sleeping in late on our last home exchange

The problem is that, when you have school-aged kids, you need to stick to school holiday dates. And finding an exchange partner can become a bit more difficult.

That is what got me doing non-simultaneous exchanges more often. A non-simultaneous exchange is simply an exchange in which the dates do not overlap.

Actually, my first exchange back in 2005 was a non-simultaneous one: I went to New York for the 4th of July and the New York couple I exchanged with only came to my apartment in Madeira Island in August. The problem for me, back then, was that it meant that when the New York couple came, I had to temporarily move to my parents-in-law’s home… If you have a second home, like I do now, it is even easier!

I have just completed my 6th non-simultaneous exchange. My exchange partner, Rosemary, came in October 2014 to Madeira, and my family and I visited Torquay, in the English Riviera in August 2015.

In Torquay's harbour, with our exchange home showing in the backdrop

In Torquay’s harbour, with our exchange home showing in the backdrop

This way, we both got good weather, Rosemary got a better price for her off-season flight tickets and we got to go during the school holidays… All in all, it was simpler to get to the perfect dates for both exchanging parties.

We had a beautiful balcony to enjoy… day & night!

We had a beautiful balcony to enjoy… day & night!

Apart from the dates, the other great advantage of non-simultaneous exchanges is that it is easier to get to meet your exchange partners which a great way of cultivating international friendships. We love to make new friends while we’re busy seeing the world and enjoying the benefits of home exchange!

We had the pleasure to meet Rosemary and her friend Jennifer both in Madeira and in Torquay. We are reaching our 20th exchange, but Rosemary is an even more experienced exchanger than we are. We talked about past exchanges, about each other’s country and about life in general.

Meeting our exchange partners was great

Meeting our exchange partners was great

We even got to watch a video of an English TV show that aired in 2011 that featured an exchange to Rosemary’s house. The program focused on how home exchange can allow your holiday budget to be as low as £50 for a family of three… If you are curious, you can watch it too here.

To sum up, if your holiday dates don’t match the ones of your exchange partner, consider doing a non-simultaneous exchange. If you have to, consider (temporarily) moving to your parents-in-law’s! But do not miss out on all the great non-simultaneous home exchange opportunities Intervac has to offer you!