We can’t tell you how much we appreciate Intervac which actualizes our dream trips so many times that most people are not able to do. We just came back in September from an around-the-world trip and we are now ready to take off again in December.
Sean and Steven have been members since 2006. Our “Other Countries” organizer Lucien Mazik took the oppportunity to meet them in Paris short time after they applied. A year later Lucien and his wife were able to visit Sean and Steven in their home in Ubud (Indonesia). Lucien told me: “Their staff gave us a royal reception as they do for all their guests. This is also Intervac!”
Following is extracted from an email conversation between one of our Hungarian members and the organizer responsible for her country.
Please know that I appreciate all you – and others running/managing Intervac – do! Intervac is great, what can I say?!
Gosh, we have the nicest members, don’t we?
The basic principal is easy to explain: Two parties exchange homes for a specific period of time. Usually they do this for their holidays and completely eliminate all hotel (and often car rental) costs in the process. Exchanging homes gives each party to have a comfortable home-base while exploring a foreign country or region. It’s simple and easy to do, and to be successful at it requires only common courtesy, common sense, a pinch of flexibility and a sense of humor. Let me explain:
Think of all those rules you followed when you were a kid spending the night at your friend’s home: Clean up after yourself; be careful with other people’s property; if you break something, fess up, apologize and replace it; and don’t jump on the beds. Home exchange is a prime example of the old rule about treating other people and their possessions as you would like you and yours to be handled.
Before you decide on an exchange partner you will have contact with many people, some of them will be on the same wave length as you are and some not. Just like in real life, you wouldn’t invite someone with whom you had nothing in common to your home, and you shouldn’t agree to a home exchange with them either. Often new exchangers search specifically for experienced partners and arrange to meet and spend a day or two together getting to know one another in person before the second party takes off for their vacation. This is an excellent way for newbies to get to know the ropes and it’s reassuring. Intervac has a system of ratings so that it’s easy to see which offers are from experienced exchangers - and we have a lot of them!
A Pinch of Flexibility
The popular home exchangers are the ones who know what they want and are flexible enough to accommodate the desires of lots of other people. This is especially important in your choice of destinations. Unlike hotel rooms, not all destinations are available for home exchange. Some are available but limited. It seems to me that what we all love about travel is experiencing new places and people. I think it’s good to remember that when you are “living like a local” the destination can easily become secondary to the experience.
Living locally in a foreign culture is a super chance to meet other people on a day-to-day basis. Your home exchange partners will certainly have given you lots of information about local customs, restaurants, and sights, but by remaining flexible with regards to your time you may open up spontaneous opportunities to bar-b-que with the neighbors or take a city tour with your partner’s brother-in-law.
A Sense of Humor
People who love to travel often have a lively sense of humor and we all know it comes in handy to be able to appreciate the ridiculous when away from home. One of our members tells a story about the time their French exchange partner’s horse escaped. By the time they noticed it was gone - it was really no where to be found. They rallied the kids and the neighbors and searched the better part of the day before someone spied him casually munching wildflowers in the middle of a field. Our member chuckles when he is finished and mentions that in the village there were pointed out a couple of times as “the foreigners who have lost a horse”. Even with all the friendly smiles from the villagers, at the time our member says he was worried sick but now it’s one of his favorite home exchange memories. A sense of humor can turn the “ruined” day into an adventure you’ll enjoy telling about for years to come.
Welcome to the official home exchange blog of Intervac International. My name is Nancy and I look forward, with the help of Intervac’s members and organizers, to filling this space with interesting information and stories about travel in general and home exchange travel in particular.
First, I’d like to introduce you to Intervac International. In 1953 Intervac pioneered the concept of home exchange. Here is how one of our organizers describes the beginning:
During the early 1950’s contact developed between Teachers Unions in Europe. They began to work together, cooperating for improved conditions, and more importantly to improve understanding between cultures and people of different backgrounds. Some teachers realized that they could better benefit from longer holidays teachers enjoyed if they could find more economical ways of traveling to foreign countries. The modern idea of home-exchange holidays was born.
The charms and opportunities afforded by living like a local can’t be purchased with money anyway. It was a truly innovative way to improve communication between cultures and peoples. In 1953 the leaders of the Swiss and Dutch Teacher Unions agreed to organize a system make it easy for thier teacher-members to exchange homes during their holidays. Mr. A. Lehmann of Belp, Switzerland made contact with Mr. G.J. Beltman of Enter, Netherlands and the rest is history!
Ivar Solli - also called “Papa Intervac” - was today awarded His Majesty King Harald’s Order of Merit for having established Intervac Norway in 1973 and developed Intervac Norway to a web-based organisation. The medal was fastened on Ivar’s chest by the Mayor of Gjøvik – his home town.
On behalf of the BD, current Intervac Norway organizer, Hj. Kjell congratulated him and brought him beautiful flowers.