Arranging an exchange, Home exchange guide

Starting An Exchange Agreement

You’ve searched and contacted and chatted online with lots of nice people and now you have found exactly the right partner for this year’s exchange. You are ready to start the exchange agreement? This article is for you.


Starting the Exchange Agreement

Before you get started, have a look at your member home page and be sure that your listing is marked as available for exchange.
Be sure your listing is still available for exchange.

You will find the Exchange Agreements section of our site by scrolling down in the member navigation to the My Membership section and click on Exchange Agreements.

Screenshot of the ongoing exchange agrements page

From here on it’s pretty straightforward. If there is not an agreement already started by your partner, the only thing you’ll need to get one started is your exchange partner’s listing id. At the top of the Exchanges overview page, you should see the blue “Start Exchange Agreement button”. Click on it…

Start Agreement via Listing ID

First, you will see the legal text for your agreement after that, you can choose to search for your partner’s listing via their listing id, or if they are already on your favorites list, you can look there.

Screenshot - First steps in starting your next exchange agreement

Start Agreement via Favorites

In this tab, you will find each of the listings in your Favorites. Each favorite will have either a tag explaining why it is not possible to start an exchange agreement with that listing (expired or trial member for instance) or else it will have a Start Exchange Agreement link.

Screenshot - Finding your partner on your favorites list.

Clicking the Start Exchange button will create your exchange agreement and, moreover, it will automatically fill in your name and address as well as your partner’s name and address. Your partner will be notified that you have started the agreement process. You will see a new ongoing agreement card on your Exchanges overview page.


The Ongoing Agreement Card

This screen is your control panel for the progress of your exchange agreement. Just by starting, you are already 20% finished.

The next step is to click the “Edit Your Terms” button and fill in the form. Please be sure that you add at least one participant (yourself, for instance). Also, add the dates you will be arriving and leaving your partner’s home.


Member Questions

 What does that mean: Use “n/a” if the field does not apply to your situation.?

The abbreviation “n/a” is commonly used in English and it stands for “not applicable” (does not apply) or “no answer”. For the purposes of our exchange agreement, you can also use a “–” or any other abbreviation common in your language. The main thing is you should not leave any of the text fields blank.

Arranging an exchange, Home exchange guide

Filling out your Exchange Agreement Form

Filling out the form

Ok, first off, I’m going to go through the whole agreement form in this post. It is a bit long, but I hope this helps you with your next exchange agreeement.


Contact Details

Screenshot - Partner Information on Exchange Agreement

Having chosen your partner and clicked the Start Exchange Agreement button our system made one of these forms for you and one for your partner. You can see here that it has automatically filled in both of your names and contact information. You can choose to show your email address and/or mobile phone number on your working exchange agreement. This information will only be displayed here. It will not be visible to other members or your exchange partner via the contact information on your listing.


Holiday Dates [required]

Screenshot - Holiday Dates on Exchange Agreement
In the next section you should give the dates you will be staying in your partner’s home. Remember, your partner’s form is independent of yours so be sure to put the dates you are planning to be there. Your exchange partner should put the dates they are planning to be in your home.

Member Questions

Member Question Question: What if it is a non-simultaneous exchange and one party doesn’t know their dates yet?

The form requires that you add dates in order to save it. Since non-simultaneous exchange usually requires more planning, we recommend you choose something close. You will be keeping in touch with your exchange partner anyway.

Member Question Question: I am having trouble getting the dates to work. What am I doing wrong?

Exchange dates calendar
These date-picker calendars on the web all work slightly differently and that can be troublesome. Here is what you need to do to use ours:

  1. Click on the white date field (highlighted with a blue frame).
  2. Set the year by clicking on the year – it will give you a menu to choose from.
  3. Choose the month via the little dark triangles in the gray Month bar (first red arrow)
  4. Then choose on the day that you want by clicking on it.
  5. The date-picker calendar will disappear and the year, month and date you chose will appear in the box.

Exchange Participants [required]

Screenshot of exchange participants section of the exchange agreement
This is where you list all of the people who will be staying in your partner’s home. You will not be able to save your form if you do not have at least one person in this section.

The new form loads with space for one participant. To add another one participant, click the grey button “Add a Participant”. Fill in the name and age of the next person traveling with you.

To remove someone from your party, just click the red “trash” button next to the name of the person who will not be accompanying you after all.


About our Cars

Screenshot of our cars section of the exchange agreement
Next, you’ll find a text box where you can write any important details about your car. If you need more room to write, just click and drag on that little “handlebar” in the lower right-hand corner of the text box.

Some things that you might want to mention are:

  • Where you will leave your car keys and where your partner should put them when they go home.
  • The condition of your gas tank when your partner arrives and when they leave.
  • Whether or not you expect your partner to wash or vacuum the car before they leave.
  • If you have more than one car, which one(s) are available for your partner’s use.
  • Other insurance details beyond the scope of the checkbox.

Telephone and Internet


Update: This section used to be called “Regarding Long Distance Calls” but has been changed to better reflect how members are using it. (March, 2014)

Some things you might want to clarify here are:

  • Whether your partner may use your phone for making toll calls and how payment for them is to be handled.
  • The availability of Internet and any connected costs + how payment for these is to be handled.
  • Where you will leave the wifi credentials. For security reasons, please don’t leave them in your exchange agreement.

Special Cleaning Requests

Screenshot of Cleaning Requests section of the Exchange Agreement

In this box members often write about:

  • Linens: Should your partner wash them before they leave? Change the beds? Do you prefer to do this yourself?
  • Yard work/plant watering that needs to be done while you are away.
  • Where your partner can find cleaning supplies.

Regarding Keys to My Home

Screenshot of Regarding Keys to Our Home section of the Exchange Agreement

That one is pretty clear. This is the place to arrange pick-up and drop-off of keys.


Regarding Pets

Screenshot of the Regarding Pets section of the Exchange Agreement

Anything you want to agree with your partner about taking care of your pets?

  • Location of pet food.
  • Number of times a day to feed pets.
  • Exercise schedule (how many times a day Fido needs to go outside and where his leash is kept).

Other Special Requests

Screenshot of other special requests section of the Exchange Agreement

What have we missed in the list above? This is the place to mention it.


Stipulations

Screenshot of stipulations section of the Exchange Agreement

Three easy checkboxes to give your partner explicit permission to use your linens (or not), to bring their guests into your home (or not), and to bring their own pets.

After that, it’s time to save your form – and that is all this button does. It does not send your terms to your partner but assumes that your agreement is a draft. When you are ready to send your terms to your partner for review, you will find a button on the Exchanges Overview page.

Arranging an exchange, Home exchange guide

Sending & Reviewing Terms

Sending and reviewing terms and conditions

You’ve filled out your form and you are all ready to send your terms to your partner for review.


Sending Your Terms To Your Partner

You can do this from the Member Home navigation. Scroll down to My Memberships > Exchange Agreements > Then click the View link near the agreement you want to send.

Screenshot of an ongoing agreement ready to send terms to a partner
Clicking the blue “Send to partner” button will send your partner an email to let them know that the exchange process is moving along and that you are ready for them to read the terms you filled in.

Member Questions

Member Question Question: I am unable to edit my terms. What am I doing wrong?

Because of the back-and-forth nature of exchange agreements, our system keeps a lock on each form allowing only one party at a time “edit” access. When you send your terms to your partner, your partner receives “edit” access – by which they are only able to Accept or Decline what you have written. They can not make changes to your text.

If you need to make a change at this stage, it’s best to contact your partner and ask them to decline the term you want to change and send the agreement back to you for edits.

Reviewing Your Partner’s Terms

When your partner is ready for you to review their terms, you’ll see a button in the box for your Partner’s Terms.

Screenshot of an ongoing agreement ready to review the partner's terms

Click the button and you will see the form that your partner filled out. Underneath each item is a set of buttons. Each of your terms is shown to your partner with two buttons “Accept” and “Deny”.

Screenshot of an ongoing agreement ready to accept or decline the partner's terms

To signal your approval with each set of terms that your partner has written, click the “Accept” button.


Not In Agreement? Have a Question?

If you are not in agreement with something your partner has written, or more likely, if you have questions, use the “Decline” button. When you click it, you have the opportunity to write a note to your partner

Screenshot after clicking the Decline button

… and that note will show up next to the title of the category when they look at their terms.

Member Question Your partner will also receive an email that there were updates to an exchange agreement process as well as notification message on their member overview page the next time they login.

Once you have made changes to your terms based on any suggestions your partner has, be sure to save the form and send your terms to your partner via the blue Send to Partner button again.


Late Editing Your Terms

It is important that your terms are clear and you are satisfied with them. So, don’t be shy about making changes back and forth up until your agreement is signed.

Once your partner has accepted all your terms though if you want to make changes to them – you will need to click the Unlock Agreement button in the upper right-hand corner of your agreement form. This button is a reminder that any changes you make to already accepted terms will set the process back and require that you send your terms again for your partner to review and accept.

/blog.intervac-homeexchange.com/assets/pages/guide/exchange_agreement-unlock_agreement.png

Once you and your partner have reached an agreement, and you’ve accepted each other’s terms it is time to get on with Signing Your Exchange Agreement.

Arranging an exchange, Home exchange guide

Finalizing Your Exchange Agreement

Finalizing your agreement

Once you and your partner have reviewed each other’s terms and accepted the conditions your agreement is ready to finalize. You can tell that it’s time when the green “Review and Sign Agreement” button shows up.

Screenshot of an exchange agreement ready to sign

Remember, if you want to edit your own terms, you must first click the red Unlock Agreement button in the upper right-hand corner of the form. Any changes to your terms will set the process back and require you to send your terms to your partner for agreement again.


Reviewing the Agreement

Clicking the “Review and Sign Agreement” button will show you again the agreement, but this time in full with your dates and conditions as well as your partner’s – all in a single, printable document.
Screenshot of an exchange agreement ready to sign

Finalizing the Agreement

Screenshot of the exchange agreement sign button

In this screenshot, you can see that the agreement form keeps you up-to-date with the process by giving you a button to “Sign the Agreement” and also telling you, in the blue box, that your partner has not signed the agreement yet.

Or, in the green box, that you partner did already sign.


Cancellation?

Even though one of you has signed, it is still possible to cancel the agreement.

As soon as both parties have signed, the cancel button is no longer available and the agreement is moved
from:
Exchange Agreements > Overview
to:
Exchange Agreements > Future Vacations.

You can view and print the agreement any time you like but you can no longer cancel it.


I hope you have found this series helpful and wish you happy home exchanging!

Home exchange stories, Intervac

82ND – Wintertime in Greece!

As we have just retired, exchanging houses is on top of our bucket list! So we have had the opportunity to exchange houses with a Greek family.

Evdokia and Minas from Kavala near Thessaloniki had contacted us just before our New Year’s exchange in Leeuwarden, European cultural capital of 2018.

We booked our flights and were lucky to exchange cars also. And so we arrived in the middle of winter at Thessaloniki Airport. 

After searching car keys and texting each other where to find the cars, we were ready to explore Thessaloniki.

An amazing city full of culture, Roman and Byzantine and a lot of hidden spots we hadn’t expected. We admired the beautiful churches and “The Rotunda”! In ancient times its mosaics must have been as splendid and impressing as the ones we had been able to admire in Ravenna during a former exchange.

Soon it was time for our first Greek coffee and surprisingly, even in wintertime, we could enjoy a frappe! Love it!

In the evening my wife and I reached the lovely seaside village Palaio near Kavala. Thanks to the neighbours we had a very warm welcome and the great meal Evdokia had prepared made us feel most welcome!

During our exchange, we visited Filippi, the old town with the forum and its splendid theatre, all without the overpopulation of summertime visitors!

We loved the beautiful walks into the Nestos Valley, enjoyed wandering around unspoiled small towns like Drama, Amphelio and Kavala.

We took a boat trip to the island of Thasos, visited its beaches and white marble quarries. In Skala Panagias we witnessed inhabitants dancing in the streets.

Just Greece as we like Greece to be.

Happy people, enjoying life.

And so did we, being Greeks for ten amazing days!

Frans and Sonja / BE022

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This is part of the Intervac Home exchange stories series. Do you have a story yourself? We would love to hear about it! Tell us your story.

Arranging an exchange, Home exchange guide

Exchange Agreement Questions

Exchange agreements - Collected Questions

Starting An Agreement

What does that mean: Use “n/a” if the field does not apply to your situation.?

The abbreviation “n/a” is commonly used in English and it stands for “not applicable” (does not apply) or “no answer”. For the purposes of our exchange agreement, you can also use a “–” or any other abbreviation common in your language. The main thing is none of the text fields may be left blank.

Filling Out the Form

 Question: What if it is a non-simultaneous exchange and one party doesn’t know their dates yet?

The form requires that you add dates in order to save it. Since non-simultaneous exchange usually requires more planning, we recommend you choose something close. You will be keeping in touch with your exchange partner anyway.

Question: I am having trouble getting the dates to work. What am I doing wrong?

Screenshot of the date-picker calendar
These date-picker calendars on the web all work slightly differently and that can be troublesome. Here is what you need to do to use ours:

  1. Click in the white date field (highlighted with a blue frame).
  2. Set the year by clicking on the year – it will give you a menu to choose from.
  3. Choose the month via the little dark triangles in the gray Month bar (first red arrow)
  4. Then choose on the day that you want by clicking on it.
  5. The date-picker calendar will disappear and the year, month and date you chose will appear in the box.

Sending and Reviewing Terms

Question: I am unable to edit my terms. What am I doing wrong?

Because of the back-and-forth nature of exchange agreements our system keeps a lock on each form allowing only one party at a time “edit” access. When you send your terms to your partner, your partner receives “edit” access – by which they are only able to Accept or Decline what you have written. They can not make changes to your text.

If you need to make a change at this stage, it’s best to contact your partner and ask them to decline the term you want to change and send the agreement back to you for edits.

Signing Your Exchange Agreement

No questions so far… If you have one, leave a comment.

Finding an exchange partner, Home exchange guide

Destination Wishlist & Reversed Search

The reversed search is a member asking our system to Please show me other members who are specifically interested in visiting my area. Our system is specifically designed to help you and your next exchange partner find each other.

 

Destination wishlist

Use your Destination Wishlist to communicate with our search engine. List all the places you would most like to go. We will make sure that, when it is appropriate, your home is presented to members who live there!

Screenshot of the destinations wishlist

You don’t have to fill out your Destinations Wishlist but if you don’t, you will probably have to make all the first contacts. Raise your chances that members in living in places you want to visit can find and contact you too.

When members living in your wishlist countries use our reverse search, (and their other criteria don’t rule your listing out), our search engine will show them your listing.

If you wonder what it means when I say “when other criteria don’t rule your listing out”. I mean that the searching family might be searching for other dates or a specific feature.


Open for All Offers

Be sure to check this box if you are willing to consider offers from members who do not live in one of the countries listed on your Wishlist. We really encourage you to do this and be open to the spontaneous opportunities that will come your way.


Adding a Destination

Click the Add a Destination button and begin typing the name of the country, region or city that you would like to add to your Wishlist. Choose from the list of options provided by Google and your choice will be added to your wishlist automatically.


Removing a Destination

Wondering if your Destinations Wishlist affects other member’s reversed searches? It does.

 

The rules our search engine follows are:

  1. If your Destinations Wishlist is empty, your listing will never be displayed in another member’s reversed search.
  2. If you have a checkmark in the Open for all destinations box, your listing will always be included when another member makes a reversed search.
  3. Your Destinations Wishlist is taken into account whenever your one of your desired locations matches the location of the searching member’s home.

Let’s consider as an example, that you live in London, and have New York in your Destination wishlist.

City

  • If a member in New York searches for London and chooses Only show listings interested in my area – City he will find you.
  • If a member in Boston searches for London and chooses Only show listings interested in my area – City he will not find you.
  • If a member in Toronto, Canada searches for London and chooses Only show listings interested in my area – City he will not find you.

Country

  • If a member in New York searches for London and chooses Only show listings interested in my area – Country he will find you.
  • If a member in Boston searches for London and chooses Only show listings interested in my area – Country he will find you.
  • If a member in Toronto, Canada searches for London and chooses Only show listings interested in my area – Country he will not find you.

Continent

Finally, all these members (New York, Boston, and Toronto) will find you on searches for London in which they choose Only show listings interested in my area – Continent. 

Finding an exchange partner, Home exchange guide

My Favourites

My Favorites are a convenient way to save notes and a link back to listings that are attractive to you. The My Favorites section is linked from the top section of the Member home navigation.

The Favourites Layout

In the screenshot below you can see:

  • The date you put this listing on your favourites page.
  • A checkbox, useful for removing multiple listings from your favourites page
  • The listing id and location of the member’s home
  • Photo of the member’s home.
  • Underneath the photo, you will find information about their next exchange dates or current exchange availability as well as contact history and button.
  • The headline on the listing
  • The number of people who can sleep in this home.
  • The adults -vs- children make-up of this family.
  • Other details about the home.

Listing notes are private and are deleted if you remove the listing from your Favourites page.


Adding and Removing Favourites

Besides using the red “Trash” button on any listing on your Favourites page to remove a listing, you can also click the Favourite or Remove from Favourites button when you are looking at another member’s listing.


Making Contact with a Favourite

To make contact with the owners of a listing on your Favourites page, click the green “Contact” button underneath the photo. This will open up the contact dialog. It looks like this:

Request an exchange or start a conversation – our system has two options available for you.
To close the contact dialog, click the “hide” button.


Contacting Multiple Members at Once

To contact the owners of several of your favourite listings at once, use the link “Contact multiple favorites” from the Favourites navigation. It is highlighted in green in the screenshot below.

Underneath the recipients’ list and the message form, are the listings for all the active members on your favorites list. Add them to your recipients’ list by clicking the blue “+” button – and remove them by clicking the “Remove” link.

After you have set up your recipients list, fill in the message form and send.


You Have Been Added as a Favourite

Did you get an email that looks something like this one?

No worries, you don’t need to respond to it. It’s only an informational email. We just wanted to let you know that someone is thinking about an exchange with you.


Please, Make Them Stop!

If you don’t want to get any more email when other members add you to their favourites list, you can adjust your contact restrictions on the Contact Information page.

Finding an exchange partner, Home exchange guide

Hotlist for Last Minute home exchanges

What is the Hotlist?

The hotlist is the perfect place to find a last minute house swap anywhere in the world. An entry in the hotlist is only valid for four days so the list is always current and these are all members who are actively searching for a house swap holiday within the next 8 weeks.

It’s a great tool for new members with upcoming vacations and also for finding a spontaneous weekend exchange. Once you’ve added your listing to the hotlist, it will stay there for 4 days and then be automatically removed.

 


Where Can I See the Hotlist?

It is fully embedded in our search tool as a filter. Have a look at our search page. You will find it in the “Last Minute Exchanges”

Requirements

  1. An active Intervac membership.
  2. Exchange dates which begin within the next 8 weeks.

Want to know more about the hotlist? Like how to add your listing? It’s really easy.


Quickstart: Go To > Change My Listing

 

How To Add or Remove Your Listing

The switch on the “Change My Listing” page is a toggle. As you can see in the screenshots above all you have to do is click it and it changes.

To Add Your Listing

  1. Go to the Main Settings for your listing by clicking on “Change My Listing” in the member homepage navigation.
  2. Click the “Show listing in the Hotlist?” toggle switch and it will change from red to green.

To Remove Your Listing

If you have found an exchange and no longer want your listing on the hotlist, you can remove it easily.

  1. Go to the Main Settings for your listing by clicking on “Change My Listing” in the member homepage navigation.
  2. Click the “Show listing in the Hotlist?” toggle and it will change from green to red.

Home exchange stories, Intervac

Budget holidays in Switzerland

Our family holidays this year made me feel special, lucky (and smart!). In the end, I felt we had achieved something quite against the odds. We were an average Portuguese family who spent 9 days on vacation in Switzerland. Not usually an option.

If there’s one thing you learn quickly as a tourist in Switzerland is that everything is very expensive, and it is not a currency problem. The Swiss Franc and the Euro are almost equivalent. Prices in Switzerland are so expensive that, despite high wages, Swiss who live near the border cross to Germany on weekends to shop because the prices are much cheaper.

A vacation like ours was is possible for tourists on a budget but you will do lots of Internet searching and planning. And you will need at least some of the tricks I want to share with you, so you can also feel special, lucky and smart on your next vacation.

The top 5 items that your travel budget will go for (without any special order) are:

  1. Travel to Your Destination
  2. Local transportation
  3. Food
  4. Tickets to tourist attractions and shows
  5. Accommodation

Travel to Your Destination

To find an economical way to travel to your destination try using one of the sites that group information from the airline’s own sites. Personally, I like Skyscanner and Google Flights.

Be flexible with your departure and return dates (and times!). This helps you to find the best budget options as there seems to be no logic in the price scheme. Sometimes a longer trip will actually save you money! In the case of our recent vacation in Switzerland, our return flight to Portugal went through Milan giving us a 25% reduction in our overall price. For our family of 4 that was serious savings.

Local transportation

Local transportation is the factor that most benefits from really good planning. Everywhere you go the local transportation has its own rules and special prices. There are always alternatives, but with very different costs and it is not always easy to see which is the best transportation option at the first glance. Added to all that is the uncertainty – you never know for sure how long you will want to stay at each attraction and missing a connection can be expensive.

In the case of Switzerland, we decided to do our traveling always by train. Swiss trains are very reliable. In all the time that we were there, we only saw 2 delayed trains. On the first occasion, the train was 3 minutes late (which in Portugal wouldn’t even be considered a delay), and it was announced in the train station panels. On the second occasion, on our way to Italy, the train had to wait twice for trains coming from Italy that were late… This made us reach the destination in Italy a full 7 minutes late… quite out of the norm for Swiss trains!

But, Swiss trains are not cheap. A simple trip can cost 5 or 6 times more than we would expect to pay for the same distance in Portugal. The value is that quality, timeliness, tranquility, silence, and cleanliness of the toilets are guaranteed, even in second class. Some trains even have special carriages for families with a small playground on the second floor … our kids loved that! Parents find it especially easy to miss the Swiss trains, in spite of their price.

Some trains even have special carriages for families with a small playground on the second floor ... our kids loved that!

Tips for Train Travel in Switzerland

  • Round-trip tickets are valid for 24 hours. One-way tickets are only valid for 2 hours.
  • In Switzerland, certain train tickets include the bus service on your destination. That is worth checking in advance.
  • The good news is: Children under 6 years ride for free!
  • If you are traveling with young people between 6 and 15, you can buy an annual pass called “Junior Karte ” for just CHF 30 (Yes, an annual pass for under 30€!). This pass is valid as long as the youngsters are accompanied by an adult.
  • And if you are traveling with 3 or more children in the 6-15 age group, you only need to buy 2 passes. After that, your accompanied children can ride for free.

As you might expect the options for adults are not as easy. There is an annual pass called the “Halbtax ” which costs CHF 185 (around 160€). With this pass, adults pay 1/2 price for all tickets. The problem is that for a 9-day vacation the price is too high. We would have had to carry out trips costing more than 320€ per adult…Supersaver tickets are available for the following month and can be bought in advance through the train company (SBB) website or their app. Supersaver tickets are often a good option as the discounts can be as much as 50%.

Food

In Switzerland, a perfectly normal meal in a perfectly normal restaurant costs what we in Portugal would expect to pay per person for a wedding party. On our holiday, we opted for healthy meals (salads and juices) which we bought in the supermarket and ate in one of the many parks, (preferably next to a playground…). Yet, even that cost the equivalent of a meal in a normal restaurant meal in Portugal …

We also cooked and ate many meals at home, in “our” garden… more about that later!

Tickets for Attractions and Shows

Plenty of fun to be had even in the valley

Your family knows which sorts of attractions make memories on your trips. For the most part, we crossed museums and cable cars off the attractions menu because of the price. In Switzerland, there are breathtaking views and plenty of fun to be had even in the valley.

The Rhine runs along the border between Switzerland and Germany and we decided one thing we could not do without was a boat ride! We got a good deal on a RailAway offer and did the boat trip from Stein am Rhein to Schaffhausen. By going downstream, the trip takes 1h15 instead of 2h05, and is still done at a leisurely pace.

In Schaffhausen, we visited the Munot, a round fortress that dates from 1564. It can be reached by stairs and has a covered footbridge across the moat. The views from the top are great and admission is free.

Returning from Schaffhausen by train we stopped over at Schloss Laufen where you can see the Rhinefall, it is the largest waterfall in Europe (in terms of water flow). You can see the waterfall for free from the landing point of the boat trips to the center of the falls. Taking boat trips or viewing the falls from other points will cost money.

Also not to be missed is the journey by train through the Alps to Italy on the Bernina Express. This train trip from Chur to Tirano is in itself UNESCO World Heritage and takes you through bridges and historic tunnels, reaching over 2000 meters above sea level. Right by the train you see mountains (up to 4,000 meters high), with snow even in July, glaciers and beautiful lakes.

Money Saving Bernina Express Trick

Super trick for the Bernina Express

Buy your tickets as if you are starting your trip in Freiburg (Germany) with Deutsche Bahn. This is quite a bit cheaper than booking your tickets through the Swiss railways… 29€ instead of about 80€ per person. Then, you board the train halfway through the trip. I learned this from an online blog and can confirm it works.

Special Events

We were lucky enough to be able to go to the “Züri Fäscht” in the city of Zürich, a festival that takes place every three years. Everything seemed to be happening at the same time and throughout the city – fairground, bars and restaurants with music of all kinds, air show, circus shows, sports, diving, and more! We opted for a peaceful (and free!) ride on a solar power boat in the “ Zürichsee” (Lake Zurich), also one of the festival’s attractions.

If you are interested in visiting Zürich during “Züri Fäscht ” the next one is July 5-7 2019!

Accommodation

None of the previous tricks makes me nearly as happy as my accommodation trick. During my family’s nine days in Switzerland, we spent eight nights on a home-exchange holiday with Intervac. We also spent one night in a hotel in Chur, just before boarding the Bernina Express at 8:32 in the morning.

Breakfast at home in our garden

During our home exchange, we lived in a fantastic house in Winterthur. It had 4 floors, garden, swing, toys, and books for the girls and everything else a family needs in a home. Staying “at home” provided some unexpected opportunities for fun, such as catching large snails for a snail “race”!

So, for eight nights of accommodation, we paid only the annual cost to be a member of Intervac. Of course, we also provided our exchange partners with good conditions for a fantastic vacation at our home in Madeira.

The last night, the one we spent in the hotel in Chur? Oh, that cost us €157 – which was more than double the cost of our annual Intervac membership! But, this is Switzerland. Our €157 entitled the four of us to one room, with 2 single beds and a bunk bed, on the 3rd floor of the hotel. The price included electricity and internet (essential!) but there was no elevator, no private bathroom… And there was a notice in the common bathroom to let us know: “broken shower – use the 2nd floor “. They suggested we each paid €5 to rent a towel.

We did miss our home exchange house on that last night in Switzerland. We missed the space. We missed the comfort. But most of all we missed feeling at home.

 

 

This is part of the Intervac Home exchange stories series. Do you have a story yourself? We would love to hear about it! Tell us your story.