When it comes to traveling on a budget, there are few better ways to go than swapping houses. Our family has been doing it for years with friends in New York City, who happily swap their spacious East Village apartment for our quiet Woodstock country house. Last year Michael and I officially became house-swapping junkies: We signed up for an account on HomeExchange.com. Within a matter of days we had offers from people as close as Washington, DC, and as far as France and Spain. We opted for an easy weekend road trip to Amherst, MA, home of my heroine, Emily Dickinson. (This year I’m angling for something a little more exotic. We’ll see what comes our way.)
Meanwhile, this past Memorial Day weekend we once more got a taste of the freedom and possibility that we love about house swapping.
Our girls had the chance to experience life as tragically hip city kids.
Here they are in Tompkins Square Park. We don’t remember city playgrounds like this when we were kids. Back then they were sad assemblages of skeletal monkey bars and creaky swings. Now the city playgrounds are beautifully maintained wonderlands of chutes, slides, tunnels, and sandpits.
Amelie poses under a cupcake. And indeed our NYC adventures included a quest for some of the city’s best sweets and eats. We loved the ice cream at Stogo on East 10th Street.
Jade poses near Angelica Kitchen, which was surprisingly family-friendly. Our kids adored the miso soup.
For Amelie, our weekend wouldn’t have felt complete without face painting and a carousel ride in Central Park.
Bottom line: Home exchange is a great way for families to travel affordably and feel like the whole world is open to them. We can’t wait for the next one.