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Welcome to our Fall 2011 edition of HomeLink Connection!
We hope you had a great Summer and are enjoying the wonderful weather that comes with this time of year.
We are delighted to bring you a special request in this issue. We will soon be testing a new form that has been in the works the past few weeks and hope to get some member participation in the testing phase. You will find the details about this under the HomeLink International section. We certainly hope for a great response to this.
Once again, we have received many home exchange stories and are pleased to be able to share some of them with you. One brings a sunnier side to our last issue’s topic of last minute cancellations and the second describes a fun-filled, long-term exchange experience from this past summer.
Our “Media Focus” also brings a couple articles for your enjoyment. The first article actually includes a video of an exchange partner while on the exchange.
As we look forward to the holiday season, our thoughts move toward spending time with family and friends. Traveling to visit our loved ones is one of the many wonderful experiences the holiday season brings and we hope you are able to enjoy the benefits of HomeLink membership during this special time of year.
Karl & I wish all of you a Wonderful Holiday Season and a Safe and Happy New Year!
Karl & Katie Costabel
HomeLink USA News
Just a Reminder…
As Always, Please Update Your Listings…
This is our busiest time of year for renewals, so it presents the perfect opportunity for many of you to look over your listing and update any information requiring so.
For example, we frequently receive comments about member’s listings that still contain dates from previous years. Further, visitors viewing our listings through the free database search more than likely assume these outdated listings are not current members of HomeLink.
You can find detailed instructions for updating your listing as well as uploading new photos at our “Member Help” link. This link is found under “US Functions” at the left side of the Database Main Page after logging in.
Email Address Updates:
Please notify us at email@example.com with your email address updates so we can properly update our local database. Our occasional messages to you, including this newsletter, are sent from our local database.
Below, are a few items sent in from members since our last newsletter. Although they might seem obvious, it is always good to send out reminders like these so that all of us remain aware of the items and issues that can become routine during the process of home swapping.
1. Make yourself available to your exchange partner while on your exchange. You never know when something will go wrong. For instance your A/C or heating goes on the fritz or your exchange partners can’t access your Internet connection.
Whatever problem might arise, if you have arranged for a way to stay in touch during your exchange, it is always reassuring to have that safety net in place.
2. Of course, there will be days when you might not be available. Therefore, you can minimize potential issues by leaving a comprehensive (but not overwhelming) guide to your home, including appliance & electronic equipment operating manuals.
3. Leave a comprehensive inventory of brochures and tourist information.
Further, if your exchange partner speaks another language and there is a known language barrier between you, please make sure any instructions and information you leave your exchange partner is in a language they understand.
4. Please be sure to let your exchange partner know the number of people and/or pets in your exchange party ahead of time. Also, if you think there is a possibility of an additional person and/or pet joining you at some point, be sure your exchange partner is aware of this potential addition and that it is okay with them.
In short, try to eliminate any possibility of last minute surprises for your exchange partner.
Our first article, once again, comes from our neighbors to the north. This article is about an exchange experience between a HomeLink Canada member from Ontario and a member from HomeLink France. It includes a video interview of the HomeLink France exchange partners while on the actual exchange. We hope you enjoy reading about their experience as much as we have.
Paris Family Swaps Home with Sault Clan For Summer, by Jordan Allsard, The Sault Star, August 23, 2011
This next article is written by Diane Andrews who is a friend and traveling companion of our HomeLink USA member, Sharon Madigan.
They have been on exchange adventures before and are already looking forward to their exchange next year, “…where ever that may be…”.
Our thanks goes out to both Sharon & Diane for sharing their latest adventure with all of us and we look forward to reading about next year’s fun!
Going Dutch, by Diane Andrews, The Santa Clara Weekly, September 7, 2011
We would very much like to hear about your home swapping stories and include them in an upcoming HomeLink Connection newsletter.
Please send your stories to firstname.lastname@example.org and let us know if it would be okay to include your name.
This first story was sent to us by our members, Sam & Linda.
They sent us this after reading our previous newsletter addressing last minute cancellations and thought it quite appropriate to include it in this issue.
Their story shows us that despite the unfortunate reality of cancellations, the spirit of HomeLink remains alive and well!
Thank you, Sam & Linda for sharing this with us.
“…I too had a last-minute cancellation come up a few years back for an exchange in France, but it went quite differently.
The HomeLink member was diagnosed with a serious illness and did not feel up to travel during treatment. We offered to cancel the exchange but he insisted that we come to France. (We were exchanging our apartment in Italy so it wasn't a huge voyage.)
He and his wife stayed with family members in a neighboring town so that we could spend the week there as planned, and we arranged for them to come to our home at a later date convenient for all. I felt that our HomeLink partners in France handled the situation with the utmost in integrity and a good time was had by everyone!...”
The next story was sent to us from our Homelink USA members, Pat & Julio.
Their story is a perfect example our recommendation for seeking long-term exchanges. They successfully arranged multiple, back-to-back exchanges that covered the extended amount of time they planned to travel for.
This often makes the difference in being able to experience long-term travel than by trying to find one exchange partner for the entire time.
We sincerely thank you for submitting this and…what an incredible adventure you had!
“…Subject: Re: our great summer of home exchanges
I am writing to you as requested in your most recent newsletter, we are experienced home exchangers, (25+ in the last 7 years) and we were able to travel in Europe for 6 weeks and only pay for a hotel on 3 nights.
We started with a delightful home exchange in Berlin, Germany. We had tickets for the Opening Ceremonies of the Women's World Cup of Soccer on June 26th. Our two-bedroom apartment home exchange was ideally situated in a lovely suburb in West Berlin, close to transportation, parks and shopping. Our host, who lives in Switzerland, even sent a good friend to greet us and get us settled into our home for the week.
Then after a quick side trip to Dresden and Prague, we settled into another home exchange in Vienna, Austria. Our small, but comfortable studio apartment was ideal to explore this civilized city. Marie and Walter, our hosts, live next door to the studio, so they were able to give us maps, brochures, ideas, etc about visiting Vienna.
They also took us in their car to show us the nearest supermarket and local attractions. We even went out one evening with them to visit a local wine garden in the Vienna Woods nearby.
Our next home exchange was in a tiny farm village in France, about 2.5hrs east of Paris. We had a 5 bedroom, 3 bath farmhouse built in 1904 all to ourselves. We shopped at the local farmers market, walk along the Marne River canal, hikde in the local forests, ate tons of cheese, and relaedx in the French countryside.
Our last exchange was in Barcelona, in a suburb of Terrassa, close to my husband's family. Our hosts even allowed us to use their summer cabin in the Pyrenees for a weekend.
Two of the home exchange families have already used our vacation home in the Florida Keys and we are planning to host the families from Berlin and Barcelona in the future.
I have to thank all of our hosts for a wonderful stay and how everyone was able to accommodate our schedule. After many emails and a few phone calls, everything came together and everything worked out perfectly. My friends and family are always amazed how home exchanges make our travel plans possible…”
- Experienced Exchangers Annotation:
There is a field at the main edit page for your listing where you enter the number (number range) of exchanges you have been on. It is located just after the fields for entering the number of Adults, Teen and Children.
Search Results Sort Options:
Whenever you perform a search and are brought to the search results page, look to the bottom of the first (and subsequent) pages of results.
Here you will find various ways to sort your search results.
You can select the number of results per page (Batch size) and sort them by postal code, alphabetical by Location, Region, etc.
If you plan to exchange cars with a member from a different country, we highly recommend you learn the rules of the road for the country you will be driving in.
There are so many variables to consider when driving abroad. Therefore, why not minimize the often overwhelming and confusing experience by learning the meaning of their traffic signs and simple conversions of miles to kilometers, etc., ahead of time.
Also, International Drivers Licenses are available through AAA.
HomeLink International News
Request For Testing Volunteers…
New Exchange Agreement Form:
We are very pleased to announce that we are working on a simpler and more-user-friendly Exchange Agreement Form (EAF) for you. It is currently in the final mock-up phase to be sent to our programmers who will create a functional online form. From there, it moves to our testing phase and this is where you can help.
If you are interested in volunteering to test our new EAF, please reply to, EAF@HomeLink-USA.com. Be sure to enter your HomeLink member number in the body of your reply email.
Of course, we are sending this request to our members worldwide and, depending on the response to our request, we may or may not be able to include all of our members who volunteer. Even though we can’t guarantee participation, we can guarantee we will reply to all of your requests to volunteer, letting you know whether or not we are able to include you.
We don’t have a specific date to begin the testing phase, however, we are certain it will be prior to our next newsletter due out in January 2012 and that it will be sooner rather than later.
Upcoming Events Worldwide...
June 2, 2012
HomeLink Italy’s Annual International Member Gathering
Annalisa’s annual international luncheon and gathering will take place on Sunday, June 2, 2012 in a cloister in Palermo. She is also currently arranging other activities if you wish to arrive to the area prior to the 2nd.
Below is the link to the cloister:
The Following is what Annalisa has provided regarding alternate lodging and other activities if you plan to arrive earlier than the 2nd:
“…The rooms in the cloister cost 20 euros per person included Breakfast but I have only few rooms left there but I have addresses of B&Bs. I will inform later on but so far the program is:
For the ones who arrive on Thursday:
Thursday visit of the city
Friday Cefalù and Piazza Armerina (mosaics) where we will have lunch at 25 euros http://www.gigliotto.com
Saturday visit of the city and evening dinner in the cloister, which will cost about 35 euros.
As I had a lot of bookings I will be more precise, if the ones interested send me an email I will keep them informed once everything is prepared… email@example.com
We have to plan in case we need a bus etc. I have an agreement with Auto Europe if someone wants to rent a car. In august it cost me 300 euros for 10 days.
Summer Olympics 2012
Our HomeLink UK Organizer is setting up a registry of their HomeLink members’ homes near Olympic 2012 venues. Once they have a significant number of members on this list, they will let us know and we will pass this valuable information on to you.
Click here for HomeLink UK Olympic Registry
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