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Welcome to our Winter 2013 edition of HomeLink Connection!
We hope you enjoyed your holidays and are looking ahead to your next HomeLink adventure.
As we all know, since our last newsletter, Hurricane Sandy tore through our northeast coast, displacing many, many people. Soon after her wrath, with the help of one of our concerned HomeLinkers, Kerry Hadley, we created a webpage and sent emails to our USA-Northeast HomeLinkers in the hope of connecting those in need of assistance with those able to help in any way.
We were very moved to receive so many offers to help and to our great relief received no requests for help. Of course, there remains the possibility that there were indeed HomeLinkers in need of assistance who were simply unable to access the Internet to learn of our concerted effort. If this is the case, we want those affected by Sandy to know you remain in our thoughts and hope you are on the road to recovery from this catastrophic storm.
We also send our sincerest appreciation to all of you who so generously offered your help during the aftermath of Sandy, including Kerry Hadley who initiated our effort. It is an honor and privilege to be part of such a caring and generous community!
As for this newsletter’s content; this is our most active time of year for seeking an exchange, so please make a point of reading our “Just a Reminder”, “HomeLinker Stories” and “Helpful Hints” sections to help make the most of your HomeLink experience this year.
We hope you enjoy our newsletter and, as always, welcome any feedback you may have: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Karl & Katie Costabel
HomeLink USA News
Just A Reminder...
Sending Exchange Requests…
This is our busy time of year for HomeLinkers seeking an exchange for the coming year. Please remember it is always best to be proactive in sending your exchange requests to potential exchange partners instead of waiting for requests to come to you. This practice will certainly increase your chances of finding a suitable exchange.
Update Your Listing Online…
We continue receiving emails regarding past dates in member’s listings. So, please take some time to view your listing online and make sure your information is current. Pay special attention to your Preferred Dates & Destinations section and any reference to your travel preferences in the descriptive text portion of your listing.
You can always view your listing online by clicking the “Show my Listing” link found under “Member Options” at the left side of our Database Main Page after logging in.
Member Blog Sites…
Below is a link to a recent blog post by our ever-enthusiastic Home Exchange Expert blogger and fellow HomeLinker, Shelley Miller. Her story is about a HomeLink home swap they enjoyed over Christmas one year with HomeLinkers in Hong Kong.
As always Shelley, thank you for your continued effort at spreading the word about home swapping and HomeLink!
Christmas in Hong Kong – A Home Exchange to Remember
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 HomeLink.US@gmail.com and let us know if it would be okay to include your name.
We have actually reached the end of our bank of HomeLinker stories with this issue, so please take a moment to think about your HomeLink experiences and we encourage you to share them with us for our future newsletters.
Thanks, again, to all of you for such a wonderful response to this section!
Also, per multiple requests we have received from our members, we are now including the lengthier member stories through a hyperlink to the story. Simply click on the corresponding link to enjoy reading about their wonderful home swap experiences.
Our first story was sent to us from Annalisa, our HomeLink Italy Colleague. She writes,
I have this splendid story of Youth Hospitality in The States…really remarkable…this young man was hosted by several families all over the US. They had been hosted in Italy and gave Hospitality back... Annalisa”
A Young Italian Man's Journey Across America
Below is story from a longtime member who wishes to remain anonymous. In all the decades of home exchanging they have experienced only one truly bad exchange and we hope their experience will provide useful information for all of us to consider.
“Our first exchange was 30 years ago, before the Internet made it so easy, with the predecessor to HomeLink [VEC]. [We have always been] very pleased with the organization, so we have never sought out any other and often recommend HomeLink to others.
We have only had one truly bad exchange and as a result will not exchange with [this particular family dynamic] anymore. We never reported this to HomeLink because we were so angry; we felt we could not be reasonable in a report. Addressing what one should or could do in such a situation (damage to property for example), needs to be addressed…more openly by the organization.
Based on our "pet snake" experience in Michigan this past summer, we'd like to have mention in a newsletter that it's of utmost importance to reveal completely the pets in the home; we'd also like to have a separate paragraph in the exchange contract where this is spelled out…”
This member brings up some very good points that we feel should be itemized (below) for emphasis:
1. Be sure to include all of your pets in your listing’s descriptive text section. Being surprised with a pet snake upon arrival at your exchange partner’s home is not acceptable.
It is essential to be as detailed as possible when describing your pet situation and whether or not your exchange partner will need to care for them.
2. The suggestion for including a paragraph within our Exchange Agreement Form (EAF) to further emphasize this issue is certainly a reasonable request. However, this is a great opportunity to let everyone know that all of the defaulted “Standard Conditions” provided in our EAF are completely customizable to suit your specific concerns and conditions of the exchange.
Further, there is a subsequent, “Special Conditions” section where you are able to create even more conditions to be sure you cover unique circumstances, like pet care, etc.
3. HomeLink International has a Formal Complaint Procedure in place where the respective HomeLink Organizers of the countries involved step in and act as mediators in an effort to amicably resolve any negative exchange experience that has occurred.
Rest assured, we do not take complaints about an exchange lightly and when requested to intervene, we handle these matters with the utmost diplomacy and respect for our members.
So, please do not hesitate contacting us if you are ever faced with a negative exchange experience, because it is important that no other HomeLinkers are subjected to a similar experience.
Current Membership Status While on Exchange:
We always recommend you maintain current HomeLink Membership status while on exchange and to encourage your exchange partner to do the same.
Most HomeLinkers are more comfortable maintaining current membership status during the exchange, so they can rest easy knowing HomeLink is there to help if any matter were to arise needing our assistance.
Also, depending on the country you will be traveling to, many of our HomeLink Organizers around the world have a strict policy for maintaining current membership status during an exchange. Otherwise, their services are not available for the HomeLinker whose membership has lapsed.
Therefore, if your membership lapses during an exchange abroad, we cannot guarantee assistance from the HomeLink Organization of the country you will be traveling to.
If your exchange is with another HomeLink USA member, HomeLink USA will make every effort in assisting you upon your request, regardless of your membership status. However, if your exchange partner is not current, we cannot guarantee cooperation on their part.
Your HomeLink Personal Homepage:
Our members, Ted & Brigitte Pidduck, recently directed us to their fantastic Personal Homepage attached to their HomeLink listing. They mention a specific personal webpage builder below and there are many more options out there…simply search the Internet for “personal website builders”.
Please have a look at the link below to see what a wonderful addition this page is to their HomeLink USA listing.
The Pidducks write,
“…We have been getting a great deal of positive feedback about [our Personal Homepage] from fellow exchangers and I think it has been a great help in making it relatively easy to get exchanges. It allows prospective exchangers to get a good feel for our home and area…climate, history, entertainment, attractions, etc.
The website I set up, despite the professional appearance, was really quite simple to do. I have no great computer expertise, certainly cannot program, and yet was able to create this site in about a week of playing around with it part-time. It is created by using templates provided by a company called "1&1". Their website includes a demonstration video….Regards, Ted”
Pidduck’s Personal Homepage:
HomeLink International News
The members included in the link to this section (below) have contacted their respective HomeLink Organizer, asking for their help in finding an exchange or were chosen by us from our Short Notice List.
We will certainly include any of our USA members who have been unable to find a US exchange after an exhaustive search. Just let us know.
Further, if any of you have been unsuccessful in finding an exchange abroad, we would be happy to forward your situation and preferences to our corresponding HomeLink Organizer. After all, we are here to help all of our members in anyway we can.
Seeking USA Exchanges
Below is some very informative information about obtaining car insurance and renting cars while in the UK. These pertinent facts were found through a concerted effort between one of our own HomeLinkers and Caroline, our HomeLink UK Colleague.
♦ Liverpool Victoria has a prohibition on insuring people 75 years old or older.
♦ Liverpool has a 40 day limit, another impediment to retirees' good, long exchanges.
♦ Car insurance for non-UK residents is an increasingly common problem and many insurers will not allow the addition of non-UK residents to a policy.
♦ Of the few that will, the most helpful of these seems to be Direct Line. They will add an overseas couple for a couple of weeks for around £40 - albeit with an additional and compulsory excess of £300.
They are happy to cover US residents - I used them when we exchanged to Canada last year and it cost 40 GB pounds for 2 Canadians for 3 weeks. They will need to provide information regarding license and driving history, but this can all be done by phone.
♦ Other companies that have helped out HomeLink members are Zurich, Aviva, Liverpool Victoria and Saga.
♦ Our friends looked into car rentals and found age restrictions, though I talked to Enterprise UK and encountered no problem.
♦ Suggestions on getting info on UK car rental maximum age and UK car insurers' prohibitions:
o Look online, ask AAA here, and ask your car insurer
♦ Good news! The UK has new legislation; to be effective October 2012(?) that bans age discrimination by car rental companies.
Below is a link sent to us from Manfred, our HomeLink Germany Colleague. It provides a wealth of information for everything, Germany! Enjoy!
Marie & Paul, our HomeLink Ireland Colleagues, sent us the link and explanation of what Ireland has to offer for 2013 (below). Perhaps this will spark your enthusiasm for an adventure-filled exchange in Ireland this year!
“…For 2013, Ireland is making a special effort to attract people to our shores under the banner "The Gathering".
The Gathering is the people’s party. It will kick off in spectacular style at the New Year’s Eve Festival in Dublin and will be celebrated through gatherings of the people and Ireland’s major festivals during 2013…".
To begin, there is still time to consider joining Annalisa, Giovanni and fellow HomeLinkers from around the world at our 4th Annual HomeLink International/10th Annual HomeLink Italia Luncheon!
The main luncheon is set for June 9, 2013 in the beautiful town of Cingoli, Italy.
Of course, Annalisa, our HomeLink Italy Colleague, is at the helm, organizing the event and this year, her son, Giovanni, joins her as our newest HomeLink Organizer.
They have created a lovely invitation for our HomeLinkers worldwide, which can be viewed through the links below.
If you have any questions about this event, please direct them to HomeLink USA, email@example.com, as Annalisa & Giovanni are quite busy making the arrangements presently.
HomeLink Italy Invitation:
Annalisa's Personal Invitation via YouTube
Invitation via HomeLink Italy Website (please scroll to bottom of invitation for the English version)
We also recently received very sage advice from Annalisa about her beautiful country. Please keep this in mind whenever you seek an exchange in Italy.
“…Tuscany and Umbria, though splendid, are simply the most advertised regions, not the most beautiful…Italy is beautiful everywhere and near everything, wherever you go.
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