Travel Often & Richly Within Your Budget

Get Away With a Weekend Home Swap

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Seattle Waterfront

Balcony View ~Seattle, Washington

Nearby home exchanges make it easy to get away…for perfect weekend getaways.

Do you remember what it feels like when your shoulders drop and you take that first deep breath –not because you’re trying to catch your breath, but– because you finally have the luxury of quiet, of time, of space, to take it?

Why don’t you get away for a weekend more often?

Leave the house and to-do list behind. Carve out a reprieve, a change of scene. Put your feet up without the phone ringing and the stack of mail nagging from the corner. Turn in early or stay up late, just because you feel like it.

Does the cost of hotel + meals + tips + transportation have something to do with it?

What if it didn’t? If someone offered you a nice, free place to stay only a couple of hours away, would you take it?

We did.

“Sure! When?”

We accepted the home swap offer: an ocean view townhouse in the heart of Seattle. There were two bedrooms and two baths, but nope, that weekend it was just the two of us.

Seattle’s a three-hour drive from our home. Our exchange partners would have passed us somewhere along the highway as they headed north to our home.

We arrived at their place and followed the instructions to park our car in their spot below their unit. We didn’t see it again until we left. Not a bad deal, secure free parking in a big city within walking to everything.

The Weekend Pad

Main Floor

Main floor ~Seattle, Washington

I love the part where I stick the key in the door. I don’t really get it, because I’ve always seen the pictures and with every exchange they’ve been true-to-form, but there’s always a note of anticipation. Somehow it’s having had all the pieces, and now I get to put them together.

We walked in on an upper level, an open loft-style office space with a stairwell down to the main floor. Two-story ceilings and windows with views out to Puget Sound and the Washington State passenger ferries lumbering in and out. Bright, clean, tidy, modern.

Sophisticated, too. The art was gorgeous. There was a master bedroom with modern, clean design and en suite bath with steam shower, a second office and bath. A kitchen with black granite counters and European appliances. A dining room (with a welcoming bottle of wine and fresh summer peaches) and a patio with chairs overlooking the harbor. It just screamed ‘a glass of white at sunset’.

And the sofa. A long black leather sofa that comfort hadn’t forgotten. (I’ll get back to that.)

The Weekend

Pike Place Flowers in Seattle

Pike Place ~Seattle, Washington

We were half a block from Pike Place Market. If you don’t know of it, it’s on the waterfront in the middle of the city and it’s where locals and tourists converge. It’s where the best of the artisans, fishmongers and chefs ply their wares. It’s about the easiest place to get lost in that you can imagine, and actually be grateful for it. Don’t bother watching the time.

That said, it takes me at least 20 minutes to ooh and ahh myself past the flower section and I’d better add another 20 if I’m going to pick some out (which I did). $5 a bundle and choosing was hellish.

Then I stepped up the wooden steps to the tuna poke counter for a paper cone of it (oh, the heavenly sweet-soy-chili-ness of it!) before we headed for a bench in the sun. On the waterfront. All a 1/2 block from where that black sofa was waiting. (I’ll get back to that.)

Putting coronary concerns aside, I crossed the street to the artisan cheese-maker. The house-made aged gruyere mac’n’cheese cannot be passed up. Unless, of course, tuna poke has just been downed and returning for it is only a 2-minute walk. Gooey goodness was deferred.

A quick stop at the market for a bottle of wine to go with the flowers and we headed back to the townhouse.

The rest of the weekend wasn’t so different. We did a walking tour of the city, visited the outdoor sculpture park and wandered through the shopping district.

That Sofa

Living Room Seattle

Living room with ‘that sofa’ ~Seattle, Washington

OK, it’s time for a confession: I napped.

I got back with that bottle of white and enjoyed a glass on the balcony with a view of the city over my bundle of flowers. Eventually there was no denying that sofa. I woke up 2.5 hours later and considered myself lucky. I could well have slipped into a coma.

At that point plans changed. We’d intended on going out for a nice dinner but, sunk deep into the corner of that sofa, cross-legged, it was beyond me. I was just too comfortable, the lights of the city were sparkling beyond the windows and I didn’t want to be anywhere else. Shower, change, to the restaurant, order, wait for food… No thanks.

I wound up ducking out for that mac’n’cheese (might have thrown in a bit of chocolate, too) and it went perfectly with sunset.

The next night I had a BBQ craving (I can’t explain it, just did!) and we found some outstanding pulled pork to answer to that. I admit that the only cleanup required in the kitchen when we left was running the dishwasher for some cereal bowls. Having Pike Place at our doorstep had been more than convenient.

My Take

Sunset View

Balcony view at sunset ~Seattle, Washington

Weekends away are fabulous and this was no exception. We were in a beautiful place and the change of scene did us both good. We recharged.  I think so many of us forget the value of that.

When you knock the hotel, parking, tips and every-meal-in-a-restaurant out of the equation there’s lots of fun still to be had and you knock some of that budget pressure down, too. (Despite that, or maybe thanks to it, maybe your next weekend away could be at a spa.)  It’s even fun to think that another couple enjoyed similar and had arrived at our home to a bottle of wine welcoming them, too.

It’s a beautiful thing when you can snag a free stay for a great get away.

Your Take

What are your thoughts about my no-pressure change-of-scene home exchange weekend? Any appeal at all for you?

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Author: Nola

Nola is passionate about travel and a home exchange diva. She shares how you can travel in comfort, save money while you do it, and splurge on travel treats with the savings. She is a travel writer, speaker and trainer.

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