If you’re considering doing a home exchange, but you’re planning on traveling with little ones, there are lots of things to keep in mind. Traveling to your destination presents its own set of problems, which I’ll write about soon, but how do you decide where to stay?
Location, Location, Location
While #ToddlerGoodwin is still so little, we like the idea of traveling to a big city/city center where there’s lots to do. We’ve sent home exchange inquiries to homes in Paris, Rome, Brussels, London, Dublin, Vienna, Berlin, Copenhagen, Venice, Florence, Madrid, etc…
Proximity and Getting Around
If you are traveling to a big city, chances are, you won’t have to rent a car because places are easily walkable or you can just use public transportation. We like to make sure that we won’t have a long trek from the airport to our home away from home.
We also like to make sure there are lots of things to see and do nearby, and will research a city beforehand/while we have inquiries out. If we know where the house is located, we will check out the neighborhood to see what stores, restaurants, and attractions are nearby. And of course, it doesn’t hurt to check out kid-friendly options in the area: what museums, attractions, and restaurants cater to little ones?
Which brings me to a big one, for me, anyway…
We have seen so many houses on homeexchange.com that are in a city we’d love to visit, that are absolutely gorgeous, and then we see some glaring not-baby-friendly house feature that will likely get the house chopped from the list.
Steps: We’ve seen lots of floating (open back) stairs, or spiral staircases, or staircases with no railings… We’d rather not take the chance. And we’d also rather not have to carry the kid up and down the stairs every time we have to go to the second floor.
Bookshelves: We’ve seen some houses with open bookshelves cram-packed full of books and objets d’art… And toddlers are handsy, nosy creatures. We aren’t sure how we could babyproof someone’s shelves without just removing all of the endangered items or moving them to another location. We also doubt that anybody wants strangers coming in and rearranging their stuff. So we’ll probably just pass on that particular house and keep looking.
Toddler sleeping area: One of the things exchangers can add to their listing on homeexchange.com is whether or not they have baby items. We’ve seen some people say that they have items, but they’re nowhere to be seen in pictures. If we’re really interested in the house and the owners say they have baby items, we’ll ask about it in our initial inquiry. #ToddlerGoodwin is still in a crib right now, but if we had to, we might try him in a toddler bed. An actual full-sized bed? Not so sure about that one.
Also, we’ve seen lots of European houses that have bunk beds where the bottom bunk is very low to the ground. That’s not bad… What worries me is the ladder or steps to get up. A lot of time those are fixed to the bed, so I’m not sure how you’d babyproof the ladder to prevent a toddler from trying to climb it. And if your kid is anything like #ToddlerGoodwin, where there’s steps (or a ladder, or anything, really) then IT MUST BE CLIMBED!
I guess it must be safe enough for their kids to sleep there… but with our kid, who knows?!
That’s about all I can think of, for now.
We really do kind of look at home exchanging as tossing a dart at a map and seeing where it ends up. We started off thinking about returning to Italy after a vacation there, and soon realized that home exchanging can introduce you to all kinds of cities and cultures you may have never thought you’d experience!