About nine months ago I found a really great deal on flights to London. So I planned a two week vacation for two, to some unspecified place that we’d get to from London. Six months ago I decided it was time to make a choice about where we’d go, not because I like to plan my vacations super far in advance, but because I wanted to do home exchanges for the lodging, and that requires some advance planning. For reasons of nature and scotch, Scotland quickly rose to the top of our list of options.
In some ways home exchange runs counter to my preferred travel style. I like to just show up in a country and then go wherever it seems like fun to visit. But that requires cheap lodging to be available on demand, and in the summer that is not a reasonable expectation in Europe. So I did just enough research to decide that we should spend a few days in Edinburgh (pronounced Edinbrah) and then the rest of the time in the highlands. With that decision I was able to start looking for house swaps.
Based on the relatively short stay desired in Edinburgh I started by looking for points-based options. I figured it would be hard to convince someone to come all the way to San Francisco just to spend 4 nights in our home, but with a points swap we wouldn’t need to find someone looking for a short trip to California. I quickly found a number of potential swaps, mostly vacation and rental homes in Edinburgh. In the end we negotiated a 4 night stay in a building that looked a lot like a castle using the home exchange site LoveHomeSwap. (See here for a post about how I replenished my points bank after booking the Scotland lodging.)
It turned out the flat was in a former dormitory converted into apartments. And because all of the buildings in the old town of Edinburgh are built with stone and have a castle-like appearance, even the view out windows from our flat, which just looked onto some back alleyways, was beautiful.
We had a lovely one bedroom apartment, with a comfortable living room and well equipped kitchen.
We did not visit Scotland for the food. That’s not to say there aren’t good restaurants in Scotland. In fact we did enjoy a few nice meals out in Edinburgh, but nothing we couldn’t get in the U.S. and so we opted to mostly cook in and save some money. Money that we spent on scotch and local beer tasting.
In a funny coincidence, the owners of this Edinburgh flat actually joined LoveHomeSwap after reading this website. And only after we booked this exchange did they figure out that I’m the person behind sharetraveler.com. All the work I put into this website paid off in a great home exchange in Edinburgh!