We’ve just finished a home exchange to Stockholm. First, if you haven’t visited yet, go there. It’s a really beautiful place with good public transit, friendly people, lots of islands and waterways, and a very relaxed vibe for a big city. And this is a place where a home exchange, without a vehicle, is the perfect way to travel. After reflecting on my experience I realized that home exchange has really changed the way I travel.

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We stayed for 8 days in a cute Ikea-decorated (of course!) flat, a 20 minute subway ride from downtown Stockholm.

Stockholm flat

Before I started doing house swaps my travel style was focused around visiting cities for 2 or 3 days at a time and then moving on: packing in as many destinations as I could. I do think it’s possible to see the highlights of a place in just a few days. I would stay as close to the center of town as possible without paying outrageous rates (often in a hostel). And while I’d try to save money on food by buying groceries for some meals. This was limited to non-perishables and tended to be rather monotonous and lacking in fruits and veggies.

Indulging my love of smoked fish. We found a very good selection in the grocery store, but this simple restaurant meal was one of the best

Indulging my love of smoked fish. We found a very good selection in the grocery store, but this simple restaurant meal was one of the best

This trip included plenty of time to see the highlights of Stockholm, but also time to explore some of the archipelago near Stockholm, a day trip out to the cute town of Uppsala, a rainy down day (fortunately the only day of rain) catching up on writing and chores from the comfort of home, and lots of wandering around neighborhoods that aren’t part of the main tourist trail.

Exploring the Stockholm archipelago

Exploring the Stockholm archipelago

I even got into a routine of semi-regular morning workouts in the “gym” at the park near our apartment.

stockholm outdoor gym

The flat itself was in a typical Stockholm neighborhood: apartment buildings surrounded by plenty of nature trails and parks, within a few minutes of a subway station, grocery store, cafe and a few other shops. We actually saw deer frolicking outside the kitchen window on multiple occasions.

stockholm apartment

I used to come home from trips exhausted and needing some rest and recovery after the fast pace of sightseeing and moving around. By the end of our Stockholm visit I’m feeling relaxed. I also maintained a relatively healthy diet, eating two out of three meals every day either in the apartment (breakfast and a few dinners) or as a picnic lunch while we were out seeing the city.

As an added bonus, on this trip we were in regular SMS contact with our swappers and had the convenience of asking them for advice, and a nice long list of suggestions for favorite things to see, cafes, restaurants and bars.