It's possible to travel inexpensively as a family with home exchanges!

It’s possible to travel inexpensively as a family with home exchanges!

Teaching Traveling: Looking for an extremely inexpensive way to travel the world? Meet a pair of teachers who will explain how they use a home exchange to stay in new cities for free as a family! Ferrand family, tell us about yourselves.

Ferrand Family: Hello, we’re Audrey and Fabien. We live in Northwestern France, are both 35 years old, and have been teaching, respectively, since 2005 and in 2006. I work in a medium-size junior high school and teach 6th to 9th graders. Fabien has taught in several different schools. He has taught junior high, high school, and even vocational school classes. We have three children, aged 6, 8, and 9. We are currently traveling around the world using home exchanges!

Can you identify this city that the Ferrand family just visited?

Can you identify this city that the Ferrand family just visited?

TT: Fascinating! How did you learn about using home exchanges to travel?

F: We began thinking about home exchanging 3 years ago when we started planning our world tour. With three children, we decided the concept was ideal for our family. We had just finished renovating an old barn and thought it would be great for families, because it’s big with a lot of bedrooms. Sure enough, as soon as we listed it on HomeExchange.com (a site we love), we began receiving swap requests from large families, often with 4 or 5 children. We were immediately excited about this concept, and it has become the only way our family travels.

With HomeExchange, you pay one low yearly fee, then can exchange as many times as you want for free after that. There’s 24/7 customer support, a guaranteed exchange in your first year, and a 14-day free trial if you want to check it out. We highly recommend it!

The cutest little pilot!

The cutest little pilot.

TT: So cool. Talk to us about your current world tour.

F: We started thinking about doing a world tour in late September 2015. For our family, it was very clear that it could only be possible through home exchanging. We began planning our trip and searching for members to exchange with in October. We continued our research all year, sending and confirming exchanges, and are still looking for exchanges in the USA (San Francisco and New York).

These children will be very internationally educated!

These children will be very internationally educated!

TT: Wow! How many countries will you and your family be visiting? How many home exchanges have you organized?

F: This year, our family will be visiting China (Hong Kong and Huizhou : 2 exchanges), Vietnam (1 exchange), Cambodia, Thailand (1 exchange), Burma, Indonesia (1 exchange), Australia (2 exchanges), New Zealand (3 exchanges), Argentina (1 exchange), Chile (1 exchange), Bolivia, Peru, the United States (San Francisco and New York: we’ve connected with a lot of members but haven’t yet concluded exchanges), and Canada (1 exchange).

In four of the countries we’ll be visiting: Cambodia, Burma, Peru and Bolivia, home exchange has not yet developed much or is banned.

Can you imagine having a free home to stay in here?

Can you imagine having a free home to stay in here?

TT: Are you only doing home exchanges or will you also be staying in hotels?

F: Our world tour is primarily home exchange based through HomeExchange.com. In Asian countries where we’ve only organized one exchange, we plan to visit a lot, usually for about 15 days, before reaching our exchange destinations. By doing this, we’ll have the opportunity to cover a lot of ground and better discover the countries. In countries where we won’t be exchanging, we’ll be traveling as nomads, with our backpacks, sleeping in guest houses or with host families.

Travel makes the Ferrand family happy.

Travel makes the Ferrand family happy.

TT: Amazing. How do you fund your travels?

F: We have been saving money for this trip, and were also able to take training leaves of absence. In France, we are entitled to one year partially paid training leaves, and we’re taking this opportunity to better our foreign language skills. This being said, we still have all the fixed costs related to our home and taxes. We could have rented put our house to cover costs, but we opted for home exchange, which allows us to save money, especially in expensive countries such as Australia or New Zealand.

Welcome to Hong Kong!

Welcome to Hong Kong!

TT: Brilliant idea to take these travels as training leaves. Now, tell us one moment from your travels that was powerful.

F: We are only at the beginning of our trip, just 15 days in, but I think one of the most powerful things we have seen so far is the symphony light show in Hong Kong. It’s a nightly show they do from 8:00 PM – 8:20PM. The show includes an orchestrated play of light on the huge skyscrapers of Hong Kong and was truly a magical moment for our family.

The light show in Hong Kong!

The light show in Hong Kong!

TT: Beautiful. How have your travels impacted you as a teacher, and in your current career?

F: We are well aware that we will come back changed, even different. And this includes as teachers. This world tour offers us so many opportunities, we are open to everything. We feel prepared to go and teach in a foreign country, or to create European projects in our own establishments, such as Erasmus+ for example.

We believe that this opportunity will bring enrichment to our respective schools. The French education system is currently evolving in so many ways, we feel that the mastering of languages, and the experiences we will have, will be enriching and added bonuses for our return.

Looking out a future of travel.

Looking out a future of travel.

TT: So true. How have your travels Impacted you as a person? And your children?

F: We hope that our world tour will make our children more curious and want to travel to discover the world. We hope they will be tolerant, open to the world and its diversity. We hope they will understand the importance and necessity of mastering languages. In short, we have a lot of hope, and want this to be a beautiful experience, helping them to become beautiful and respectful people.

The joy of family travel... affordably!

The joy of family travel… affordably!

TT: What advice do you have for teachers who are dreaming of travel, or travelers dreaming of teaching?

F: I would tell them to jump in and “taste” the open-minded and unique travel concept of HomeExchange.com to see the world. I would tell them not to be afraid, that we are the ones who create fear. I would tell them that traveling with their family allows you to rediscover them and yourself, to live together, to learn more about yourself as well as them. Don’t be afraid — the world is beautiful and people are good. In China, the Chinese proved it to us time and time again, helping us all the time, as soon as they were under the impression that we were lost or needed assistance.

Teaching in another country gives you necessary tools to live differently, exchanging with colleagues about how things are done in their own schools. It means questioning yourself as a professional, changing your own behaviors and ways of functioning. It also means seeing your students differently and helping them look outside of their comfort zone. In short, it’s a beautiful and open-minded way to travel, and I think our world today needs that.

Where to next, Mom and Dad?

Where to next, Mom and Dad?

TT: Thanks so much, Ferrand family! Readers, what questions or comments do you have? Do feel free to follow the Ferrand family’s travel blog on their journey.

How to Travel Cheaply With a Home Exchange, Explained by a Family Doing a World Tour!

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Posted by Lillie

Lillie started TeachingTraveling.com in 2010 to share the infinite ways to combine education and world exploration. Lillie has been a Boston teacher since 2003, and chronicles her own travels at AroundTheWorldL.com.

13 Comments

  1. This sounds so cool. My husband and I have been discussing the idea of worldschooling for our 5-year-old son, and this sounds like the perfect opportunity for us to try next year. #FreeTravel

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  2. Thank you for sharing the Ferrand family’s experience! I love the #FreeTravel concept and want to try this during the summer break.

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  3. Home exchange is such a great and economical way to travel. Living in a home within a local neighborhood gives one such an authentic travel experience, and it’s especially great for families with children. #FreeTravel

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  4. Love the comments so far! Use the hashtag #FreeTravel to be entered in a contest to win a free year’s subscription to HomeExchange, a $150 value!

    Reply

  5. Sounds like a great way to have the whole family travel without blowing the bank. Especially if you have a property that will attract other travelers. Would love to give it a try one of these days. #FreeTravel

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  6. What a great way to teach and learn! Being internationally educated is a wonderful thought, lets hope more people jump in on this.

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  7. What an interesting interview! Sounds like such a wonderful adventure, with plenty of amazing stops. I’ve always been intrigued by house swaps–I think it’s something we would definitely consider when we get a house someday. It would be so great to stay in local, homey accommodations, especially without the cost!

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  8. What an awesome family! I wish them the best on their adventures – those kids are definitely making memories that will last a lifetime. As for the home exchange, I’ve thought about doing it as well recently but have been slightly intimidated by the logistics involved and unsure what site to use. So I will definitely check out HomeExchange now! Thanks for a great interview.

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  9. How wonderful that the Ferrand Family is able to travel so much with 3 kids in tow! Home Exchanges definitely sounds great and for a family of 5, it’s a great way to travel. Also fantastic that as teachers, they have so much flexibility with their travel plans, just awesome. Nice to “meet” you Ferrand Family.

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  10. I’ve always been intrigued by this concept so I appreciated the real look at how the Ferrand family is using Home Exchange in a practical way. I’d definitely look for opportunities to try this out in the future. I’m all about getting value from the money I pay in bills each month. So if paying my mortgage can give a return in the form of travel…Yippee! #FreeTravel

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  11. Really love this concept – we personally rent, but I’ve heard so much from home owners who participate in international exchanges and how it’s a fabulous way to travel for cheap. Plus, when you have local accomodation in a new country it really allows for a much more immersive stay!

    Thanks for sharing! So inspiring to hear about your travels – happy exploring!

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  12. WoW! I didn’t know about this website, but it definitely seems like a very good way to explore the world on a budget. I like Ferrand family, they seem so brave and open-minded.

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  13. You might want to check my seminal piece on this subject: http://altecockertravels.weebly.com/how-to-do-a-home-exchange.html

    I began home exchanging in 1990 and have completed 66 exchanges. I look for longer term deals. The deals in Asia tend to be for short term and I won’t do them unless I already have a trip planned. A weekend in Bali is not inviting as an entire trip if you live in the US.

    I have never had difficulty exchanging in San Francisco. It’s easy if you are not insistent in staying downtown. However, New York City is virtually impossible. Many apartments and condominiums see home exchanges in the same light as short term rentals and ruthlessly forbid them. In 26 years of home exchanging, I have repeatedly looked for short term deals in NYC during school breaks that are not during the summer (I live in Washington, DC, and, in summer I prefer to go long distance). I have not had one deal and finally have given up. If one arrives, I will take it, but otherwise I am not sending any fruitless email. Most people who live in New York, moreover, live in tiny places and 3 children just would not fit in most of those places. Living in the Washington, DC, suburbs, I always say that I get the overflow of people who couldn’t get a deal in New York City.

    I will be returning home from two wonderful exchanges in Iceland and the Italian Lakes on September 11, 2016.

    Good luck with your travels.

    Reply

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