Emmanuel Arnaud joins us to talk about the cost saving benefits of home exchanging. Also: Hurricane Irma, State Drivers Licenses and why a passenger was ordered to pay $100,000 to an airline. Find that out and more.
Alex: Finding a place to stay is often the most expensive part of travel.
Not only are you paying to stay somewhere else, but you’re also paying rent or a mortgage. But what if you could figure out a way to travel to, say Spain, without paying for a place to stay? And at the same time, someone from Spain could travel to your city, without having to pay for a place to stay either?
Hey guys, it’s Alex Cwalinski here and you’re listening to Go. A podcast about travel, places, and adventure. Today we’re going to talk about a really cool website called Homeexchange.com. They’re helping people bring the cost of travel down. So you’ll have more money to spend on other things like exploring and trying the local foods. Stay with us to find out more.
I also want to let you guys know about a contest we’re starting this week. We’re giving away two prizes, the first is a cocoon innovations backpack, that retails for 80 dollars. It’s perfect for the organized traveler. It can hold a 15 inch laptop, it has a water-resistant shell and waterproof zippers. The second prize is a grid it organizer, that retails at 20 dollars. it’s great to keep your backpack in order. It can hold all of your cables, wires, and accessories. To enter to win one of these prizes, all your have to do is sign up for our mailing list at go the podcast dot com. Winners will be announced on September 21st. Only available to those in the US.
Alex: A lot of people stay at hotels or motels when they travel, (“We’ll leave the lights on for you.”). Some stay at a hostels or campsites. But now with the internet and the sharing economy, people have much more options.
Emmanuel: Hi my name is Emmanuel Arnaud and I’m CEO of Home Exchange dot com. So Home Exchange is in 154 countries. There’s 65,000 homes
Alex: The concept is really simple. You basically swap homes with another home exchange dot com user. First you sign up on the website, you create a profile, take pictures of your home and then list the dates that you’re available to travel. The concept is really cool, that’s why I reached out to Emmanuel, so that you, the listener knows what other options are out there.
Emmanuel: Besides the cost of travel, home exchange doesn’t cost you a penny more. So that’s really incredible, especially when you think about all the amazing locations you can get to with a low cost flight or a long car drive.
Alex: So what are some of these incredible places?
Emmanuel: I know that there’s some sort of hacienda in Mexico with a staff of 30, where there’s maids and cooks and a driver/chauffeur.
Alex: Imagine getting driven around by a chauffeur, having all your meals cooked, and your laundry done? Of course, you’d need to convince the people that live there that your home is worth staying in. Now, as CEO of Home Exchange, Emmanuel has exchanged homes with a lot of people.
Emmanuel: In the last 5 years since I created the company, probably 25-30 times. The most luxuries home exchange is when I stayed in a Riad, which is the local architecture in Marrakesh
Alex: A Riad is basically a beautiful two story Moroccan home with a large courtyard in the middle and a wrap around balcony on the second floor.
Emmanuel: It had a swimming pool right in the center of Marrakesh.
Alex: Marrakesh is the 4th largest city in Morocco and was the once the capital. In fact, Morocco used to be called the Kingdom of Marrakesh up until the early 1900s, and in some languages the country is still referred to by it’s ancient name. But it you’re looking to exchange homes with someone in a larger city, Paris has over 4,000 options, here you can stay in the historic Le Marais District, where you can visit the Picasso museum that houses 5,000 works by the artist. The famous Notre Dame Cathedral is only a 10 minute walk from here, a place were hotels cost 120 – 480 dollars a night. But it won’t cost you anything if you’re exchanging homes with someone.
Alex: Now, swapping homes isn’t always, just about the home, it can include other things too.
Emmanuel: And you can even save on some other things that you would probably not guess. A good one is the car rental. 15 – 20 percent of our member will lend you their car when doing the home exchange.
Alex: This can work out really well, especially if you have kids and are home exchanging with another family.
Emmanuel: Once I did a home exchange and I arrived and it was a great apartment in the south of France. They had a pool and they let me use their car and the car had the perfect seats for my kids age. So it was so perfect because I saved on the car and I didn’t have to bring kid seats. There’s really more benefits than just the accommodation savings.
Alex: There’re a lot of different people on home exchange. From couples to single people, to families with kids or with just cats.
Emmanuel: As part of home exchange, since you’re changing homes with people that are like you. It makes things so convenient. So if you’re thinking of families, and you’re exchanging homes with other families, well the home where you’re going there will probably be toys that your kids can play with. What ever your thing is in life, so if you’re a surfer and you exchange homes with another surfer then you’ll probably be next to a cool surfing spot.
Alex: If you’re a surfer, or just like the beach, Hawaii has over 400 properties on Home exchange (FX-music) a lot of the homes listed have ocean views and are near Bonzai Pipeline or A-Bay, both great surf spots. Other places with great surf like San Diego, has over 300 homes, and Australia has over 2,000. And if your schedule is flexible you can arrange long term home exchanges.
Emmanuel: As a matter fact I’m moving to the US this summer and I’ll be doing a one-year home exchange. It’s so convenient, so the great thing is you don’t need to sell your furniture, rent your home or whatever, you just take your kids and your clothes.
Emmanuel needs to be in the US for work, so he found a couple with a home that are looking to live overseas for a while.
Emmanuel: They want to live a French typical Parisian experience and we want to live a family experience in the US. And it’s really great because homes in Paris tend to be smaller than in the United States, and they just had their twins graduate and are going off to college this summer so they have an empty nest. And I have a full nest, I have three kids and they have a family home with a garden, so hopefully it will be really great for our families.
Alex: The become a member of Home Exchange, there’s a sign up fee of 150 dollars, which, if you think about it, it’s cheaper than getting a hotel or an Airbnb during your vacation. But its not for everyone.
Emmanuel: There’s a lot of fears out there, from people who imagine that if they open their doors to people then people would take advantage of them, or not respect their home. And if that’s a strong fear of yours then maybe home exchange is not for you.
Alex: So, during my video chat his Emmanuel, we were having some technical issues? I guess you’d call it. So there’s this neighborhood cat who comes by my house almost everyday, and as anyone with a cat knows, they like to walk on the keys of your laptop.
Emmanuel: I see a cat walking on your keyboard and your picture freezing. And that’s another group that we have. We have a group for cat lovers and people that need their gardens watered. Beyond the fact that it’s a great deal to stay for free. There’s also the thing that when you’re leaving your home with people that you trust, they can take care of your cat, they can take care of your dog, they can take care of your garden. They can scare burglars away.
Alex: And if anything goes wrong with something in your home, like a leaking roof or an electrical issue, the people you’re hosting can take care of the problem before it gets any worse. Emmanuel once had something like that happen.
Emmanuel: The family called me and the family that was staying in my home, as it turned out that one of the electric heaters in my home had turned on like crazy, at the maximum level. And we were in August. And because they were in the home they were able to call someone to fix it.
Emmanuel: He had a lot of stories to share from Home exchange, but I asked him if he had a favorite.
Emmanuel: Truthfully, my favorite home exchange story, is once when I came back home and there was this thank you message from this Spanish family and they had drove all the way from Madrid to Paris. It was a couple with two kids and their grandmothers.
Alex: The Spanish family left them a few gifts, including a pop-up children’s book with castles.
Emmanuel: And the note said, thank you for letting us stay in your home, our kids told us it was the best vacation in their life. And They insisted that we buy this book so that you could give it to your kids as a thank you because my kids could play with your kids toys and they were really thankful for that.
Emmanuel: You know there’s just that great feeling of being a good human being, and that a family had a great time in your home and it didn’t cost you anything and that you’re teaching the next generation how to share.
Thank you Emmanuel for sharing your stories and experiences. If you want to know more, visit www.homeexchange.com
Coming up next:
What State Drivers Licenses Won't Work for Air Travel Next Year?
What kind of impact is Hurricane Irma having on travel?
Why was a passenger was ordered to pay an airline 100,000 this week?
Find that out and more of what’s happing after this:
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Thinking about traveling to the pacific northwest, well, you might want to postpone that trip. Massive Wildfires there have been raging for the last two weeks and they aren’t expected to let up any time soon. Smoke from the fires is effecting air quality in many cities, causing schools across the region to cancel sporting events and hold recess indoors. In some places, the Air Quality Index score, an index used for reporting daily air quality, dropped to it’s lowest rating of Hazardous. In these conditions, the EPA says to Stay indoors, like in a room or building with filtered air and to reduce any physical activity. Major cities effected are Missoula, Boise, Portland, and Seattle.
Hurricane Irma is the most power Hurricane ever recorded in the Atlantic. The storm struck the small island of Barbuda this week. According to Prime Minister Gaston Browne, the island is now barely habitable, with 95% of it destroyed. Irma later passed through the island of St. Maarten, destroying much of the Princess Juliana International Airport. The eye of the storm just missed Puerto Rico, causing massive power outages. Irma is expected to make landfall in Florida on Saturday night. Governor Rick Scott says the storm surges created by Irma are going to be massive. Airlines are limiting travel to the area and parks like Disneyland may have to close as the storm makes its way north. Towns and cities along the coast are being ordered to evacuate, even in Georgia. This is creating a lot of northbound traffic and filling up hotel rooms across central Florida and southern Georgia. Meanwhile, Cruise ships are busy dodging both Irma and now Hurricane Jose, which is a bit further east in the Atlantic.
Most people use a drivers license as ID to pass through TSA security check points. But the Department of Homeland Security is saying that next year they’ll stop accepting Driver licenses and IDs from 25 states. This all began with the Real ID act of 2005, that established standards for what the TSA would accept as identification. One requirement is having anti-counterfeit technology in the cards, and that states verify an applicant’s identity as well as conduct background checks. Most states were given extensions to adhere to the standards, but those extensions are due to expire next year. States can continue applying for extensions until October 2020. If your id cards aren’t compliant at airport checkpoints, you can always use a passport. Find out if your state is on the list by visiting go the podcast dot com and clicking on our most recent post.
A judged ordered a disruptive passenger on a Hawaiian flight to pay the airline nearly 100,000 dollars. Last year Passenger James August was drunk on flight from Honolulu to NY, when he began threatening his girlfriend, the crew and other passengers. The pilots had to turn the plane around back to Honolulu and make an emergency landing. August pleaded guilty to interfering with flight crew members and attendants, and was also ordered to serve three-years probation. The 100,000 thousand dollar payment covers the cost of fuel, crew members, landing fee and maintenance.
In San Francisco, ride-sharing app Lyft has announced that they’re going to start rolling out Self-Driving cars. A select group of customers in the SF Bay Area will be offering free autonomous rides. The company’s pilot program will be used primarily to test out its artificial intelligence software. But the robots aren’t completely taking over yet, a trained lyft driver will still sit behind the wheel to take control, just in case.
For the first time since 9/11, Pittsburgh international airport is giving non-flyers access to terminal areas. Families will now be able to say goodbye or greet loved ones at the gate. They’ll still have to pass through the TSA security check point and have a valid ID. Not everyone agrees with this decision. The Association of Professional Flight Attendants says this will compromise safety and make lines a bit longer.
And that’s Go the Podcast for this week.
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I’m Alex Cwalinski. Thank you for listening.
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