Our miracle year

Our miracle year, not to be confused with a miraculous year, although it was. It was an actual miracle in my book. (I don’t throw that word around either!)

I have told many people about our travels with the Home Exchange app and they have asked me to invite them. I thought that now that my miracle year is over, I would make a blog post about it.

This all started when my son David moved to San Francisco 3 years ago.

As a heartsick mom, I was determined to find an inexpensive way of seeing him more often. I found and joined Guest to Guest. This company was started in the 70s by French families who exchanged houses. They give points for signing up and you can either rent homes with points or swap houses.

We were wary at first and didn’t like the idea of strangers in our home. (We have our home listed to earn more points and although we’ve had requests, no one has rented our home yet). We found it is very safe and the information you give, if you choose to list your home or apartment, is nothing that isn’t already out there via Google anyway.

We took a chance and had a splendid family vacation in a fabulous condo near Yosemite.

Then for our 30th anniversary, we went to London and the Cotswolds. By now I was loving this company!

It was amazing because we only had to find flights (we used CheapDFW which are usually half price flights) and with the money we saved on lodging we could feel free to do fun stuff, like seeing the Stones in Manchester from 10 rows back!

Now for the miracle part.

Tragically, my son was diagnosed with Repetitive Stress Injury. It was a very traumatic time as he couldn’t even button his shirt or hold a fork without pain. He saw all the professionals possible and no one could help him, even the Mayo clinic. This went on for over a year.

He decided to go to LA because there was a Dr. who said he could help him. His company said he could work remotely. But the problem was he still had to pay rent in San Francisco. We didn’t know what to do.

Then I saw that Home Exchange (who bought Guest to Guest) was having a sweepstakes. I posted vacation photos and told them why I should win and (drum roll) I won unlimited points for a year! All I had ever won up to this point was a box of Rice-A-Roni at a ring toss at the State Fair of Texas when I was eight!

What makes this story a miracle is that we found a family near LA that told him he could stay with them for an entire year for guest points while he was undergoing treatment! Thank you, Lord!

As a mom, I just really felt that was God telling me it was going to be ok, and that He loved my son even more than me.

It’s been a year now and his hands are much better although he has to write with his left hand now. As a musician, this was a very scary time. He now works for Hans Zimmer’s studio part-time as an assistant composer (and is still a writer for the Hearst Corporation full time).

So then, we decided to make the most of our year of travel.

We enjoyed a trip to Paris in the spring that was perfect for the two of us with a spectacular view of the Eiffel tower. We got to see Notra Dame before its tragic fire. Then we took a train to stay with an amazing couple who took us all around the coast of France, cooked for us, and wouldn’t let us pay for hardly anything. When I booked their lovely home in Caen, to see Normandy for the 75th anniversary of DDay, I asked how much they charged for their assistance they were offering, as tour guides. She said “Oh nothing, just good company . . . . besides, the Americans never asked how much they would charge for their “assistance” in 44!”

And that is how the entire trip was, just incredible. We stayed up every night until 1am with this wonderful family talking about world affairs. We consider them family now. (If you join, look for Susan: Cormelles-Le-Royal)

We just celebrated our anniversary and this time I surprised my husband with a “staycation” in a top floor penthouse condo in Dallas! The view was magnificent and every detail of the house was opulent and perfect. It was like a dream!

To wrap up our fun we will go to Galveston in June, with our friends the Atkins pictured above, to stay in a totally renovated Victorian “painted lady” on the beach. I plan on visiting Portland next summer with my book club and maybe even Hong Kong the following year with our family. (We will be hosting two Chinese exchange students this year and I have a feeling we will want to see China for ourselves.)

And of course, we will all be visiting my son in LA in June and will be staying in a beautiful Home Exchange home in Santa Monica.

So I give God the glory and think Home Exchange is the best thing since sliced bread! Especially for frugal people like me. This post is for those who have asked me how to join. Just go to this link and sign up and thanks for letting me share my story. https://www.homeexchange.com/?sponsorkey=351-536130-6387378d