This could be you!
I think the economy has gotten all of us down in many different ways. I won't complain...but it has gotten me thinking. There are the usual cutbacks we can all make... pack a lunch, re-use, stop with the lattes, etc. BUT, what are some ways we can alter our lives to save more, yet still have a bit of adventure, a little bit of luxury? If you have any creative ideas outside the ordinary that you've done to save money...please let me know this week through e-mail, or by commenting, and I'll post the ideas on Friday so that we can all benefit from the suggestions! Let's start cutting back, and STILL have fun!
Here is the story of one of the most amazing things I did to save money AND have an adventure...
Four years ago, I decided I really REALLY wanted to go to Monaco and explore the surrounding area. I had been there on a quick trip a few years prior, and it whetted my appetite. These are the things I knew I wanted:
1. To go for more than a week.
2. To rent a car and drive around and explore neighboring towns
3. To stay IN Monaco
4. Have a friend or two to join me on this adventure.
I started calling hotels, and discovered that they were incredibly expensive and/or booked. So, I got creative. I had heard of home exchange services, and had had some friends who had a very positive experience with exchanges. I was living in a one bedroom apartment on the upper westside of Manhattan at the time...a very desirable area for travelers. With some trepidation, I decided to list my apartment on a home exchange service called HomeLink and see what would happen. I checked apartments available in Monaco, and miraculously found a man who was willing to exchange his second apartment in Monaco for 10 days, for my (much more humble) abode for four. After several exchanges through e-mail, and a couple reference checks, I felt confident that this would be ok.
I persuaded my friend Ruth to come. It was NOT a financially "good" time for her, but with much convincing and promises of an unforgettable experience, she agreed. When we arrived in Monaco to our beautiful apartment OVERLOOKING MONACO HARBOR WITH A BALCONY, I could NOT believe our good fortune! It was truly amazing. Our main splurge was on a convertible car which we had a blast in. We drove to surrounding towns (Eze, St. Paul de Vence, Antibes, and Grasse), hide-away beaches on the Cote d'Azure, wined, dined and had an amazing time. (Oh! Did I mention I had enough frequent flier miles for almost free airfare?) One of the nicest benefits of this exchange, is that I've become friends with the family whose apartment I exchanged...their son attended our wedding!
I used the Homelink exchange service again last year when I was in the process of selling my apartment. My tenant had moved out, and it was vacant, but furnished for 6 weeks. "Why not" I said. "WHY????", my husband said! "Let's just see what happens!" I replied.
Sure enough, we now have the opportunity to travel to this (see below) amazing apartment on the ocean in Puerta Vallarta sometime when we can imagine traveling that far with Jake!
So, take the challenge, and let's see collectively, and creatively we can come up with!
P.S. for those of your who are (rightfully) nervous about swapping your own home...this exchange works well with people who have second homes that are vacant much of the year. The first time I swapped my apartment, I was single, and didn't have everything I owned in my apartment, so it involved moving a few of my more personal items. The second time I swapped the apartment, it was vacant except for furniture, and if something happened to it, I didn't care all that much! I know many people who have had very positive exchange experiences...you can check references, and don't do anything unless your comfortable with it!