(Photo: FDR Four Freedoms Park, Roosevelt Island, New York-August 2013)
For me, half of the fun of traveling is planning the trip. From the moment I get back from New York, I’m busy planning our next visit. I rip pages out of New York magazine: new restaurants to try, reviews of plays and art exhibits, the full Cheap Eats section, and best New York day trips. A large chunk of our trip for next year is already planned with the pages we didn’t get to this time.
This is the third year we’ve exchanged homes with the same couple. It’s nice to return to the same place, it feels like a second home to us. I already know where the closest good coffee shop is, where to get the best late night slice of pizza, and who to call for the best Chinese food delivery. I don’t need to pack an umbrella, or Band-Aids or nail polish remover, my home away from home is already stocked with the one-off item I might need.
We’ve met our home exchangers several times over the last three years, getting together for lunch or dinner when we happen to be on the same coast at the same time. Which makes it seem more like we’re staying in a friend’s apartment rather than some bland rental apartment.
This year when I arrived at our home-away-from-home, I thumbed through the photo albums displayed on the coffee table. Each year that our home-exchange friends are at our house, they are celebrating a birthday for their young granddaughter. It was so fun to see the festive photos of birthday cake, colorful presents, and happy family members gathered around my dining table. It made me happy to see my living room as the canvas to their family photos while I was lounging in their living room. I love that they are making fond memories at my house while I’m doing the same at their house.
I’m always a little sad at the end of a trip, even at the same time as I’m looking forward to getting back home. But this time I’m thinking that another half of the fun of a trip is looking back on all the fun you had while you were there. So until next year, I'll just enjoy looking at my photos, from the comfort of my own home, of all the fun I had from the comfort of theirs.
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