Part 1 of 3.
ACT TWO: You have written an impressively detailed travel book, Luxury Globetrotting on a Staycation Budget: An Insider’s Guide to the Home Exchange Experience, on international home exchange vacations. What inspired you to write this wonderfully researched guide?
I wrote the book because so many of my friends and acquaintances asked me endless questions about home exchanging. Friends were envious of my lifestyle, and wondered how I could live in luxury for so many months. Some thought I had won the lottery or something.
Once I tell friends about house swapping, they ask questions, usually only a couple at first, then it generally escalates to lots of questions. I found it easier to write the answers down in one place, and then I could answer only a couple of questions, and then direct them to the e-book, which is inexpensive and full of extremely practical advice. I tried to ensure that my book answered all of the questions that people generally ask, and while some of those seem to be minutiae, they are important details. Many have commented that my book has been very helpful and practical.
ACT TWO: The most appealing aspect of this superb guide is that you have been there—you have traveled the planet with your spouse and made it a lifestyle. It’s clear from your travels that you know all the ins and outs of setting up home exchanges. Would you talk about the very first exchange you did and how it went?
My very first exchange was in Calgary in Canada. I picked the location because of the amazing scenery there in the Rocky Mountains. The accessibility to places like Banff and Lake Louise and of course, the Calgary Stampede. I remember hearing about the Stampede when I was 11 years old and had always had in the back of my mind that I would love to go there one day. The exchange went very smoothly. We found the house, using our SatNav (GPS) system, and it was very straightforward. It was a lovely home. The keys were in the secret location where they were supposed to be. The hosts had left a booklet introducing us to all the aspects of the home, e.g. how to work the TV remotes, washing machine, and so on. There were also notes on what to see and do in the area and the best ways to do it. During our time there, the hosts’ sister visited us to ask if there was any assistance that we needed. It was like the vast majority of our exchanges, a great experience, and it went very smoothly.
ACT TWO: You end chapters with “Ainslie’s Bullets” that show just how organized this book is. They are really helpful and informative. This is certainly a go-to book filled with beautiful and relevant information for home exchange travelers. How did you start organizing it all, given how much you’ve traveled?
This was not my first published book. I am also an author of a business book, called The Ultimate Secret for Business. I therefore had previous experience of how to organize writing a book. First of all, I looked at all of the questions that people had been asking me about home exchanges. I then decided from those, what chapters would be beneficial to include. I systematically wrote chapter by chapter until the end. The bullet points were often my original notes, which I fleshed out to further explain their meaning to readers. Since I was writing the book when on vacations in house swaps, it was easy. I simply wrote a little most days, sometimes on my electronic notebook in the car. For my own light relief, I also added some stories of my House Swap adventures, as I have had many. I also included a few amusing ditties.
By Mark Damon Puckett