Where the experts holiday: Brian Luckhurst, founder of the Home Exchange 50plus website

By | Category: Travel tips & opinions

 

Brian and Catriona Luckhurst

Brian and Catriona Luckhurst


Londoner, Brian Luckhurst, founded Home Exchange 50plus – a home swap site for the senior traveller – with his Catriona following a successful home swap with a couple from Brittany (France) a few years back. “Home and hospitality exchange for seniors is not a new idea” he says, “but more and more of us, from all walks of life, are now swapping our homes for holidays, not least to save money in these financially challenging times”.
Here the silver surfer shares his travel highs and lows with Just About Travel

What do you like to do on holiday?
As I get older I prefer to sit and relax more than previously, although we still like to visit the historical and architectural sites, but more and more I have come to appreciate views, wildlife and nature. I also like driving holidays and, as we have a convertible car, driving with the roof down (if the weather allows) is a great way to get around. Next year we are planning a road trip around the north of Scotland and the Outer Hebrides.  Living like a local is a mantra used by the Home Exchange industry, and certainly I appreciate the idea.  As eating and drinking seems to be taking more of a major role in our holidays, if we are on a home swap and therefore self catering, we will source the local produce, often on the recommendation of the owners.

TaProhmAngkor

TaProhmAngkor


Where did you last go?
Our last trip, which was only two weeks ago, was for a long weekend in France staying with friends at their holiday home in Brittany. Prior to that we stayed in an apartment as a home swap in Venice. We have been to both places many times before so I would like to talk more about our first holiday of the year which took us to Vietnam and Cambodia.  This was our first time in Asia, apart from a day trip across the Bosphorus from Istanbul some years ago. We travelled as a group of 16, starting our journey in Ho Chi Minh City and, via a seven-day cruise along the Mekong, arriving in Siem Reap to visit the Angkor temples – something that had been on our wish list. A wonderful experience.

Cao Dai Temple

Cao Dai Temple

 

Do you know where you’re going this year?
Yes, we do like to plan ahead and feel we need to have at least one booked trip in our holiday drawer. In August we are driving up to Scotland for two weeks, the first staying in Edinburgh and taking in a few shows at the Festival Fringe and then travelling on to the Isle of Iona in the Inner Hebrides. In October we are off to France again, staying in an apartment near Beaune in Burgundy for a few days, and in December to Budapest on one of our regular city break weekends.

 

Iona village

Iona village


Of all the places you’ve been to, what was your favourite and why?
My favourite place is somewhere we visit regularly: the Isle of Iona which is a small island off the south-west coast of Mull in the Inner Hebrides. As an island steeped in history, being the cradle of Scottish Christianity, it does receive a good number of visitors but it is a place of peace and tranquility with outstanding landscapes, gorgeous white sand beaches and turquoise seas. It also manages to squeeze in an 18- hole golf course as part of the common grazing land – a perfect place to learn how to play provided you avoid the sheep and cattle, and what they leave behind!

Which destination do you wish to travel to, but haven’t yet been?
I do not regard myself as being an adventurous traveller although, as someone who loves holidaying via home exchange, there must be a hint of adventure somewhere in me. South Africa and South America are on the list of destinations still to travel to, and I would like our trips to include a safari and a cruise up the Amazon.

In your own country, what would you recommend tourists see that isn’t in the travel guides?
Living in London as I do, any first visit to the UK should include this wonderful city with one of the many guided walks being a brilliant way to learn more about its history.  Being Scottish I may be biased but I would certainly recommend the majestic beauty of my homeland, and particularly of the Highlands and Islands.  One of the many benefits of home exchanging is being made aware of local places of interest by your exchange partner in whose home you are staying.

How do you plan your holiday? (Guidebooks/website/agent/recommendations etc)
Once we have decided on a destination, our first ‘look at’ will be on Home Exchange websites, including our own www.HomeExchange50plus.com to see what sort of accommodation is available and, if possible, we will try to arrange a swap.  In some cases we may end up organising several home exchanges for one holiday. We will also use the internet to research places and use a guidebook mostly when we are city breaking. Our preferred travel style is to plan as much as we can before we go as for us the planning is part of the fun of the holiday.

How often do you go away?
Including weekend trips I guess I am away eight or nine times a year. Although I am now retired from full-time employment, my wife Catriona, despite my regular suggestions that she retires, still works four days a week which currently restricts our travel plans.  However, we do have more flexibility than most as our kids have long flown the nest so we are not tied to school holidays, and indeed try to avoid these if we can.

Who do you travel with?
I travel mostly with Catriona and occasionally friends will join us depending on where we are and what the accommodation is. I also go on a couple of golf trips each year with some golfing mates when invariably the golf is questionable but the food, drink and chat more than compensates.

Where do you see tourism in your country, in 10 years?
I hope and certainly expect that home exchanging will increase in popularity: why pay to stay in a hotel or rent somewhere when you can stay for free, although I do appreciate that the idea of having strangers staying in your home when you are away does not appeal to everyone. Also, with the increase in the population age and therefore of the average traveller, I guess we will see more and more holidays taken both in the UK and further afield. Generally I would expect to see more visitors coming to the UK than ever before.

Thanks Brian! For the full low-down on Home Exchange 50plus, visit www.homeexchange50plus.com

Pictures: Brian Luckhurst

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