Tag Archives: Africa

Home Exchange: Traveling on a Budget


-Emily Fraysse

The daydreams of lounging in a villa on a sandy white beach in Barbados or skiing to your hidden log cabin in the Swiss Alps could become a reality. And that reality is only a percentage of the price through home exchange. Ultimately, it is “you stay in my house while I stay in yours.”

There are two types of home exchanges: hospitality exchange and home exchange. Hospitality exchange means that the family who lives in the house allows others to stay at their home simultaneously at designated times. The benefit of this, besides the social aspect, is the in-house tour guide. Home exchange happens when each party switches houses completely at a time that is convenient for both to swap.

While many people can be leery about swapping houses for multiple reasons, the number of reasons why you should take the plunge exceeds those. It can be a scary concept to stay at someone’s house that you’ve never met before or allow others to stay at your house, so the exchange relies on mutual trust. With thousands of successful house exchanges per year, the exchange is rewarding in more than one way.

The swapping works best for people who have an alluring home to offer and those who are okay with having strangers living in the house and touching valuable items. Once you’ve found a potential host, get in contact, exchange information, and be clear about your expectations before the swap occurs. After all the nitty-gritty details are finalized, I’m sure you’ll feel less like you’re living in a stranger’s home and more like living in a friend’s.

So, now where would you like to go?

Home Exchange programs to look at:

Home Exchange

Love Home Swap
Trade to Travel
Home Link
Intervac Home Exchange

Some of my personal favorite spots:

Watamu, Kenya

Noosa Heads, Queensland

Whistler, British Columbia

Saint-Rémy-de-Provence, Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur

Buleleng Tejakula, Bali
Pecatu, Bali

Kilalloe, County Clare

Amelia, Umbria


Ko Samui, Surat Thani

United Kingdom:
Lewes, East Sussex
Beadlow, Bedfordshire

United States:
South Beach, Florida
Battery Park City, New York

Image from http://blog.barterquest.com

10th Anniversary for Africa New Life Ministry

-Jasmine Eoff

He remembers wandering around the streets in the scorching Rwandan sun while trying to make enough money to eat for the day. When night would hit, he and the other street kids would search for anything they could use for shelter. As soon as Enric Sifa met Serena Morones and her husband Tony, things changed. “It felt like heaven had opened up for me. I remember telling Serena that I wanted to be a musician, not only in Africa but in the whole world,” he laughs.

Sifa is one example of the many street kids that have been helped by Africa New Life Ministry. The ministry was created in order to reduce poverty by providing spiritual guidance and basic necessities like many other organizations. The only difference is that Africa New Life does this specifically in Rwanda. The ministry works back and forth between Africa and the U.S. in order to facilitate and raise money for their programs in Rwanda.

Africa New Life was created in 2000 by Rwandan pastor, Charles Buregeya along with Serena and Tony Morones. The couple met Buregeya that year when he visited Portland. “We listened to him share his dream of starting a ministry in Rwanda and we felt inclined to support him,” Serena says. As soon as they discussed the idea, they worked together to raise money to get this non-profit organization up and running.

Today, Africa New Life has raised around 3.5 million dollars and has gotten over 4,000 children sponsored. On Friday, November 4th, 2011, the organization celebrated their 10th anniversary at the Imago Dei Community Church in Portland, and I was fortunate enough to be able to partake in the festivities.

When I first arrived, I stepped into the Imago Dei Community Building, which was filled with many snacks, a slideshow of Africa New Life in Rwanda, a wall of pictures of children still needing to be sponsored, and multiple booths consisting of various Rwandan-made crafts. As I walked around, I joined in conversation with many other guests including Enric Sifa, who was part of the celebration ceremony soon to come.

After conversing, I was told to check out the silent auction. Walking around a corner and down a hall, I reached a room filled with several auction items including hand-made Rwandan scarves and tools. Each of the proceeds was to go towards the continuous building of new schools in Rwanda.

Heading out of the silent auction, I walked with the large crowd over to the Imago Dei Sanctuary to start the celebration. The ceremony started off with worship and lead into a special message from Pastor Charles, the founder of Africa New Life. He stood in front of everyone sharing his life journey and the story of how the organization came to be. After he spoke, one of the first few sponsored children told their stories of transformation. Following these stories, Sifa performed some of his very own songs, and the ceremony ended in a prayer by Serena Morones.

The whole night was a blast, and as a guest, I truly felt welcomed by everyone. It was great to hear about how an organization has worked together to improve the lives of others. I felt inspired just being in the presence of people who have done such amazing things in other’s lives.

Active Vacations- The New Vacationing Future?

photo courtesy of Brian and Renee Bouma

-Tiana Bouma

“They call it Backroads, but we like to call it Snackroads.” Brian Bouma, a two-time client of Backroads, said. “Every time you ride for an hour they have a bus set up with snacks and drinks and they drive by waving all the time.”

Tom Hale, the Founder and President formed Backroads, after spending three decades trying to find more rewarding alternatives to traditional vacations. There is no better way to immerse yourself in the life of a region and explore hidden corners while traveling under your own power. Backroads is part of an active vacation movement that is finding a way to more authentically connect with the world.

The types of trips range from biking tours, multisport tours, walking and hiking tours, private trips, and family trips. You can choose exotic locations in Africa, Asia, Europe and Latin America or see hidden treasure of the US from a view perspective.

Brian Bouma and Renee Bouma, a couple from Bend, Oregon recently returned from a six-day trip through Northern Vermont.   The Bouma’s biked an average of 45 to 60 miles a day starting in Burlington, Vermont and winding past Lake Champlain, Vermont’s Greek Mountains, and classic New England farms.

“One of the days we have to climb Appalachian gap, which is a challenging climb that they actually have a professional road race on and I climbed it and I didn’t think my wife would make it up cause it was so challenging.” Brian Bouma said, “The trip leader rode with my wife and encouraged her and climbed the entire road without getting off. 17% incline and he did this three times with three different people.”

Clients can tell the trip leaders are engaged and care about their groups. Meals and lodgings are all arranged in beautiful towns and inns native to the area that many would normally pass up for a more generic company. Experience ranges from professional and extreme bike riders to individuals and families that have never ridden a bike before.

“You can go whatever speed you want.” Renee Bouma said, “They always support you, it’s not like you’re in a group race.” Besides the tour guides that ride with the group there is a van and usually another car following with snacks, spare tires and bikes, and a comfy seat if a rider gets tired and wants to take a break.

photo courtesy of Brian and Renee Bouma

The rides each day are about the scenery and experiencing something new. Clients are encouraged to stop, take pictures and walk around. The Northern Vermont trip included fifteen people from all over the country. The small group sizes keep the trip personal.

“Twenty percent of the roads were dirt. “ Brian Bouma said, “You’d be in a Middle of a dirt road miles off a paved road and you’d come across a farmhouse and a church that was built in 1805 or 1790.” These are sites that would have been missed in a car or plane.

At the end of the day riders hand the trip leaders their bikes and continue vacationing. All riders need to travel with are clothes. Backroads even offers gel pads for bike seats. Although the Bouma’s Vermont trip was close to home, a trip through Europe or other continents is recommended. The Bouma’s first trip a few years ago with their two daughters, current University of Oregon students, traversed Austria and the Czech Republic.

“What we really enjoy about these trips is that they map out these amazing routes that you would never ride or figure out on your own unless you’ve been a resident for 20 years.” Renee Bouma said, “True to their name, you were on backroads.”