One couple responded by writing that they had no plans to visit San Diego so they weren’t interested in a home exchange. However, since their 1-bedroom/1-bath condo was a holiday home, they suggested the possibility of renting it to us for $100 a night.
“No,” I told Stan. “I want to do a home exchange. I have NO interest in PAYING someone for a place to sleep!” (I probably had my hands on my hips. Hands on hips are like an exclamation point.)
After 25 years of marriage my husband has learned to be patient with me when I’m adamant. He kept his mouth shut and simply began gathering data.
Just the facts, ma’am, just the facts
Stan went online and discovered that hotel rooms in Chicago were scarce in June; even if he could find a room they were around $250! Then he researched vacation home rentals, after all, we’re home exchangers and we’ve grown accustomed to having kitchens and living rooms. Well, vacation rental fees in downtown Chicago started at $300.
My husband presented to me his findings. His expensive findings.
I listened. The living room clock ticked. Then I said, “Now where’s that condo you told me about?”
I peered over his shoulder into his laptop screen while he found the home swap listing. The condo was small, but there were enough beds for all four of us. It had a newly renovated kitchen and bathroom, and a cute patio. The condo building was 12 stories. Much more human-scale than many of the Chicago skyscrapers.
Stan clicked on the computer map. The condo was in a fabulous location, a block west of Lake Michigan and a block north of the Chicago River. The famous shopping district, the Magnificent Mile, was only about three blocks away. Everything was within walking distance, even the Sears Tower!
“Well,” I said. “I guess I can make an exception this time. I mean it’s a lot cheaper than a hotel. And we get a whole condo!”
Stan counted on his fingers the nights we’d be in Chicago.
“Why don’t I offer them $500 for six nights? See what they say?” he said.
They said yes.
Our home swap partner e-mailed us a thorough list of her personal tour tips, where to eat, shop and visit. I printed out the valuable resource to bring with us.
Stan asked her how we should deliver payment and she responded, “Just leave a check in a drawer at the condo.”
Don’t you love it!
Home, Sweet Vacation HomeWhen we landed in Chicago, my family took a cab to our home located on a quiet tree-lined street. We picked up the keys from a nice man at the front desk, walked in and found the condo to be just as charming as the online photos.
There was one thing different, however. On the kitchen counter sat a small gift the owner had left for us when she was in town the day before. A bowl of ripe cherries. Those cherries made me smile.
So for $83.33 per night we lived in Chicago for a week. No tourism tax fees, no hotel employees to tip. No check-in/check-out time restraints. Just leave our payment in the drawer.
My family pedaled bikes along Lake Michigan, toured the Art Institute, rode the Ferris wheel at Navy Pier, cheered for the Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field and we attended a glorious rooftop wedding.
Sometimes life is just a bowl of cherries. Our vacation in Chicago certainly was.
Have you ever been adamant about a decision and then changed your mind? Share your experience below.
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