First Home Exchange experience
Per usual, I flew back to the US mid-December to spend a few weeks at our HQ before the Christmas Holidays. My family typically does a big Christmas get-together every two years at a rented cabin in the middle of Minnesota. This year was a bit different however because my SIL was pregnant and due on Christmas Day, so she obviously did not want to be hours away from her hospital in the middle of winter.
It ended up complicating things quite a bit though because half of my family lives in the Minneapolis/St Paul area, and the other half lives elsewhere in the US. The ones in-town didn't want to have to pay for a hotel, and the ones from out of town thought it wasn't fair they would have to pay for one. So I ended up exploring other options, and decided to check out home exchanges, thinking I could maybe find someone willing to exchange their home in Minneapolis with ours in Paris.
And luckily I did! I went to meet them in-person this summer when I was back in MN, and their home was amazing. It was only a few years old, had five bedrooms (one for everyone out-of-town family), four bathrooms, and two very large living areas to accommodate my extended family.
The only stressful bit was that I felt the need to constantly be picking up after everyone, sweeping, etc, since it was me who was on the line for making sure we left her house in the same state we found it (ie spotless). I found out after we left that she had booked in a cleaning crew to come in after our departure, so I probably went a little bit overboard in my cleaning, but oh well.
Her family will be coming to stay at our place this summer, when we go back for a wedding. Our home isn't anywhere near as fancy as theirs was, but hopefully the location and the view of the Eiffel Tower/Notre Dame will make them feel like they received an even exchange...
And in case anyone's curious, my SIL had her baby on the 20th! We were so relieved, as I had been worried she'd be born after our departure and that we wouldn't be able to meet her until this summer. But she came out early like a champ, and we were able to get in plenty of quality time with her before flying back to France.