April 7, 2016 Facebook Twitter LinkedIn Google+ Stories

Why did I start this site?

The Canada Vacation

canada1Family holiday accommodation can be expensive.  This was something that I was going to find out first hand while looking for a suitable property for our family in Canada last summer. 

We had heard others talk about their ‘Canadian Cottage’ experience so I searched online for a modest cabin that would accommodate our family of 4.

Leaving things to the last minute as I usually do, I discovered most properties were booked up and what was left was not suitable or way out of our budget.

Back in Scotland we run a small serviced apartment rental company and we often have weeks where one of our apartments is left unsold or we have a last minute cancellation.  I was sure the same thing must happen for other property owners. If I could find one, rather than pay the usual inflated August prices, would they be willing to swap a week in their cabin for a week in our apartment in Scotland?

A Facebook Discovery

Whatever I was going to do – I had to do it fast.  We were arriving in Canada in 5 days and we had nowhere to stay.  Nothing like leaving it to the last minute!

I asked around our immediate network, but hit a brick wall.   Anyone who had what we were looking for was already using their property themselves or had it rented out.

Then I thought of our larger online community.  I was a member of a ‘Worldschoolers’ group on Facebook.  Here people connect from all over the world asking travel and education questions and  posting tips.  Would some other group member have what we were looking for?  Would they trust someone that they only met on an online group to swap houses for a vacation?

I quickly set up a new Facebook group ‘World School House Swap’, and asked if anyone wanted to join.   The uptake was immediate.  Within a couple of hours we had 84 people requesting to join and some were even posting their own properties to swap.


I couldn’t believe my luck within the first couple of hours –  the post I had been looking for:

This is such a great idea! We have a cottage in Canada and a place in Bali to swap this summer if anyone reads this and is interested please PM (private message) me

I sent the property owner a message giving her our dates and asking if she would be interested in visiting Scotland.  Almost instantly she sent a reply offering me her cabin which was situated on a lake next to the Algonquin National Park in Ontario, Canada.  This was perfect – just what we were looking for!  At that point her travel plans were pretty fluid so she ‘banked’ a week at my property in Scotland where we hope to accommodate her and her family soon.

canada2My 2 girls had an amazing time canoeing on the lake, making friends with the neighbours’ kids, fishing for bass and they even went to a horse riding camp for a couple of days that the property owner had recommended.

All in all it was a great success.  Just by listing one small Facebook post our family had had the most awesome holiday, made some fantastic new friends and lifelong memories.

Responding to the challenge of growth

After we returned home the Facebook group grew and grew, everyone was looking for swaps and searching for accommodation recommendations.  It was becoming trickier for people to find what they were looking for and posts were getting lost.   With almost 1500 members in the group, it was becoming evident that we needed a better platform for swaps.

Other posts were also starting to appear.  Families were looking for house sitters and people were looking to rent their properties out at a discount to other travelling families.

With this in mind I decided to make the group focus wider, providing a platform to host all ‘Worldschoolers’ accommodation demands. I did a little research, enlisted the help of a web developer, and World Schooler Exchange was born.

Join us on the journey

Now you know how World Schooler Exchange came to be, and the inspiration behind it. There are big plans to make the site better and better as it grows. It’s an exciting journey, and you’re welcome to join us!

You can sign up right now and join the fast-growing number of Worldschoolers listing a house swap, rent or sit, or offering services as a house/pet sitter.

I really hope you find the website useful, you can get in touch with any feedback or to ask for help by using the contact page.