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With her sons and grandchildren over back in Australia, when thinking about this year's family Christmas, Gillian and her husband turned to the Love Home Swap points system to reunite the family for the holiday season.

After living in Australia for 25 years, Gillian relocated back to the UK, where she now lives with her husband Paul. This Christmas the couple have decided they wanted to head back down under to Sydney for a family Christmas with Gillian's two boys and her grandchildren - and they've turned to Love Home Swap to do it.

With the bad British weather proving a barrier for a traditional swap during the holiday season, they had to think outside the box. 'It soon became apparent that getting a simultaneous swap was going to be almost impossible, as no-one wanted to swap Christmas/New Year in Sydney for winter in the UK,' Gillian told us, 'so we decided to go for non-simultaneous and points, which gave us more flexibility. We had no shortage of people wanting to come to our part of the UK from spring through to autumn and we arranged to stay with friends and family for part of the 8 weeks, and use some of our points for the remainder'

 Traffic on the way to the country pub

Thanks to this determination (and with a nod of gratitude to the Love Home Swap points system too) Gillian has lined up her Christmas and New Year with the family in Sydney already 'we have three lovely homes to stay in in the areas we want to be. We've talked on Skype to two, and the other couple stayed in our home just recently and have offered to pick us up from the airport, settle us in and then go to their holiday home,' Gillian says.

Managing to bag such a popular swap destination at peak time, Gillian says for this swap alone Love Home Swap has saved them a fortune. 'As far as we're concerned. If we had booked accommodation in Sydney at Christmas we'd be paying in the region of $15,000 dollars + for the 6 weeks we'll be staying, so it has saved us a fortune,' she says.

 Local haunt in Bowness

The costs benefit for Gillian is very clear, but like many of our members, this is just one of many benefits to using Love Home Swap. 'We prefer to self-cater, as we don't always want to eat out, and I loathe those hotel buffet breakfasts. With home swapping you do build a rapport with the homeowner,' Gillian explains.

This personal touch in particular is something Gillian really takes pride in, 'we wait until our guests arrive, and run through all the details with them before we leave. When they leave they leave the keys in our letterbox' she told us, 'I leave a list of places to visit and where the nearest supermarket is, where the hospital is, maps etc. There is a lot of email communication and skyping going on too, so you feel you know each other even before they arrive,' and for first time swappers she recommends 'have plenty of email contact, and possibly skype, so you can get a feel for the person who you're going to be swapping with'.

 Beautiful view from one of Gillian's English home swaps

Despite such a big swap lined up for later this year, this hasn't stopped this adventurous couple from participating in a few more swaps this year. 'We've thoroughly enjoyed moving around England for two months, and the people who've stayed in our home have been an absolute delight,' Gillian recounted. 'We've done two points trips, and they've been equally as good. Both have been in the country and in areas we've never visited before, so it has been great to just chill out and get away from city life'.

As for where's next, of course they have Christmas in Sydney to look forward to, but they're already thinking ahead to next summer too. 'We'll look closer to home, probably Spain,' Gillian says.

 Local pub in Armathwaite

If you like this couple's personal approach to home exchange, why not send them a swap request?

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