The Free Vacation Idea for Broke, but Creative People

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The Free Vacation

One fine midsummer's day, my creative writing friend and I decided that we just had to get away from it all - or we would run amok. But where would we go on vacation, spend no money and know that we would have a good time?

Well, Eureka!

What is this Eureka moment? Well,we would exchange apartments for the weekend. How could this work so amazingly well? What could possibly be different or new? Especially since we live just 2 miles apart and in similar apartments?

The thing is, if you live in any large city, a mile away can be a whole different world: different housing, different restaurants, different shopping, different family makeup. And that was the case with us.

What are the differences?

My creative friend lives in an area of Brooklyn (affectionately known as Bed-Stuy, short for Bedford - Stuyvesant), New York City, which truly fits the description of Brownstone Brooklyn. These massive brownstone homes are often four stories and owned by one family who has been there for generations. The homes are often made up of extended families, and sometimes a floor is converted into rentals. My friend's community is a family neighborhood and it is quite peaceful and quiet.

I, on the other hand, live close to downtown Brooklyn (see photo - my avatar has always been the view from my window). Amidst the brownstones here are many apartment buildings filled with a few billion people - maybe more. They've come in droves - many have arrived here in NYC during the last 5 years - to work. Because there are so many people, it can support many restaurants. In fact, I live near what has always been known as restaurant row. It is filled with every type of of so-called trendy restaurant (they come and go), and often there is entertainment. These venues would never survive in my friend's neighborhood - because we native New Yorkers know better than to pay top dollar for trendy. That's for outsiders that don't know where to go for real food and want to sit all evening nursing a drink. It is never quiet where I live.

It seems my friend and I were spending a great deal of time - in each other's neighborhood. She loved all the jazz clubs and knew the owners and enjoyed all the latest cuisines. Me, I love the Egyptian buffet in her neighborhood, and one of the best bakeries ever - where I can get a tiny bean pie - just enough to genuinely enjoy without being a hog. Her neighborhood is where I also shop for pure shea butter and all the amazing natural soaps - like coconut, mango and lime, etc. We did however, agree that she lived near the best coffee shop.

So that is where we met to exchange keys. At the coffee shop.

I must admit that she did a better job than me of preparing her apartment. It was shiny. I think it's because she still had the original wood floors that were buffed to a lustrous sheen. My floors I replaced with laminate that just cannot duplicate real wood. She also had this nice gentle vanilla smell wafting around. I found out later how she did this. She didn't burn incense sticks - but she used lots of them to place on the tops of door frames - so as you walk by and under you get a slight whiff.

How sucessful was our Friday and Saturday night well into Sunday?

It was perfect! I stopped on the way in at the buffet - a real bargain and then got some fruit at the greengrocers. Of course I got a bean pie (see link below for weird pies) - actually I got two - but they are tiny. And some shea butter to anoint myself (see link below for shea butter information). My friend always seemed to have a large selection of those little jars of amazing natural creams, oils and lotions. So yes, I enjoyed those too because I always did.

And I know why the really old claw-foot tubs no longer exist, like the one in my friend's place - because Americans did actually get stuck in them. If I was 20 pounds heavier - my weekend would have been spent stuck and turning into a prune in the tub. You see - it is shaped like a very slim, shapely number 8. So if you make the mistake of leaning back and reclining, then stretching out, you can get stuck in the middle part.

And my friend - did she enjoy my place? Well, for the little time she spent here, I'd say yes. You see there was this jazz band back in town and performing at the same local venue. She met this group the year before. So after hanging out with them until 4 a.m. she was able to get home in less than 3 minutes - walking. And then meet friends for an early breakfast right around the corner. I did put chocolates on the pillow - but no, I don't have all those exotic little bottles of unguents.

An Old Saying:

There is an old saying "A change is as good as a rest" - how true. I'm well-rested because I have since spent time at my cousins' place in Queens (another NYC borough), where there are three of my favorite supermarkets - one is Korean, one Chinese and one Indian - I find every ingredient and tea I can ever want and always about half the price of the usual supermarkets. Also this is where my favorite Thai restaurant is located and so much more.

For my vacation this year - I offered to trade places with my son and daughter-in-law. Recently, my DIL mentioned how much she liked living in my neighborhood some years ago - so next time I spoke to my son, I suggested a switch. They are young and also enjoy eating out and are known wherever they go around here. For me, I'd get to live in a well-appointed suburban home with every amenity - and absolute peace and quiet - what I crave the most right now and need so I won't run amok. And a lovely garden to reflect in. Mmmmmm. Lovely Garden.

Suggestions if you are thinking of switching homes with a friend:

- Switch homes just to enjoy the neighborhood, or to put your feet up and enjoy reading a book perhaps, and some peace and quiet. You are just passing (lightly) through.

- Do not plan to cook. Leave fire alone so you don't burn down the place. Plus, there is no reason to dirty someone's stove. Bring your own sandwich fixings or plan to eat out.

- Do not plan to have a party - that is inexcusably tacky.

- Do not bring your laundry. In fact leave all appliances alone so you won't break them.

- Do not fight with the neighbors and keep the noise down.

- Resist the urge to rummage through the medicine cabinet. (see the poll)


See links below for weird pies and shea butter and more:

Looking Through the Medicine Cabinet

Would you look through a friend's medicine cabinet?

See results without voting

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Comments 69 comments

zanin profile image

zanin 5 years ago from London, England

This is a great idea. I particularly like the hints on what not to do when you stay at a friend's. You know what happens? The microwave will decide to break when I arrive at my friend's house! I am in London, England, but am sure I can find someone to swap with. Hope you have a good time at your son's. My brain is now doing overtime trying to think of some friends I can swap with. If you ever want to swap and come to London, England - just email. Have a good day. Thank you for this very unique hub. Nina

deblipp profile image

deblipp 5 years ago

Home switching really does sound fun.

Danette Watt profile image

Danette Watt 5 years ago from Illinois

I've heard of people swapping houses for longer vacations but this seems more low-key and just long enough to give each of you an idea of what the other person's neighborhood is like. Sounds fun. Voted up.

lmmartin profile image

lmmartin 5 years ago from Alberta and Florida

Sounds like a plan. Want to trade your city apartment for a small house in the woods, thirty minutes from one of the world's great beaches here in Florida? (Comes equipped with two large dogs -- I recently rescued two mastiffs.) Lynda

BkCreative profile image

BkCreative 5 years ago from Brooklyn, New York City Author

Zanin - you are a real sport! This switching may actually work for hubbers because we kind of know each other. I would never share my home with a stranger. And lucky me - I have cousins in England and have spent many happy days there hanging out with them. I would say - I have seen most of England. Then my cousins take me to Luton airport and I would hop an EasyJet or Ryan air and head to Paris, Greece, Amsterdam and Ireland. I can say I've visited most of the world - even lived in S.Korea. But the weekends away - exchanging with a friend - is just enough. And yes, don't touch stuff. I've even been offered the use of a car. But noooooo.

It is fun deblipp - and so easy when you are all local. It's just so hard to get away sometimes. The thought of going into an airport these days just exhausts me. I've really curtailed travel.

You know Danette Watt - a longer vacation can turn into a stressful chore just making all the preparations. Here, I just go - grab something to lounge in and go. My friend always had a great selection of books and magazines. We also used some of this time to write - a new venue helps. Thanks for the vote!

lmmartin - I really think you would love my city apartment - because you can walk to everything. About a mile downtown you are at both the Manhattan Bridge and the Brooklyn Bridge. I've walked the BB many times - and it takes you right down to the Wall Street area and the ferry to the Statue of Liberty and the outstanding Native American museum. I fear I may die in the woods though - as I look for a home in NC - I find that changing from a total city environment for this BigCityWoman is really limiting my choices - again I may run amok. But I would love your mastiffs - I remember seeing photos, and the neighborhood children were petting them - lovely. Of course my place comes with a wild kitty rescued from the street. She is well on the way to training me to be the big serving primate. Now that I have this kitty I am going to offer to trade with a friend who rescued 2 cats - we know each others pets, have cat sat - and this would be a fair exchange. She is only two miles away but I love her local coffee shop - outstanding library, wood oven pizza shop, etc. I'm thinking I may offer this in the winter - because being trapped indoors all winter can get you down.

Thanks for the comments. You know, we are writers so we are creative to begin with. I like the idea of always looking in a different direction.

Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 5 years ago from United States

I think switching houses is a great idea. It is like a vacation with entirely different scenery, and for forth. I really enjoyed your hub.

Paradise7 profile image

Paradise7 5 years ago from Upstate New York

This is a good idea. I really need a vac and don't have much money, would you like to visit Rochester???? (Just kidding!)

BkCreative profile image

BkCreative 5 years ago from Brooklyn, New York City Author

I'm glad you like the idea Pamela99 - just the way a friend decorates can give you a whole different feel. Like the friend I exchanged with has tons of quality oils and lotions and creams - things I would never buy but she welcomed me to try. She uses blue in her home - a color I never would, I use red, a color she wouldn't put on her walls - so it is a change for us.

Isn't it amazing Paradise7, how we can both live in New York yet be hundreds of miles away. I think I am going to branch a bit as far as switching - and see if I can do some trading a bit farther away. But then this is so easy. We can decide on a Thursday - hey, let's trade and do it on Friday. And not a penny is spent even on transportation. We just hike it a couple miles.

Thanks for the comments!

theherbivorehippi profile image

theherbivorehippi 5 years ago from Holly, MI

But if I resist the urge to rummage through their do I know they are also doing the same? lol This is a really good idea! Sometimes it's nice to just be in a different place, even if you don't go too far.

creativeone59 profile image

creativeone59 5 years ago from Gold Canyon, Arizona

Thanks BK, for fantastic ideas for people with little or no money. Thank you for sharing. Godspeed. creativeone59

BkCreative profile image

BkCreative 5 years ago from Brooklyn, New York City Author

Frankly, theherbivorehippi, I think a certain amount of rummaging is allowed - or maybe I should say, will happen. So we must hide certain things that we don't want fingered. It is nice to just be in a different place. I've read writers can go mad - I believe it. So we must get away - or expect to run amok - soon.

I'm so glad you like the idea creativeone59. You know we writers are creative anyway - it's time to use our creativity in other ways.

Thanks for the comments!

PWalker281 5 years ago

A great idea, BKCreative! When I get digs of my own (living with Daughter Dearest at the moment), I'm going to remember this. I have friends who live in various parts of O'ahu where I'd love to stay for a weekend.

A friend invited me to a fabulous home in the Kaimuki section of Honolulu back in the fall. She was "house sitting" for 3 months and invited me to stay in the guest room. I visited twice, both times for about 2 weeks. I LOVED it! It felt like I was on vacation at a luxury hotel. It wasn't a swap per se but we had a great time and it was good to get away!

I totally agree that "a change is good as a rest." Rated up of course!

Peter Owen profile image

Peter Owen 5 years ago from West Hempstead, NY

good idea. It can simply be with a person in the next town that exposes you to a new set of stores and restaurants.

IslandVoice profile image

IslandVoice 5 years ago from Hawaii

Aloha BK! It's been a long time for you and me. I hate to say i've been busy, because isn't that what we all do? Lol! I so enjoyed this hub, and would like to share it with my NY fan daughter, and maybe a few friends in my facebook. My 6 yr old granddaughter was in NY last year, and loved it so much, she's asking to travel back, wyb? This vacation idea is so cool! I'm going to try to write more for Hubs, let's see. Best to you!

BkCreative profile image

BkCreative 5 years ago from Brooklyn, New York City Author

You just can't go wrong where you are PWalker281. I can imagine 2 weeks (and more) with your friend in Honolulu - a real vacation in paradise. And you get to enjoy each other's company. I've often thought of just going to a hotel for a weekend here in NYC for a break - but a cheap one would be about $300. per night - and then I have to think about bedbugs. Ugh. No, my friends have what I want. Thanks for the rating.

That's it Peter Owen - a town away. I felt so rejuvenated that I am looking for others to switch with. A vacation should be an easy time. Not leaving you stressed and broke.

So glad you have been busy IslandVoice - that can only mean success for you. I've been remiss in hubbing. But even writing this left me feeling good. I have to look for more feel good things to do. I'm sure your worldly and creative granddaughter would love to come back to NYC- there is so much adventure for her to soak up. I must come visit you at your hub place.

Thanks for the comments!

marellen 5 years ago

BK...what a great idea and something I haven't thought of. Thanks for the hub.

BkCreative profile image

BkCreative 5 years ago from Brooklyn, New York City Author

You're welcome marellen - I think we can all use a lovely change of scenery along about right now! Thanks for writing!

AliciaC profile image

AliciaC 5 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

Swapping homes with a friend is a great idea. Even a short visit could be a wonderful change, and it would be inexpensive too. I love shea butter as well, but I’ve never heard of bean pie before. This would be an interesting pie to try!

pmccray profile image

pmccray 5 years ago from Utah

What a cool idea. I remeber that movie not so long ago with Cameron Diaz who switched homes. It can be done and very economical for the times. Your advice is very useful, and bean pies are the best. What a great way to learn different parts of the city and their people. Voted up, marked useful and awesome.

BkCreative profile image

BkCreative 5 years ago from Brooklyn, New York City Author

So true! A short visit is just enough AliciaC. I love bean pies, although they are my second favorite - number one has always been - tah dah - sweet potato pie! Whew!

I saw that movie pmccray - I think there was some romance involved there too. Now I want to see it again. And the city is so different - from street to street and always a different view. So glad you know bean pies - what a thrill! Thanks so much for the rating! Yay!

thougtforce profile image

thougtforce 5 years ago from Sweden

I like this idea very much, it is simple and also economic and I don’t have to be away from home for a whole week since my home is very dear to me. I am sorry that we live so far away from each other! I would so want to see the Manhattan Bridge and the Brooklyn Bridge! But that is too far away for me! Thanks for this great tips and I will now figure out whom to swap with! Up/useful.


 5 years ago

BK, what a cool idea and in NY, you are right, a few miles its an entirely different environment. I used to live in Kew Gardens, Queens and when I stayed in my sister's home in Forest Hills, less than a mile and it was another world, a different culture, as Forest Hills has nice restaurants and a lot of activity.

And... I would never look into the medicine cabinet or personal stuff of a friend or family member, would feel like a peeping Tom, a yucky feeling! LOL. Just realized that not even with my s/o (we have separate bathrooms)do I feel the desire to peek into his medicine cabinet. Guess I am not that curious. :)

Voted up and good to see you!

VioletSun profile image

VioletSun 5 years ago from Oregon/ Name: Marie

BK, I made the comment above, but my computer had signed me off from my Hubpages account. I meant to say I do not feel the desire to look into my s/o's cabinet. :) Interesting that one can leave a comment without signing in at all.

BkCreative profile image

BkCreative 5 years ago from Brooklyn, New York City Author

Hope you swap thoughtforce and it works for you. I'm really looking forward to my next vacation swap because I really need to get a way. Even a night will be good. U really like not spending the money too.

Oooh,I've learned something too VioletSun. Didn't know you could leave a comment without a name - but I am glad you let me know it's you because I always like to hear from you. I know both areas of Queens you mentioned and Forest Hills was certainly known for all the restaurants - and there is a lot more shopping over there now.

Thanks for the comments!

sweetie1 profile image

sweetie1 5 years ago from India

Hi bkcreative, home switching is nice idea, though not practical in india but still looks good to me. nice and interesting reading.

BkCreative profile image

BkCreative 5 years ago from Brooklyn, New York City Author

Thanks for the compliments and writing sweetie1!

Hello, hello, profile image

Hello, hello, 5 years ago from London, UK

A very well worded and thought provoking hub. Thank you.

BkCreative profile image

BkCreative 5 years ago from Brooklyn, New York City Author

You're welcome Hello, hello - glad to hear from you!

gourmetgal profile image

gourmetgal 5 years ago

Okay, it's a deal then.

BkCreative profile image

BkCreative 5 years ago from Brooklyn, New York City Author

Glad you like gourmetgal!

jonillynn profile image

jonillynn 5 years ago

This is a great idea. I love the view from your window!(hint). How do you feel about Kentucky? Lol. Just kidding! This is a great idea. It's something that anyone can do and you feel like you've had a vacation. I will have to try this with my friends. Thank you BkCreative. I enjoy your hubs.

BkCreative profile image

BkCreative 5 years ago from Brooklyn, New York City Author

I do hope you try it jonillynn - and then write a hub telling us how refreshed you feel and about your friend's neighborhood and so on. I have another friend I want to exchange with - and we both have cats so it's a good deal. I'll see once I fix up my place a bit - need to do some painting and renovating.

Meanwhile, I have always wanted to visit Kentucky. For some reason it sounds mystical. Maybe it's the name.

Thanks for writing!

Jalus 5 years ago

I have a friend I swap with down in Marathon Key every now and then. He enjoys Miami night life, and I enjoy the slower pace and fishing for a weekend! We don't worry about appliances because neither one of us can use them, but I do think I will put a chocolate on my pillow for him next time - he'd be afraid to eat it!

BkCreative profile image

BkCreative 5 years ago from Brooklyn, New York City Author

So glad you do this Jalus - and it takes a good friend to respect each other. Please put a chocolate on his pillow! I think he'll laugh out loud - I mean lol!

Thanks for writing!

akirchner profile image

akirchner 5 years ago from Central Oregon

I totally agree with your philosophy - a change IS as good as a rest and usually just what we all need to get back our mojo! Great article!

BkCreative profile image

BkCreative 5 years ago from Brooklyn, New York City Author

Thank you akirchner. For sure writing and writing and writing can be draining if we don't create play time and leisure etc. It's all just as important.

Nell Rose profile image

Nell Rose 5 years ago from England

Hi, this is a great idea! I will have to start foraging through my phone book looking for old friends so I can give it a go! so simple, yet what a great break, thanks for the great idea, cheers nell

prasetio30 profile image

prasetio30 5 years ago from malang-indonesia

Nice idea from you. Thanks for writing this and share with us. Have a nice weekend!


BkCreative profile image

BkCreative 5 years ago from Brooklyn, New York City Author

Glad you like it Nell Rose. And such a good idea to contact friends and see what you can arrange. It just makes such a restful change - I even feel energized. I'm in such a need of a change, I'm wondering if a friend in the building would like to do an overnight swap.

You're welcome prasetio30. Glad you like the idea.

DayLeeWriter profile image

DayLeeWriter 5 years ago from Georgia

:) Great article!

BkCreative profile image

BkCreative 5 years ago from Brooklyn, New York City Author

Thanks DayLeeWriter!

RandomThoughts... profile image

RandomThoughts... 5 years ago from Washington

What a great idea...Thanks

BkCreative profile image

BkCreative 5 years ago from Brooklyn, New York City Author

You're welcome RandomThoughts! Thanks for writing!

Mico 5 years ago

Nice hub, thanks for the great ideas.

Mico 5 years ago

Nice hub, thanks for the great ideas.

Thelma Alberts profile image

Thelma Alberts 5 years ago from Germany

That´s a lovely idea. Of course I only want to swap with the people I really know. Thanks BkCreative for sharing this hub with us. Have a nice day.

BkCreative profile image

BkCreative 5 years ago from Brooklyn, New York City Author

You're welcome Mico!

I agree Thelma Alberts- it even makes it more enjoyable - kind of a joint friendship thing - so we both have fun and good memories.

Sinea Pies profile image

Sinea Pies 5 years ago from Northeastern United States

Loved the article...will think about trying bean pie. Sounds adventurous!

BkCreative profile image

BkCreative 5 years ago from Brooklyn, New York City Author

So glad you liked the hub Sinea Pies. Enjoy your bean pie. Yay!

Majadez profile image

Majadez 5 years ago from Johannesburg, South Africa

Good idea. Sometimes just a change of scenery and we feel like we've been on holiday. Enjoyed your article. ;)

BkCreative profile image

BkCreative 5 years ago from Brooklyn, New York City Author

So true Majadez. A little change here and there and we are good to go. I'm glad you liked the article.

Veronica Allen profile image

Veronica Allen 5 years ago from Georgia

What another budget friendly great idea! We just left New York about a couple of weeks ago and there is so much to do that I could see this as an amazing experience. Do you think this would work with those of us who have children?

BkCreative profile image

BkCreative 5 years ago from Brooklyn, New York City Author

Oooh sorry I missed you in NY Veronica Allen - hope you had a cool time.

You know, I think it would work if you trade with someone who has the same family size as you. So let's say a person has 1 -2 husbands and 2.5 children, if the other person does too - then you may find similar space size and likes.

I hope if you try it you'll write a fun hub. Yay!

cherrycrime26 profile image

cherrycrime26 5 years ago from NY, Now Living in Atlanta Ga

Great Hub, I miss Brooklyn, I lived in several areas, Brownsvile, Park Slope which was really nice, my best friends parents had a Co-op there for 20years, they bought a house in Jersey City, so we lived there very cheaply for a year, they actually lost it in a court battle :( so then I moved to williamsburg, I often Hung out in Fort Green which is really nice now, my favorite spot was Night Of The Cooker, hope it'd still open, great good, great jazz, oh also Buttercups and Moes, Thanks for taking me back down Memory Lane.

BkCreative profile image

BkCreative 5 years ago from Brooklyn, New York City Author

You're welcome cherrycrimes26. I haven't come across Night of the Cooker - but there are sooooooo many restaurants on DeKalb including Buttercup which went Vegan there for awhile. Fort Greene is still great and I live right there between it and Bed-Stuy - an area called Clinton Hill.

If you come back here you may not recognize it - with the new arena going in on Atlantic and Flatbush - there is construction everywhere - and the area is mobbed - young people here looking for work.

Thanks for writing!

Duchess OBlunt 5 years ago

What a wonderful idea! Now if I only knew someone who lived in Scotland and wanted to see part of Canada, we could make this work!

BkCreative profile image

BkCreative 5 years ago from Brooklyn, New York City Author

It would be such a great exchange Duchess OBlunt! By the way I have visited parts of Scotland (Edinburgh and Glasgow) and really enjoyed it - then Montreal, Canada. What a great switch this would be!

justmesuzanne profile image

justmesuzanne 5 years ago from Texas

Fun idea! Would you like to come to Texas? I guarantee it's different! :)Voted up and awesome!

BkCreative profile image

BkCreative 5 years ago from Brooklyn, New York City Author

I'm so glad you enjoyed the hub justmesuzanne! Nothing like good clean fun! Thanks for commenting. Yay!

Pollyannalana profile image

Pollyannalana 5 years ago from US

Great idea and good to have a friend that close, I am sure. Maybe for my vacation I could sleep in the guest room. lol

How's it going?

BkCreative profile image

BkCreative 5 years ago from Brooklyn, New York City Author

Good to hear from you Pollyannalana! I've been quiet around the hub but will get back soon.

Glad you like the idea. Even visiting a friend with a guest room would be great - this would be my son and DIL and I can work in their garden, etc.

Thanks for commenting!

Eiddwen profile image

Eiddwen 5 years ago from Wales

A great read and thank you for sharing.

Take care


BkCreative profile image

BkCreative 5 years ago from Brooklyn, New York City Author

Glad you liked Eiddwen. Thanks for writing!

KoffeeKlatch Gals profile image

KoffeeKlatch Gals 5 years ago from Sunny Florida

What a creative idea. A small change of venue can make a big difference. Up and interesting.

BkCreative profile image

BkCreative 5 years ago from Brooklyn, New York City Author

It is just so rejuvenating KoffeeKlatch Gals. Something I can use right about now.

Thanks for the rating!

happypuppy profile image

happypuppy 5 years ago

Very creative idea. I should look into swapping my apartment with my friend :)

BkCreative profile image

BkCreative 5 years ago from Brooklyn, New York City Author

I just visited a friend who redid her bedroom - oh what a fun room. Time to plan another switch.

Hope you try it and like it happypuppy!

ubanichijioke profile image

ubanichijioke 5 years ago from Lagos

Thanks for the way you described that wonderful adventure. It was really fun and creative. Awesome!

BkCreative profile image

BkCreative 5 years ago from Brooklyn, New York City Author

Thanks so much ubanichijioke! Love the awesome! I am on way to my cousin's place here in the city in a week or so and will spend a night - just to check on things. He is away and also has a place abroad so it is nice to check on his place and spend time. He lives in such a culturally rich neighborhood.

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