HomeLink Makes The World Your Playground By Ela Erozan Gürsel

homescImagine that you are given keys that will unlock doors in many countries. These are not the doors of fancy hotels but houses and apartments in the middle of real neighborhoods. The world becomes your playground. You will get to meet local residents, do your grocery shopping in the marketplace, catch the bus to the city or to the suburbs depending on your location and go to typical restaurants that only locals know about. All of a sudden you are not only the resident of your own city but you become a world citizen in the real sense.

This little story that starts with doors and keys is not an extract from Alice in the Wonderland. It is a snapshot of the world of HomeLink, a global home exchange programme widely used in the English speaking world. HomeLink is a global community formed of 13,000 home owners -or tenants – from 78 different countries. Although it was established in 1953, it became increasingly popular over the last decade as people started traveling more frequently. The concept of home exchange is far beyond low cost accommodation. The model enables you to stay long periods of time at a house or apartment in a neighborhood that you like.

red green houseI first heard about Homelink from my uncle Engin Gürsel. He was one of the Turkish pioneers who started booking accommodation through HomeLink. He has been a member since December 2004.  When I asked him how he had found out about home exchange services, he said he had read an interesting newspaper article and as a frequent global traveler he thought this was the thing for him. In the years to follow, this exchange service became a necessity as it had provided very economic solutions especially for long stays like a month or so.{mosimage}
He chose centrally located beautiful apartments in different regions of the world: He stayed in the States twice for a total period of 4 months, three times in Holland, twice in France, once in Norway and once in Kalkan, Turkey. He also lets Homelink members from Australia, Canada, France, New Zealand and the US to stay at his place in Istanbul.

‘What kind of advantages of Homelink do you like the most?’ I ask him. Uncle Engin enthusiastically replies ‘It simply changed my life for the better.’ Listening to jazz and diving, the two hobbies he is passionate about became more accessible and affordable. He has been to major jazz festivals like North Sea Jazz Roterdam, JVC New York, New Orleans and Bergen. He is planning diving trips in Australia and South Africa. He adds ‘this makes you a world citizen in the real sense.’

houseThe most important advantage of this kind of traveling is to live in a local neighborhood, to interact with real people and experience a location-specific lifestyle. You can enjoy the lively city life in Manhattan, NY or do wine tasting in a chateau like house in Provence, France. Wherever you are, you get to go to the grocery stores that local people shop, meet neighbors and in time build friendships with interesting people. It is a wonderful way of cultural exchange.



elaerozangurselEla Erozan Gürsel writes a weekly column named “Değişim Yelpazesi ” on global business trends for Dünya Gazetesi on behalf of Datassist for almost two years. Her feature topics include: green energy; climate change; impacts of financial crisis on companies, sectors and regions; innovative technologies in sciences, human resources and management; social networks transforming business and politics; changing dynamics of marketing and branding.


She also writes articles for international magazines published in Singapore.

Prior to her writing career, she worked at Datassist as a Project Manager in a project that combines human resources and mobile communications with the aim to connect blue-collar workers and employers through mobile phones. Before engaging in this exciting project, she was in pharmaceutical sales working for a multinational company. She graduated from American University, Washington, DC, majoring in International Studies with a concentration on International Business and Europe. She worked in Washington D.C. as an Account Manager at a boutique telemarketing firm that specializes in fund raising and publication renewals. She speaks Turkish, English, French, and Spanish. She currently resides in Singapore with her husband.



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