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Our family loves to travel. We love the old west, the beach, the Blue Ridge and Smoky Mountains and historic sites such as Mount Vernon and Independence Hall. Our family owns a condo at Chetola Resort in Blowing Rock, North Carolina on the Blue Ridge Parkway. This has been a family get-a-way for years and we never tire of the beauty of the mountains, the slow pace and the amenities the area has to offer. From the quaint little town of Blowing Rock with its shops and restaurants to Linville Falls and Caverns and Biltmore House to activities like horseback riding, skiing, whitewater rafting and hiking.

In May of 2009 we were offered a friend’s condo for a week in Bradenton, Fl. Excited to go, all the preparations had been made. As it turns out, the week was not available after all and we thought our trip would be canceled. We could have chosen to stay in a hotel, but that would not be very comfortable for 5 people. So we started brainstorming. If we were going to use someone’s condo for the week, maybe we could trade a week at our condo for a week in Florida. We started emailing other owners of rental properties of similar size and cost. After about 6 or 7 attempts with with no success we found a delightful 2 bedroom house in St. Petersburg, Fl. empyrean.net Their ad on a vacation rental site read “would consider swapping”, so we emailed the owner and 2 days later we had an agreement. We would go to St. Petersburg in June and the other owner would stay a week at our place in Blowing Rock in November. Our condo is not usually booked much in November so it was a win-win for both of us.

As it turns out not being on a beach was a blessing as we visited 6 different beaches. No money changed hands so no taxes were required. With the savings on a rental or hotel we were able to visit 2 theme parks. We spent one day at Busch Gardens and one at Seaworld.

If you are traveling soon, we hope you find just the right vacation rental property and have a wonderful time. Remember you can go as far as your imagination takes you, so dream big and “imagine the possibilities”!