Joan and Carme are two young 20-year-olds who travelled to Belgium with NightSwapping a few weeks ago. This was their first trip together and will not be the last as they have plans to see the world hand in hand. Both are from Palma, Spain: Joan is studying nursing and Carme is in early childhood education. Read on and enjoy a review of their Belgian trip with NightSwapping…
How did you come to hear about NightSwapping? What are the advantages over other private rental platforms?
We discovered NightSwapping through an ad on Facebook. It drew our attention because it was a platform that offered all we were looking for on this trip – something simple, economical, attractive and authentic.
The advantage that we believe Nightswapping has over other platforms is the ability to stay for free in exchange for accommodating other people, plus the reactiveness of its customer service.
NightSwapping is a platform for collaborative consumption. Do you use other similar platforms?
Last summer, Joan used the Couchsurfing platform to travel around UK for a month and a half.
When Joan leaves the island, he often uses Amovens.
Here in Palma we do not use other platform partly due to the lack of them and partly through ignorance; we have a lot to learn!
You went to Brussels recently and you stayed with NightSwapping. Tell us about your experience from booking to the end of the trip.
We spent the last Easter holidays in Belgium. We used Nightswapping in Brussels and Ghent. In the capital, we stayed in two separate lodgings. Both were right what we were looking for.
The first was a cosy apartment, about 20 minutes’ walk from the centre, which meant we didn’t need to spend anything on transportation and got to know the city a bit better. The view from the lounge was very nice! Karima, the hostess, was very attentive and very happy to meet us, she waited to greet us personally even though it was her mum’s birthday.
She gave us an alternative map of the city, made for and by young people, she recommended places to see and places to eat and invited us to use everything in the house and feel comfortable. She also left us her phone and e-mail to contact her if we had questions.
The second flat was in a very friendly neighbourhood, but farther from the centre. It was a bit harder for us to reach it and Estelle, the hostess, waited to greet us personally, even though she was quite busy. The flat was very cosy too! She gave us some instructions and went quickly but left us something very useful – maps and sweets for us. She also invited us to make ourselves at home and call if we had questions or problems.
In Ghent we shared a flat with Fran and Pieter, a fantastic young couple. They were the perfect hosts!
We were greeted by Fran who was very attentive and friendly, even though she had a lot of work to do. She invited us to take what we wanted, showed the apartment, which was new, super nice and very big, gave us a map and recommended places to visit in Ghent.
We talked for a long time, until Pieter arrived, he was very happy to introduce himself and repeated “my house is your house”, in very good Spanish. Both strove to make us feel comfy and strove to speak English to each other, avoiding Dutch, so we could participate in their conversations.
In the morning, Pieter prepared towels and washcloths for the shower. Upon leaving, they prepared breakfast in great style… they had even bought two different kinds of bread! Indeed, the day before, Fran had made us cake. We were invited to take anything we wanted from their kitchen and use anything we wanted in the house. They had a lot of tools at our disposal and a barbecue terrace, we could not use due to lack of time.
That morning, they left us their bikes to explore the nature reserve that they recommended. It was amazing, one of the best experiences of the trip and of our life, to feel so close to nature and the birds singing, the sun was even shining!
In addition, Fran wanted to take us to the airport although she was unable to do so due to an unexpected work commitment. Pieter also invited us to go to a concert with him and his friends on the last night, but since we had to leave Ghent very early to get to our flight on time, we could not go with him, although we found this a very welcoming gesture.
Another thing I want to emphasize is that the airline cancelled our return flight home and both hosts were very attentive and worried until we found a solution and got home the next day, sending us messages and showing their support, even inviting us to stay at their place a few more days if necessary.
What did you like best about staying with the locals?
What we liked most was the warm atmosphere and the comfort of feeling at home so far away.
Would you do it again? What is your next trip?
We’ll certainly do it again on other trips. We don’t have a specific destination in mind for now because we quite like to improvise. We just know that we want to travel the world together and for as long as possible.