Family Travel Question:

Q | Are online communities where families who are traveling can connect with local families for play dates or home stays safe?

Are online communities where families who are traveling can connect with local families for play dates or home stays safe? I noticed Tripping.com has something called a Traveling Families Network and was excited but wanted some expert guidance on safety. My kids are 5 and 7. -Liz, Boston

A | Connect with local families through home swaps

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Recently, I’ve been hearing more and more about online communities designed to introduce families from afar for the purpose of multicultural ‘play dates’ while traveling. Of course, the concept of meeting people online is nothing new, and in the case of family travel, I believe it arises out of a desire to experience more fully the country or region we’re traveling to. Interacting socially with foreign families also fosters a stronger travel connection for kids and adults alike.

The question, of course, is how to go about finding interested families with which to meet socially while traveling? While online networking sites are a viable option, I suggest meeting and interacting with local families more organically, specifically through a home swap. A home swap, such as Luxe Home Swap, which Pit Stops for Kids recently reviewed, is an opportunity for two families (sometimes half a world apart) to “swap” homes for a vacation, virtually implanting them right in the heart of a local community. Not only do you save money on accommodations, but you stay in a local neighborhood, shop in local grocery stores, and play at local parks. Your hosts might even leave the contact information of friends with small children, creating ready-made play dates that are based on real life connections, which is of course what we’re all seeking.

Got your own family travel tips to share? Please leave a comment.