What Are Senior Travel Clubs? And Should You Join One?
What is a senior travel club, anyway? A scam? A great way to save on travel? A way to meet potential travel companions? Or something else entirely?
It turns out that senior travel clubs can be any of these things.
What Are Senior Travel Clubs?
Many travel clubs charge an annual membership fee. Typically, the membership fee is modest, and provides you with access to members-only publications, information, discounts or online travel content. A few travel clubs charge an initiation fee and annual dues.
Before you decide to join a senior travel club, take a few minutes to find out which type of travel club you are considering.
For seniors who are not interested in solo travel, joining a travel club can help them find interesting trips to take. Some senior travel clubs exist for the sole purpose of organizing trips for members. Trip lengths and destinations vary.
Travel Information and Social Gathering
Other senior travel clubs are social in nature. Members are invited to attend monthly or quarterly meetings, which may involve social time and, possibly, a presentation from a member or a travel professional. This type of senior travel club would be a good fit for someone who is looking for inspiration, new friends or potential travel companions.
Transportation or Activity-Specific Travel
RV owners will be familiar with this type of travel club; in addition to clubs for owners of all types of RVs, you can also join a travel club for owners of your make or class of RV. Train enthusiasts can also join travel clubs just for them.
If your interests lie elsewhere, you will probably be able to find a travel club with like-minded members, such as a travel club for seniors who enjoy outdoor adventure.
While there are many travel providers that organize women-only trips, it can be a bit more difficult to find a travel club created just for women. Thelma & Louise is one of the best-known online women-only travel clubs. Members share travel stories, plan trips and meetups and look for travel companions via Thelma & Louise’s website.
Some travel clubs are formed to help members save money. Boondockers Welcome and The Affordable Travel Club, for example, help travelers arrange free RV parking (Boondockers Welcome) or lodging (The Affordable Travel Club) at members’ homes.
Travel Club Scams
Some so-called travel clubs are scams designed to part you from your hard-earned money. In some cases, scammers offer free airfare or hotel stays, often by postcard or at a “travel seminar,” but require you to pay a reservation fee in advance. When you try to book a trip, your dates are never available, and the scammer keeps your fee payment. Another version of this scam involves restrictive terms and conditions that prevent you from ever actually booking a trip.
Other travel clubs run by scammers charge thousands of dollars in upfront membership fees, promising travel discounts or free travel. Instead, the scammers disappear with your money and you are left with nothing.
To protect yourself against scammers, never agree to join a travel club if a salesperson is pressuring you to do so.
Get all the information about the club in writing and take it home. A reputable travel club will willingly give you the information you request, without pressuring you to join.
Read every word. Do an online search for the name of the club and the names of its owners. If possible, have an attorney read the contract; in the absence of an attorney, ask a family member or friend to read the document.
Never give your credit card number or other financial information to a travel club representative unless you are joining the club. Pay dues, fees and travel costs by credit card so that you can dispute them if problems occur.
Remember, if something seems too good to be true, it is.
Where to Find Senior Travel Clubs
Start your search for a senior travel club in your own community. Senior centers and recreation departments often sponsor senior travel clubs or organize outings for local seniors. You can also do an online search; this approach is particularly helpful if you are looking for an activity-specific travel club.
Alternatives to Senior Travel Clubs
If you are reluctant to pay annual dues or a membership fee to belong to a travel club, perhaps a well-organized tour is a better choice. You can find women-only, high adventure and other themed tours quite easily, either through a travel agent or online.
You may be able to find travel meetups and presentations in your local community, perhaps through a church or community center. If you are mainly interested in meeting people who enjoy travel or getting travel information, you may be able to do so without paying money to join a club.
Other places to learn about vacation destinations and meet people who love to travel include colleges – look for noncredit courses – as well as libraries and travel shows.
Have you ever joined a senior travel club? Why did you join? How did things work out? Share your experiences in the comments section below.