Do expensive hotel rooms prohibit you from traveling? In the five largest US cities, the average daily hotel room rate has climbed to over $260, putting travel out of reach for many mature travelers.
And that price is usually without breakfast, a view or a local’s insider knowledge of the area.
But if you’re a mature traveler over 50, you can enjoy a bed-and-breakfast homestay with Evergreen B&B Club in one of over 2,000 host properties throughout the US and Canada for free, with just a small gratuity of $15-$20 given to your host.
Oh, did we mention that also INCLUDES breakfast?
To find out more, we sat down for a conversation with Kathleen Kavanagh, Administrator of Evergreen B&B Club, on how mature travelers everywhere can benefit from an Evergreen B&B Club homestay.
HOW DID THE EVERGREEN B&B CLUB START?
The Evergreen Bed & Breakfast Club started when the founder of the club, Patti Wilson, was on a trip in Europe and saw houses with B&B signs in their windows, which is how she got the idea of making a club where friends stay with friends.
After many years of traveling, Patti also wanted to have the club challenge the commonly accepted beliefs about aging. People think they get old, so they stop traveling, when in fact, if we stop traveling and learning, we get old. The club provides a cost-effective way to keep having adventures.
SO YOU’RE THE ‘ORIGINAL’ AIRBNB BEFORE IT WAS A TREND?
Pretty much! Our club was started in 1982. Where Airbnb is all about making money, the Evergreen Club is about making friends. Evergreen places emphasis on learning about the local gems – something best learned from the locals themselves.
Evergreen is also an incredible deal, saving people time and money. We don’t consider Airbnb competition. With Evergreen, you’re staying with friends while they are home. And it includes breakfast. Members both travel and host, making it a pay-it-forward, reciprocal group where everyone is on the same footing, which encourages high standards of quality and respect.
HOW MANY LOCATIONS DO YOU HAVE AROUND THE USA?
There are nearly 2,000 places to stay in the USA and Canada. The website has an interactive Google Map showing the general locations of homes. Once you become a member, you’re able to see the specific locations of homes.
DO YOU HAVE INTERNATIONAL LOCATIONS ALSO?
Yes! We have members in some amazing places like Malaysia, China, Australia, Israel, Brazil, Great Britain, Spain, New Zealand, France, Switzerland, Netherlands, Ireland, Germany, and Mexico. People living outside the United States enjoy an especially fantastic deal: their $80 club membership lasts for 5 years!
HOW DOES IT WORK FOR PEOPLE WANTING TO RENT THEIR SPARE ROOMS OUT? WHAT DO THEY NEED TO PROVIDE?
We do not rent rooms – we host fellow club members. The only money that changes hands is a modest gratuity ($15-$20/night) straight from the guest to the host, which covers the host’s efforts of cleaning and fixing breakfast.
Each person or household lists their spare guest room on our website in a profile, including their interests and hobbies, particulars on the house, breakfast options, and photos of themselves and their home.
AND HOW DOES IT WORK FOR TRAVELERS LOOKING FOR A SPARE ROOM? DO THEY HAVE TO BE A HOST?
Yes, each member is both a host and a traveler. So the same person could be a host one weekend and a guest the next. The Evergreen website has interactive tools for finding homestays in both map and directory formats. You can enter a location or name, sort by distance, or even number of beds.
Everyone gets to host. Without hosts, the homestay concept doesn’t work. This is a travel club, so you host when it fits your schedule. It is also a joy to host – you are helping your guests have the best stay possible in your town. Most members host about three times a year on average.
WHAT IF I HAVE RULES IN MY RETIREMENT COMMUNITY OR APARTMENT BUILDING THAT PREVENTS RENTING ROOMS OUT?
Unlike Airbnb, this is not a rental. These are fellow club members coming to visit. It is not much different than having a family member or friend visit for a couple days. Most Evergreen guests even bring a hostess gift!
IS THERE A MINIMUM OR MAXIMUM NUMBER OF DAYS YOU CAN STAY?
While it’s always up to the host, guests usually stay between 1-3 days. Nobody wants to be a burden. Guests are conscientious and make sure to not overstay their welcome. They make sure that after breakfast, they leave for the day, letting the host resume their normal daily activities. For members interested in a home exchange or pet sitting, that can be a longer stay.
HOW FAR IN ADVANCE SHOULD SOMEONE BOOK?
Most arrangements are made 3-4 weeks in advance. A member’s profile indicates if they have a preference for advance notification and if they will accept last minute guests. A last minute guest would be one who books 1-2 days before arrival. Members talk by email and phone before agreeing to a visit, establishing a connection and level of familiarity ahead of time.
IS THERE A COST TO JOIN? WHAT DOES IT COVER?
It only costs $75 to join for the entire year, which is an amazing deal since it obviously pays for itself during your first stay! Again, members who live outside the United States or Canada qualify for our International Membership, which is $80 and lasts for 5 years… an even more outstanding deal!
The consistent, predictable $15-$20 gratuity is a comfort; you never have to worry again about trying to find the best deal on hotels or Airbnbs, because you KNOW that with Evergreen, you’re already getting the best deal.
ANYTHING ELSE TO ADD?
The slogan of the Evergreen Club is: “Make friends, host well, travel savvy” and it truly strives to help people do all three. It’s a pay-it-forward organization that celebrates people’s innate unselfishness and creates a community of friends who help each other travel and stay young at heart.
Please explore our website, map, blog, and Facebook page to see photos and stories from happy members who really get the spirit of our special club. The club has excellent customer service – you will reach a real person by phone or email and they are happy to answer any questions you might have. Call the Evergreen Club office at 813-551-3197.
If you’re ready to hit the road, consider a stay with the true champion of the cost-concious traveler at Evergreen B&B Club.
MORE INFORMATION: www.evergreenclub.com
MEMBERSHIP COST: $75 annually (per household). International members (outside US or Canada) $80 for 5-years.
COST TO STAY: FREE! Only pay a small gratuity to the club host direct of between $15-$20 per night to cover breakfast and cleaning.
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