A new mode of thrifty travel for frequent travelers: Affordable Travel Club and Evergreen Club

In retirement, my spouse and I have traveled extensively in the US and Canada, along with two forays into Europe on river and ocean cruises. We have consistently been on the lookout for additional modes of travel, as well as ways to save money within our travel budget.

Judy and Ward Lowrance, from Floyd, VA and frequent Affordable Travel Club travelers.

On our first European cruise, we befriended Judy and Ward Lowrance from Floyd, Virginia, who shared their many travels in the US and other countries and raved about the Affordable Travel Club – how much it energized their travels and saved them money.

The more they told us, the more we were intrigued. The gist of this travel club, and others similar like the Evergreen Club, is this: join, pay an annual membership fee ($65) and gain access to 2400 members across the US, Canada and 50-some other countries who will provide you a night’s lodging and a nice breakfast the next morning and considerable insight into the area they live in. Upon departure, leave a nice thank you note and a $20 gratuity (yes, only $20) to cover costs of the breakfast.

The Lowrences relate, “We’ve enjoyed a Victorian home in San Francisco, a house on the hillside overlooking Christchurch, New Zealand with snow-capped mountains in the background and a thatched-roof cottage near Windsor Castle in England. We love staying in private homes of travelers like ourselves and paying a small gratuity. Sometimes your host will act as a guide in the area or go to dinner with you on a ‘Dutch Treat’ basis. Most importantly, your host knows the area and can give you information on tourist attractions and the best places to dine.”

The Lowrances quote from Jules Verne: “Travel enables us to enrich our lives with new experiences, to enjoy and to be educated, to learn respect for foreign cultures, to establish friendships, and above all to contribute to international cooperation and peace throughout the world.”

Judy added, “here is why we like ATC: Meeting and staying in the homes of pleasant people with similar interests and love of travel. Saving on hotel expenses enables us to stay longer on our trips than we would if we spent big bucks on hotels, motels and B & B’s. Members know the inside scoop about good restaurants, places to go and sights to see in their area that we otherwise might not know about”.

Hence, a few months ago, prior to a planned trip across Canada and the US, we joined the ATC. As a new club member, we posted our profile on the ATC web site (our backgrounds and our house detail) – to invite other members to visit us when our schedule permits. Just before our departure to Canada, we considered our options with ATC members across Canada.

David and Nancy Marchant, Baynes Lake, British Columbia, our kind hosts in August.

We spent three nights with Canadian couples, one in British Columbia, one in Alberta and another in Saskatchewan. We had a fourth night lined up in Nova Scotia, which we had to cancel when our schedule wouldn’t allow us to arrive in time. The process is pretty simple. Scan the club’s web site map of members, find a member near our driving route, contact them by phone or email 10 days or a week in advance, and ask if they could put us up.

Several of our requests could not be met – the club member had a conflict. But, the three couples we spent time with were lovely people who offered us delightful lodging, friendship and a full breakfast the next morning. In return, we left them a nice note card and the $20 gratuity.

Our first night stay was with David and Nancy Marchant in the little town of Baynes Lake, British Columbia, on the west side of the Canadian Rockies. It came with the benefit of a full steak dinner upon arrival, when, a few days prior to our visit, David noted there were no restaurants anywhere near their home and invited us to dinner. The following morning, David happily took us for a tour of his small town and beautiful British Columbia reservoir.

The Elk River and Canadian Rockies, just north of Baynes Lake, BC.

Couples in Medicine Hat, Alberta and Regina, Saskatchewan were equally fine hosts, giving us tours of their property and offering suggestions of what to see in their portions of Canada.  Our insight into our Canadian neighbors is all the richer due to these three visits. In addition, we discovered what they thought about their country, their government and the coming US elections – certainly enlightening.

So, we’re thrilled with our first foray into the Affordable Travel Club. Membership comes with a couple of additional benefits. We put our listing up on the website, and have two visiting couples coming to our house in this month and November, including a couple from England for two nights. We’re looking forward to entertaining visitors from far afield, and getting to know about their state or, in the latter case, England.

Our friends the Lowrances had also landed a house-sitting gig in Seattle’s lovely Queen Anne Hill district through the club, another benefit. They invited us to split the month with them as house-sitters, which we gladly jumped upon. Before they joined us for a half-month in Seattle, they spent two weeks in the San Diego area with members of the club, at $20 per night.

Hence, we also used the club bulletin board to list ourselves as potential house and/or pet sitters, and almost immediately landed a housesitting gig in Edmonds, Washington, just north of Seattle, for the month of March, 2017. We also received a house-sitting offer in the Calistoga/Napa Valley area – though it conflicted with our recent two month tour across Canada and the US.

For more information: Affordable Travel Club, affordabletravelclub.net; Evergreen Club, evergeenclub.com.

Contact Tim Viall at tviall@msn.com; follow him at recordnet.com/travelblog. Happy travels in your world!

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