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The Mature Traveler

Home-Stay Programs Increase Foreign Coverage

February 09, 1986|HANK KOVELL | Kovell is a veteran journalist in seniors' interests.

Two opportunities for mature travelers to meet new friends while traveling and to observe and enjoy the life styles of other people, both in this country and abroad, are being offered by two organizations whose programs have become increasingly successful in the past few years.

Seniors Abroad carries the subtitle of International Homestay Exchange and until this year was an exchange program between American and Japanese families that have at least one family member over age 50.

It is a small program, not a tour. The program offers an opportunity for Americans to visit a family abroad and to participate in the family and community life of older persons in a foreign culture. The program offers American families a chance to host guests from other countries.

Denmark and Norway

So far, the programs have been limited to visits to and from Japanese families. Denmark and Norway have been added for the 1986-87 program. Visits by Americans take place in the fall, usually in October, while visits from guests abroad are in May. The Japan visit is for three weeks including two days of orientation; home-stays of five days to one week with families in Tokyo, Osaka, Shizuoka and Sapporo, and several days of independent travel.

At least one member of the host family is required to be proficient in English. During the visit, senior American travelers will experience Japanese culture firsthand, sampling traditional Japanese food and generally living as the Japanese do.

The month of May, which is officially Older Americans Month in the United States, is when citizens from abroad can visit families in the States. Visitors will have a two-week visit in the United States, including five days with families in the Los Angeles area and five days in the San Diego/Arizona area.

The rest of the time is for orientation and touring. The program includes visits to retirement communities and participation in events celebrating Older American Month.

No Host Requirement

There is no requirement that seniors visiting abroad must host a family here. Foreign families may be hosted here without the necessity of making a return visit in the fall. Hosts here may limit visitors to singles or couples.

Many Southern Californians volunteer to be host families for which, of course, there is no charge. Others may be primarily interested in becoming guests of a family abroad.

For information on the home-stay exchange program, write to Seniors Abroad, 12533 Placato Circle North, San Diego 92128.

A slightly different hosting program that can be a big money-saver for mature travelers is the Evergreen Club that offers economy bed and breakfast for people over 50. Members not only have the opportunity to be guests in private homes in most states, but must also serve as hosts in their own homes for member-visitors.

Many elder citizens who own large homes welcome the opportunity to play host to visitors from other parts of the country. The Evergreen Club program provides that members pay the host a modest $10 per day for one person or $15 for two, which includes guest room and breakfast. The price is always the same.

Membership in the Evergreen Club is $25 for the first year and $20 thereafter. This entitles members to a quarterly newsletter and a membership directory with information on all of the homes available to members.

Information, provided by members, includes location, number of rooms available, occupation and interests of the hosts (golf, bridge, fishing, etc.), smoking restrictions (if any), information about pets, nearby highway routes, foreign languages spoken and information about the community and nearby attractions.

Although the club is just beginning its fourth year, member reactions have been very positive, according to the club founders. Some members seem to be interested in playing host only, and have not yet visited other member homes.

Other members have arranged their itineraries so that they stay in a member home in a different community each night.

Individuals or families who have spare living space in their residences, which may qualify for listing with the Evergreen Club, are invited to write for free information and an application blank to the Evergreen Club, P.O. Box 44094, Washington, D.C. 20026.

In a recent column on tours to Yugoslavia, the phrasing in regard to Yugotours' "Time Of Your Life" two-week tour indicated that the price of $1,005 included deluxe hotel and round-trip air transportation from the West Coast. In addition, the price also includes two complete meals daily.

Also, late information released since the article appeared advises that the qualifying age limit for seniors and Yugotours packages has been lowered from 60 to 50.

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