Ralph Peck, an outgoing octogenarian who used to run some memorable and fascinating rail tours to Mexico, and who now heads (with his wife, Dorothy) the tour program for the Whittier YMCA Travel Club, has written a handy tour planner for senior travel clubs.
It's called "Group Travel Building Blocks," with the more colorful subtitle, "Put Some Fire in Your Bucket." It is simply a no-nonsense paperback that tells how to originate, organize and operate a tour program for mature travelers, with the accent on that senior special, the motor-coach tour.
Though the guide could be used as a primer for planning tours for any age group, Peck focuses chiefly on the mature segment and especially on those who have retired.
"When folks retire," Peck said, "they often lose a number of business acquaintances. By joining a travel club they find many new companions as well as discovering the fun of group travel by motor coach.
"The guide is aimed at such groups," he said, "especially those groups or organizations starting out. Or maybe for those established clubs which are looking for new ideas on how to increase membership, boost tour sizes or simply how to have more fun.
"Still others may be interested in starting a completely new travel club," Peck said. "Well, one simply has to corral a few interested friends, hire a bus and take off. It's almost that easy."
It isn't really. But Peck makes it seem that way with his step-by-step approach that takes in everything from the size of the travel group needed to start up, to how to organize a tour, examples of the paper work and planning tools needed, fun and games on the bus and loads of other details.
There's a large section on the types of short tours that appeal to mature travelers. This was put together for Peck by Main Street Tours of Torrance, a firm specializing in senior tours.
But much of Peck's input is firsthand, partly from his years of running popular rail tours of Mexico and elsewhere and partly from his years of operating the tour program for his travel club, often learning the hard way what works and what doesn't.
There are some minor faults with the guide: a bit of repetition here and there, and it could have used tighter editing. But overall, it is a sincere effort to help senior groups organize an efficient and happy travel club. There is no other book like it that I know of.
All in all Peck has written 130 informative pages. Unfortunately, the book goes on for about 60 additional pages in what Peck calls a "double-interest" book.
Opinions and Observations
This latter section is a hodgepodge of opinions, observations and other bon mots of Peck's on the government, the world in general, law and other subjects--some interesting, some not. But nothing in this section has anything to do with travel or tour planning.
Peck, you find, in addition to being a good tour planner, is a very opinionated writer. So am I--Peck, you should have stopped at 130 pages.
"Group Travel Building Blocks" is available for $6.50 from Ralph Peck, 12134 Floral Drive, Whittier, Calif. 90601.
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For those interested in retirement possibilities in Mexico, there will be a two-hour educational seminar on retiring, living and investing in Mexico on June 30 from 7:30 to 9:30 p.m. at the USC Davidson Conference Center at South Figueroa and Jefferson streets.
The program, a new approach to telling potential retirees about Mexico, is offered by the newly formed "Retire in Mexico" (RIM) and is endorsed by the Mexican Tourist Board, Mexicana Airlines and Mexico's largest bank, Bancomer.
The cost for the program, which will include an open discussion of the pros and cons of living in Mexico, is $10 per couple, $8 single. The price includes a copy of "Choose Mexico," a nationally advertised guide that retails for $8.95 in bookstores.
RIM has also developed educational tours of Mexico covering all aspects of living in Mexico rather than vacationing trips. For reservations and a copy of the guide or for more information, call RIM at (213) 475-1861.