In the Evergreen B&B Club, adults 50 or older can travel and stay at hosts’ homes for only a $20 per night per couple gratuity, including breakfast.
And you can host travelers yourself, pocketing a bit of change for use of your spare bedroom, and giving you the chance to make new friends from all over North America.
The club was founded 33 years ago by Patty Wilson, who enjoyed discovering small bed-and-breakfast homes in Britain, where people would put small signs in their windows when they had rooms available. When the room wasn’t available, the cards were removed.
She came back to the U.S. and founded a bed-and-breakfast association in 1981, but it quickly became more upscale and pricey than she ever intended. That led to the creation of the Evergreen Club, devoted to low-cost lodgings that encouraged personal connections between hosts and guests.
How does it work?
Sign up online at EvergreenClub.com. It costs $75 per year. You get access to some 2,000 homestay listings in the U.S. and Canada, and a handful in Mexico.
You get an online search directory to look for places to stay that’s constantly updated. If desired, you can also buy a paper directory for $15 that’s updated twice a year.
A gratuity to your hosts of $20 per night for a couple, or $15 for a single, gets you a greeting from your host, a private room with a bed and a breakfast in the morning. The club stresses this is not “rent,” but a required gratuity. You’re entitled to “clean, comfortable sleeping accommodations and a wholesome breakfast.” No one will be toting your luggage or turning down your bed.
You are also required to offer your own spare room for travelers, because the club found that when members offer their own rooms, they’re more considerate of hosts when they travel.
Guests can generally expect their hosts to welcome them in the evening, show them around and then fix them breakfast in the morning. Breakfasts range from basic continental to fully cooked. The listings will specify what’s on offer.
Hosts make their own rules and describe them in the online listings. While at least one guest must be 50 or older, some hosts may allow children or pets.
Listings will offer a general description of the host household and details such as the size of room, bed size, any pets, whether there’s a private bath and smoking policies. In many cases, there’s a photo of the room, which might also double as an office when not occupied.
Potential guests contact the hosts and make arrangements for their visit.