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Are Private Travel Clubs Worth It?


Although travel clubs may offer discounted rates and “free” trips, you’ll likely end up paying more and having limited choices. It is crucial to do your research before joining a travel club to make sure it is the best option for you. 

What Is a Travel Club?

Briefly, a Travel Club, also called a Vacation Club, is a type of membership or subscription that boasts discounted rates and accommodations.

There are various types of travel clubs, some of which may include timeshares, resort clubs, or other memberships such as through AAA or AARP. 

Pros to Joining a Travel Club 

There are some noted perks to joining a legitimate travel club. Again, it’s important to make sure you are informed before signing on, as not all travel clubs may have these benefits.

One upside is that most of the time, the accommodations may be nicer. Compared to booking through a hotel individually, travel clubs can secure the best accommodations for their members, which can be a plus. 

In addition, the cost of the accommodations is typically less, as is the premise for joining a travel club. These accommodations also are typically in excellent locations, which may be hard to secure otherwise. Joining a travel club could be a positive if you’re looking for upgraded trips and accommodations when traveling without the guesswork of finding it on your own. 

Cons to Joining a Travel Club

However, there can be some downsides to joining a private travel club. Becoming a member usually entails a buy-in or opt-in price, which typically will not be returned. Some travel clubs also require membership fees which can get costly, and may outweigh the savings once added up. 

Travel clubs have also been known for enacting high-pressure sales tactics and increasing rates without notification. Some members of travel clubs have also reported that “free” cruises or trips turned out to have a cost, which is an obvious downside. Read more from Smart Travel on this issue. 

One last negative to consider is that some members reported that they were limited in locations and accommodations. Some travel clubs require that you be locked into a specific location or specific accommodations. Easy to join, hard to leave. At least that is what we hear.

This limits the possibilities for travel, which is likely the reason one would join a travel club. This can prove a definite downside if you want multiple options and choices when traveling. 

Is Joining a Travel Club Worth It?

At face value, it seems that joining a travel club is more of a hassle than it is worth.

In addition, empty promises and limited choices may not make it worth the extra hassle. Industry experts warn to beware when signing on with travel clubs, as there may be hidden obligations.

There are many ways to save money when traveling, most of which don’t require subscribing to exclusive clubs that cost more than the vacations themselves. Before signing on with a travel club, consider money-saving options such as:

  • Using travel sites,
  • Search for discounted travel packages,
  • Becoming a priority member of a certain airline or hotel chain for rewards and perks 

If you do decide that a travel club is worth it for you, it is important to do your research. Some members have reported that once you join a travel club it is hard to leave, and the last thing you want is to be stuck in a bad situation. Some people have also reported being “scammed” by travel clubs, so be cautious before signing any paperwork. 

All in all, travel clubs are controversial, and you must make an informed decision on whether or not it is worthwhile for you. 

Image by Skyler Smith.

Post Author: Lillia Hall

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Welcome to Foreigner’s Finances, your guide for new money decisions at home and traveling abroad!

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February 2024