A new way of travelling for the over 50s – a bit like Airbnb but it’s lot more sociable.

I was really interested to learn about The Freebird Club. It’s an Irish start-up that offers a whole new way of international travel for the over 50s. It is also a way of earning extra income from spare rooms, while at the same time meeting new people and making new friends.

Founder Peter Mangan came up with the idea for the business when he saw how much enjoyment his father Owen, a widower and retired vet in Killorglin, Co Kerry, was getting out of interacting with older guests while managing his son’s holiday home.

Peter & Owen

The Freebird Club has already won a number of major international awards. Last month it beat tough competition, involving 308 start-ups from 31 countries, to win the finals of the 2017 European Social Innovation Tournament in Latvia.

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How to be a guest

Once you are a member of The Freebird Club, you can search for places you would like to visit at dates that suit. You may then look through the various host profiles, ideally finding a like-minded member to stay with, in a location that appeals to you. Guests and hosts can share stories, experiences, and even meals – breakfast is always included, but other options can be discussed before a booking is made. .

How to be a host

The Freebird Club website will connect you with potential guests. You set a nightly rate which includes breakfast and decide how much you want social contact you want. Some offer to go sightseeing with their guests, others just provide a warm welcome and a comfortable place to stay.

Peter believes that communication is key to the Freebird experience and each member  receives a booklet outlining things to consider when hosting and being a guest in someone’s home. There’s also a regular newsletter

Membership costs a one-off €25 Joining Fee. Once your application is approved  you can list your available accommodation. If you just want to travel and be a Freebird guest, you can search for places you would like to visit. Then it is a case of finding the most suitable host and accommodation for your trip. You can contact hosts directly in order to find out more information or to request a booking.

To give you a taste of what’s on offer here’s a small selection of the accomodation on the site at the moment – it’s expanding all the time.

Bahamas
Brian has a large, newly renovated home and his interests include computers, reading, writing fiction, listening to music
Preferred level of host / guest interaction
Spend time chatting & getting to know each other

Czech Republic
Katerina has a 3 bedrooms modern terraced house with a sauna and a covered swimming pool
Her interests are history, culture, bridge, scrable, cooking, gardening
Preferred level of host / guest interaction
Host is happy to act as tour guide

New Zealand
Robert lives in an old style villa, that has been extensively renovated and adapted for those with mobility limitations.
Interests: living in the countryside, he is especially interested in the wildlife
Preferred level of host / guest interaction
Host is happy to act as tour guide

Interested? Check out The Freebird Club website – you can browse through the listings before applying to join.

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