Posted by Franz Huber on Aug 10, 2019
So, you want to travel overseas, yes?
And you are happy to stay in "affordable" accommodation (read: 3-star or worse hotels) and want to work out the hard way what is and what is not worth seeing? And you won't grumble about paying around $2,500 per couple for Travel Insurance, in case you'll need an ambulance when you're "over there" and your health fund - not to mention Medicare - won't cover you? Do I hear an emphatic "Nooo!!"?
So, here is the golden alternative - only available to Rotarians and their partners: Rotary Friendship Exchange (RFE). Best if I give you a couple of details from my recent experience: I responded to an invite sent to all members by RFE Distric Chair, PDG Wendy Scarlett, to participate in an Exchange to Seattle and British Columbia. Against all expectations, my better half and I were accepted. After a couple of meetings and some online meetings, a team of 10 gathered at an agreed hotel in Seattle.  From then on, for the next two weeks, we were treated like royalty - hosted by 5 different Rotary Clubs and accommodated in private homes at all locations. The local Rotarians drove us to some of the 'secret' places of beauty
and interest, we were even invited to view a very private collection of about forty 1950's and 60's Chevrolets (yes, the proverbial "Yank Tanks") in immaculate condition - Petrol Heads, eat your heart out! Some of us went off to a Whale and Orca Watching cruise while yours truly had a personally guided tour, given by the President of the local club, of one of the most spectacular Rotary projects I've ever seen: a suspension bridge across a thundering Waterfall, in Campbell River, BC.  No, you couldn't buy it for love or money! And at all times we were hosted and entertained in private homes by the locals. Wonderful friendships were formed and we very much look forward to greeting the team when they visit D9640 in November. How good is that?
I mentioned Insurance: Well, provided that your Doctor certifies you 'fit for travel', the Rotary Insurance policy to which our District subscribes provides full cover including medical and hospital (except for Car Rental and dangerous activities such as Sky Diving etc). Cover is not just for the duration of the Exchange, but for additional travel at either end of the Exchange!
The cost: you need to buy the flight tickets and entry fees to any of the attractions and tours of course, and you should bring a small present for each of the hosts (say around $50) and perhaps, at each place, take the hosts out to dinner or buy them lunch.  Then, naturally, when a team from the other District visits us, you and your club are to return the favour and host them for a total of 2 weeks, e.g. 3 or 4 days each club.
Interested? Well, keep your eyes peeled for PDG Wendy Scarlett's invitations and notices in the District Newsletter!  I understand that the exchange to Scotland is over subscribed, but there are still seats available for Brazil in March 2020.
Franz Huber