Real Deals: Behind Enemy Lives
AARP magazine, January 2006
If you remember the "duck and cover" days, staying in a Russian home may not top your vacation list. But maybe it should.
According to Friendship Force International, one of the best ways to achieve world peace is through individual friendships. The citizen-exchange organization was co-founded by President Jimmy Carter 28 years ago; now there are clubs in 57 countries and 38 U.S. states.
Friendship Force members typically travel in a group with their local club and are hosted in the homes of members of a destination club. You might visit the Middle East or Cuba, but you could also land in such locales as Australia, Brazil or even the United States. Home stays usually last a week and include both individual and group activities; often there are add-on tours in the region, too.
Because hosts receive minimal compensation, Friendship Force travel is reasonably priced. A trip to Jordan with a five-night home-stay, plus six days of sightseeing, is $998, land-portion only. But the real bonus is living like a local.