We all know a membership doesn’t automatically spell excitement. There are a plenty of mundane things you can be a member of: the library, the gym, a supermarket reward system and even the bridge club, if you have grandchildren.
But all that is not extraordinary, and thus has no place here. We’re talking about members only clubs for fearless adventurers, chic gourmands and cosmopolitan achievers – in other words, you. If you want to finally take that trip around the world, cross the jungle in search of a rare butterfly or have a secret dinner in a famous city square, read on. We’ve got just the thing for you.
What unites the clubs on this list is their member’s desire to make the most of life. The desire to see all there is to see, discover something new, or to have the experience of a lifetime. They are in it for the love of it – and now you can be, too. Try making it into one of these clubs, life is really too short.
1. The Explorer’s Club
What do the first person on the Moon, the North Pole, the South Pole and the summit of Mount Everest have in common? They were all members of The Explorer’s Club. Started in 1902, the club has members all over the world today: people in various fields of research, eager to pay it forward and explore the world we live in.
If all this sounds like a little too much, don’t worry. You don’t need to be Charles Darwin or Jane Goodall to join. There are many ways to contribute to the cause, and they don’t all involve discovering a new species of deep sea creatures. You can study the flora in your region or discover habits of the fauna in a nearby forest, for instance. Now, to carry the flag is another story.
Taking the flag on an expedition is any member’s greatest honor and privilege. The tricolor fabric represents all that the club stands for: red for courage, blue for fidelity framing a white diagonal with a compass rose and the initials of the Explorer’s Club.
There are 202 numbered flags, each one with a unique history of past expeditions and incredible adventures the world over. One of them could accompany you one day, if you’re fast enough – undiscovered places are running out.
Membership fees vary depending on the chapter you join, and the club has thirty of them all over the planet, from Beijing to Oslo. The perks of joining the Explorer’s Club are plenty, from expedition grants and educational opportunities to a travel program, with the arguably greatest benefit being the opportunity to belong to a global network of like-minded adventurers.
2. The Traveler’s Century Club
Photo Source: Janice Lintz
Forget what they told you – Here, its all about the quantity. To join, all you need to do is visit 100 of the 195 countries on this our planet. The club makes it a little easier on you by including a total of 324 areas, so Alaska, even though it’s a state, counts as one of your 100, as does Sicily. For a full list, click here.
How long this takes you doesn’t matter, as long as you do it. Keep going until you’ve got a hundred stamps in your passport. The Traveler’s Century club has over 2000 members today, all of whom have traveled to the requisite 100, but many have gone beyond the call of duty to get to as many remote places as possible. The club rewards you for your 100 with a certificate and a membership card, as well as access to meetings and seminars and organized trips.
If you make it to 150 territories, you reach silver status, 200 gets you the platinum, while 250 and 300 earn you gold and diamond status respectively. We hear that there’s a revolving crystal globe in it for those who visit all 324 places. There are 15 such globes spinning at the homes of members today. Yours could be next.
To get your membership card, you need to fill out an application form listing the 100 countries or territories you’ve been to, and pay a $100 initiation fee. Once accepted, you will have to pay an annual fee of $85, or $95 if you live outside the USA.
3. The Circumnavigator’s Club
Groucho Marx famously said he wouldn’t want to join a club that would have him as a member. But then Groucho didn’t circumnavigate the globe. If you’d like to, this one’s for you.
To be considered as a member of the Circumnavigator’s Club, you must, as the name suggests, travel around the globe, crossing every meridian of longitude in the same direction, though not necessarily in a single trip or in eighty days.
If you haven’t done so yet, now you have a reason to, besides the excitement of truly seeing the world. Strap on your boots, take a Passepartout, maybe, and get traveling. Start off in one direction and don’t turn around until you get back where you started – some familiar place that will seem entirely new after you’ve taken the scenic route of your home planet.
See the grand canyon, dance the night away in Rio, go on an African safari, have dinner by the Eiffel tower, wake up in Hong Kong and discover the outback. You’ll have a membership to the Circumnavigator’s Club waiting for you, not the mention the right to start sentences with “When I went around the world”.
Aside from your trip around the world, an existing member has to recommend you to the board and you will need to pay an initiation fee of $150, and your spouse will be able to join for a discounted fee of $50.
4. Dîner en Blanc
Photo Source: Joe Cavallini
Last but not least, the coveted dinner in white: Dîner en Blanc. These international congregations of diners dressed in head-to-toe white are some of the most exclusive events around the world. Started in Paris 25 years ago, Dîner en Blanc has become a moveable feast, with events taking place in over 70 cities each year, from New York to Tokyo.
Thousands of people gather at a location revealed to them the day of the dinner and eat their homemade meals together, bringing everything from table to desert. To attend, all you need to do is score a membership, priced at a very reasonable $9. This, however, is easier said than done: you need to know someone who knows someone along with a great big helping of luck to get invited. For more information on the dinners and a complete list of locations, read our article on Dîner en Blanc here.