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Checking in with Beth Hubbard

Fast Facts about Beth Hubbard

Beth Hubbard is the VISTA Club Manager for First State Bank in Mendota, Illinois.

First State Bank was founded in 1940 and has 19 branch locations throughout northern Illinois. It began its first travel club in the early 1960s. To qualify for the Very Important Seniors Traveling About (VISTA) Club, an individual must be over 50 years old and maintain at least a $5,000 balance in any combination of deposit accounts. VISTA Club offers day trips, mini trips and extended international trips.

Birthplace: Mendota, Illinois

Education: Associate’s degree in business, University of Phoenix, 2008; certified travel associate from the Travel Institute, 2020

Employment History: Hubbard spent the majority of her career as the activity director, marketing director and community relations coordinator in area hospitals and long-term care facilities. She joined the team at First State Bank as the manager of the VISTA Club in 2017.

Family: Hubbard and her husband, David, have been married for 15 years. They have two grown sons, Trevor and Austin. Both boys love to travel, and some of Hubbard’s best memories involve the many family vacations they have taken over the years — especially their graduation trips, where the graduating child choose the destination

Hobbies: Hubbard loves photography. Before becoming the manager of the VISTA Club, she shot professional senior portraits and launched her own photography business.

Beth Hubbard became a candidate for her job as the manager of First State Bank’s Very Important Seniors Traveling About (VISTA) Club by being a traveler.

“My mom took me on a couple of VISTA Club trips years ago, and that’s how I was first introduced to the club,” said Hubbard. “I always thought, ‘That’s a great job! I wonder how you get that job?’ It just so happened I was working with the sister of the person who was the current coordinator. I told her, ‘You know, if that job ever opens, you’d better give me a heads up!’ When I got a call that the job was open, I went in for an interview and the rest is history — I’ve been here ever since.”

Hubbard started leading the VISTA Club travelers in 2017 and hasn’t looked back.

Globetrotting Grandparents

Hubbard was a natural fit for the role as the manager of the VISTA Club thanks to her extensive experience working with seniors. From 2003 to 2017, she worked as the activity director at the Mendota Lutheran Home and Mendota Community Hospital. She went on to become the community relations coordinator for the University of Illinois College of Medicine, and later, the activity director at Heritage Health Therapy and Senior Care. Having been around the over-50 demographic for most of her career, making the transition to working with seniors who were active travelers was an easy one.

“My entire career has been working with the senior population, whether in the long-term care setting or in travel,” she said. “You still have certain things that you have to account for, like preferences or abilities. But in both scenarios, I’m planning and organizing trips — even just shopping trips or going out to lunch.”

Hubbard was already used to all the moving parts a role like travel director would entail — but she relished planning fun and interesting activities for seniors. Hubbard calls it “the best job in the world.” She says the parallels between her current position and her background in long-term care have proved invaluable.

“We do a variety of different trips — day trips, mini-trips, extended trips — and I go along to be of assistance to our travelers,” she said. “Oftentimes, a health issue or something unexpected comes up, but it doesn’t freak me out the way it might for someone who isn’t used to dealing with things like that. I just assess it, handle the situation and take it as it comes.”

Scenic VISTAs

The VISTA group has over 3,000 members, so it’s Hubbard’s job to provide trips that appeal to a wide range of travelers and provide everyone an opportunity to participate.

“We do a survey every few years for our members asking what general things they’d like to do on day trips, whether it’s a play, a musical or a festival,” said Hubbard. “We get specific on more extended trips — we list locations and activities in those locations, then we base our trips off of what that survey tells us. Right now we’re planning our trips for 2025 — we’re launching a Kenya safari, which I expect will fill up pretty quickly.”

Mendota’s proximity to Chicago makes day trips to see touring Broadway musicals and other shows easy (and they’re quite popular with VISTA travelers). But Hubbard likes to get creative by tweaking the itinerary, such as including behind-the-scenes tours.

“I like to add things that are a little bit unique for our travelers,” she said. “We will do things like a holiday bakery tour, for example, or go to a dinner theater. Most of our trips are very popular and will fill very rapidly, within the first week.”

VISTA takes regional trips every season, trekking with a busload of seniors to cities like Detroit; Holland, Michigan; the Florida Keys; Nashville, Tennessee; and an Elvis-themed Memphis and Graceland trip. They even have a “girls’ trip” each year.

“We definitely have repeat travelers, whether that’s day trippers or repeat extended trip takers,” said Hubbard. “Our travelers definitely form friendships, and it’s especially nice for single ladies, who often have a difficult time traveling alone if they’re widowed or by themselves. If they’re apprehensive about joining a group of strangers to travel, that changes really quickly — they easily become a part of the group.”

Whether it’s an Alaskan cruise, an autumn foliage trip to the Adirondacks, or cruising the Rhine and Danube rivers, Hubbard and the Very Important Seniors Traveling About are not slowing down anytime soon.

“It’s impossible to pick a favorite trip; every location is so different and unique,” said Hubbard. “I feel like I have the best job in the world — who else gets paid to go on vacation?”

Destination Favorites

· Yellowstone National Park, because of the diversity in wildlife and landscape.

· Canadian Rockies, because it is one of the most beautiful places on earth.

· Central Europe, because of the cobblestone streets and quaint villages.