Club 18 to 30 – Oh The Memories

In the news, this week – Club 18-30 is in trouble and its owner, Thomas Cook, is considering its future and possible sale. This brought back fond memories of my one and only Club 18-30 holiday back in 1997 with my best mate Lee.


I look back on our week in Tenerife with fond memories of a fantastic holiday. We were both 17 – shocker! Yes, at 17 we went on a Club 18-30 holiday. For the travel agent to allow it we had to get a permission letter from our parents! True story. I dutifully went home and got my mum to write me the letter, my mate forged his. Another true story!

We both had left school at 16 and gone off to work. With no significant outgoings (oh those were the days) we had both amassed a healthy amount of savings and decided to blow some of it on a holiday. Lee had been to Tenerife before and I have never been abroad (unless you count a day trip to Calais and Boulogne). I was happy to go anywhere.

So, we headed for the local travel agent one summer and booked the holiday. I remember the day we left pretty well as I’d failed my driving test just eh day before.


To be honest I had no idea what I had let myself in for. It didn’t take too long to work out what this holiday was going to be about – the coach trip from the airport along was an “experience”.

Looking back I was definitely a naive seventeen-year-old. I’d barely touched alcohol and that should have been a warning sign from the off. Alcohol was the life-blood of Club 18-30s. From the moment we arrived the reps were giving it the hard-sell on all the excursions (if you can call them that). We signed up for them ALL! I told you we had savings to burn.

The Vina del Mar
Vina del Mar Appartments, Playa de las Americas, Tenerife

This block of apartments was to be our home for the week. The apartment was basic but functional; one twin bedroom, kitchenette, living area with sofabed, and a balcony.

Clube 18-30 Vina del Mar apartment

It might be 21 years ago but I remember loving the view from the umpteenth floor!

The “Excursions”

As I’ve mentioned we signed up for them all. Four in particular stick in my memory

The booze cruise

Club 18-30 Booze Cruise

Basically, the booze cruise was a boat ride to nowhere that involved drinking vast quantities of cheap beer. Once we were all suitably merry the “party” games began. As you can see from the photo (and this is a tame one), these games were of a certain nature. I was way too shy and embarrassed to join in.

Rodeo Night

Club 18-30

I’m not sure Rodeo is the correct word. I remember the show involved horses then a meal. It’s at this meal that the reps suggested that to get the best value from the free (read disgusting) wine of offer we make a cocktail called “Vino Collapso”. Now, in hindsight, the name really does give it away doesn’t it, however as I’ve said, I was young and naive.

Vino Collapso has 3 basic ingredients:

  • disgusting, cheap white wine
  • disgusting, cheap red wine
  • fresh orange juice

I was knocking these back like I was drinking Ribena! All was fantastic and as the photo above attests, I was having a great time. In case you hadn’t realised I’m the one in the white shirt slumped back on that poor blonde woman!

My issues began when I got up to relieve myself (i.e. I went to the toilet). The toilets, I distinctly remember, were near to the entrance of the building as soon as the fresh air hit me I am gone. All of a sudden the alcohol in my stomach rose up like a tsunami to my head. I went from feeling fresh as a daisy to drunk as a skunk in seconds. I wobbled back to my table like I was slaloming down a ski slope.

The coach back to town was horrendous. We had been warned that if we were sick on the coach we would have to clean it up and pay a fine. Of course I projectile vomited across the back seats of the coach. Lee and some lads we’d become friends with smuggled me off the coach through the escape door by the toilet and bundled me into a taxi. I was later told that they gave the taxi drive our apartments name and off I went. I have no recollection of making it back to the apartment. But I must have, as the photo below was dutifully taken by Lee when he finally made it home in the early hours of the next morning.

Clube 18-30

The Bar Crawl

Yes, we paid actually Spanish Pesetas (none of this Euro malarky back in ’97) for a guided walk around all the bars we could just simply have walked into ourselves (young and naive again). Apparently, there was some sort of discount on drinks, I can’t remember. What I do remember is that upon arriving at each bar we would jump straight into ever more degrading bar games.

Club 18-30 bar games
Thankfully, this isn’t a photo of me with a condom on my head!
The Waterpark

You can’t go on holiday anywhere in Europe without the obligatory trip to the water park. This 18-30s holiday was no different in that respect. I have not photographic evidence that we went, but trust me we did. We were with the lads from Leicester (detailed below) and we had a great day. So great that we missed the coach back to Playa de las Americas.

No bother, we thought. It wasn’t that long a trip here we’ll just walk back. So we did. It was further than we thought but thankfully it was all downhill. All was going great, walking in the sun, chatting, banter, and – oh a motorway (or whatever the Tenerife version is). The particular dual-carriage, fast traffic monster was enclosed on both sides by 20-foot high chain link fences. As we stood an assessed the situation it seemed link an awfully long detour to find a route across. Especially as our hotel complex was tantalisingly close on the other side.

The group was split on what to do. One Leicester lad and I opted to find a way through the fence. The rest, well they opted to go full SAS and scale the fence. Either option then meant a perilous sprint across a motorway! We made it. I don’t recall any spectacular near misses but it was some time before we all met up and realised none of su had been killed crossing the road.

The Young and the Old

If we were at the young end of the Clube 18-30 spectrum then the group of lads from our apartment block were at the opposite end. They were there celebrating a mates 30th.

Club 18-30 mates

I really cannot recall any details about them other than they were from Leicester*. But they kind of took Lee and I under their wing and looked after us. Of course “looking after us” involved some pretty funny pranks such as when one of them broke into our apartment and hid under my bed!

* I have an update on the chaps from Leicester. Lee has somehow dredged their names from the archives of his mind and come up with Stuart, Duncan, Simon and Rob. Those names do seem familiar so I’ll go with them!

Club 18-30

Shaving foam was also involved!

But really, meeting up with these guys made this holiday more memorable.

Club 18-30


I know Club 18-30 holidays have a certain reputation. But, in my one-time experience, I can only say it was a fantastic holiday. The games were all entered into by consenting adults (just – in our case) and it was all in jest. But if you asked me as a Dad if I would allow my 17-year-old daughter to go on an 18-30 holiday the answer would be a firm “not bloody likely!”.

More Photos

As if the photos also haven’t been self-deprecating enough here are a few more!

The Tenerife Return

It’s now 2023 and since writing this blog post, which has had some amazing feedback for me, I’ve returned to Tenerife twice with my family. Of course, it was a very different holiday to that of 1997!

We stayed at the northern end of he island in Candelaria but I was excited to take a boat trip as that would mean driving the Playa de Lad Americas. Would I get a glimpse of the Vina del Mar?

I did indeed – albeit from the confines of the coach on the main road that we had crossed all those years ago as we found our way back from the waterpark! But then earlier this year (2023) I captured this shot from the front of Siam Waterpark.

Oh the memories!

Thanks for reading (and laughing!).

9 thoughts on “Club 18 to 30 – Oh The Memories”

  1. Oh reading this brought back some memories!!! Can’t believe 18-30s is even still running… your photos are classic brits abroad first holiday!

      1. I don’t know if you will see this comment but this has made my day! I got filmed on an episode of summer 99 uncovered the other day and was determined to find it, which I did. I’m now 41!!! Now you’ve brought back more brill memories x

        1. Glad I brought back some good memories for you with this. I’m also 41, but this holiday doesn’t feel like getting on for 25 years ago!

        2. Hi Tracy, my name is Emerald – I’m a TV producer and currently developing a documentary about club 18-30. I would love to speak to you about your experience. Let me know if you’re free this week for a quick research call. My email is: / 07535418324

  2. Those mid-90’s photos with the clothes and hair bring back a lot of nostalgia! I went on an 18-30’s holiday to Lloret de Mar when we were about 23, and already felt a bit old for it, but at 17 you must have had the time of your life!

    1. It was a fantastic holiday. In fact, it was not only my first lads holiday but my last!
      We had a right laugh. Of course, some things that go on an 18-20s holiday stay on an 18-30s holiday. That said, my wife often ridicules me for going on an 18-30s holiday and NOT pulling!

  3. Christ, I have a strange dislike of diving boards. If memory serves (remember, 21 years ago this was) I stuck to the slides!

  4. Haha! I am actually turning 30 this year and thinking back on my own magaluf experience! I worked las Americas the next year for winter season and is that a block of apartments and you had to walk upto the hotel for shared pool? Looks a lot like where I worked and stayed. 2012 if it was and nothing changed! Nor did the water park! We walked it back but we’re that drunk I remember waking up on the street a few hours later! Hope you experienced liniker bar and feed the pigions! Not sure that was a later time! Great blog!

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