SENIOR LIVING: Life’s short — take a trip!

Local company designs guided motorcoach tours

By Sheila Harris

Jerry Varner, of Washurn, said it was kind of a fluke how he and his wife, Angie, got into the group tour business.

“I’d been a dairy farmer for 20 years when my mother-in-law, who guided group tours, scheduled me to go on a group motor coach bus tour to Colorado and Utah with a bunch of senior adults,” he said. “Turns out, I had so much fun that I thought Angie and I might be able to make a business out of it.”

As it would happen, he was right. Angie and Jerry Varner started Making Memories Tours, located in Washburn, in 2010, and show no signs of slowing down.

“We’re not really what you would call a travel agency,” Jerry Varner said. “We’re group tour operators. We build and facilitate about 35-40 group motorcoach tours a year to destinations in the United States and abroad.

Making Memories facilitates travel by planning trips, finding hotels, reserving motor coaches and drivers, assisting with luggage, and planning fun things to do along the way.

“Each year we schedule a different set of tours, except those that fill up really fast; then we’ll schedule them again for the following year,” Varner said.

Fall foliage tours are big favorites of clients, Varner said. Destinations include the cities of Montreal and Quebec, in Canada, and the New England states and the Great Smoky Mountains, in the U.S.

“We’ve still got a few seats left on some of our fall foliage tours this year,” Varner said. “We’ve also got space available on our Grapevine, Texas, tour. Grapevine is known as the ‘Christmas Capital of Texas.’”

Varner said tour group sizes vary.

“Over a year’s time, we usually have an average of 35-38 people on a trip,” he said. “Our capacity is 50; sometimes we have that many people, but other times, we have fewer than 35.”

According to Varner, a popular international tour destination is their New Zealand and Australia trip.

“We fly into Sydney and spend three days in Australia,” Varner said. ”Then, we do an in-depth tour of New Zealand, which includes both the North and South Islands.”

Depending on the destination, Varner said most tours range anywhere from three days to 14 or more days in length.

“Although seeing new places is wonderful, the trips aren’t just about seeing stuff,” Varner said. “They’re about having fun and meeting people. Lots of times, a person doesn’t know anyone in the group. But, by the time the trip’s over, they’re hugging people goodbye who used to be strangers.

“We’re pretty good at loosening people up. We don’t want people pressing their noses on the glass watching the highway go by, so we plan activities for the bus ride, too.”

Varner said the buses make plenty of rest stops – one every hour and half to two hours – so people can get out and stretch their legs.

Comfort is a key component of Making Memories Tours.

“Above all, we want our guests to be comfortable and feel welcome and safe,” Varner said.

Varner said they typically have a lot of single women on their group tours, women who might not feel comfortable or safe traveling alone.

“One thing I noticed after COVID is that a lot of women realized that life is short, so they decided to take that trip they’d always wanted to,” he said.

Varner said he still guides tours, as does Angie and his mother-in-law, Diana Rose Webb, who introduced him to the business.

“My favorite thing is watching folks when they first get a look at that place they’ve always wanted to see,” he said. “You can say all you want to about Niagara Falls, for example, but until you’re actually standing there, taking them in, you really don’t know anything about Niagara Falls. It doesn’t matter what the destination is; that moment of awe is the same wherever it’s at, and that moment is my favorite thing about this business. It’s why I get up in the morning.

“I feel really blessed.”

Making Memories will release destinations and schedules for its 2024 tours in October. Catalogues will be provided upon request.

According to Making Memories’ website, planning a trip is as easy as choosing a destination, reserving a space with a deposit, then packing a suitcase.

For more information, visit Making Memories Tours’ website at, call 888-845-9582, or stop by their office at 128 N. Old Wire Road in Washburn.


  1. I have been on 16 trips so far with 3 more already scheduled. The first trip I only knew my travel partner. But I have made lots of friends, I travel by myself and always find people to hang out with. Love these guys, they make you feel like family.

  2. You do a great job. I have enjoyed my trips with Making Memories. Your your guides are fantastic and I am looking forward to New England this fall.

  3. Don and I went on your very trip that you made. San Antone, Tx. We enjoyed several trips after that and enjoyed everyone. Wishing all of you happy and safe travels.

  4. Very interested in touring in 2024. Recently retired from farming in. Arkansas and working for the state. Do you have any tours planned for next year. Do you ever have safari tri pool s?

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