Dear Savvy Senior: My wife and I plan to travel much more frequently in retirement and are interested in educational trips and adventures. Can you recommend any groups or firms that specialize in this type of travel, geared toward retirees? — Love to Learn
Dear Love: Educational travel, which combines travel with in-depth learning opportunities, has become a popular kind of travel among retirees. Here are a few good places to turn to for educational trips in the U.S. and abroad.
One of the best places to start is with Road Scholar (RoadScholar.org), which devised educational travel for older adults in the mid-1970s. The Boston-based organization offers 5,500 learning adventures in all 50 states and 150 countries.
You can search for learning adventures by location, interest, activity level and price. Road Scholar also offers “Choose Your Pace” senior travel tours that allow participants to adjust their level of challenge daily. And for “skip-gen” vacations, they offer tours designed specifically for grandparents traveling with their grandkids.
Another excellent option is Smithsonian Journeys (SmithsonianJourneys.org), a nonprofit travel group affiliated with the Smithsonian Museum. It leads 350 educational trips a year on every continent, led by experts from a variety of fields: academia, the diplomatic corps, scientists and curators, among others.
If you’re seeking more adventure, you might want to consider ElderTreks (www.ElderTreks.com), which offers travelers age 50-plus small-group adventures by both land and sea in more than 100 countries. Their trips center on adventure, culture and nature, letting you get up close and personal with the locals.
Another good source for educational trips is colleges and universities. Some that come recommended include Cornell University’s Adult University (SCE.Cornell.edu/travel), which offers a half-dozen educational trips and courses in the U.S. and abroad, each lasting a few days to a week or more. And Stanford Travel/Study (Alumni.Stanford.edu) offers educational travel journeys to more than 80 countries each year.
Most college/university trips are led by faculty who share their expertise, along with regional experts and local guides, and you don’t need to be an alum to participate.
Also check out the Traveling Professor (Traveling Professor.com), a small-group touring company led by Steve Solosky, formerly a professor at the State University of New York. It offers a dozen or so tours abroad each year and takes eight to 16 people.
If you enjoy cruising, consider Grand Circle Travel (GCT.com), which offers educational travel aboard small ships, and Naturalist Journeys (NaturalistJourneys.com), which specializes in nature and birding tours.
American Cruise Lines (AmericanCruiseLines.com) also offers more than 35 river and coastal itineraries in the Northeast, Southeast, Pacific Northwest and along the Mississippi River. And it has themed cruises (Lewis and Clark, Mark Twain, Civil War, etc.) for people with specific historical, literary or other interests.
And Viking River Cruises (VikingRiverCruises.com), which is geared to older travelers, focuses on European art, history and culture. Each cruise makes one to two port stops a day as the ship winds its way up or down Europe’s most famous rivers such as the Rhine, Seine, Danube and Douro. A free sightseeing tour is included at all stops, and special-interest excursions are available for additional fees. Viking offers tours in the United States, too.
Jim Miller is a contributor to NBC-TV’s “Today” program and author of “The Savvy Senior.” Send your questions to Savvy Senior, P.O. Box 5443, Norman, OK 73070; or visit savvysenior.org.