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The joy of travel is as much about discovering something new, sparking curiosity, and gaining new perspectives as it is about leaving your comfort zone. Take a deep dive into the cuisine and local culture, or experience a place where history was made. Whatever your interest, travel can offer hands-on learning and experiences that classrooms can only talk about. There are worlds of educational opportunity waiting if you know where to look. Road Scholar is the gold standard for educational travel for seniors, but it’s not the only choice out there. Check out the following travel resources for seniors that can help you find the perfect vacation locally, overseas, or from the comforts of your home.
Traveling in a group to a destination where you are learning about the local culture, nature and historical sites can help foster conversations about different perspectives with individuals who have the same interest. It is also an opportunity to ask a local expert, historian, or university insider questions that only they can answer.
If learning and vacation mean being physically active, these travel resources offer seniors unique opportunities to get up and out.
Since 1983, Odyssey Walking Tours has offered small group walking tours created specifically for seniors in parts of Asia, Europe, Australia, the United States, and other destinations. The tours are geared toward educational opportunities, like learning about history and culture, architecture and art, nature, and ecology. Many of the tours are led by historians, architects, and naturalists.
As the name suggests, Senior Cycling tours are a fit for retirees who enjoy cycling. They offer opportunities to learn about historical and influential figures in US history. The Atlanta-Birmingham Civil Rights tour features stops at MLK National Historical Park, Jimmy Carter Presidential Library Museum, and Birmingham Civil Rights Institute. Other tours include historical and natural sights, like Frank Lloyd Wright’s Fallingwater and Niagara Falls.
Insight Vacations specializes in vacations based on activity level and opportunities to educate seniors on natural landscapes. Some options include a local expert taking seniors to the Grand Canyon and learning about the origins of the five-million-year-old canyon and the geology, a Swiss ranger will hike with seniors on the top of Mount Stanserhorn and educate them about the local flora and fauna and local conservation efforts, or travel to Croatia where a local oyster farmer will offer insights on cultivation and harvest with a sea-to-table dining experience.
The water is a great place to enjoy guest lectures about a particular region, observe a cooking experience onboard the ship, or visit a landmark during a port stop. Many cruises have experts lecturing about history, culture, and books and a chance to participate in workshops. Travelers can stay on the ship or disembark and go into town to experience educational insights from locals.
Viking Cruises offers adult-only sea and river cruises targeted toward academic-minded seniors. The cruise is dubbed as the thinking person’s cruise with lecture series, musical performances, and workshops that all occur on the ship. Excursions offer opportunities to explore historical sites and culinary tours.
Holland America Lines sea and river cruise line allows travelers to sail to almost any destination they like — everything from Australia to Northern Europe to Antarctica. The cruise line invites guest speakers, like authors, historians, and other experts, to speak about assorted topics. This educational element is complemented with port stops at museums, historical sites, and landmarks. There is also an on-board trivia and partnerships with BBC Earth, Lincoln Center and Oprah’s Book Club for additional educational opportunities.
Cunard is a sea cruise line is built for those who want to dive deep into educational exploration. They have one of the largest libraries at sea, and a planetarium with at least three star shows a day. There are also opportunities to watch films and discuss it with other moviegoers on the ship. Lectures are also a part of the ship’s itinerary, with war veterans serving as guest speakers.
Exploring hobbies in a new setting can add a new dimension to exploring your interests. Tours cater to those who love nature, history, arts, and cooking. Many of these companies will customize the tours based on mobility and accessibility issues.
Smithsonian Journeys is a nonprofit travel group affiliated with the Smithsonian and focuses on educational travel to various locations. Experts, including professors, scientists, curators, and diplomats, lead over 350 educational trips each year to every continent.
Naturalist Journeys is for avid bird watchers and nature lovers. This company specializes in nature and birding tours. Looking beyond birds and their habitat, the tours also explore natural history, culture, and geology.
Firebird Tours focuses on travel for those over 50 who want to explore different theme tours domestically and internationally. Theme options include architecture, theater, opera, northern lights, and gastronomy.
Since 1994, The International Kitchen has specialized in small group tours across the world with intimate food experiences. You can cook in Italian kitchen, explore a vineyard in Burgundy, or taste the street food of Vietnam.
Virtual travel is also an option for those whose budgets or physical abilities prevent them from booking educational adventures in-person. It’s also a great way to get an idea of which destinations you’d like to visit in person. The following sites offer unique windows on the world from the comfort of your own home.
This article is intended for general informational and educational purposes only, and should not be construed as financial or tax advice. For more information about whether a reverse mortgage may be right for you, you should consult an independent financial advisor. For tax advice, please consult a tax professional.