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By Daniel Ritz
Older adults interested in checking off their bucket list as well as continuing their education may be excited to learn there are services to allow them to flex their muscles as well as their minds.
For instance, Road Scholar, founded in 1975 as “Elderhostel” by friends Marty Knowlton and David Bianco in New Hampshire, is a not-for-profit education organization that has guided generations of knowledge seekers on transformative learning adventures from Alberta to Zimbabwe and nearly every destination in between.
Road Scholar says their participants are most often life-long learners typically over the age of 50 from diverse cultural and professional backgrounds. Students of the world, they describe their guests as the type of company you might hope to sit next to at a dinner party.
“(Road Scholars) have led interesting lives because they’re interested in everything. And they are exactly the kind of people you want to be learning with as you explore the globe,” a spokesperson for Road Scholars said when asked to describe their usual participants.
“Road Scholar inspires adults to learn, discover and travel. Our learning adventures open minds to new ideas and deepen understanding of oneself and of the world’s peoples, places, cultures, history and environments. A true university of the world, not-for-profit Road Scholar’s meaningful – often transformational – educational adventures engage people for whom learning is the journey of a lifetime,” the spokesperson read from Road Scholar’s mission statement.
Although aimed at those older than 50-years-old, Road Scholar assuredly has a program for everyone. Whether you are a baby-boomer wanting to have a deeper understanding of their own backyard, a retiree wanting to fulfill that life-long dream of gallivanting through the streets of a Moroccan bazaar or a grandparent that wants to paddle the Central California coast with their grandchild, one of Road Scholars more than 5,500 educational travel programs will likely hit the mark.
For each one of their listed trips, which can viewed on their interactive calendar at www.roadscholar.org, usually up to a year in advance, interested parties are able to see their qualified group/travel leader. Group leaders are generally highly qualified with verifiable transparent resumes that help to ease the mind of a first time user.
“Pack less things, and more money,” is a common phrase amongst seasoned travelers. For short multiple-day trips to extended international trips, Road Scholar is adamant to encompass all costs of their trips in the initially advertised price. There are trips for those for a wide range of budgets, with a variety of offerings for under $2,000. The Road Scholar website makes enrolling online a snap. All the information you could ask for is right there. Once you’ve picked the date of the program you want, they will ask for all the necessary details — whether you want airfare or a single room or have special meal requests. For what they call “Intergenerational” and “Family” adventures and other special types of programs, they ask that you call to enroll.
In addition to financial transparency, Road Scholar assists its participants in the necessary step-by-step process to ensure they have a smooth trip. A wide variety of resources are available on their website, as well as processing of Visa’s needed for travel and assisting patrons in meeting their future fellow travelers.
In case their comprehensive package presentation still seems like a financial hurdle, Road Scholars offers a variety of financial assistance programs and grants. Road Scholar offers enrichment grants to those who otherwise could not afford a Road Scholar trip, bestowing 300 such grants every year. Included in these are Caregiver Grants which provide a much-needed respite from the emotional and physical demands inherent in caregiver service. Road Scholar has committed for those that have grants awarded, to helping offset the costs of arranging substitute care while you attend a Road Scholar learning adventure.
In addition to various grants, another 300 scholarships are offered to life-long learners without the financial means to participate in Road Scholar learning adventures. Each year, more than 300 scholarships are made possible through the generosity of Road Scholar donors.
A few things to determine before becoming a Road Scholar
Where Do You Want to Learn?
We offer adventures in all 50 states and 150 countries. Is there a part of the world you’ve always wanted to see? We’ve done all the legwork for you, just search our roster of programs by region.
What Do You Love?
Maybe your passion for certain interests, hobbies, or activities is what drives you around the globe. Do you love art museums, language study, film festivals, train treks, riverboats, biking, birding, beer? Explore our learning adventures by interest.
Don’t Want to Climb a Mountain?
Every Road Scholar learning adventure is rated for level of activity. If you’re not interested in physical challenges, we offer a broad selection of “easy pace” experiences. If you live for hiking, biking, or kayaking, we offer a wide range of “high activity” adventures, too. Search our trips by activity level. These include: Easy Going, On Your Feet , Keep the Pace , Let’s Go , Outdoor: No Sweat, Outdoor: Spirited, Outdoor: Challenging and much more.