travel

On the Road Again for 55ers

tuscanyYou most likely have heard of Elderhostel but perhaps have not had the opportunity to learn more about the program. It began as a non-profit prorgram for people age 60 and over who wanted to combine travel or new experiences with learning. The age requirement is now 55 but there are also lots of intergenerational programs where children and grandchildren join their parents or grandparents for a unique experience.

The organization promotes the World as Our Classroom, and certainly there are a myriad of choices. In the early days, participants ate in college dining halls and slept in dorms, but these days the locale is more likely to be an attractive hotel conference center or even aboard a luxury cruise ship. Programs can still range from one day to several weeks and there are scholarbhips for those who might not otherwise be able to participate.

Over 160,00 older adults participate each year in about 8,000 programs conducted in more than 90 countries. Whatever the program, evergladesElderhostel provides expert instructors who deliver lectures or lead field trips designed to stimulate the mind and broaden your intellectural horizons. The emphasis is very much on learning as a lifelong pursuit that can enrich your life.

Best of all, Elderhostel takes care of all the travel details, from accommodations to meals, so all you are responsible for is getting to and from the starting point and endpoint. They even handle insurance, gratuities and taxes. With its non-profit status, Elderhostel can put together very affordble programs that you could never match on your own. Almost all of the programs have single rooms available and there are some women only programs as well. Each program is rated from 1 to 5 on the basis of level of activity, with chesapeake1 meaning you will have to carry your luggage and climb a few stairs, to 5 which is activity that may involve up to 6 hours of strenuous or fast-paced activity per day, so you always know what you are getting yourself into.

Programs include trips to the Galapagos Islands; orchids in the Everglades; food, wine and early man in the Bordeaux region; India’s hill stations by rail; an Ozark mystery adventure; foreign policy for the 21st century; best of the Chesapeake Bay; Santa Fe opera, art and history; and hundreds more. You can review the program catalog by area of interest or by geography. Areas of interest range from photography, cooking and language studies, to bicycling, birding, world studies and religion.

If you love learning new things and seeing new places (or revisiting old favorites), Elderhostel is a very affordable option that is well worth exploring.

Jay Harrison is a graphic designer and writer whose work can be seen at DesignConcept. He's written a mystery novel, which therefore makes him a pre-published author.

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