Senior educational trips are a fantastic type of travel that are growing quickly in popularity. For retirees and active adults unfamiliar with this concept, these educational trips for adults and seniors are a fun alternative to the typical beach or ski vacations, as they offer participants a chance to explore a new destination and simultaneously learn something new, master a new skill or develop a favorite hobby.
So to all you lifelong learners, whether you'd like to improve your photography skills by going on an expedition with National Geographic photographers, cook with authentic Italian chefs, study theology in Rome with Ivy League academics, or traverse the globe with a friend, there are exceptional programs to help you achieve your travel goals alongside other active seniors, and we've highlighted the top ones for you below!
The following organizations provide outstanding senior learning vacations, allowing outgoing adults and seniors the opportunity to engage their bodies and minds through thoughtful, educational travel both domestically and abroad.
Exploratory and Adventure Trips for Adults and Seniors
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ElderTreks bills itself as the first adventure travel program designed specifically for travelers ages 50 and up. Since 1987, ElderTreks has specialized in providing active, engaging trips for seniors. With hundreds of different trip options ranging 2-5 weeks in length and costing between $4,000 and $12,000, ElderTreks makes it easy to find a trip that suits nearly any traveler. ElderTreks provides many additional benefits such as flexible departure dates, extended stay options, and no additional charges for solo travelers. Be sure to utilize the wealth of information that can be found on the ElderTreks website, including trip activity levels, cultural overviews, full trip itineraries, and more!
Road Scholar (not to be confused with the 'Rhodes Scholarship' at Oxford), is an educational learning program that has been in operation nearly 40 years. A not-for-profit entity, Road Scholar’s mission is to inspire adults to learn, discover and travel through leading unique travel programs around the world, let by expert instructors who encourage life-long learning. The website allows users to input a preferred region, timeline, activity level, and budget for easy trip selection. Their budget-friendly active trips for adults and seniors start as low as $500, while international trips may exceed $10,000. Trip lengths range from a few days to a few weeks and often include airfare and most meals (be sure to check!). Trips are lead by industry experts, include 24-hour emergency assistance, and often provide options for solo-exploration. Unique offerings such as inter-generational trips allow adults to travel with their grandchildren while special promotions offer travel and lodging discounts. With hundreds of trips to choose from in every corner of the globe, Road Scholars is a great choice for any senior interested in a learning trip and looking for a new adventure.
When a traveler books a trip through Smithsonian Journeys, they are assured that the trip will be informative, educational, and legitimate. The Smithsonian name carries trust and integrity around the world, and also ensures that travelers will have access to specialists in their field like historians, scholars, scientists, archaeologists, and more. And if that wasn’t enough, Smithsonian Journeys offers over 150 different trips representing all seven continents! Trip costs and durations are in line with industry averages, lasting 1-3 weeks and costing $3,000 – $12,000. There are also options for specialty trips (such as family excursions) and solo travelers. While there are no strict age limits, most travelers are 45 years old and over. Smithsonian Journeys has been facilitating trips for 45 years and continues to be an industry leader in educational travel for adults.
Academic Trips for Adults and Seniors
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What sets Cornell's Adult University apart is that its trips are led by Cornell faculty and/or staff. Consequently, its adult and senior participants enjoy an educational travel experience led by experts from an elite academic institution. There are about a dozen trips to choose from scattered throughout the year, with most trips lasting a week or two. Price ranges are in line with industry averages ($5,000-10,000) and include most accommodations. Airfare is not usually included in the program costs and some trips allow families to travel together (kids must be 8+). Trips with CAU are perfect for those craving a profound intellectual experience to compliment an enriching travel adventure.
The Semester at Sea Lifelong Learning Program is in intriguing option for adults (over 40) who want to learn, travel, and teach. Like the traditional SAS programs, Lifelong Learning Participants reside on a large ship that travels from port to port around the world. Lifelong Learners have the opportunity to join the undergraduate classes and engage with bright, enthusiastic undergrads. There are also several programs designed specifically for the Lifelong Learners, which allow them to teach a seminar in their area of expertise or be a mentor to the younger undergraduate travelers. The extended program lasts roughly 15 weeks, includes stops at about a dozen countries, and costs $30,000 - $50,000 (depending on single/double occupancy status) and does not include the cost of travel to and from embarkation/disembarkation cities.
While this program is designed for Yale alumni, it does in fact welcome individual and non-affiliated travelers. Yale faculty lead about a dozen trips per season, focusing on their region or subject matter of expertise. These trips trend shorter (up to two weeks) and for a relatively higher price ($5,000-$10,00) than some other travel programs, but still maintain their value by offering an enriching intellectual and cultural experience. These trips do not specifically cater to adults of a certain age, nor do they offer much flexibility in travel plans or accommodations. They do, however, offer a one-of-a-kind educational tour led by some of the brightest and most respected academics.
Language Education Trips for Adults and Seniors
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Has learning a foreign language always been on your bucket list? Have you longed to explore the French Riviera whilst fully immersing yourself in the language, cuisine, and culture? If you answered ‘yes’ to either question, then this program is for you! Nestled in the Côte d'Azur region on the Southwest coast of France, the Centre International D’Antibes provides three hours of daily French instruction before lunch, allowing the participants to explore the region in the evening and on weekends. Additionally, the senior program offers several half day and weekend excursions that are designed to be representative of the region. This program offers accommodations for its students and instruction for a total of approx. $700-$1500 a week, depending on the time of year and single or double occupancy status. There are approximately 5 two-week courses per year and interested adults can sign up on the website. Classes are small (12 students max.) and provide ample individualized instruction and language coaching to its senior participants.
Perhaps you've always wanted to be bilingual, or maybe you've dreamed of backpacking through South America. Don Quijote is a Spanish language learning school that will help you realize your dreams. Choose from locations in Spain, Mexico, Ecuador, and Costa Rica for your learning trip. Lodging options include host families, apartments, and hotels. The program provides 20 lessons, each 50 minutes per week. The Spanish for 50+ program also includes cultural outings such as dancing, cooking classes, and movies for your enjoyment and immersion. The cost of the program runs between $500 and $700 per week. Travel to and from the country is not included.
Creative Learning Trips For Adults and Seniors
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For the foodie, amateur chef, or culinary industry professional in your life, these vacations gather participants around the table for authentic, hands-on instruction from culinary professionals in the region of your choice. Most popular in Italy, France, and Spain, there are dozens of tours annually in a handful of cities around each country. Alternatively, you could choose to explore the culinary offerings of North Africa, South America, Asia, or elsewhere! Trip costs can vary widely depending on duration and accommodations, but there are plenty of options to suit most travel budgets. This program is not exclusively for seniors, but does trend more popular with older demographics. Keep in mind that The International Kitchen can accommodate special trip requests including small groups and couples. Having been featured by Oprah Magazine, NBC, Travel+Leisure Magazine, and more, The International Kitchen is worth checking out!
These photo expeditions provide an opportunity to travel to exotic locales and photograph some of the world's most stunning sceneries led by some of the best photographers on the planet. Whether you're traveling by ship to the Galapagos Islands, by jet boat up the Columbia Gorge, or by Jeep on Safari in Africa, you can be confident that you'll hone your photography skills and have an epic adventure while doing it. National Geographic schedules a few dozen trips throughout the year ranging from 1-3 weeks and costing $3,000 - $20,000+ (depending on the trip’s accommodations). Airfare to and from the destination is not included. What the program offers is an intimate experience of nature, first-class accommodations, world-class instruction, and the photography expedition of a lifetime.
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This article was written by Maxx Kaplan and edited by Tripping.com Specialist, Lexi Perman.
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