Grandparents, grandkids leave out ‘middle layer’ on learning tours
Published 12:00 am, Friday, May 19, 2017
If you’re looking to learn as well as travel while on vacation, there is virtually no limit to the possibilities of what might be called road scholarship.
Most local colleges and universities offer tours each year meant to be educational as well as fun. A Fairfield University fall trip designed for an immersion in Icelandic culture, as well as a chance to see the aurora borealis (aka the Northern Lights), has a waiting list for the sold-out tour.
The Yale Educational Travel service offers a wide array of domestic and foreign travel opportunities easily located on its website (ivy.yale.edu). The service also has many “staycation” ideas for such close-to-home trips as New York City theater weekends, with stage professionals offering their behind-the-scenes expertise. The price for the fall theater excursions ($820) is about the same as the cost for one premium seat at the Bette Midler “Hello, Dolly!” or “Hamilton.” The shows aren’t chosen until closer to the tour dates, so hot new plays can be included as part of the weekend.
Goodspeed Opera House in East Haddam has been offering insider seven-night London theater tours for almost 40 years. The trips have become so popular the venue is offering a second week this year. Both take place in October and start at $5,295. The four shows often include the hottest tickets in the city.
For a broad range of domestic and international learning trips, it’s hard to beat the Boston-based Road Scholar, which has been in business for 41 years. The nonprofit organization’s website (roadscholar.org) connects you with the perfect trip within a few minutes. Each program is rated in terms of its activity level, from lots of walking, to tours where most of the time is spent in classrooms.
What Road Scholar calls “grandtraveling” — trips restricted to grandparents and their grandchildren — has become increasingly popular in recent years. “The middle group can’t come along because that changes the dynamic. This is such a good way to get to know each other,” says senior vice president of programming JoAnn Bell in a phone interview from Massachusetts. “You’re not going to remember that Apple iPod you got from grandma, but (a trip) lives on in your memory.”
Although these Road Scholar domestic and global trips focus on “grand” relations, the company does have alternative “family” journeys if “the middle layer” insists on going, Bell says. In addition to multiweek trips, the website offers five-day excursions for under $1,000, including programs like a New York museum weekend or an architecture-centric visit to Chicago. Because Road Scholar has been in business so long, it has an international network of scholars and experts who plan and lead the local excursions.
“We have 200 different educational partners, so we can put together content that would be impossible for an individual to put together,” Bell says. “And our nonprofit status allows us to sell some tours that are not best-sellers that other travel companies won’t bother with.”
The best-sellers at Road Scholar so far this year have been New Orleans domestically and Cuba internationally. The company has been averaging 2,000 people a year for its three different programs in New Orleans and 4,000 people for educational excursions to Cuba.
“Cuba is really hot right now. The first groups that went into Cuba had to have educational content so Road Scholar was one of the first (companies) in,” Bell says.
firstname.lastname@example.org; Twitter: @joesview