When most people think of Road Scholars formerly Elderhostel they imagine a tour company that is focused on education. And that’s exactly what it is – a nonprofit organization that offers one-of-a-kind learning adventures to curious travelers, whether they want to travel to exotic locales or learn more about the plants and animals living in their backyards. Its unique approach attracts a highly educated, discerning group of older travelers, many of whom are retired educators.
The company’s 4,000 offerings include small group tours, grandparent-grandchild trips, cruises and private jet adventures. Each trip is designed to impart knowledge of the culture, history and environment in a way that’s immersive, exciting and fun. And because it’s a non-profit, Road Scholar is unusual among tour operators in that it offers financial aid and caregiver grants.
Road Scholar is also unique in that its program leaders are called faculty and receive a year of professional development to ensure they’re experts in their fields. These local scholars are a key component in the educational experience offered on every trip. They work in partnership with a host of experts, from shrimp boat captains to award-winning authors, to create unique learning opportunities for tour participants.
For example, on the Hiking the Grand Road Scholars in Colorado: Adventures On and Below the South Rim Road Scholar trip, members meet a variety of experts who teach them about Native American culture in the area. During the hike, they explore both the North and South rims of the canyon, traversing trails like the historic Bright Angel and South Kaibab Trail. One of the experts teaches about the ceramic types found in the area, while another explains the significance of artifacts unearthed by the Anasazi Heritage Center during an archaeological excavation in Dolores.
While most of Road Scholar’s trips are geared toward adults, it does offer programs for grandparents and grandkids to travel together or intergenerational family adventures with siblings or parents. In addition to these family trips, the company has train tours and safaris that provide an interactive experience for everyone on board.
Intergenerational travel is a growing trend, and Road Scholar is well positioned to capture the market. The company’s programs have an average age of 72, but it offers options for a range of older adults from the 50s through 90s.
For those who want to get away from it all, there are also Road Scholar retreats that focus on mindfulness and wellness, as well as guided hiking excursions in remote locations. These trips are often more affordable than standard itineraries and offer an intimate setting to relax and unwind with new friends.
The average size of a Road Scholar program is 24 travelers, and the majority are single travelers. The company offers discounts for solo travelers and encourages them to share their passions with other guests on the trip. It also provides a community of fellow travelers to connect with online through social media and forums. Past guests give Road Scholar a rating of 4.4 out of 5 on tour-focused OTA Tourstride.