There is a travel packager to serve nearly every interest, hobby, age or demographic group. For the baby boom generation and beyond, there are a few organizations that specialize in all kinds of ventures on nearly every continent, designed to engage your mind, body and spirit. We've rounded up a few upcoming special packages and deals from leading providers geared specifically to the 50 + set.
Elderhostel (tel. 877/426-8056; www.elderhostel.org), the 30-year-old organization that puts together thousands of educationally-oriented travel programs that span the globe, is running one of their most popular specials, "Explore North America" featuring historically and culturally significant locations in Missouri. It's a 17-night trip that's based-priced from $2,624 per person based on double occupancy; it starts on June 19 and runs through July 6 and includes 50 meals. You'll begin in St. Louis with a visit to the Museum of Westward Expansion and a trip that takes you to the mouth of the Columbia River. Other educational endeavors lead you to Fort Mandan and Knife River Village, the Bitterroot Mountains to Nez Perce Territory, and an examination of Columbia River ecology. You travel on a modern motor coach complete with reclining seats, CD players and onboard bathrooms. A note about Elderhostel: programs in the U.S. and Canada do not incorporate flights, but overseas programs do. From New York-JFK to St. Louis International Airport, 1-800 Cheap Seats (tel. 800/243-2773; www.1800cheapseats.com) is offering a round-trip economy flight from $361.90 on American Airlines. We suggest shopping around before making your final flight plans.
There are dozens of others opportunities, and not all of them are so lengthy or expensive. For example, a trip that runs from July 17-24 in Washington called "Northwest Natural Wonders" starts from $1,028 (airfare not included). It takes you from Tacoma WA through the Cascade Loop, a beautiful highway that passes through the Puget Sound, the Northern Cascades, volcanoes and Columbia River Valley. A flight from Atlanta to Seattle-Tacoma Airport starts from $427.58 on Continental, as offered by Cheap Tickets (tel. 877/259-2691; www.cheaptickets.com). A ticket from Boston to Seattle starts from $411.82 on America West (tel. 800/327-7810; www.americawest.com).
Not all trips, though, require you to get out you hiking boots, fishing pole or binoculars. Elderhostel has other trips organized with an intergenerational approach -- travel for grandparents and grandkids -- and creative workshops designed in sixteen states and two provinces in Canada. These workshops include knitting, photography, watercolor painting, glass, ceramics, dance, cooking -- the list is seemingly endless.
Last year, Elderhostel developed an offspring learning-travel adventure program called Road Scholar (tel. 800/466-7762; www.roadscholar.org) that's geared toward participants who are in their 40s, 50s and 60s. With the motto "Learning -- It's a Trip," the idea is to take participants behind the scenes, through atypical tour spots, or just go off the beaten track -- a private vineyard, rural village or ancient monastery, for example. A current program, "Alaska: Enlightenment Under the Midnight Sun," departs July 8, 23 and August 6 for seven nights of exploration for an exclusive tour limited to just 15 people through Denali National Park's Kantishna Area to a lodge that only two percent of visitors see. At this roadhouse, you'll have the opportunity to either relax, watch dog sledding demonstrations, pan for gold or take an unguided hike. The tour price includes 19 meals but not airfare. With a starting point in Fairbanks and endpoint in Seward, (closest airport is Anchorage), and a shuttle available, it should not be too hard to get there. Additionally, the hotel you'll stay at has a courtesy shuttle available. A search using Mobissimo (tel. 650/577-2306; www.mobissimo.com) reveals dozens of flights from various providers for comparison. Airfare from JFK to Fairbanks International Airport, however, is not cheap, but Cheap Tickets has a Delta round-trip flight leaving on July 7 from $774.87. Flights from Los Angeles on Alaska Airlines are not much cheaper -- starting at $722.61. From Chicago O'Hare to Fairbanks, Alaska Airlines operates a flight from $622.50.
If Alaska is not appealing, Road Scholar is also running a trip that departs June 25 called "Greater Yellowstone: An Ecological Excursion" for six nights in Montana and Wyoming starting from $1,725. The goal is to learn the "when, how and why" of the formation of America's oldest national park, as instructors and park officials provide insight into the ecosystem of this geological treasure, including Old Faithful, the largest and best-known geyser in the park. Perhaps you'll even spot a grizzly bear, bison, moose or coyote. There is also a trip into the Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming, with two nights at Jackson Lake at the historic, full-service Lake Hotel. The trip starts and ends in Gardiner; the nearest airport is Bozeman, about 90 miles away. A quick search shows flights from Los Angeles to Bozeman start from $349.89 round-trip, on Delta, through 1800 Cheap Seats. Round-trip airfare from Chicago to Bozeman starts from $402 on Northwest Airlines, as offered by 1800 Cheap Seats. From Miami, you can find a flight from $513.58 on Delta, offered by Cheap Tickets.
The University of New Hampshire operates Interhostel (tel. 800/733-9753; www.learn.unh.edu/interhostel), "educational odysseys for travelers 50 years and older." It offers two international trips in August, one to Sweden and Denmark and another to Scotland. The difference with this packager is that they include a land-only and all-inclusive with airfare as options; the tour package is based on airfare from Newark Liberty Airport, from $3,645. (Land-only starts from $2,845; other departure cities are available upon inquiry). For "Sweden and Denmark: Middle Ages to Modern Times" the tour goes through Copenhagen, Jonkoping, Visby and Stockholm from August 1-14. Highlights include a Hans Christian Andersen walk to the location of the Danish Crown Jewels, Kronberg Castle in Jonkoping and the setting of Shakespeare's Hamlet. You'll travel by ferry to Visby, on the island of Gotland, the site of a Medieval Festival. The trip winds down in Stockholm and brings visitors up to the 21st century, with museum trips and exploring on your own. "Scotland: History and Culture" starts from $4,095 for air and hotel from Newark for a 14-day trip from August 19-September 1 that goes through Glasgow and Edinburgh. With Stirling as the touring base, destinations include museums, castles, sites of Scottish history, the Perthshire glass works, golf outings and even some free time.
Have you toured with any of these providers? Tell us about your trip on our Senior Travel Message Boards today.