As the boomer population continues to well, boom, and the age seems to be dropping precipitously for one to be considered a "senior," there ought to be a surfeit of companies springing into action to fill this growing need. Interhostel (tel. 800/733-9753; www.learn.unh.edu/interhostel), with its sister company Familyhostel, has been sending adults 50 and older on "educational odysseys" in the United State and around the world since 1980. As of November, however, it's ceasing because its funding source, the University of New Hampshire Division of Continuing Education, is pulling the plug after deciding it's "no longer part of our primary mission," according to a written statement released at the end of May. It also states that officials have been reviewing the program since September 11, 2001; since then, business has dropped off significantly. All trips that have been filled and confirmed through November are still running but those with low enrollment were cancelled.
Fortunately, there are still some providers that cater to this age group. Elderhostel (tel. 877/426-8056; www.elderhostel.org), which has been around since 1975 and also has a historical link to the University of New Hampshire -- its co-founder was a director of residence life when Elderhostel started out -- is as busy as ever. They're running fall getaways across the country, including the "Nascar at Talladega" in Alabama -- three nights from $842 on October 27-30. Or another trip perfect for fall is the "Finger Lakes Sampler" for five nights in New York State with a cruise, wine tasting, hikes and guided architectural walks; the only departure date available is October 16, for $623 per person. These rates don't include airfare. Elderhostel offers a handful of trips under $600, including the "Fall Rejuvenation Retreat" in Northern California that's located at Tibetan Buddhist retreat center just south of Santa Cruz. Energy massage, qigong, vegetarian cooking, aromatherapy, prayer wheels, and meditation are all part of this five-night escape from $588, with departures available October 23, November 6 and 27.
Last year Elderhostel introduced Road Scholar (tel. 800/466-7762; www.roadscholar.org), a program for adults of all ages who are interested in learning something while traveling. The idea is to put you in a hands-on learning situation, with a healthy mix of independent exploration and group camaraderie. New programs added for next year include "Iceland: A Land of Contrasts," which is a 12-night tour that costs $4,472 and includes 29 meals, first-hand lessons in geothermal activity at a power station, a dip in the mineral waters of the Blue Lagoon and encounters with waterfalls, unusual geology and glaciers. The trip has two departure dates: June 30 and August 5, 2006. The other new trip is end of the temperature spectrum -- "Austin, Texas: Ridin' the Music Train" and departs April 19 and May 5. The four-night trip, priced at $905, provides you with accommodations, nine meals, and behind-the-scenes look at a recording studio and a trip with music historian John Wheat to the University of Texas music archives. There are also discussions with performers and presentations by owners of legendary clubs such as Cactus Café and Threadgill's.
Grand Circle Travel (tel. 800/959-0405; www.gct.com/gcc/general) offers tours all over the world for those over 50, with rates that include airfare. They're booking for a 2006 trip now called Ancient Egypt and the Nile (15 days from $1,495). There are several other trips lined up for next year, including Discover South America 13 days from $1,995 (Chile and Argentina), Jewels of Thailand, for 16 days from $1,495 and others. The 18-day "Amalfi Coast and Tuscany" trip, priced from $1,795 (if you travel in January), takes you to Rome, Sorrento, Montecatini and gives you the option to extend the trip for four nights in Venice from $495. There are plenty of East Coast departure cities for this trip: Baltimore, Boston, New York, Newark and Philadelphia. The trip also includes sightseeing tours, 27 meals, sixteen nights of first-class accommodations all with private baths, and baggage handling (one per person).
Their tours are so popular that many for the fall are already sold out, although you could go to Guadalajara, Mexico November 22 or December 13; the 11-day trip is priced from $1,345 with Newark, NJ as the departure city. There are a handful of trips to Europe still open, such "The Best of Eastern Europe," a 19-day trip with departures in October ($2,195), November ($1,895) and December ($1,795). The trip starts in Warsaw, and stops in Krakow, Prague and Budapest, spending several days in each spot. Other trips to Sicily, England, Scotland and Wales, Portugal and Spain still have space.
Those with a more adventurous, active spirit might find something interesting with Eldertreks (tel. 800/741-7946; www.eldertreks.com), a 19-year-old company that leads trips all around the world for those over the age of 50. You can search by region, land or sea, price and activity level from easy to demanding. They take you to the usual places you'd expect -- African safaris, the Great Wall in China -- and they even run polar treks to Antarctica, the Russian Arctic and, the North Pole. "The Voyage to the North Pole," which is a 16-day trip with a stunning $18,995 price tag that starts you in Helsinki or Moscow and puts you on an icebreaker headed north. It should be noted that you could, however, take an affordable trip with this company. The 10-day "Galapagos Island" sojourn leaves once a month -- the low season rate for October 1-10 trip is $2,345. You start and finish in Quito, Ecuador, and all meals on your ship while traveling to the islands are covered. The itinerary includes wildlife spotting guided by experts, snorkeling, swimming and a visit to the Charles Darwin Research Station -- this is a nature lover's paradise. Everything is included that you could possible imagine except, of course, airfare. In the $2,000-$3,500 price range there are trips available to Australia, Antarctica, Morocco, Laos, Turkey, Brazil, Borneo and Queen Charlotte Islands.To chat with fellow Frommer's travelers check out our Senior Travel Message Boards.