Learning is a lifelong process and today’s travelers are combining learning with travel as never before. When it comes to senior travel, learning vacations offer opportunities to expand horizons, make new friends and stay mentally and physically fit.  Women can choose from many senior travel programs that include fun, enjoyable learning opportunities.

What Is a Learning Vacation?

A learning vacation is any travel experience that teaches you something you did not know before. Learning can happen in many places, such as a formal classroom setting, an art or music studio, on a research or outreach team or in a new place.

Choosing a Learning Vacation

As you research senior travel programs, you’ll want to consider several factors. For example:

Location. Will you travel far from home, or look for a learning vacation near you? The farther you travel, the more your learning vacation will cost.

Weather. If you will be spending much of the day outdoors during your learning vacation, what will the weather be? Do you have proper clothing and footwear? If not, you’ll have to buy some items before your trip begins.

Activity Level. How active will you need to be during your learning vacation? Are you fit enough to tackle the experience, or will you need to do some pre-travel conditioning? Check with your doctor and tour operator if you have doubts.

Topic / Program. What topics and program types interest you? Do you prefer hands-on learning or the give-and-take of classroom discussions? With so many trips to choose from, you can search for programs and areas of study that fuel your passion for learning.

Cost. How much do you want to spend? Does the cost of your travel program include transportation, or must you pay for that separately? Can you save money by staying in a dormitory-style room, and does that option match your travel style? Be sure to research all the angles and discuss your questions with your tour operator before you book.

So, that said, here are a few learning vacations for you to consider:

Road Scholar Learning Adventures

Road Scholar is a not-for-profit organization that has been around since 1975. They offer more than 5,500 learning adventures, including trips to Cuba, France, Costa Rica and every state in the U.S. Their mission is to inspire adults to learn, discover and travel.

Road Scholar’s learning adventures engage expert instructors, provide extraordinary access, and stimulate discourse and friendship among people for whom learning is the journey of a lifetime. Road Scholar offers some of my favorite senior travel options.

Lucky Star Art Camp

Once a year in the autumn, women gather in the Texas hill country to learn, explore the outdoors and share their journeys at Lucky Star Art Camp. Lucky Star is much more than a series of art workshops. It’s a community of women who treasure creativity and bring this spirit of artistic expression into daily life.

Depending on instructor availability, classes might include photography, cheese making, calligraphy, creative writing and music, to name a few. Optional activities, such as swimming, kayaking, yoga and Irish dance, are available (some extra classes require payment of an additional fee).

Tip: Register early, as class sizes are limited and popular classes tend to fill quickly.

Earthwatch Expeditions

Earthwatch Institute is a nonprofit organization that conducts scientific field research, connecting top-notch scientists with people from all walks of life who are interested in science and the environment. If you go on an Earthwatch expedition, you’ll spend most of your time working on research projects and analyzing the data you and your team members have collected. Earthwatch sends research teams all over the planet, so you can choose a location and project that interests you.

Tip: Earthwatch expeditions can be physically demanding, so you should read the online Expedition Briefing (trip details) very carefully before booking. If you don’t get much exercise now, discuss your options with Earthwatch and plan to spend time training for your trip.

Oxford University Summer School for Adults

If you’re looking for a more traditional learning experience, consider applying to the Oxford University Summer School for Adults (OUSSA) in Oxford, England. This prestigious university offers approximately 40 one-week accredited courses every summer for adults who love to learn.

Offerings include literature, science, architecture, theology, ethics and more. Coursework includes pre-arrival assignments and an end-of-course assessment; CATS points will be awarded to students who successfully complete their assignments. You can live on campus to get the full university experience or find your own lodgings in town.

Tip: Although OUSSA enrollment closes in May, you should apply as early as possible, preferably before February of the year you wish to attend, because classes fill quickly.

Augusta Heritage Center of Davis & Elkins College

The Augusta Heritage Center preserves, practices and promotes the folkways, dance and music of West Virginia and Appalachia. For ten weeks each summer, adults and older teens can participate in themed, week-long Augusta Heritage classes at Davis & Elkins College in Elkins, West Virginia. Themes include Old-Time, Irish, Cajun and Creole, Bluegrass and Blues and Swing, among others.

While music and dance hold pride of place at Augusta, you can also take classes in folk arts and foodways, as well as special classes that correspond with a particular week’s theme. Teens are welcome to participate, making Augusta a wonderful location for a grandparent / grandchild learning vacation.

Tip: Elkins can be very warm during the summer months, but evenings may be cool, so you’ll want to plan for a variety of temperatures as you pack.  Consider adding a few extra days to your trip to explore the natural wonders of West Virginia before you return home.

Have you taken a learning vacation, or are you planning one? What type of learning experiences do you prefer? Share your tips and ideas in the comments section below.

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Watch senior travel expert, Nancy Parode, and I discuss learning vacations.

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