Specialty Travel Offers Adventures in Lifelong Learning

Maybe you dream about trekking through the rainforests of Costa Rica or walking across Ireland. Maybe you would like to immerse yourself in the history and culture of exotic places. Maybe (like me) you’ve always wanted to attend cooking classes in Tuscany, shopping local markets in the morning and spending the time in the kitchen with a re-known chef drinking vino and preparing culinary masterpieces. Maybe you want to learn to paint on the cliffs of Mendocino, improve your golf drive, become a master gardener, or try goat packing, two-wheeling or two-footing in Utah. Maybe your true calling is volunteering to help others in need. When you want to mix vacation and education, it’s time to explore the world of specialty travel.

Where do you find special interest travel adventures? Come along with me for an introduction to some amazing resources for adventures in lifelong learning. Specialty travel is one of the fastest growing segments of the travel industry. Trust me, whatever your passion or dream is there is a tour operator, organization, or travel agent waiting to make it a reality.

The Specialty Travel Index is a good starting place. This nifty little magazine offers articles on unique specialty travels including an index of 1000’s of worldwide special interest travel opportunities. There are two issues each year, a Spring/Summer issue and a Fall/Winter issue. A subscription is $10.00 or pick up a copy at Barnes and Noble or Books-A-Million. You can also check out www.specialtytravel.com. To find a learning adventure on-line, click on a special interest or activity from a drop-down menu, enter a destination or sample activities at destinations all over the world.

Next, surf on over to www.shawguides.com. From art to Zen, there are hundreds of educational and exciting special interest resources. For instance, there are over 800 cooking classes and culinary tours and over 100 wine appreciation courses. Discover the thrill of Europe’s best music in venues such as an 11th-century monastery, a converted stone barn in Bordeaux, roof-top gardens in Amsterdam, or jazz on New Year’s Eve in Orvieto. Learn the lost art of journaling and personal creative writing on the scenic coastline of Eagle Harbor, Michigan. Get the idea? Possibilities are limited only by your imagination.

TraveLearn, in business for over 25 years, provides international learning vacations for adults between the ages of 30 to 80 primarily through over 300 universities, colleges and associations nationwide. Tours in 2005 include learning journeys as close to home as antebellum waterways and as far away as the Galapagos, Antarctica, and Kenya. Visit www.travelearn.com for full details.

With over 10,000 programs in 90 countries, Elderhostel is a not-for-profit organization aimed at encouraging lifelong learning for mature travelersâÂ?¦those of us in the over 55 set. Think of it as a “field trips for grown-ups.” Some trips include mixed generations; you can bring along the grandchildren and learn together. There are also service-oriented programs offering your time and talents helping others. Elderhostel trips are all inclusive, including accommodations, meals, lectures, all excursions, gratuities and insurance. They are also a good way for solo travelers to enjoy the freedom of travel without the concerns and extra expenses of travel alone. While travel for singles usually involves expensive single supplements add-ons, almost 90% of U.S. and Canadian programs include single rooms. Visit www.elderhostel.org to tickle your travel fancy.

These are only a few of many special interest resources available to you. What’s your travel adventure dream? What you are waiting for? The “right time?” Don’t put off travel dreams. Life is short and there are so many wonderful travel opportunities close to home and across our delightfully diverse world.

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