Newspaper article Tweed Daily News (Tweed Heads, Australia)

Retired? Hit the Road and Help Your Brain; {lsquo}We Want Experiences, Not Material Goods from Our Travels'

Newspaper article Tweed Daily News (Tweed Heads, Australia)

Retired? Hit the Road and Help Your Brain; {lsquo}We Want Experiences, Not Material Goods from Our Travels'

Article excerpt

Byline: Rick Spratling

SO you've escaped middle age and are ready for the long calm of retirement.

What next? If you spend too much time rocking on the front porch, will your brain droop into autopilot?

One antidote for this is educational travel. Visit those exotic places that were only daydreams during your nose-to-the-grindstone years, and learn while you do it. Better still, travel with a group of people who share your interests and your age bracket.

One organisation specialising in this kind of travel is Elderhostel, which says it is dedicated to providing "exceptional learning opportunities to adults at a remarkable value".

Translation: travel with other seniors, learn interesting stuff, eat decent food and stay in comfortable lodging, at a price that won't turn your retirement budget to mush.

Intrigued by this idea, my wife and I picked Elderhostel for our first educational travel venture, a two-week tour of Israel.

We liked it enough to sign up for a second Elderhostel gig, this one to float the tributaries of the Amazon River in Peru next (northern) spring.

What's the attraction to this type of travel?

The advantages include:

* Package price: Elderhostel pitches a single price without hidden costs. Pay once and the essential costs for your trip are covered.

* Learning: Lectures by experts allow you to learn more, and be more immersed in a local culture, than you would as an average tourist.

* Birds-of-a-feather: It's fun and comfortable to travel with other seniors who generally share your interest in travel and learning.

Elderhostel is a non-profit American organisation founded in 1975 on five college campuses in New Hampshire, based on the idea of inexpensive lodging and non-credit classes.

By 1980, participation grew to 20,000 people in 50 states and Canada, and in 1981 Elderhostel offered its first international programs.

Today Elderhostel says it attracts more than 160,000 participants annually to nearly 8,000 tour packages in more than 90 countries.

Elderhostel says the average cost of programs in the United States and Canada is a little over $US100 ($A158.50) per day, while international programs, not including airfare, average a bit over $US200 ($A317) per day. Elderhostel emphasises a package price that covers meals, taxes, gratuities, lodging, lectures, excursions, activities and travel within a program, such as shuttles to various sites.

Participants provide their own transportation to domestic programs. For international programs, you can book the flights yourself or have Elderhostel do it.

Rates vary widely by destination and type of trip. My wife and I paid just under $US10,000 ($A15,848) to visit Israel. Our planned trip to Peru will cost around $US11,600 ($A18,383. …

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