Today’s retirees are filled with vim and vigor and are eager to be active, engaged and involved. Many have found new direction when opening their sights and minds to lifelong learning and enrichment programs. This renewed energy is being heralded by members of the medical community who have noted that adults who continually challenge their intellect and are active thinkers and learners are less likely to experience certain ailments and conditions associated with the aging process. They also report that those who are active participants in personal interests remain mentally vital throughout their life.
Adult learning programs incorporated into cultural enrichment vacations offer top notch material and are presented by experts in varied fields of learning but, unlike a typical collegiate course, there are no tests or grades. The settings vary and could be in a classroom, outside on field trips or in a workshop. The program is an essential part of the travel experience, as the tourism industry is increasingly attuned to what travelers are asking for in their tours and packages.
Tour operators report that travelers are seeking more in-depth historical, cultural, political and social information about destinations being visited. A recent study revealed that 81% of adult travelers desire a cultural, arts, historic and heritage experience while on vacation. Many NTA member tour operators offer packages that include learning experiences (38%), cultural activities (58%), museums and special exhibitions (54%) and historical sites/events (73%).
Planning for retirement starts early in many people’s lives with pension plans, IRAs and other financial planning schemes, but it is not until we near the transition into retirement that serious thought is given to what form and style this new way of life will take. What are my interests? What do I want to do? Where do I want to go? Who will be my new friends and colleagues? What will I do to stay active and alert? And where can I make my contribution? Answers to these questions do not come easy and often evolve as one settles into this new living style.
There are many programs designed specifically for adults who are seeking to expand their interests and increase their knowledge. Communities throughout North America offer adult education and enrichment programs with park and recreation and senior service activities. Local hospitals, museums, theaters, libraries, universities and other groups serve the interests of the adult population through classes, projects and volunteerism. And there are national organizations like The OASIS Institute, which offers programs in the arts, humanities, wellness, technology and volunteer services. The Lifelong Learning and Learning in Retirement Institutes found at hundreds of U.S. and Canadian colleges provide courses of study for retirees at a community level.
Here is one example of a specific travel programs that has been designed specifically to add enrichment and lifelong learning opportunities for adults.
The University of New Hampshire Continuing Education program is the grandfather of traveling continuing education and enrichment programs for adults. What started as a summer vacation-learning experience for academics over 30 years ago continues with its series of Distinctive Learning Vacations that are available to the public. Tours are offered to destinations in North and South America, Europe and Asia, each led by UNH faculty and local destination experts. Most itineraries cover specific cities, regions or topics and are designed to give travelers insights into the culture, philosophy and lifestyles of people being visited. There are two types of programs: Interhostel, for adults 50 years and older; and Familyhostel, for adults and children traveling together.
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