Several years ago when I worked for the Vanderbilt University Department of French & Italian one of the professors was preparing to lead a group sponsored by the alumni association on a tour of the canals of France. She planned to introduce each day’s activity with a short lecture about the history of the area, or the culture or some specific information, like the grapes that grow in whatever region that were crossing. A local guide led the land part of the excursion. The barge cruise sounded like a really fine way to see and really learn.
The concept of taking an educational guided tour is one that appeals to many people who do not know how to plan a custom trip and yet want to avoid being one of a huge herd of people on a massive cruise or stuck seeing the umpteenth church on a week-long whirlwind packaged travel-agent sold tour of Europe.
A tour that includes a program of enrichment, teaching you about the culture and history of the area to be explored offers enrichment beyond simply getting on and off a cruise ship and taking photos in front of a landmark. Saying you have been somewhere is meaningless if you have never learned or experienced what makes that place different from home.
Educational travel is available from many sources including many university alumni associations. Some universities, such as University of Wisconsin-Madison also offer tours as part of continuing education and there is no membership required. Well known companies such as Road Scholar (formerly Elder Hostel), American Museum of Natural History tours, and Smithsonian Tours offer many many options for all age groups, activity level and both in the United States and abroad.
Prices range from $2,000 and up and many are all-inclusive meaning meals, tours, tipping, and air travel are included. Check it out….. learning about a new place takes more than reading a guide book.