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Road Scholar?
Old 04-16-2014, 09:12 AM   #1
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Road Scholar?

Anyone here used this service? I'm curious what the breakdown of a "typical" tour (is there any such thing...?). Specifically how old are the participants? Are they mostly couples? Are they outgoing or introverts?

I'm exploring the possibility of the Peru/Bolivia trip they run (going to the touristy highlights of Machu Picchu, Lake Titicaca, La Paz,...). Anyone done that trip? was it enjoyable? Any feedback would be appreciated.
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Old 04-16-2014, 09:15 AM   #2
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Anyone here used this service? I'm curious what the breakdown of a "typical" tour (is there any such thing...?). Specifically how old are the participants? Are they mostly couples? Are they outgoing or introverts?

I'm exploring the possibility of the Peru/Bolivia trip they run (going to the touristy highlights of Machu Picchu, Lake Titicaca, La Paz,...). Anyone done that trip? was it enjoyable? Any feedback would be appreciated.
These threads may interest you Anyone use RoadScholar for traveling? and Mototaxi Junket
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Old 04-16-2014, 09:17 AM   #3
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Thanks - I'll check that out. I did do a forum search but used two separate words rather than roadscholar as one one. Oops.
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Old 04-16-2014, 09:41 AM   #4
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Thanks - I'll check that out. I did do a forum search but used two separate words rather than roadscholar as one one. Oops.
I added a link .. be sure to check some of the posts by one of our members and moderator, Sarah in SC. She's had many travel adventures, including Peru, and shared stories and details.
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Old 05-15-2014, 02:34 AM   #5
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Take shorter trips in the US to test Roadscholar before committing to a long international one.
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Old 05-15-2014, 04:17 PM   #6
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I get regular emails from them and their rates seem high but maybe you get a lot more bang for your buck than I imagine.
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Old 05-23-2014, 02:03 AM   #7
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I am on a Road Scholar trip to Berlin right now. All of the participants on this particular trip are retired (55yrs+) but this trip was coordinated with a Univ of CA program for retired persons so I don't know what a typical trip population is like. This is my first Road Scholar trip. In fact, it is my first group trip ever.

While I am not crazy about group travel yet I will say that the itinerary and expert speakers on this trip are fantastic. I could never have gotten this experience if I had organized and taken this trip on my own. Not everything goes perfectly but the people managing the logistics have done a great job adjusting to issues that come up. The Road Scholar activity level rating was accurate as well.
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Old 05-25-2014, 11:16 AM   #8
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Enjoy your trip Marty! We decided to sign up for the Peru/Bolivia Road scholar trip - we leave in ~4 weeks. Although a long trip if we don't like the group concept the pluses outweighed the possible;e downsides for us. We are poor Spanish speakers, I suspect (don't know) it would be difficult to find English speakers there And arranging transport would be difficult. Also (think) I will enjoy the local experts. I'll post when we get back with my impressions and hopefully insights that may help others.
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Old 05-25-2014, 05:26 PM   #9
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We have taken several Road Scholar trips, most recently to India a couple years ago to Peru and Ecuador. All but a couple travelers were retired.. I think this is typical for all long foreign trips. The local guides were fantastic, usually university graduates.

The number of participants was just right.. enough so that you could escape a PITA (which on the India trip was a retired history professor) but not so many that you felt like we were being herded. All our fellow travelers were very smart, almost all college graduates.
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Old 05-25-2014, 08:15 PM   #10
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I got back from Berlin last night. My overall thoughts are that I don't particularly like group travel but that my Road Scholar trip to Berlin was so fantastic I don't see how I could have done it without going with a group.

The downsides of going with a group:
1) You end up going to restaurants that are not bad but are also not as good as the ones I would pick myself. Also, we had limited menu choices. Accommodating 20-25 people just leads to eating compromises
2) Groups just have a natural inertia to them when visiting sites. There is always someone who had lost their glasses; didn't hear what was said; is slow; or is just plain confused.

However, it was a great itinerary and the speakers were fantastic.
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Old 05-25-2014, 08:59 PM   #11
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Traveling with a group vs independent travel is always a trade off. The issue with restaurants in developing countries is that you do not know what is clean. Road Scholar programs have vetted the hotels and food service providers.

Now if you are going to the Sacramento Jazz Festival w Road Scholar (as we did) there is no reason not to explore restaurants on your own.
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Old 06-26-2014, 11:38 AM   #12
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I just returned from a RoadScholar trip to Peru/Bolivia trip yesterday. It was a 12 day visit that started at "low" altitude in the sacred valley of Peru (~9,400 ft), made separate day trips to the Inca sites at Ollantaytambo (9,400 ft) and to Machu Picchu (7,970 ft). From there we traveled to Cusco (11,150 ft), on to Puno and Lake Titicaca (12,500 ft). After a day on Lake Titicaca we crossed into Bolivia at Copacabana and then onto Huatajata and La Paz. Lots of side visits to Inca and pre-Inca archaeological sites. My wife and I really enjoyed the visit.

Pros of booking with RoadScholar:
I would not have had a comparable visit on my own. We had a dedicated tour coordinator with us to arrange all travel and make sure everything ran smoothly. He (Juan Carlos) took care of all hotel bookings (no check in, keys waiting on hotel arrival, bags collected from our rooms on travel days and taken to the next hotel room without any intervention by us), booked fantastic restaurants (gave us menus at lunch time and called our choices ahead so food service could be sped up), cancelled a bus-travel day from Puno to Copa Cobana (because of a strike in Peru that blocked the road) and arranged hydrofoil transport down the length of Lake Titicaca to bypass the blockade without any loss of time or any additional cost. He really went above and beyond: one of our party of 16 got altitude sickness at in Bolivia and JC took her to the local clinic, stayed with her to translate, then drove her to a hospital in La Paz for further treatment. I should also add that RoadScholar's automatic insurance took care of all medical bills and offered to supply a companion to fly home with her at no charge. In addition to JC we were also accompanied with a local expert to provide info - Boris in Peru and Marcello in Bolivia. A university prof in Cusco also gave us a couple of short lectures on the Incans; the first on the first day while we acclimatized was great and really supplied a lot of background info which set up the trip. I found the 2nd in Cusco to be less compelling but still ok.
We also were taken into typical Andean homes, exposed to local farmers etc. that were well off the typical tourist track and I feel we got a close-up look at real Andean life.

Cons
The only real con was the lack of flexibility in the itinerary. My wife especially would have enjoyed more free time to explore inside the big cities. We had one afternoon/evening on our own in Cusco (and went to dinner with another couple on the tour) and one morning in La Paz before departure on the last day. One or two full days would have been welcome.

Overall
We will do future RoadScholar trips. The pros far outweighed the cons. I suspect we will always travel on our own to western Europe, but the help provided on this trip to South America was invaluable. There were 16 of us in this group: 4 couples, 2 single guys and 6 single women. I would guess ages ran from late 50's to ~70. Most were fully retired but all were fit and physically capable of handling the walking and climbing. No awkward characters in our group and all got along well and had lots of fun.
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Old 06-26-2014, 02:23 PM   #13
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Thanks for your thoughts on the Road Scholar program. Didn't it used to be called Elder-Hostel? Like you, DH and I have no problem making our own arrangements for European trips, but it would sure be nice to have someone else taking care of all the minutia in South America, Asia, India, and the Middle East. As you pointed out, the downside is the lack of flexibility if you want to spend more time in a place than the tour has designated. And of course, it's a crapshoot on whether you'll get a congenial group for the tour.

I have looked with longing at the description of Road Scholar's Galapagos/Machu Picchu itinerary. Maybe we'll take the plunge and give Road Scholar a try.
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Old 06-26-2014, 03:25 PM   #14
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In Europe I think it may still be called Elder Hostel (a play on the youth hostel movement there). I think it gave the wrong impression in N America and was renamed (although Elder Hostel is still mentioned on the correspondence we got from them before the trip). It's designed for the over 50 crowd, but tends to skew older because most taking the trips are retirees.
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Old 06-26-2014, 10:35 PM   #15
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My parents started doing elder hostel trips when they were in their early 50's. They loved travel, and this provided a very affordable way to tour places. They did both domestic trips (maritime stuff in San Francisco, a barge trip through the inner harbors from Boston up to Canada, etc), and foreign trips (Malta/Knights of Templar trip, Egypt, etc.)

My mom loved the lectures - but would bug out on them if there was shopping. My dad loved the lectures - but sometimes wanted to explore something separate from the group. They had no problem making arrangements to break away on non-travel days if they wanted to do/see something different.

When my husband and I were in Vienna, our Pension had an Elder Hostel group staying. The theme was opera and we learned a lot eavesdropping on their breakfast lectures.
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