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Alumni Travel

Alumni Travel is a growing component of nonprofit/educational travel. Despite its name, many alumni travel programs are open to non-alumni, and what follows is a selective sampling of these inclusive programs.

Despite their affiliation with colleges and universities, not all alumni travel programs are created equal. You will find a variety of options from program to program, and even within a specific program trips may be no more than typical sightseeing tours. The majority, however, are based on the principal that education doesn’t begin and end with college and that travel is an ideal way to enrich your life and learn about the world—and, sometimes, to give back to the world, as evidenced by an increasing number of service-learning alumni travel programs.

Aside from the obvious benefit of not having to plan all the details of a trip yourself, alumni program travelers find some of the advantages to include carefully selected travel providers; experienced and local tour guides; access to people, places, and events that are closed to the public; educational pre- and post-trip opportunities; and often small and personalized groups composed of like-minded individuals interested in mind-enriching travel. Programs are often ranked in terms of physical requirements, from mildly active to active or even adventurous. There are trips geared specifically for families, and many programs are willing to assist single travelers who want to share accommodations.

One sticky subject is cost. While costs are always relative, they seem particularly so with alumni travel. Program costs vary widely. You should weigh carefully program philosophies and what each includes with its trips—meals, airfare, educational seminars, special events, etc. Many programs offer similar trips, so you can afford to be discerning.

With college faculty leading or accompanying many trips, you may wish to consider one over another because of the faculty leader’s qualifications or interests.

Most programs require an upfront deposit and acceptance of the trip’s terms and conditions, and the majority have detailed itineraries available on their websites. The most obvious starting place might be your alma mater. If you don’t see a trip that meets your needs and interests, google “alumni travel” and your options will be endless.

Of course, there are also many alumni databases which are closed to members, and we will seek out those who wish to volunteer about travels on such programs.

We look forward to expanding our alumni travel resources in the future and welcome your feedback. If you’ve participated in alumni travel, write to us with your perspective, resources, or full-length article. —Sherry Schwarz

See Jessica Hayden's selection of her Favorite Alumni Travel Programs for more...


The Univ. of Chicago Alumni Study Trips (800-955-0065; www.alumni.uchicago.edu/study.html, alumni-ed@uchicago.edu) are led by Univ. of Chicago faculty members, as well as top guides and local experts. Trips are open to alumni and friends (interested travelers need not join the Alumni Association).

Sample Itineraries:

Alumni College in Poland: With its soaring towers, fortified castles, and splendid old houses, Kraków is the spiritual capital of Poland. The city will be the base for exploring Poland’s Malopolska region and visiting such sites as Czestochowa, Zakopane, and the Dunajec Valley. Those who choose will also visit Auschwitz. Led by Bozhena Shallcross, Professor of Slavic Studies. Details: Aug. 31–Sept. 8, 2005. Approx. $1,895 plus airfare.

Greek Islands: From the stunning cliffs of Santorini to the ruins of Ephesus, this trip will explore the islands of classical antiquity in the Aegean Sea while cruising aboard the M.S. Andrea. Led by Humanities Professor Herman Sinaiko. Details: Oct. 20–28, 2005/ Approx. $2,895 plus airfare.

When I was 15, I participated in a Duke University travel program for high school students in Costa Rica where we studied biology. Many of Duke’s alumni travel programs continue to have a science component and participants can learn about ecology in the Galapagos or travel with a local naturalist along the Amazon. www.dukealumni.com.

Penn State offers approximately 40 programs a year to its alumni and their friends and family. The Nittany Lion’s programs have some great themes, like “Hemingway’s Footsteps” study tour, where participants visit Paris, San Sebastian, Pamplona, and Madrid, following in the great author’s path. www.alumni.psu.edu/travel.

Finally, to fly with the Univ. of Texas Flying Longhorn travel program contact the alumni office at www.texasexes.org/travel/fl.asp.

The Univ. of California and its BEAR TREKS program provide alumni travel programs to the 92,000 members of the California Alumni Association. The program is administered by Berkeley’s alumni office: alumni.berkeley.edu/travel.

University of Wisconsin—Madison Continuing Studies. Dept of Liberal Studies & the Arts
From four-day weekends to several weeks overseas, these trips provide an opportunity to attend world-class performances throughout Europe and North America. View the collections of the finest museums on earth; follow in the footsteps of kings, and learn about it all along the way! Our tours focus on Performing Arts, Theatre, Visual Arts, History, and/or Archaeology.

Each educational tour includes seminars or lectures to provide insights and information regarding your trip’s unique subject and destination. Our guides and lecturers are local and outstanding and may include actors, production personnel, artists and musicians who can give you a thorough and fascinating inside look at the subtleties and complexities of their field, while also giving you personal insights into their culture and way of life.

Visit: www.dcs.wisc.edu/lsa/travel

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