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Favorite Alumni Travel Programs

If your idea of a good school reunion involves travel rather than smoky ballrooms, you may be in luck. Many colleges and universities have instituted alumni travel programs for both recent graduates and those who may have forgotten how to do a keg-stand. Non-alums are usually welcomed, and many include an educational component taught by professors from the host university or local experts.

So check out your alma matter to see if you can catch up with old friends, learn about the world, and stay away from drab buffet lines. Here’s a list of my favorite five:

College of William and Mary, my alma matter, offers more than 20 alumni travel programs every year, with destinations ranging from the British Isles to Argentina. Several of their programs include a short study abroad program with lectures by local historians and professors. W&M wins the prize for longevity: they have been offering alums travel opportunities for nearly four decades: www.wmalumni.com/?travel.

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.

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.

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.

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