Rhoad Scholar Travel Tours/Etc.

Questions on how we spend our money and our time - consumer goods and services, home and vehicle, leisure and recreational activities
Post Reply
Topic Author
Barefootgirl
Posts: 2317
Joined: Tue Oct 06, 2009 7:05 pm

Rhoad Scholar Travel Tours/Etc.

Post by Barefootgirl »

Have any of you undertaken one of these tours? do you recommend them? any tips?

Does RS have any competitors that offer approximately the same typses of tours?

Thanks... also - demographics? (wondering about age range...)
How many retired people does it take to screw in a lightbulb? Only one, but he takes all day.
RudyS
Posts: 2132
Joined: Tue Oct 27, 2015 10:11 am

Re: Rhoad Scholar Travel Tours/Etc.

Post by RudyS »

Edit title to Road Scholar. This was formerly known as Elderhostel.

DW and I have been on 8 RS programs. Not exactly tours though. We liked programs that dealt with parks, nature, etc. Last year did a wonderful program in Yosemite NP. Stayed right in the Valley at Yosemite Lodge. Got to see most of the wonderful sights. They used to have a minimum age, but it's pretty flexible. The folks in the Yosemite program were pretty active!

Go to roadscholar.org and look through the hundreds of opportunities. Some are really active, some are more classroom type. Once on the web site, you can get complete itineraries for anything that looks interesting.

No real competitors that I know of, though some colleges/universities have life-long learning programs that would offer tours.
obgraham
Posts: 1303
Joined: Mon Jan 28, 2013 7:30 pm

Re: Rhoad Scholar Travel Tours/Etc.

Post by obgraham »

Went with RS a few times, then swore off. Their programs are very well put together, aimed at the age of the people they serve, and usually intellectually stimulating. I refer mostly to international programs.
They have some difficult habits: they will readily cancel a trip if fewer than their goal sign up, even if it is one they run very frequently. You don't have an easy way to find out if this is likely as they don't like to publicize it.
They outsource their travel arrangements to at least a few agencies, and some of them are less than competent, especially if things should go haywire.

Though we have not been with them many tell me that Overseas Adventure Travel runs a great program.

There are also some higher end agencies running trips along the same line as RS, though significantly more expensive.
RudyS
Posts: 2132
Joined: Tue Oct 27, 2015 10:11 am

Re: Rhoad Scholar Travel Tours/Etc.

Post by RudyS »

obgraham's post reminded me of the issue with cancellation of programs. We did attend 8, and liked them all, some more than others. But there was a last minute cancellation on a program in Colorado a couple of years ago, due to smoke in the air from huge wildfires. Understandable. Second instance this winter - after considerable research found a program we could attend with my cousin, in Florida. When I went to sign up, found out it was cancelled due to lack of participation, about 3 months ahead. That was disappointing.
Ridley32
Posts: 10
Joined: Mon Apr 25, 2016 10:27 pm

Re: Rhoad Scholar Travel Tours/Etc.

Post by Ridley32 »

I've done several: 3 national and 2 international. Both of the international trips were superb hiking trips. As is the case with almost all companies international trips are led by locals with intimate knowledge of the area.

The national trips varied. A desert trip (beautiful) and a geology trip both had groups of 15 people that bonded quickly; a Florida history trip had around 35 and was less interesting.

The ratings of difficulty were on target for the international trips but not for the national trips, which considered very easy 2-mile hikes to be moderately challenging.

Be thankful when a tour operator cancels trips well out from the leave date; OAT (no personal experience but many friends like) cancelled a friend's trip 2 weeks prior to leave date.
Ridley32
Posts: 10
Joined: Mon Apr 25, 2016 10:27 pm

Re: Rhoad Scholar Travel Tours/Etc.

Post by Ridley32 »

Apologies for the double post but wanted to add 2 things:

First, the name of the company is Road Scholar (not Rhoad)

Second, there are several other companies that do both hiking and touring trips: Rick Steves, OAT and its parent Grand Circle, Exit (UK), HF Holidays (UK). My experiences with HF and Rick Steves were excellent, and friends love OAT and Exit.

Happy traveling--
Lynette
Posts: 2098
Joined: Sun Jul 27, 2014 9:47 am

Re: Rhoad Scholar Travel Tours/Etc.

Post by Lynette »

.....
Last edited by Lynette on Wed Jan 09, 2019 10:58 pm, edited 1 time in total.
t3chiman
Posts: 87
Joined: Wed Mar 18, 2015 12:34 pm

Re: Rhoad Scholar Travel Tours/Etc.

Post by t3chiman »

Barefootgirl wrote:Have any of you undertaken one of these tours? do you recommend them?... demographics? (wondering about age range...)
I recently returned from a Road Scholar trip through Chile and Argentina. There were 12 travelers, 50-80 yrs old, plus an overall guide, plus a local guide wherever we stopped. The trip was as advertised. We saw the sights of Santiago, Valparaiso, and Puerto Varas (Chile), and Bariloche, Buenos Aires, and Iguazu Falls (Argentina). In-country transportation was handled smoothly. The guides were competent and professional. That's the good news.
The bad news? No real bad news. Group tours can get tiresome; you are always on somebody else's schedule. Some places are more interesting than others. The hotels were nice and clean; all had breakfast buffets. Lunch was hit and miss; a couple of box lunches were disappointing. Dinners were OK; I think they could have stepped up their game a notch in food and (especially) wine quality. They arranged for subject matter experts to lecture the group on various topics; I felt the experts were unsure of their audience's intelligence level.

They did OK on arranging unusual places to visit in the more remote areas. That's where the "guided" aspect adds value. In general, there is scant need for professional guides in major cities--a few hours being shown around Santiago or BA is plenty. In fact, after our paid tour, we rented an apartment for a few days, just to casually enjoy BA. Then we were off to El Calafate, to see the Southern Alps. Having nobody to tell us where to go when was a blessing. And, of course, a burden. We struggled a bit with our meager Spanish language skills. But we did OK.
Overall, I give Road Scholar a B, for tours of its type.
User avatar
ResearchMed
Posts: 11219
Joined: Fri Dec 26, 2008 11:25 pm

Never again! Re: Rhoad Scholar Travel Tours/Etc.

Post by ResearchMed »

obgraham and RudyS remind us of our one "almost" trip with Road Scholar.

We were quite excited to find a special trip with Road Scholar in Europe just as full payment (non-refundable) was due.
We arranged awards travel to get there.

They posted the hotels in each of the two cities.
As we *always* do when traveling, we emailed ahead about a critical medical need (one that can easily be arranged, but not at the point of arrival, last minute).
First hotel was very gracious, and we discussed a few other room preferences.
Second hotel wrote back that there was no such group staying there.
We assured them it was, and perhaps a consolidator made the reservation under a different name.
Suffice it to say that after some back and forth, it was clear a) there was NOT an RS group, and b) hotel was completely full.

We contacted RS to alert them.
We got the most absurd gibberish, repeatedly, such as "We are sorry, but we cannot help with additional nights. Participants must do that on their own" or "We cannot guarantee specific room arrangements", etc.
... over and over again.

This was to be during a huge holiday time, so the chance of a group "showing up" and finding rooms elsewhere... not good.

I finally phoned the main offices, and finally reached a VP type person, who seemed alarmed after checking and calling back.
Indeed, NO RESERVATIONS HAD BEEN MADE. And what they finally found was horrible, not even 2 star, in a poor location, and no price reduction (!?).

We were mostly furious at how we had been treated, and forwarded the entire (absurd) email stream to them.

With a short time before departure, we were offered all of our money back, which we gladly took, and "never again with them, if they can't even handle something as critical as this", etc.

We put our air awards points back in our accounts, and found a late availability cruise to Alaska, without any organized "tour".

NOTE: We were already sorry that we had made these plans, as the US State Dept had issued an alert for France and Italy, and we were going to Nice. You got that right... we would have been there shortly before the bombing, but not at the exact time, thank goodness. But it was much too close for comfort.

We had a glorious time in Alaska.
But that was the almost-beginning and definitely the end of RS for us. IF there is a problem, forget it!

RM
This signature is a placebo. You are in the control group.
User avatar
GerryL
Posts: 3040
Joined: Fri Sep 20, 2013 11:40 pm

Re: Rhoad Scholar Travel Tours/Etc.

Post by GerryL »

I've been on several RS tours since retiring and am signed up for two more this year: Amazon cruise in Peru and Cooking in Lyon, France.
I started with a pair of Service programs, preparing dinosaur fossils at a museum lab in Wyoming and getting involved with mammoth fossils at a museum in South Dakota. Although I avoid the large group and bus tours, I did sign up for a bus tour with a smallish group to learn about the geology of the Scablands of eastern Washington. The Rhone river cruise in France made me want to return to visit Lyon, where we spent part of a day.

The quality varies because they are set up by different people in different regions, but I've enjoyed my travels with them, even though in the past I always travelled independently. In my experience the educational content is very good and they don't fill your time taking you to places where you're supposed to spend money buying expensive souvenirs. They provide enough info on their website that you can see whether the activity level and content appeal to you.

I should expand my list of travel providers, but there are still some RS tours I want to go on and I like the educational component.
User avatar
GerryL
Posts: 3040
Joined: Fri Sep 20, 2013 11:40 pm

Re: Rhoad Scholar Travel Tours/Etc.

Post by GerryL »

Oh, and you asked abt RS tour demographics:
The activity level designation and descriptions will give you a good idea. People are encouraged not to sign up for programs that are beyond their abilities. I've been with people who are no where near retirement age and with others who are well into retirement.
littlebird
Posts: 1681
Joined: Sat Apr 10, 2010 6:05 pm
Location: Valley of the Sun, AZ

Re: Rhoad Scholar Travel Tours/Etc.

Post by littlebird »

I too have what I consider a less than flattering story about Roadscholar from what seems like a few years ago, but was actually quite a long time ago. We were RVing in a magnificent California State Park while an Elderhostal group was staying there. One day while biking, we came across the Elderhostel group in a trailside setting, being lectured to about native medicinal plants by what appeared to be a Native American woman. At the lecturer's invitation, we stayed for a while and listened.

We stayed in the park about a month and after the Elderhostel group had gone we were shopping one day in the nearby town when a young white woman with curly red hair said "hi" to us in a very friendly way. We did not recognize her as anyone we had already met and I guess that showed in our faces, for she laughed and said "Oh, I guess you don't recognize me without my wig and dark makeup. I was the "Indian woman" giving the talk on plants to that group when you came by on your bikes." :confused
Post Reply