"Road Scholar" Travel

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Small Law Survivor
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"Road Scholar" Travel

Post by Small Law Survivor » Sat Jan 05, 2019 2:43 pm

My wife and I are looking at the Road Scholar website, and thinking of taking a Europe trip with them. But, I don't know anyone that has used this company:
At Road Scholar, we develop learning adventures for those who want a depth of perspective not found on standard travel excursions. Working with expert faculty, we create one-of-a-kind experiences—rich, multifaceted investigations into every topic and destination. On a Road Scholar trip, you get privileged access to places and experts that we have developed through our extensive global network, a network built over four decades of research and experience.
https://www.roadscholar.org/roadscholar-experience/

Sounds intriguing, but I'm wondering if any Bogleheads have had experiences with them that they can share?

Thanks in advance!
68 yrs, semi-retired lawyer, 50/40/10 s/b/c, 70/30 dom/int'l. Plan: 4% WR until age 70, 3% after social security kicks in. Boglehead since day 1 (and M* Diehard before that) under various other names

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Sage16
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Re: "Road Scholar" Travel

Post by Sage16 » Sat Jan 05, 2019 3:06 pm

I don't have direct experience with them but talking to a couple at a New Years eve party they mentioned that they used them last year on a trip ( I don't call which trip) and they were pleased and would use them again.
Bogle on investing: Diversify, focus on low costs, invest for the long term. Don't speculate and don't be distracted by volatility.

retiredjg
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Re: "Road Scholar" Travel

Post by retiredjg » Sat Jan 05, 2019 4:04 pm

I took a Road Scholar trip last year. It was domestic, not foreign. It was my first time at anything like that. Of course, it was populated with people who have done numerous trips, domestic and foreign, both with Road Scholar and other entities.

I was very satisfied with the trip I took. It was exactly as advertised and even exceeded my expectations a little. Registration was easy and fast. My one phone contact was pleasant and very accurate. Payments were accurate. I had no complaints.

I asked several of my traveling companions if they liked Road Scholar best or something else best. I heard no complaints from them about Road Scholar although some had complaints here and there about a particular hotel room or meal or whatever. None really complained about the Road Scholar program though. Many had been on several to numerous Road Scholar trips.

I plan to take more trips with them.

It might be note-worthy that Road Scholar is a non-profit. I don't know just how unusual that is, but I'm sure it is not the most common type of travel plan around.

DrGoogle2017
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Re: "Road Scholar" Travel

Post by DrGoogle2017 » Sat Jan 05, 2019 4:08 pm

I’m thinking of using them for our Galápagos trip in the future. But I know nothing about it and need to do more research. I think at first glance, prices seem to be reasonable.

Lynette
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Re: "Road Scholar" Travel

Post by Lynette » Sat Jan 05, 2019 4:45 pm

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Last edited by Lynette on Tue Jan 08, 2019 8:20 am, edited 1 time in total.

xb7
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Re: "Road Scholar" Travel

Post by xb7 » Sat Jan 05, 2019 6:04 pm

I've done one trip with them and my wife has done two.

The trip we both did was to China a few years ago, and we found it to be a great experience, I'd definitely recommend them based on that trip.

My wife did a sort of "easy hiking in the southwest" trip along with a friend with them, if I recall correctly, and she was happy with that trip too.

I loathe the name of the company, but other than that --- a good choice I think.

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GerryL
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Re: "Road Scholar" Travel

Post by GerryL » Sat Jan 05, 2019 6:40 pm

I've been travelling with RS since I retired in 2014, a couple of domestic trips, one to eastern Canada last year, one to Peru, and the rest to France. It's the only programmed-tour group I've travelled with (so far).

While they used to be known for more budget/simple travel, many of their trips now are more upscale (and becoming even more so). I prefer to take their "Afloat" programs because I don't want to spend a lot of time in a bus. I did the Provence to Paris cruise on the Rhone, a barge tour in Alsace and a cooking program in Lyon (Love Lyon!), and this September I will be doing the Loire River cruise program. They are doing a new thing now where they take over an entire vessel and subdivide the passengers into smaller groups to tour. The Loire tour will be my first experience with that.

Obviously I like the RS travel style -- which is focused on education rather than shopping -- and have had good experiences with the program directors, who are local professionals. Every experience is going to be different due to the staffing and, importantly, the other travelers. I always look for the small group programs, and if it doesn't specify "small group" I call and ask what the maximum is.

DM me if you have any specific questions.

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Allocationist
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Re: "Road Scholar" Travel

Post by Allocationist » Sat Jan 05, 2019 6:43 pm

We have traveled with Road Scholar (R.S.) ten times. Our destinations included China, Antarctica, Chilean Patagonia, Cuba, Alaska, Machu Picchu, Galapagos, Italy, France, European River Cruise from (Amsterdam to Budapest), Columbia River Gorge (from Astoria, Oregon to the Snake River in Idaho), and Yellowstone in winter. We enjoyed every trip and are pleased with R.S.

The trips have an education focus- not shopping. The guides and presenters range from very good to excellent. They often include university-trained instructors including professors. Most trips have relatively small groups and they usually have extra seating on buses so you are not cramped. They tend to "go the extra mile" to provide participants with a good experience. For example, during our China Great Wall visit they took us a longer distance at (their) extra expense to a location that was not jammed with tourists.

They do a very good job of taking care of participants. For example, in Ecuador one of our fellow travelers developed an unusual circulatory problem in one leg. She had several flareups and the R.S. staff arranged for quality medical care in multiple cities.

Fellow international participants are usually well-traveled and congenial. We usually use R.S. for our air arrangements. If so, they meet you at the airport on arrival and accompany you to your departure airport to see you off.

Quality of accommodations vary but usually run in the three stars+ to four stars on a scale of five. For some reason R.S. seems to be including more "meals on your own." We prefer to have our meals arranged- especially in countries where English is not the first language. YMMV.

Hope this helps!

DrGoogle2017
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Re: "Road Scholar" Travel

Post by DrGoogle2017 » Sat Jan 05, 2019 6:51 pm

GerryL wrote:
Sat Jan 05, 2019 6:40 pm
I've been travelling with RS since I retired in 2014, a couple of domestic trips, one to eastern Canada last year, one to Peru, and the rest to France. It's the only programmed-tour group I've travelled with (so far).

While they used to be known for more budget/simple travel, many of their trips now are more upscale (and becoming even more so). I prefer to take their "Afloat" programs because I don't want to spend a lot of time in a bus. I did the Provence to Paris cruise on the Rhone, a barge tour in Alsace and a cooking program in Lyon (Love Lyon!), and this September I will be doing the Loire River cruise program. They are doing a new thing now where they take over an entire vessel and subdivide the passengers into smaller groups to tour. The Loire tour will be my first experience with that.

Obviously I like the RS travel style -- which is focused on education rather than shopping -- and have had good experiences with the program directors, who are local professionals. Every experience is going to be different due to the staffing and, importantly, the other travelers. I always look for the small group programs, and if it doesn't specify "small group" I call and ask what the maximum is.

DM me if you have any specific questions.
We are going to visit Lyon due to your comment here. We’re foodie, so it’s a plus.

obgraham
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Re: "Road Scholar" Travel

Post by obgraham » Sat Jan 05, 2019 6:59 pm

We've done a couple of RS overseas trips, and feel about the same as Allocationist posted below. They really do look out for the people on their trips, and they keep the group size to a manageable amount -- usually not a 35-busfiller. The pace of the trips is geared to older folks -- for some that is a plus, and others a negative. The speakers have always been topnotch -- Russian and Peruvian speakers were superb.

My only complaint was with the agencies they used to make the travel arrangements. Our Galapagos segment was a series of foulups in the travel, mostly due to the agency, and RS did not really step up to their job there. Once we moved on to Peru, things returned to good.

I think they have a good product overall -- on a level with OAT.

stan1
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Re: "Road Scholar" Travel

Post by stan1 » Sat Jan 05, 2019 7:17 pm

obgraham wrote:
Sat Jan 05, 2019 6:59 pm
I think they have a good product overall -- on a level with OAT.
Right, I think you'd want to compare itineraries, group size, amount of time on a bus, and cost with OAT (Overseas Adventure Travel). These types of group excursions aren't my preference but my aunts in retirement with good teacher pensions use both companies and like both.

1year23
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Re: "Road Scholar" Travel

Post by 1year23 » Sat Jan 05, 2019 7:28 pm

I have been on three hiking trips with Road Scholars. In general, the other guests have been very, very nice people with a lot of travel experience and the leaders top notch. Some of the trips can be physically challenging and others are more study type trips. They have an incredible selection of trips and I highly recommend them.

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Steelersfan
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Re: "Road Scholar" Travel

Post by Steelersfan » Sat Jan 05, 2019 9:44 pm

I have a good friend who's taken many trips with them to multiple continents. She keeps going back to them so that says a lot about them.

Swimmer
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Re: "Road Scholar" Travel

Post by Swimmer » Sun Jan 06, 2019 6:52 pm

I’ve taken five trips with RS. The most recent was a riverboat cruise this past Spring. It was beyond my expectations—pure luxury on a Crystal Cruise new riverboat Bach. Our group leaders were outstanding and knowledgeable. They couldn’t have been better. Yes, it was pricey but I’m retired, travel solo and enjoy luxury and the camaraderie of the group.

I’m planning another with them in June—a Crystal Cruise in Scandinavia. Anyone interested?

Oh, and yes, they are classified as not-for-profit (under “Elderhostel”). If you’re tempted to give them a donation, have a look at their IRS990 first.

Topic Author
Small Law Survivor
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Re: "Road Scholar" Travel

Post by Small Law Survivor » Mon Jan 07, 2019 2:24 pm

Thank you all for these comments - hope to try Road Scholar this year. Small Law Survivor
68 yrs, semi-retired lawyer, 50/40/10 s/b/c, 70/30 dom/int'l. Plan: 4% WR until age 70, 3% after social security kicks in. Boglehead since day 1 (and M* Diehard before that) under various other names

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Summit111
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Re: "Road Scholar" Travel

Post by Summit111 » Mon Jan 07, 2019 2:41 pm

We took a trip with them to Cuba last year. The guides and the people we met on the trip were outstanding. The Cuban and U.S. governments have several requirements for American citizens traveling to Cuba and ours was a person to person type visit, We met college professors, foreign diplomats, students, artists, musicians, and just every day people.

We were part of a small group having aproximately 14 people total.... Had an eclectic group of travelers including Harvard and MIT professor's, attorneys, physicians, a research scientist, and us. One of the most unexpected parts of the trip was the interaction between us travelers.

Road Scholar allows for plenty of free time to explore on your own, as well as pointing out things to see and do on your own time. I actually sat in with several Cuban bands.... To my wife and I, it was the trip of a lifetime. Can't recommend them more highly...

Our next Road Scholar a venture will be to Italy...Pricey, but totally worth it...

Summit
“Got my mind on my money, and my money on my mind!” Snoop Dog

MandyT
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Re: "Road Scholar" Travel

Post by MandyT » Tue Jan 08, 2019 9:35 am

I took a two-week, classical music focused trip to Europe using Road Scholar in May 2018. I was very satisfied. Our excursion included several events and meet-and-greets that were not available to members of the general public. I'm usually more of an independent self-planner than a group itinerary person, but the "value added" aspects made me glad I was affiliated with the group.

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gasdoc
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Re: "Road Scholar" Travel

Post by gasdoc » Tue Jan 08, 2019 7:52 pm

We hiked The Badlands of South Dakota with them last year, and are planning another hiking trip in the fall. The thing that makes them different would be the lectures by local experts they have arranged for the evenings. I recommend them. I think they are very economical- they seem to spend money on the basics, but not necessarily luxury. That said, we were hiking in the national parks so I am not sure how luxurious I would expect them to be.

gasdoc

perl
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Re: "Road Scholar" Travel

Post by perl » Tue Jan 08, 2019 10:21 pm

Road Scholar used to be Elderhostel, so they have a long history.

An older friend of mine took one of their trips last month and was very positive about it.

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