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Educational Tours: Learning on the Go

3. Incorporate learning thoughtfully.

The last place your group wants to be while at an exotic destination is inside a classroom. Work with the tour operator to include educational discussions without interrupting the flow of the tour.

Alumni travel groups often bring a current professor along on the trip to provide additional learning opportunities. This study leader can work with the trip’s tour director ahead of time so the two don’t present duplicate material.

“The study leader is going to impart knowledge throughout the tour in dedicated lectures and in general talks during the day and at meals,” said Bonchi. “If the study leader’s specialty is x, y and z, the tour director will focus his talks on something else. They complement each other.”

Whether or not your group chooses to bring a study leader, include more ways for your members to learn by doing than by listening. For example, instead of a simple lecture on local cuisine, build in a cooking class.

“Most of the alumni groups don’t want to be overwhelmed with a classroom setting,” said Browne. “But who doesn’t love a good vineyard visit? Farm and vineyard visits where they have local cheese tastings or local wine tastings are usually a big hit.”

Teaching your group through hands-on cultural experiences rather than just lectures creates memorable firsthand knowledge on a subject not likely to be soon forgotten.


4. Find a wow factor itinerary.

Instead of taking a typical group tour and throwing in some educational aspects, try to find a more striking and unusual itinerary.

“The best way to stand out from the crowd is to highlight the unique aspects incorporated into the itinerary,” said Browne. “If the planners show that they are setting their itinerary apart from a more general program, then they are more likely to attract people who are more serious about traveling.”

Choose more up-and-coming destinations like Croatia or take a familiar destination like Italy and visit only the lesser-known small towns. World Cultural Tours often advises clients to think outside the box when constructing an itinerary.

“Overnight in destinations that aren’t must-see’s,” said Browne. “We find you get a much more authentic experience by doing so.”

For prepackaged itineraries with tour operators like Odysseys Unlimited, group You can often request attached excursions you know your group will love. On the University of Michigan’s alumni trip to China, the group attended a performance from the school’s orchestra, which performed in China the same time the group visited.

These types of memorable excursions and destinations both educate and grab the attention of travelers who might otherwise choose a different tour. But don’t get so absorbed in planning activities that you cut into precious leisure time.

“You have to find a balance between planned activities and downtime,” said Browne. “We don’t want to fill the itinerary too much to where we take the opportunity to explore away from them.”