Road Scholar

time icon 6 min read update icon Sept. 20, 2019
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A combination of travel and learning can make for the trip of a lifetime. Road Scholar offers both: these trips are a great way to expand your horizons.

We all love to get away for a vacation. However, deciding where to go and what you might want to see or do in that location can be difficult. There are lots of tour companies out there, but Road Scholar is a tour company that offers a unique twist on the group tour vacation. All its trips are ‘learning adventures.’ You can travel to a foreign country or to somewhere in the U.S. where you can learn about art, nature, or food and wine, all while traveling. There are more than 5,500 tours to choose from. Check out Road Scholar if you want to get away and make your vacation something special.

Grandfolk Scoring
Food 6/10
Ease 10/10
Getting there 10/10
Accommodations 10/10
Cost 8/10
Trip length 10/10
Warranty 5/10
Cancellation 10/10
Customer support 6/10
Medical insurance 10/10
Travel locations 10/10
Activity level 10/10
Can you accommodate special diets?
Not all programs can accommodate a special diet. Meal options are provided in the description of each program.
How easy is it to sign up?
You can sign up online or by calling the number on the website.
Getting there
Are international travel and ground transportation included?
The company can arrange your travel, usually at a better price than you can get on your own.
What kinds of accommodations are provided?
These vary, and can range from an historic hotel to a river barge. Accommodations are chosen to meet very high standards.
How much do the trips cost and what is included?
Tours range from $650 to almost $9,000 depending on the length of the trip, its location and the dates of travel. Enrollment covers all expenses, including field trips, lodging, meals, gratuities and group transportation.
Trip length
How long are the trips you offer?
Trips range from as short as 2 days to more than 28 days.
What if I am unhappy with my experience?
Unfortunately, if you have a lousy experience, there isn’t much you can do. Any claims are subject to arbitration.
Cost and difficulty to cancel?
Road Scholar offers ‘cancel for any reason’ coverage which covers most common reasons, but if you must cancel for a reason not covered by the insurance, you will receive a credit for future travel with Road Scholar.
Customer support
Ease of access to customer service
The office is open 8 AM-9 PM EST Mon-Fri. You can also send an email or chat online during regular business hours.
Medical insurance
What if I have a medical emergency while I’m on the trip?
Road Scholar includes an Assurance Plan for emergency evacuation, medical escort and other expenses in the trip fee.
Travel locations
Where can I go on these trips?
You can travel to places in North America, South America, Asia, Africa, Europe, Australia and even Antarctica.
Activity level
What is the activity level on the trips?
Each trip is ranked based on five activity levels, from ‘Easy’ to ‘Let’s go!’
Age Score:
50-64 Years
65-74 Years
75-84 Years

Road Scholar caters to older, seasoned travelers, or as they state it: “Baby boomers and beyond.” The trips are aimed at lifelong learners who want to have new experiences. Tours are rated by five different activity levels, from ‘Easy’ to ‘Let’s Go!’ On an ‘Easy’ or ‘Easy-going’ tour, you might enjoy a lecture, visit an international film festival, or learn a new craft. On a ‘Let’s Go!’ tour, you might tour a city on foot, climb through caves, learn traditional dances in Madrid, or search for Asian tigers on a safari. 

All outdoor adventures are also rated from ‘No sweat’ to ‘Challenging.’ Road Scholar even offers ‘intergenerational’ trips for grandparents and their grandchildren. Individuals of any age and ability level can find a great vacation here. 

Health Score:
Poor Health
Fair Health
Good Health
Great Health

Seniors who are in great or good health, and perhaps even in fair health, may find value in trips geared toward their ideal activity level. Those in poor health will most likely find themselves spending their days waiting for their traveling partner to return from an adventure. Some of the adventures allow you to be a ‘non-program participant’ with a traveling companion who is participating. All Road Scholar trips include an Assurance Plan, which provides medical evacuation and medical escort if necessary. The plan also ensures that your vehicle will be returned to your home if you need to be medically evacuated. 


  • Trips are geared to various activity levels. This enables almost anyone to participate in an adventure.
  • Trips include all expenses (lodging, most meals, gratuities and group travel).
  • Scholarships are available for those who may not have the means to participate. Road Scholar also offers caregiver grants for those who need a respite.
  • If you want to travel solo, you do not need to pay extra for a single room.
  • Excellent website; includes discussion boards to connect with others who will be on the same trip, and allows you to search for adventures based on destination, activity level, attractions, and length of the tour.


  • Not enough free time to explore a location away from the group.
  • Some complaints of lower activity level than advertised.
  • Tours use local guides, so there may be inconsistencies in knowledge and experience.

Bottom Line:

Road Scholar has been in business for over 40 years. Its mission is to inspire adults to learn, discover and travel. The company has successfully created a variety of options for all activity levels, and continues to create innovative educational experiences. Since its inception, more than 5 million people have traveled with Road Scholar. Granted, there are people who have not had a great experience, but that happens when companies serve so many people. 

Road Scholar gives 30 grants each year to people who cannot afford a trip; usually to caregivers who need a respite. It is a non-profit organization and is accredited by, an arm of the Better Business Bureau. The company meets the 20 standards used to evaluate charities for accountability. Road Scholar provides such a variety of options that most everyone will find a tour that suits them. At the very least, this is a worthwhile cause to support.

Frequently Asked Questions:

Can I add extra days before or after my trip? Many of the adventures offer extensions either before or after the program. These can be a few nights long, or even longer. You can also make your own plans to arrive early or stay longer.

What happens if world events might impact a trip? Road Scholar puts safety first. If the company decides to cancel a program, you can either get a refund or transfer your tuition to another program. 

Do you make provisions for disabilities? For programs in the U.S., Road Scholar is committed to providing reasonable accommodations to enable those with disabilities to participate. For programs outside the U.S., the company is more limited in what it can provide. You are encouraged to call Road Scholar to discuss possible options for a program you are considering.

More Information:

Product Details



Overview:  Road Scholar offers over 5,500 learning adventures of various lengths in various locations around the world. All packages include lodging, most meals, and group transportation. Upon request, the company will book international travel for you.

Package Details: With over 5,500 tours, it would be impossible to explain every option. Tours are considered experiential learning adventures, where expert faculty will guide the tour group in learning about a place, culture or history. Groups often make special crafts, paint or go on outdoor adventures. Tours vary in length from two days to over one month. Programs are all-inclusive. Lectures, field trips, lodging, most meals, gratuities and group transportation are included in the tour price. You can check the status of your enrollment in your online account on the website.

Other Services: None


Additional Company Details

Contract Details: You can sign up online or call the number on the website. You will need to pay a deposit when you sign up for a trip. Each program has a specific deposit amount, cancellation and transfer terms, and information on when you need to pay the balance. This information is listed on the website. It is advised that you purchase trip cancellation insurance either through Road Scholar or another company offering travel insurance. 

Warranty: Road Scholar offers ‘cancel for any reason’ coverage, but if you must cancel for a reason not covered by insurance, you will receive a credit for future travel with Road Scholar.

Accreditations: Road Scholar is considered an accredited charity and meets the 20 standards for Charity Accountability by, the Better Business Bureau Wise Giving Alliance. 

Company Details: Road Scholar began as ‘Elderhostel’ in the 1970s. The company was born when Marty Knowlton returned from four years of backpacking in Europe and was hired as director of the University of New Hampshire’s youth hostel program. He and his friend, David Bianco, decided to create more opportunities for American adults to travel, learn and stay active and engaged during retirement. They decided to use the model of the European hostel. 

Elderhostel was born in 1975, and by 1980, more than 20,000 adults had participated in one of their adventures. The company rebranded with the name Road Scholar in 2010. Road Scholar is a not-for-profit organization, a designation which allows it to keep costs low and its mission focused on inspiring adults to learn, discover and travel. You can donate to the cause if you wish.


Road Scholar
11 Avenue de Lafayette
Boston, MA 02111
Tel: 800-454-5768

Donna McDurfee - Senior Advisor

Donna is senior researcher with Grandfolk® providing in-depth product and service reviews to empower senior buying decisions.