Enrichment Travel

So, what is Enrichment Travel anyway?

There is a travel company who has the tag line Come Back Different.

That sort of sums it up for me. When I was younger, a vacation was a chance to get away and do something - go fishing, go to the beach, climb a mountain. As I have gotten older, I am more interested in going somewhere I haven't been before and, while I'm there, I want to learn something about the history, the culture, the animals or the geography. In other words I used to value coming back with a suntan, now I look forward to coming back different.

I have spent some time thinking and researching various travel opportunities. How do I define an enrichment opportunity?

I don't think most large ship companies fit. They might have a lecture or two but the emphasis is on the casino, the dining room, and the Las Vegas style shows.

Many small ship companies do qualify as learning experiences. Some can be classed as "adventure" cruises - they will have a naturalist on board with nightly lectures about what you saw during the day. Other small ships, river cruises for example, focus on history, culture (art and music), and lifestyle (food and wine).

Many tours will qualify - especially those to exotic destinations like China, Africa, or India. Tour operators are modifying itineraries to include more learning experiences - lunch with a Tuscan family, behind the scenes tour of the winery, or a cooking class with a well known local chef.

The list below includes companies that, in my opinion, offer Enrichment Travel:

River Cruises

There are river cruises available all over the world. It is easily the fastest growing travel option today. Collectively they could be considered the poster child for Enrichment Travel. With included excursions, history and culture lectures, and lots of "behind the scenes" opportunities they are all about enrichment. The last several years have seen river cruise ships grow at a very rapid rate - last year saw more than 10 new ships put into service.

In Europe there are 7 companies focusing on the Engilsh speaking traveler. Just like large ships, some are aimed at the mass market and first time cruisers and some bill themselves to be for the luxury traveler (and generally their fares reflect this orientation). The two or three in the middle are often the best choice for value and experience.

Aside from the growth in numbers another factor to consider is where they are cruising:

Small Ships

Many small ship companies emphasize enrichment. The ones that do fall into two categories - learning about culture and history or exploring the natural world (adventure or expedition travel).

Here are some examples:


China is a bucket list item for many people but one that is not that often acted on because it is perceived as exotic, far away, and expensive. Some things have taken place lately that is changing that perception.

The summer olympics in 2012 generated interest and China's economic growth has resulted in upgrades to the infrastructure (hotels, transportation, etc.). One result of increased interest and more comfortable travel atmosphere is a considerable increase in the number of companies offering trips and the trip options available.

If your bucket list includes China, you may want to consider checking that item off.

In choosing to offer China trips to our clients we wanted to minimize the drawbacks that have always been associated China travel. The company we partner with, in our opinion, offers the best combination of price and worry free travel that is available. Their packages include:

Here are a few examples:

China Experience - 10 days CLICK HERE for flyer and HERE for details

Wonders of China - 16 days CLICK HERE for flyer and HERE for details

Magnificent China - 21 days CLICK HERE for flyer and HERE for details

Grand Yangtze   - 19 days CLICK HERE for flyer and HERE for details


As with big ships and small ships, tour companies target different segments of the traveling public - the budget, luxury, or premier traveler. As usual the decision on which to emphasize is a balance between cost and experience.

There is no doubt that the luxury operators in this space (Tauck, National Geographic, Insight) offer exceptional experiences. We have to look closely at the cost vs. benefit ratio to decide whether one of them is the right choice.

The budget operators (Cosmos, Image Tours) offer good experiences for first time travelers but their level of enrichment opportunity is definitely lower.

The majority of companies we recommend fall into what I would call the premier group - the experiences are very close to the luxury operators but the prices are more reasonable. They include Globus, Trafalgar, Brendan and a few others. For the most part these companies can send you anywhere in the world - US, Europe, Asia, Australia, and Africa.

Specialty tour companies limit their tours to certain areas. For some destinations they might be a better choice than the big companies that cover the world. One of our responsibilities is to compare offerings between companies to find the best price and experience based on your expectations. Examples of destinations that might suggest a comparison are China, Japan, India, Africa, and Australia.

The old cliche from the world of tours, "if it's Tuesday, it much be Belgium", is not appropriate with today's tours. You will find that many offer longer stays in one location - 2 or 3 nights at a time. They then use what is called "hub and spoke" touring - go a different direction each day from a central location.

Also there are many alternatives to the traditional escorted tour - time on your own during a guided vacation or much more independent city stay options.

What's next?

If you like the idea of "Coming Back Different", here's what you do. Pick an experience that appeals to you - that thing that is on the top of your bucket list. Let us know what it is and we'll make a recommendation and give you a quote.

Adventure Travel

There are many enrichment travel options that include some level of adventure. If a trip is identified as adventure travel, how do you decide if it's something you would like?

The two basic adventure levels are hard and soft. Hard adventure suggests (often requires) a pretty active person. Hard might suggest a long day of hiking, possibly some level of camping out, or rafting on a pretty difficult river.

Soft adventure generally appeals to most seniors. Yes, you should be in decent shape for physical activity. Able to walk for a couple of hours at a time. Maybe spend an hour in a kayak. But you shouldn't be concerned about the process being too demanding. Most adventure companies will code their tours as to the activity level to expect.


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