Hostels aren’t just for the young. If you dream of traveling the world during your golden years, an elder hostel can help you do so on a budget. There are many options available in different countries around the globe.

What Is an Elderhostel?

While hostels are typically cheap, no-frills places for young students, travelers and workers to stay, an elder hostel is something slightly different.

The term elder hostel comes from Elderhostel, the original name of a non-profit organization which has since changed its name to Road Scholar. Road Scholar began in 1975 as a learning and lodging program for older adults. These days, Road Scholar provides programs in all 50 states in the United States, as well as in 150 other countries.

Road Scholar adventures emphasize education, providing participants with a chance to learn about the places they visit. The trips vary considerable in terms of length. Some last for only a few days; others last for longer than a month. There are many trips that last for a week or two.

How Much Do Elderhostel Trips Cost?

The price of a Road Scholar trip varies considerably, just as the lengths of the trips do. Some are only a few hundred dollars, but others can cost up to several thousands of dollars, especially the ones that last for more than a month.

The price includes transportation, lodging and meals, so it really is a good deal. However, even a good deal can be too expensive if you simply don’t have the funds. Road Scholar offers scholarships and caregiver grants to help make the programs even more affordable.

Programs Designed for Older Adults

Most of the people who participate in Road Scholar Programs are over 50 years old. Although many people travel with a friend or spouse, it’s also common for people to travel alone. When doing so, you can choose to have a private room or to get a roommate.

Each trip comes with an activity level rating that ranges from “easy going” to “outdoor: spirited.” When selecting a program, make sure the activity level is appropriate for you.

Exploring the World with Elderhostels and Road Scholar

what is an elderhostel
Are you a mature adult looking to embark on exciting learning adventures and educational travel adventures around the world? If so, you should consider the fantastic opportunities offered by Elderhostels, now known as Road Scholar programs.

These experiences can enhance positive service experiences, strengthen relationships, and provide extraordinary access to a wealth of knowledge and cultural enrichment.

Evolution from Elderhostel to Road Scholar

The term “elder hostel” was originally coined from the non-profit organization Elderhostel, which was founded in 1975. Over the years, this organization underwent fundamental changes and rebranded itself as Road Scholar.

Road Scholar’s programs are tailored to cater to the specific needs and interests of older travelers. They offer a diverse range of program offerings, from short field trips to extended journeys that span several weeks. This variety ensures that there’s something for everyone, regardless of their preferred travel duration or activity level.

Learning Adventures and Educational Travel

One of the key features that sets Road Scholar programs apart is their focus on education. Participants have the unique opportunity to learn about the history, culture, and traditions of the places they visit, often from local experts and expert instructors. These programs stimulate discourse and provide participants with an insider’s perspective, enriching their travel experiences in profound ways.

Throughout the trips, participants engage in a wide range of activities and excursions designed to provide extraordinary access to historical sites, museums, and natural wonders. These experiences not only promote personal development but also create lasting memories and strengthen relationships among participants.

Affordability and Inclusivity

While the quality and educational value of Road Scholar programs are great, it’s important to consider the costs. The price of these programs can vary widely,

depending on the destination, duration, and level of comfort. Some programs are quite affordable, costing only a few hundred dollars, making them accessible to a wide range of older adults.

However, longer and more exotic trips can be cost several thousand dollars. While these programs provide excellent value, it’s important to consider your budget and financial circumstances.

Alternatives to Road Scholar

While Road Scholar is a leader in the field of educational travel for older adults, there are other organizations like Overseas Adventure Travel that also cater to this demographic. These alternatives offer a variety of vacation packages designed to explore the world and provide unique experiences for those over 50. Exploring different options can help you find the right fit for your travel preferences and interests.

what is an elderhostel

11 Recommendations

Before we delve into recommendations for the top 10 most visited vacation destinations around the world, it’s crucial to emphasize the importance of careful planning and choosing the right educational travel program. To simplify your journey and explore the world with confidence, consider using TravelStride’s website, which offers a comprehensive list of operators, including Road Scholar trips. This platform provides valuable insights and resources to help you make informed decisions when booking your next adventure.

11 Recommendations Quick Links


what is an elderhostel
Discover French artistry from the Mediterranean to Paris, reveling in museums, sculpture gardens, vineyards and the timeless landscapes that inspired many of Europe’s masters.

Road Scholar French Art Voyage: Paris, the Rhone and the French Riviera

Learn the stories of Paris and Normandy alongside historians as you explore landmarks, museums, Châteaux and war monuments on an enriching adventure with your grandchild.

Road Scholar Exploring the Seine from Paris to Normandy with Your Grandchild

Only Paris is Paris. Enjoy an easy-paced discovery as you join local experts to learn about the museums, art, architecture and renowned cuisine that make this city one-of-a-kind.

Road Scholar Paris at a Slower Pace: Art and Culture in the City of Light

Paris, the City of Love, is a must-visit destination for its rich history, art, and culture. While in Paris, TravelStride offers in-depth explorations of iconic landmarks like the Palace of Versailles and the Eiffel Tower. For first timers, we recommend the “Paris for the first time” program, which is a customizable, 4-day tour that immerses you in the world of French art and history.

Paris for the First Time

For those heavily interested in the landmarks, we recommend the “Paris and Versailles” program.Paris and Versailles


what is an elderhostel
With top instructors and ample time, discover Italy’s incredible art, architecture, history, food and more in three of the world’s most spectacular cities – Rome, Florence and Venice.

Road Scholar Italian Extravaganza: Rome, Florence and Venice at their Finest

Discover the timeless beauty, architectural grandeur, world-class cuisine and unparalleled cultural legacy of one of Europe’s most dynamic cities — Venice, with this self-guided independent tour.

Road Scholar Independent Venice: Power and Beauty

Rome’s ancient ruins, stunning architecture, and rich history make it a captivating destination. TravelStride offers immersive explorations of iconic landmarks like the Colosseum and the Vatican. For a comprehensive experience, we recommend “Your Rome City Break,” which takes you on a journey through the city’s most famous sites over 4 days.

Your Rome City Break

For a more extensive vacation, we recommend “Romantic Italy,” which takes you on a 9 day tour around Italy, stopping in Rome, Florence, and Venice.

Romantic Italy


Porto Portugal
Discover the charms of Portugal on an 11-day tour, beginning and ending in the capital city of Lisbon. Explore the country’s different landscapes, from the northern cities to the warm southern coast, experiencing its rich history and culture. This tour offers guided sightseeing that showcase the nation’s most significant highlights in comfort and elegance. From a wine tasting session at a renowned port wine cellar in Porto and to unwinding in the Algarve, Portugal’s premier vacation destination, this tour does it all.

Best of Portugal

Experience the capital of Portugal with a see-it-all 5-day tour of Lisbon. Immerse yourself in the city’s vibrant history and culture by visiting the classic landmarks and enjoy a guided walking tour through its cobbled streets. On your third day, explore the surrounding areas on a scenic bus tour. Finish your vacation by unwinding in the unique atmosphere and offerings of the city of 7 hills.

Lisbon Getaway

Go on a magical journey through the Portugal countryside and see its historical marvels. This fairytale tour takes you from the surreal medieval castles of Sintra to the steep cliffs of Cabo de Roca, once believed to be the edge of the world. Continue to the mystical Chapel of Bones in Évora, combining visits to historic sites with the beauty of natural and spiritual destinations for an unforgettable adventure.

Wonders of Portugal

For the foodies of the world, this eight-day culinary journey through Galicia and Portugal may be more appealing. You’ll explore the markets in Santiago de Compostela, enjoy a traditional francesinha in Porto, discover Portuguese cuisine with tastings in the Douro Valley and a cooking class in Alentejo, and you’ll cap off your adventure in Lisbon, sampling local specialties like ginjinha and Portuguese tarts.

Portugal Real Food Adventure, featuring Galicia

Wondering what to do in Lisbon, Portugal? Check out this article.


what is an elderhostel

Delight in the beauty of Thailand as you enjoy gentle hikes, walks, canoe rides and boat excursions through its cultural and natural wonders.

Road Scholar Best of Thailand: An Exploration of the Culture and Kingdom

Discover the people, places and cultures that make Southeast Asia one of the most fascinating places in the world on this exploration of Thailand, Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam.

Road Scholar The Best of Southeast Asia – Thailand, Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam

Bangkok’s vibrant street life, ornate temples, and delectable cuisine make it a cultural hotspot. TravelStride offers insightful tours that take you beyond the tourist trail, allowing you to immerse yourself in the city’s rich heritage. For an authentic experience, we recommend the “Thailand in 9 Days” program, where you will spend 3 days in Bangkok, before exploring the rest of what Thailand has to offer.

Amazing Thailand in 9 Days

For those wanting something romantic, the “Thailand Honeymoon Packages” will fulfill your every need.

Paradise Untouched: Thailand Honeymoon Package

New York City

what is an elderhostel
Discover authentic New York on insider-led walks as you learn about architecture, historic monuments and cultural institutions in each of the city’s five boroughs.

Road Scholar New York, Five Days, Five Boroughs

Fulfill a dream and come to New York to attend two performances at the Metropolitan Opera House. Plus, enjoy a private demonstration by an outstanding professional singer!

Road Scholar Ultimate Opera: Two Productions at the Met

Hear New Yorkers’ formidable stories and join art, architecture and history experts to explore New York at a slower pace.

Road Scholar New York at a Slower Pace: The Best of the Big Apple

New York City’s bustling streets, iconic landmarks, and diverse culture make it a top destination for travelers. TravelStride offers a variety of tours that cater to different interests and preferences. For a first time trip to the city, we recommend the “New York City at a Slower Pace,” which allows you to immerse yourself in everything New York City has to offer over 6 days.

New York City at a Slower Pace

For those who are deeply interested in the New York art scene, we recommend the “All-Art Experience in New York City. This tour takes you on guided tours of the Met, MoMA, and more.

All-Art Experience in New York City: Met, MoMA and Mor


what is an elderhostel
Journey through the hills of Andalusia to uncover the hidden gems of whitewashed villages and meet friendly locals excited to teach you about their culture, history and cuisine.

Road Scholar The Hidden Villages of Andalusia

Madrid and Barcelona are two of Europe’s most culturally fascinating cities. Join our experts for an insider’s perspective of these Old World gems, all at your own comfortable pace.

Road Scholar Spain at a Slower Place: The Best of Barcelona and Madrid

Madrid and Barcelona’s unique architecture, vibrant street life, and rich cultural heritage make them a favorite among travelers. TravelStride offers immersive tours that allow you to delve into these city’s history and traditions. For newcomers to Spain, we recommend the “Spain in 8 Days,” which takes you on a journey through Barcelona and Madrid, spending 4 whole days in Barcelona.

Spain in 8 Days – Magical Madrid & Vibrant Barcelona

For someone who wants to experience everything Spain has to offer, we recommend “Classic Spain,” which has you spend the better part of a month in the country, touring every major city including 2 days in Barcelona.

Classic Spain


what is an elderhostel
Take the adventure of a lifetime as you dive deep into the ancient culture of Japan, discovering iconic monuments, ancient traditions and world-renowned cuisine.

Road Scholar The Cultural Highlights of Japan

Through mountain trails, rural farmland and lush forests you’ll discover authentic Japan. With local experts, explore Western Japan on foot to learn about the culture and history.

Road Scholar Walking Western Japan: Mountain Paths and Hidden Temples

Tokyo’s blend of ancient traditions and modern innovation makes it a fascinating destination to explore. TravelStride offers curated tours that showcase the city’s diverse attractions and hidden gems. For a cultural experience, we recommend the “Essential Japan,” which immerses you in Tokyo tradition, as well as taking you to the ancient city of Kyoto for 3 days.

Essential Japan with Rural Shirakawa-go

If you want to immerse yourself in Japanese culture, the “Japan Highlights 10 Day Tour” is the way to go. You will learn to roll Sushi, take a Kendo class, and much more.

Japan Highlights 10 Day Tour


what is an elderhostel
Espionage. The British monarchy. International diplomacy. It’s hard to think of a more “royal” way to celebrate Road Scholar’s 40th anniversary than by joining some of our top instructors for an iconic voyage aboard the QM2. With intelligence expert Nigel West, Royal Editor Robert Jobson, former Royal Protection Officer Ken Wharfe and diplomat Charles Anson, get the insider’s perspective on the British government, culture and much more on this fascinating journey from New York City to London!

Road Scholar Best of Britain: Iconic Voyage from New York to London Aboard the QM2

Immerse yourself in the customs and traditions of modern Celtic communities as you journey along the coastlines of England, Wales, Scotland and Ireland on board the ms Prinsendam.

Road Scholar The British Isles by Sea: Ireland, Scotland and England – Cruise

Find out why Britain has fascinated generations of travelers as you explore Roman ruins in London, castles in North Wales, Shakespeare’s Stratford-upon-Avon and iconic Christ Church.

Road Scholar Quintessential Britain

London’s rich history, royal palaces, and world-class museums make it a must-visit destination for travelers. TravelStride offers comprehensive tours that highlight the city’s iconic landmarks and cultural treasures. For a royal experience, we recommend the “London Like a Royal,” which takes you on a journey through the city’s royal history and heritage.

London Like A Royal – A Deluxe Journey

If you want to be more independent, we recommend “Accessible London,” which takes away the stress of lodging during your stay.

Accessible London

United Arab Emirates

what is an elderhostel

Dubai’s futuristic skyscrapers, luxurious resorts, and desert landscapes make it a captivating destination. TravelStride offers curated tours that showcase the city’s architectural wonders and cultural attractions. For an unforgettable experience, we recommend the “See and Experience it all, 1st Class Custom Tours” which allows you to explore the city’s desert surroundings and experience traditional culture in 6 days.

United Arab Emirates: See & Experience it ALL in 6 Days

For those interested in the Burj Khalifa and other architectural masterpieces, we recommend the “Architecture and Design” tour, which shows you the most impressive architectural masterpieces in the world.

Architecture & Design: Dubai & Abu Dhabi


what is an elderhostel
Turn your world upside down on an adventure in Australia, where you will learn about iconic architecture, unique wildlife and the distinct cultures of Melbourne, Adelaide and Sydney.

Road Scholar Discover a Land Down Under: Melbourne, Adelaide and Sydney

Voyage on a premium ocean liner as you discover the vibrant culture, iconic wildlife, complex history and stunning natural beauty of Australia and New Zealand.

New Zealand and Australia: The People Down Other – Premium Ocean Cruise

Sydney’s stunning harbor, beautiful beaches, and vibrant culture make it a top destination for travelers. TravelStride offers immersive tours that highlight the city’s natural beauty and cultural heritage. For an authentic Australian experience, we recommend the “Sydney & Tropical Queensland” tour, which allows you to explore the city’s iconic landmarks as well as explore the Great Barrier Reef.

Sydney & Tropical Queensland

For a luxury tour that shows you everything from the ocean, to the Alps, and even penguins, we recommend “The Complete South Pacific”.

The Complete South Pacific


what is an elderhostel
Sail through the lush rainforests of the Amazon River on a luxury riverboat to explore remote villages, discover brilliant flora and fauna, and learn about the indigenous culture.

Road Scholar Wonders of the Amazon by Luxury Riverboat, at a Slower Pace

Learn the Samba in Rio and the tango in Buenos Aires, climb to Machu Picchu and go wine tasting in the vineyards outside of Santiago on this journey to the best of South America.

Road Scholar South American Odyssey: Rio de Janeiro, Buenos Aires, Machu Picchu and More

Rio de Janeiro’s lively culture, stunning beaches, and vibrant Carnival make it a must-visit destination. TravelStride offers curated tours that showcase the city’s diverse attractions and cultural heritage. For an unforgettable experience, we recommend the “Sightseeing and Carnival in Rio,” which allows you to immerse yourself in the excitement of Carnival and explore the city’s iconic landmarks.

Sightseeing and Carnival in Rio de Janeiro

For nature lovers, we recommend “Brazil and Argentina with Amazon and Waterfalls,” where you will explore the wonderful nature of the Amazon and see the biggest Waterfalls of Iguazu.

Brazil & Argentina with Amazon and Waterfalls

Travel on a Tight Budget

If, in fact, you’re more interested in travel on a budget and you don’t mind doing the planning and legwork yourself, you can probably find the cheapest lodging by browsing hostel websites such as or

Keep in mind that these hostel sites are generally designed for young adults, but if you enter your location and use their filters, such as “private room” – you may identify some options that will meet your needs.

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Note: Information in this guide is based on details available online and subject to change. Please verify locations and availability before booking travel.

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