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The Mature Traveler

Tours Include Educational Tidbits

September 14, 1986|BILL HUGHES | Hughes is a 30-year veteran travel writer living in Sherman Oaks.

Travel programs designed for the mature traveler were begun by Los Angeles Community Colleges more than 10 years ago, notes Marcia Erickson of the Community Services Educational Travel Program.

"What started out as short excursions into the culture and natural history of Southern California has grown to include travel programs throughout the United States and abroad," said Erickson, who escorts some of the tours.

"Our tours, called Journeys of Discovery, are by motor coach or air, sometimes both, and offer all the comforts and amenities of deluxe recreational travel with the extra benefit of having a faculty or staff person along who has a special background in the area visited.

Filling a Need

"We found that many mature travelers want more than just transportation or standard sightseeing, yet do not want the extra burden of reading textbooks or taking a credit course as part of a trip. We believe our programs fill that need," she said.

A wide range of one-day local tours along with three- or four-day trips to such places as Yosemite, Death Valley and Lake Havasu are offered throughout the year through the three community colleges: L.A. Harbor College; L.A. Valley College and West L.A. College.

"What helps set our travel program apart from others offering similar trips," Erickson said, "is the strong emphasis on the educational or interpretive content of the tour."

"Though these trips are geared toward seniors, they are not just the sit-there-and-look-out-the-bus-window type of tour," said Kathleen MacLennan of Journeys Etc. of Beverly Hills, which handles booking and travel arrangements for the community colleges travel program.

Typical of the program are two October tours being offered: a Fall Foliage Tour of Historic New England, Oct. 4-12, and a six-day California Fall Fantasy, Oct. 24-29.

The New England tour, the sixth of its type to be escorted by Erickson, includes York Harbor and Bethel, Me.; the Green Mountains of Vermont; Boston, Cape Cod, Sturbridge and Old Sturbridge Village, Mass., and Newport, R.I.

The tour price of $1,395 per person, double occupancy, includes air fare from Los Angeles, top accommodations, a good number of meals, the motor-coach tour and all sightseeing and entrance fees.

For those wishing individual hotel accommodations throughout, the single supplement is $264, but MacLennan said they make every effort to help those who wish to share rooms rather than pay the supplement. She claims a 90%-plus success rate.

Included in the California Fall Fantasy motor-coach tour are visits to Sacramento, the Gold Country, a Delta cruise from Sacramento to San Francisco, Muir Woods and Sausalito in the San Francisco area program, then down to the Monterey Peninsula and a final stop at Solvang before the return to Los Angeles. The price, based on two to a room, is $417 per person; three to a room lowers it to $387 per person.

The California Fall Fantasy leaves from L.A. Valley College where free parking for the length of the trip is included. Depending on reservations that come in from other areas of the city, pickups and free parking are often included from other community colleges.

Information about the two October tours and/or a listing of the other tour programs offered through the Community Services Educational Travel program are available at the three colleges or by writing to: Journeys Etc., 313 S. Robertson Blvd., Beverly Hills 90211; phone (213) 655-9549 or (213) 855-1335.

Joe Franklin, the "King of Nostalgia," will host a 10-day "Down Memory Lane" theme cruise to the Caribbean starting Oct. 30 from Fort Lauderdale, Fla.

The cruise, offered by Passages Unlimited through any travel agency, will include such mature-traveler features as Roger James' 16-piece band playing music from the big-band era, Dixieland jam sessions and jitterbug contests.

The Nostalgia Cruise will also feature a Classic Film Festival with such guest celebrities as Barbara McNair and others in autograph and interview sessions.

Included, of course, on the sailing aboard the Rotterdam of Holland America Line are all other shipboard activities plus port calls at Curacao, Caracas, Grenada, Martinique, St. Thomas and Nassau.

The Passages Unlimited tour price, which includes several private functions aboard ship, begins at $1,654 per person, based on two to a cabin, from Los Angeles. For more information, contact your travel agent or call Passages Unlimited at (800) 472-7724.

After an article last month about Valor Tours of San Francisco running tours to the South Pacific and Europe for World War II veterans come two more tours for mature travelers of that era.

Southampton, England, is hosting a GI Brides 40th Anniversary Reunion Sept. 25-29 to bring together war brides who left for the United States from that British port after World War II. Special parties, dances, sightseeing excursions and other activities are included.

Super Value Vacations, a Houston tour wholesaler working through travel agents, has a five-day package for that tour to England from Los Angeles via British Caledonia Airways for $1,129 per person. Optional longer stays in London or elsewhere in Britain can be arranged.

Also, for the 15,000 U.S. prisoners of war detained at Stalag Luft I in Barth, now East Germany, and Stalag Luft III, now in Poland, a "Return of the Kriegies" tour is set to return there during a 16-day tour starting April 23. (A kriegie , explains the tour operator, is what the prisoners of war were called--short for the German word Kriegsgefanganen , or prisoner of war.)

The ex-POW tour is operated by Phil Gibbons, Tiki Travel Service, 549 Northeast 8th Ave., Deerfield Beach, Fla. 33441; phone (305) 427-1023. The tour, which includes both POW camps plus London, The Hague, Hamburg, East and West Berlin and other parts of Germany, costs $1,795 plus air fare.

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