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Enrich your mind, the world

The yachts Sea Cloud and Sea Cloud II smartly ply the seas for travelers booked with Academic Arrangements Abroad. The yachts Sea Cloud and Sea Cloud II smartly ply the seas for travelers booked with Academic Arrangements Abroad. (ACADEMIC ARRANGEMENTS ABROAD)
Email|Print|Single Page| Text size + By Richard P. Carpenter
Globe Correspondent / August 10, 2008

There are many reasons to travel, ranging sometimes from improving the mind or body to improving the environment. A few examples:

  • Learning should never end, says Elderhostel, the world's largest not-for-profit educational travel organization for adults. Participants stimulate their minds as they explore the country and the world, even gaining behind-the-scenes access that is off-limits to other travelers.

    With Gardens, Orchards, and Vineyards of the Willamette Valley, for instance, participants walk beside farmers and viticulturists as they explain making things grow in this region of Oregon. The trip takes place Sept. 28-Oct. 3 and costs $584. Accommodations are included, but not transportation from your city or town.

    With Central Europe Discovered: Prague, Bratislava, and Budapest, visitors trace the history, culture, economics, art, and architecture of the area, holding informal meetings with residents, attending a private Mozart concert, and having lunch at the Benedictine Wine Cellar at a monastery. The price, with flights from Boston, ranges from $3,294-$3,685, with departure dates in September, October, April, May, and June.

    Visit elderhostel.org or call 800-454-5768.

  • You don't have to travel far for an enriching experience. Prospect Hill Forge in Waltham invites visitors to take a trip to the past and study blacksmithing. Carl West of Prospect Hill explains: "Taking a class in blacksmithing will make you think differently about the railings you see as you walk the streets of Beacon Hill and Back Bay, it will subtly change your perception of the world around you, it will challenge you physically and mentally, and in the end you will be more human for it." Tuition starts at $60 for a one-night introductory class.

    Visit prospecthillforge.com or call 617-230-9572.

  • Academic Arrangements Abroad combines a cruise with a learning experience in its Gardens of the Caribbean program, with five sailings in January and February aboard the yacht Sea Cloud or Sea Cloud II. Aboard the yacht are lecturers on architectural history and horticulture, while island landings range from coral to volcanic, and lush to dry. Gardens of the Caribbean: Barbados to Antigua, takes place Jan. 16-23, with ports of call including Trinidad, where cruisegoers are invited to two private homes with spectacular gardens; Grenada, Bequia, St. Lucia, Martinique, Dominica, and the archipelago of Îles des Saintes. Prices begin at $4,995.

    Visit arrangementsabroad.com or call 800-221-1944.

  • Inside/out calls its style of travel "humanitourism" because it includes humanitarian projects. Up next is Greece, Oct. 11-25, to help with the country's dog problem, which encompasses abandonment, neglect, starvation, poisoning, overpopulation, abuse, and mistreatment. The trip is also designed to increase awareness of the problem. Participants will help build shelters in Patras, on the gulf of the Peloponnese, and assist other care and feeding programs in Ioannina, in the central mountains. They may assist in a large-scale spay/neuter program, the treatment of sick or injured dogs, and other efforts. The trip cost is $2,985 excluding airfare.

    Visit theinsideandout.com or call 303-517-3400.

  • Earthwatch gathers volunteers who want to make the destination they visit a better place. The organization, which calls itself the world's largest environmental nonprofit group, has dozens of expeditions that tackle such topics as climate change, biodiversity, indigenous cultures, and even coral reef health. Climate Change in the Rainforest, for instance, takes you to Australia's Wet Tropics. On this 15-day expedition, volunteers see forest animals up close, from leaf-tailed geckos to possums. Working with a research team on little-used mountain tracks, they check out the many birds, reptiles, mammals, frogs, plants, and insects, setting insect traps and sorting their contents, trapping small mammals, hunting for lizards, and combing tropical streams. The dates are Oct. 15-29, and the donation, which is usually tax deductible for US residents, is $2,846 excluding airfare.

    Visit earthwatch.org or call 800-776-0188.

  • There is healing for the well-heeled in Connecticut's Litchfield Hills, where the Winvian resort will host its first Journey to Renewal, a three-night wellness and spa retreat, Aug. 22-25. The program begins with yoga and meditation followed by two days of restorative activities and pre-check-out yoga before a Monday morning departure. Rates start at $6,250 for three nights, including private cottage accommodations for two, three meals daily, afternoon tea, all cocktails and spirits, and in-cottage wet bars. Tax, service charges, wine, and spa treatments are additional.

    Visit winvian.com or call 860-567-9600.

When not included, hotel taxes, airport fees, and port charges can add significantly to the price of a trip. Most prices quoted are for double occupancy. Offers are subject to availability and there may be blackout dates. Richard P. Carpenter can be reached at carpenter@globe.com.

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