By Jim Stevens
Looking to get away, get real insight on your destination, meet new people, and have fun at a reasonable rate?
If so, first on your agenda should be to mark March 17 on your calendar.
That is the day the Continuing Education program at the University of Wisconsin-Waukesha is holding a World Travel Fair from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. The fair will be held in the Commons Building on the campus off of University Drive in Waukesha. The event is open to the public and features travel destinations including overseas trips to Southeast Asia, Austria and Wales, along with Cuba and Easter Island. Closer to home are trips to the East Coast and Florida.
"There are so many opportunities this year," said Vic Passante, travel director at UW-Waukesha's Continuing Education program. At the fair, people can go from table to table to get information about the trips. "Some people do more than one trip," Passante added.
The Continuing Education program, which is part of UW-Waukesha, has offered these trips for several years now. Students can take the trips for credit, while others can tag along for the opportunity to not only sightsee but get an in-depth understanding of the places they visit. A professor or expert on the region will go along and act not only as a tour guide but educator as well.
Passante said these experts that go along bring not only knowledge of the country or region, but also they know the out-of-the-way places - places that travelers who hitch their trips to a travel agency won't see. And these tour-guide experts are also very entertaining, Passant said.
Passante said there is a good mixture of students and seniors on these trips. On average, 10 to 15 students go on the trip. The group is limited to 30 people.
"The seniors love traveling with the young people," he said. "Young people love being with older people." Passante does warn, however, that the trips are at "a university pace. Up early, out late."
Passante recalled a trip to Egypt two years ago, one year before the Arab Spring uprising, which had a mixture of students and people in their 60s. While there was a lot of walking involved, everyone kept up with the pace, he said. And the young and seniors thoroughly enjoyed each others company, he said.
Passante also pointed out there are some trips that are better suited to traveling in a group, such as Cuba, Peru, Indochina and other developing nations.
Candace Decker of the Continuing Education program said she went on a trip to London and one of the most interesting aspects was learning about the historic theaters in the city. Decker calls the trips "unique."
"People like the education aspect," Decker said. "And they get to know other people."
Travelers get to discover, ask questions and learn in the group, but there is also free time for those who want to go off and do things on their own, Decker said.
And given the economic climate, the trips feature group rates, making it cheaper than going alone, she said. The rates, Decker said, are "very reasonable."
The trips are:
Mansions and Magnates-America's Royalty (Rhode Island, Nantucket, Martha's Vineyard and Cape Cod)
Aug. 11 to 18. Includes tours of elite summer cottages in Rhode Island, a ferry ride to the famed islands of Nantucket and Martha's Vineyard.
Bar Harbor, Maine from Oct. 8 to 13. Includes trip to Acadia National Park.
The Keys to Florida - A Tropical Marine Wonderland from Nov. 3 to Nov. 10. A trip to the Florida Keys
Easter Island: Fascination and Mystery, Jan. 6 to 13, 2013. A trip to one of the most famous and mysterious archaeological places on earth.
Cuba: Bridging Diverse Cultures - The Music of Cuba, Feb. 9 to 17, 2013. A culturally-inclusive investigation of Cuban music, and a general overview of world music /roots music and its relationship to Cuba. Stay in Old Havana and tour its historic plazas as well as a tour of Ernest Hemingway's home.
Austria: In the Footsteps of the Habsburgs May 10 to 22, 2013. Visit four Habsburg cities: Budapest, Hungary; Bratislava in Slovakia; and Graz in Austria, as well as Vienna, the capital city of the Austro-Hungarian Empire.
Intriguing Indochina: Vietnam, Cambodia, and Laos from June 3 to 21, 2013. From Cambodian jungles, the temples of Angkor, to the quaint French-colonial architecture of old world Hanoi.
Wales: Land of the Red Dragon, Sept. 8 to 18, 2013. Discover the beauty of Wales and the mystery of Celtic legend.
For more information on the trips go to waukesha.uwc.edu/Continuing-Education/Travel---Trips. aspx.