Have you heard that Elderhostel’s program division is now called Exploritas? Though this respected senior travel program’s website banner is currently flipping back and forth between these to E words, the site address is clearly www.exploritas.org. When you reach the site a rather ominous , but decidedly sexy, male voice announces, “Welcome to Exploritas.”

The name alteration and some organizational changes has set off a fast moving social media rumor that the organization will be marketing to and recruiting participants as young as 21 years old. However, further exploration of the website reveals an article by James Moses, organization president, on their age policy. He writes that the information is erroneous and that “Elderhostel has been, and Exploritas will continue to be, a program created for and attractive to older, primarily retired adults.”

You can also read on their site under Information about our New Program Name  that the name “Exploritas is new, but the definition has been in the making since our first Elderhostel programs back in 1975.”

That definition certainly does describe my understanding of Elderhostel’s mission. Exploritas: Explore your mind and discover the world through authentic and thought-provoking adventures in learning. The word is a combination of  “explore” and “veritas,” the Latin word for truth.

Here’s the balm for Elderhostel fans and the kicker for those who are sick of those in  both the social media and mainstream media who engage in fingerpointing, gossip mongering, rumor generating, witch hunting, just plain meanness and irresponsible reporting, the site states: Exploritas is new, but the engaging programs, the spirit, the fun and camaraderie are the same that millions of people have experienced over the last 34 years with Elderhostel. As a matter of fact, Elderhostel is still the name of our organization. We’re just launching a new name for our programs.

Is it true that twenty somethings could now participate in Exploritas’ programs? It is! The age limited is being relaxed, but as James Moses writes, “‘In summary, we all need to remember and remind others that there is a huge difference between “actively seeking” and “not turning away.” Our goal as we relax the 55 age limit is not to change the atmosphere of our programs, but to adopt an open, welcoming posture. We don’t want to turn away any adult who has a genuine thirst for learning, affiliation and meaning, and I believe that anyone who looks beyond the sound bite will agree that this is our proper position and the right decision.'”

To put my own spin on it, do you know a 21-year-old who would rather turn in their backpack and ten days in Dam Square eating fresh bread and cheese and consuming other local goods for a suitcase with wheels under the bus and tour described as “from Gothic cathedrals, Renaissance palaces and Baroque storehouses to artworks by Vermeer, Rembrandt and Van Gogh….” Further how many 21 year olds can afford $5000 for this kind of experience. If you know one send them my way. I could use a young strong sherpa with plenty of tipping cash on my next adventure in learning.

Check out the site www.exploritas.org. Even if you are not planning a senior learning adventure in the near future, you should listen to the welcome on their site. There is definitely something senior and adventurous about it.

Hours after writing my first post for this travel blog I was called upon, by members of my family to help with a journey longer and more compelling than any I have taken previously in my life. A member of my family, not yet 62 years old, had been battling an incurable malignant brain tumor for over three years. Though 90% of people with this type of tumor die within the first year after diagnosis, she had survived three surgery and several forms of treatments and was able to manage the growth of the tumor for an astonishing three years and three months.

In April of this year, viable treatment options ran out for her and she chose to spend the last months of her life without doctors, hospitals or medications. She had a nice run of robust health and normal function, until late July when a seizure marked the beginning of the end. I joined her devoted husband as her primary care giving team.

We spent our childhood together. She had always been there, someone I was aware of on a daily basis in my life. We’d spent more vacations together than I can count; playing under our grandmother’s Lilac bushes with our dolls; sneaking up on older brothers on family campouts; creating matching outfits for summer trips; basking on Mexican beaches with our husbands and later knocking around desert flea markets on winter days in Arizona.

Since her diagnosis, I knew I would be there with her on her final trip. What I didn’t know was that the eight weeks from her relatively normal life to death would be so long and also so short, or that I would learn so much from her and about myself on that journey. It will take me longer than the eight weeks it took her to let go of life to understand those lessons.

The one thing I do understand from a lifetime of knowing her and the process of helping her die, is that she wanted all of us to move on with our lives, not to miss a day of joy and fun because of her shortened adventure. So after two months and only days after her death, I am picking back up on this blog and continuing with all the journeys I had planned before that call came at the end of July.

Copyright 2009 by Mattie Williams & Women Travel Blog.

My Grandmother used to say “No guts, no glory.” It’s a sentiment that is from a similar school of thought as the fitness trainer’s glib “No pain, no gain.” When it comes to travel, even as a woman traveling alone, it is something I remember often and have had a high amount of success going with.

I am not a reckless or irresponsible traveler, but I have never understood passing up the opportunity to experience something unusual, especially after I have paid for a trip, because of a string of possible, but not assured outcomes. If the only absolutely certain outcome was that I was going to have a new experience, I probably jumped right in and ignored the list of maybes or possible disasters.

What I’ve proven by following my grandmother’s advise in my over 40 years as an adult traveler is…well I’m not sure. Possibly I’ve proved, at least to myself, that the world is a friendly, easy place and that the majority of people want to come to the assistance of others and be hospitable. Maybe, I’ve proved that the dangerous, scary, ugly world we see on the nightly news, which some grandmother’s warn you about, and the people who populate it exist in the minority. Or, maybe I’ve only proved that I am one incredibly lucky woman traveler.

What I do know is that I’ve put in a lot of mile and intend to do more before, my knees, lungs or heart give out. I hope you will join me here sharing your knowledge and experiences, your moments of gutsy glory and yes, even your warnings (because some times we do need to heed the facts), and I’ll give you the best of my experiences, knowledge, tips and product reviews.

I’m off to my third continent this fall…I’m hoping there won’t be too much pain associated with gaining that continent. Watch here or follow on Twitter to see how these old knees hold up.

Copyright 2009 Mattie Williams & Traveling Women Blog. Content can not be used without permission.