For universities, alumni travel programs offer another method of fundraising and a means of tightening bonds with their alumni and encouraging future donations. For travel companies, extra features like lectures from scholars help sign up customers for group travel, especially sophisticated baby boomers and people who have ever more options for booking discounted flights and hotels online.

Boutique tour operators have been rolling out more educational trips to exotic lands, and large well-heeled operators like Abercrombie & Kent say they have seen a surge in interest in that kind of travel.

Abercrombie & Kent runs educational tours for Harvard and other universities, but has also seen growth in non-university sponsored tours that it markets directly to the public. It recently announced a series of educational trips done in conjunction with The Nature Conservancy.

The trips aren’t necessarily for those on a budget: Abercrombie’s 13-day trip to Brazil with The Nature Conservancy costs $7,840, and an 11-day trip to Ecuador and the Galapagos costs $9,350.

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