Exodus Travels Offers a Cure for Back-to-School Nostalgia
PHOTO: Robin Brooks of Exodus Travel, pictured in front of Turkmenistan's famed "Door to Hell." (Photo courtesy of Exodus Travel)
September is here and the students are going back to school. But what about the rest of us?
Do you ever get a twinge of nostalgia for school days?
Many remember their college years as the best years of their lives, that brief, shining moment before you are charged with the adult responsibilities of making a living; when your main function in society was just to study and learn.
For many of us, when college is over we close up the books and the time of learning is over forever. From that point on you are a responsible adult and your job is to make money, to work a job, raise a family. Your days of being free to learn are over.
But is that absolutely necessary?
Exodus Travels thinks not. The company just launched a promotional campaign to appeal to all frustrated students, that is, people who feel a twinge of nostalgia in September when they see the kids gathering their books in hand and attending classes. Exodus is offering its educational tours as an alternative way for people who are no longer in school to continue their education.
Robin Brooks, the marketing and public relations manager for Exodus Travels’ North American office in Toronto, has a theory that learning is the core motivation for travel. At least it seems to be true for the kind of travel Exodus offers.
Exodus issued a press release that stated its case boldly, and sounded the call for like-minded lovers of learning: “Dynamic, engaging, and deeply rewarding, traveling abroad,” it said, “is often educational as well as just plain old fun. Ideal for those who never want to stop learning, Exodus Travels invites knowledge-craving travelers to pack their bags and head straight to the source of earth’s greatest discoveries, ancient civilizations and evolving species with their 600+ tours to 100+ countries worldwide.”
Exodus has decades of experience crafting tours designed for hungry students of life. That is its target market. Its style of travel may not be for everyone, but the niche market is large enough, and growing. And now the company is targeting like-minded travelers in the US.
Exodus was founded in 1974 in the UK, but only started actively marketing its tours in North America when it opened an office in Toronto 18 months ago.
It keeps its groups small, with a maximum of 14 people. It offers trips to exotic places that charge the imagination, like the Galapagos, Iceland, Africa, India and … Persia! That’s the place we call Iran now, rebranded for the modern age.
Exodus’ tours of Iran are now one of its hottest selling itineraries.
READ MORE: Travel to Iran: Is It the Next Cuba?
“It’s that urge to explore,” said Brooks. “Iran is a country that was closed off to the world for a long time until about last year. Our Iran tours are growing faster than anything because it gives people the chance to explore ancient Persian relics that have been veiled for a couple of decades now. This is one of the oldest civilizations on earth. For Iran, every departure is sold out for months in advance.”
Out of the company’s 600 programs, Brooks said, “There are things for everyone. We have photography safaris. We have photography expedition to Iceland. We invite travelers to take part in cultural festivals in Mongolia, in Peru, in Uzbekistan, in Bhutan, in Myanmar. We’re not your stereotypic tour operator in that we don’t do Rome-Florence-Venice. We don’t do Athens-Mykonos-Santorini. It’s in our DNA to make the most of the world, its cultures, the great outdoors.”
The company does not necessarily avoid popular tourist destinations, but when it does go to them, it does things in its own way, always targeting perennial students.
“Mexico is not a beach destination for us,” said Brooks. “It’s an opportunity to travel thousands of years back in time, to explore amazing archaeological sites and learn about the Aztec civilization. Everyone looks for something a little bit different. The first time anyone sees Angkor Wat their jaws drop. It’s impossible not to get swept into the history of these amazing sites and these incredible countries and their cultures and their people, in some cases their natural wilds.”
It all comes back to the hunger for learning, said Brooks.
“That’s the reason Africa is addictive and once someone has been they want to go back again and again,” said Brooks. “It’s not about viewing animals, it’s about learning about animals and seeing them in their natural habitat. And it’s about seeing them in a way that is responsible and allows you to learn about them. In many cases, tourism is what helps preserves these rare species and keeps them from disappearing.”
Exodus designs its programs on the theory that people travel because they want to learn. Exodus wants to offer them the opportunities to never stop learning.
“I think that’s why so many people get hooked on travel,” said Brooks. “Yes it’s true that everyone likes a great experience to talk about around the dinner table, and experiences are the new luxury, and so forth. But it’s a thirst for knowledge. There’s a reason that people keep traveling. They want to keep learning. You don’t just learn about the destination, the cities, the people, the history, the spirituality and the cuisine of the places that you visit, but it’s also an opportunity to learn about yourself.”
More by David Cogswell
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