Our Timeline


Road Scholar History: 1975 to Today

Road Scholar was founded by two friends in 1975 as Elderhostel. A not-for-profit education organization driven by our mission, we have guided generations of lifelong learners on transformative learning adventures from Greenland to Cuba, and nearly everywhere in between. Elderhostel was rebranded Road Scholar in 2010 to reflect the growth and evolution of the organization and better represent the loyal participants who rely on us for an in-depth study of the world.


Longtime friends Marty Knowlton and David Bianco have a revolutionary idea — weeklong university-level educational experiences for adults. They launch “Elderhostel,” and 220 pioneering participants attend the first programs on a handful of college campuses in New Hampshire that summer.


The lifelong learning movement is spreading across the nation. In just five years, our organization grows from offering programs in one state to all 50 and most Canadian provinces. More than 20,000 participants experience one of our pioneering learning adventures.


Participants cross the ocean to experience our first international learning adventures in Great Britain and Scandinavia.


We launch the Annual Fund, giving donors who believe in our mission a way to support it. The Annual Fund enables us to develop new kinds of learning adventures and to offer scholarships for those who need financial support to participate.


We continue to create innovative educational experiences. Our first programs for grandparents and grandchildren take place this year, and intergenerational programs quickly prove to be a huge hit.


A little more than a decade in, the lifelong learning movement is booming— 100,000 adults join us for a learning adventure this year.


As leaders of the lifelong learning movement, we founded the Elderhostel Institute Network, the first national organization dedicated to expanding the lifelong learning movement. Through this network, hundreds of Lifelong Learning Institutes were created to engage and inspire older adults in communities across the nation.


Ships and barges become floating classrooms as we set sail with our first Adventures Afloat catalog. 

In 1999 enrollments top 250,000.


The world really has become our classroom now that we offer educational journeys in more than 100 countries. We also go high tech in the new millennium, launching our website, which would soon allow people to enroll online.


To appeal to new audiences and express the real essence of our learning adventures, we rename our programs “Road Scholar.”


We celebrate our 40th anniversary with 40 special learning adventures around the globe and create the “Friendship and Learning” videos showcasing 12 stories of friendship and love that began or were enhanced by Road Scholar.



Online Aix en Provence

Continuing our history of innovation, we launch ground-breaking online learning opportunities, bringing Road Scholar’s expert educators into the homes of 50,000 Road Scholar participants.