Traveling to a fascinating bit of the world, with excursions and transportation skillfully managed, and add input from area experts—that’s a wonderful experience. Now boost that trip with companions who are MIT alumni and their guests and you have a brew of adventure, enrichment, intellectual stimulation, and good will. For thousands of travelers, that has been the story of their experience with the MIT Alumni Travel Program, which celebrates its 25th anniversary this year.
“One of the major high points was the number of interesting, intelligent, and interactive people who joined us on this trip,” says Pete Von Hippel ’52, SM ’53, PhD ’56, who traveled on the 2015 Sailing the Windward Islands trip in the Caribbean. “MIT people rarely disappoint!”
Serving more than 600 travelers on some 40 trips each year, the MIT Alumni Travel Program has visited all seven continents since 1991. Travelers have explored remote places on the Silk Route, the High Atlas Mountains of Morocco, and on the solitude of Easter Island. They have taken active jaunts such as a bike journey across Italy, rafting and camping in the Grand Canyon, and a trek to Machu Picchu. A total of 23 MIT travelers summited Kilimanjaro on two separate treks. Some trips focus on science and technology such as a visit to the telescopes of the Magellan Project telescopes in Chile and a tour of the Large Hadron Collider at CERN, the European Organization for Nuclear Research in Switzerland.
The program offers MIT faculty-led trips, such as the 2016 Total Solar Eclipse adventure with MIT Professor of Planetary Sciences Richard Binzel and the 2015 customized Musical Heritage of Austria trip with MIT Emeritus Professor Ellen Harris.
Gray Henry MArch ’68 applauded MIT Associate Professor of Urban Design and Public Policy Brent Ryan PhD ’02, his faculty leader on the Arabian Innovation trip, which explored the spectacular new architecture and sustainable engineering of Dubai, Abu Dhabi, and Doha. “Brent was superb! Smart, compatible, kind. MIT could not have a better ambassador or leader for such a trip.”
Custom-built expeditions took travelers on a behind-the-scene tour of the $5.2 billion reconstruction of the Panama Canal and an exploration of New England’s industrial revolution including a private tour of the American Precision Museum in Vermont. Other trips included gatherings with local alumni such as cocktails at the home of a Venice-based alumnus and a private wine-tasting dinner in California hosted by an alumnus winemaker.
MIT travelers do have a certain reputation among travel professionals, says Melissa Gresh, director of the travel program.
“Our travelers are known for being extremely knowledgeable, curious, easy-going, well-traveled folks who are always on time for each day’s activities. They want to know how things work and the travel directors and faculty speakers soon find out that they need to answer more technical questions. Alumni have spent time figuring out problem sets under a tent in the Serengeti, and, while traversing the swaying suspension bridges that overlooked the Costa Rican rainforest, several alumni compared notes on bridge mechanics and frequency, joking about their classroom days at MIT.”
Want to learn more? Explore the MIT Alumni Travel Program and try out the Hold My Spot feature that allows you to quickly reserve a place on an upcoming trip.