the new york times

March 13, 2005
Q&A

Educational Tours; Short-Term Rentals in New York and Los Angeles

By FLORENCE STICKNEY

Rather than a vacation condo with pool and golf course, I would like to rent a place for several weeks in Los Angeles and New York City. Do you know of any Web sites for city condos or apartments? - Ruth E. Kahn, Detroit

Metroroommates.com, (877) 367-7368, offers a range of rentals worldwide, posting thousands of listings each week and updating them daily. Once you click on the area you're interested in and find the listing you like, you register, for a fee, and are then provided with the phone and e-mail address of the property's owner. For a 90-day search in Manhattan, the fee is $75; in Los Angeles, $39.95.

I am interested in educational tours such as those offered by university alumni associations and led by professors. Is there anything like a central listing of such programs? - Lily O'Connor, Edina, Minn.

Apparently there is no central listing. But you can find such programs by contacting tour operators that organize such trips for universities, museums and other nonprofit organizations or by contacting those institutions directly (many post travel programs on their Web sites, and the prices are the same no matter how you book). Some trips are open to the public, including those offered by the Metropolitan Museum of Art and Stanford University; some sponsors require you to become a member.

Academic Arrangements Abroad has since the late 70's designed educational travel programs for museums, cultural organizations and alumni associations, including Princeton, Dartmouth and the Metropolitan Museum. Its Web site lists tours by destination (Europe, the Caribbean etc.), by interest (art and architecture, ancient civilizations, etc.) or by date. On July 12 to 24, the Metropolitan Museum and Phillips Exeter Academy are sponsoring Byzantium's Northern Shore: The Black Sea aboard the Sea Cloud, with Helen Evans, a curator at the museum, and Richard Murphy, former ambassador to Saudi Arabia. From $7,950, double occupancy (without air fare); (800) 221-1944; http://www.arrangementsabroad.com/.

Academic Travel Abroad has been designing tours for more than 50 years. Its principal partner is Smithsonian Journeys; others include National Geographic Expeditions and the Johns Hopkins, Harvard and Yale alumni associations. A Treasures of Old Siam and Angkor trip, Nov. 1 to 17, led by Bonnie Baskin, a curator and conservator, is $5,855, double (without air fare); (800) 556-7896; http://www.academic-travel.com/.

The National Trust for Historic Preservation has offered study tours for 30 years (participants must pay a $24 membership fee). Among this year's 80 tours is Venice to the Dalmatian Coast, May 22 to June 3, aboard the Monet, co-sponsored with the Smithsonian Institution; it will be led by the architectural historian John Meffert. From $6,595, double (without air fare). Information: (800) 944-6847; http://www.nationaltrust.org/.

For those 55 and older, Elderhostel offers a wide range of educational tours - 10,000 a year - for generally lower prices. (A new program, Road Scholar tours, somewhat more expensive and limited to 23, rather than the usual 30 to 50, is open to those 21 and older.) A three-night History and Arts of the Brandywine Valley tour (May 15 to 18 and Sept. 11 to 14) costs $421, double; (877) 426-8056; http://www.elderhostel.org/.