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The year was 1918. Movie tickets cost 20 cents. The Red Sox just won the World Series. Fortune cookies were born — and so was Collette Tours. Having just returned from World War 1, Jack Collette purchased a jitney bus and placed a newspaper ad for a 21-day adventure to Florida. Joined by 14 guests, Jack Collette began his journey to share the world with others – a principle that founded the company 100 years ago and continues to drive Collette today.
Fast forward to 1976, when Collette made a leap to include both land and air, bringing intrepid travelers to the soaring peaks of the Canadian Rockies. Ten years later, Switzerland became Collette’s first destination beyond North America. Today, the company that began with a $68.50 jitney sojourn to Florida extends its travel brands across all seven continents.
Still a family-owned enterprise, Collette has evolved and grown in expansive, exciting ways these last 100 years. Responding to the travelers they serve, the company consistently looks for ways to diversify its products, and introduce even more flexibility into its tours. From the newly revamped Explorations brand with immersive experiences like sleeping in a glass igloo in Finland to “It’s Your Choice” options included on every tour, where the ability to choose part of your itinerary is baked in, Collette continues to innovate and satisfy.
John F. Kennedy once said, “We celebrate the past to awaken the future.” Nothing could be more appropriate to Collette, the oldest North American tour operator, in its centennial year. With offices sprinkled around the world, it boasts a long history of philanthropic dedication. To honor their milestone anniversary, Collette launched an initiative to donate one million meals by the end of its centennial year – a goal which they not only met, but surpassed.
Are you a well-traveled boomer or venturesome Gen X’er longing to experience something new and unique? At a recent global travel forum marking the company’s anniversary year, already forward-facing Collette disclosed exciting initiatives. They’ve kicked off novel, new ways of seeing old destinations, weaving secondary locales into their itineraries. Adding in little-known cities near beloved familiar destinations enables your visit to become even more immersive and authentic. Collette will also be including more offseason travel opportunities, as well as creative ways to see your destination, making your trip even more experiential. Ever walked through Venice at night or viewed a sunrise on a sparkling Spanish coast? Even the most legendary sights, like the Cliffs of Mohr, when seen from the water instead of land, take on a unique, awe-inspiring vibe.
Going forward Collette continues to offer hand-crafted trips that focus on experiencing a destination in depth by embracing the local culture. “Travel is the great educator,” said Collette CEO, Dan Sullivan, Jr. “When people travel, they realize the more things are different, the more they’re the same.” And Collette has a worldwide travel collection of comprehensive land tours, river cruises, immersive journeys, and faith tours to help discover just that. From close to home, to exotic locations, you’ll go beyond the destination to the experience, seeing the place as it was meant to be seen. If you ever felt something was missing, you might just find it on a Collette tour.
Collette’s 100-year journey has served up the world to intrepid travelers and also united them with terrific partners like AARP. Collette’s 17-year provider relationship with AARP has afforded thousands of members opportunities to enjoy their innovative trips and member savings.