30 Places and 5 Ways to Learn More Through Travel

As a student in public school, I learned history in my social studies classes. Later in life, I taught a similar curriculum for well over a decade to public high school students. The only difference was I did my best to infuse my own travel experiences wherever it seemed to fit.

There were pictures of Egyptian pyramids and stories of an overnight felucca journey on the Nile River. There was the time I learned how the San people of Namibia taught their young to hunt, gather and thrive that melded perfectly with African cultural and tribal history. There were stories of sharing D-Day with veterans at the WWII Memorial in Washington, DC and tales of crossing the international dateline while traveling to Australia and how the 25th of December ‘never actually happened’ for me that year.

“No matter how many geography games I played, photos I showed or stories I shared, the experiences were still mine.”

No matter how many geography games I played, photos I showed or stories I shared, the experiences were still mine. The difference in how I talked about travel and education varied strongly from textbook or computer learning. Technology has enriched education and made interaction with locals in other destinations far more accessible, but there’s something to be said for ‘being there’.

Experiences Are Priceless

family education experiences
Teachers can share stories and students can watch them on video links but what if they could have them for themselves?

  • What if instead of only learning about religion in a textbook, students could stand at the Vatican and feel what it’s like to be there.
  • What if instead of learning about indigenous cultures, students could sit in a home and interact with someone from that particular background?
  • What if instead of reading about architectural structures of ancient civilizations, students could stand amidst them to set foot on the same lands?

Those experiences not only enhance their textbook and online learning, but also, etch even more into their minds. Travel’s added element is unattainable through traditional learning.

Maximizing Vacation for Travel Education

family education road trip
Not every student has the opportunity for long term family travel. With the Northern hemisphere’s arrival of summer, some are venturing out on a school holiday or family vacation. There are always ways to be intentional, add education and meaningful learning experiences to each vacation. Add in a museum, interact with locals, try a cooking lesson, learn a skill, grab a class in local culture, take in a lecture, get involved, volunteer – there are many ways to engage your entire family on any type of vacation.

“there are many ways to engage your entire family on any type of vacation.”

Popping in your car this summer and heading on a road trip? Maybe add a book on tape to your journey, or find a movie or documentary about your destination to watch along the way. Perhaps there’s a book to read prior to your holiday. We prepare our belongings and bags to travel, why not ready our brains for an even more open mind on the same trip? For those heading out and about in the US this summer, here are a few educational suggestions to infuse a bit of fun learning into your journey.

30 Places to Travel & Learn

family education dad

  1. San Diego, California: USS Midway
  2. San Diego, California: San Diego Zoo/San Diego Safari Park
  3. San Diego, California: Museum of Man (free to CA residents certain days of the week)
  4. Easton, Pennsylvania: Crayola Factory
  5. Nashville, Tennessee: Country Music Hall of Fame
  6. Cleveland, Ohio: Rock and Roll Hall of Fame
  7. Memphis, Tennessee: National Civil Rights Museum
  8. Cooperstown, New York: Baseball Hall of Fame
  9. Washington, DC: United States Holocaust Museum (book in advance)
  10. Washington, DC: War Memorials (free)
  11. Washington, DC: Smithsonian Museum
  12. Boston, Massachusetts: Freedom Trail (free)
  13. Boston, Massachusetts: Science Museum
  14. Boston, Massachusetts: Children’s Museum
  15. Monterey, California: Monterey Bay Aquarium
  16. Huntsville, Alabama: US Space & Rocket Center/NASA Visitor’s Center
  17. Cody, Wyoming: Buffalo Bill Museum
  18. West Yellowstone, Montana: Grizzly & Wolf Discovery Center
  19. Bethpage, New York: Old Bethpage Restoration
  20. New York, New York: Metropolitan Museum of Art
  21. New York, New York: American Museum of Natural History
  22. New York, New York: Ellis Island
  23. New York, New York: New York Public Library (free)
  24. Oklahoma City, Oklahoma: Oklahoma City National Memorial and Museum
  25. Oahu, Hawaii: Pearl Harbor
  26. Missoula, Montana: US Forest Service Smokejumpers Museum & Base Tour (free)
  27. Seattle, Washington: Columbia Center Sky View Observatory (entry good all day)
  28. Keystone, South Dakota: Mount Rushmore (parking pass good for two days use)
  29. Tillamook, Oregon: Tillamook Cheese Factory (free)
  30. National Parks: young children can take the Junior Ranger program, teens & adults can take guided ranger walks & listen to talks along with hiking, camping and climbing opportunities

Turning Anywhere into a Learning Experience

family education mom
Any place you go can be a learning experience. When headed ANYWHERE on a vacation, there are many ways to actionably add educational value.

Headed to a beach holiday – try a local cooking class, learn to surf or sail, or find out about the areas the locals live and head there.

Hiking a mountainous region – read up on the local culture and talk to locals for stories of indigenous regional life.

Going for city getaway
– be sure to hit a museum, take a tour with a local guide, or find a café to chat with the locals.

Exploring a region for a longer period of time – try taking a class to learn the language, research the area ahead of time, volunteer with a local agency, meet people, get out and about where locals live or hang at the library/book share to interact with as many people as possible.

Before, during and even after your journey, there are ways to involve everyone to enhance learning and add meaningful, memorable life experiences to your family holiday.

Questions to Ask to Maximize Learning

family education RV
Wherever you’re headed… ASK yourself and your travel companions the following thoughtful questions to help steer travel research to maximize educational benefits.

  1. What type of cultural experiences can we include? (a museum, a lecture, an outing)
  2. How can we attempt to learn a new skill? (surfing, weaving, crafting, carving, farming, sport, building, sailing, instrument, language, climbing, geocaching)
  3. How can we have a meaningful interaction with locals? (guided tour, class, conversation, meal, volunteer day)
  4. What can we do ahead of our trip to assist our learning? (books, documentaries, movies, lectures, volunteer, cultural enrichment lessons)
  5. How can we act on what we’ve learned and reinforce our experience after we’ve returned? (study, volunteer, cook, interact, support local communities from that region, share, story tell, create scrapbook/film, write, plan a return journey)

Travel can show us things that textbooks can’t. It’s no longer ‘this is what I think it would feel like’; you fully ‘get it’ yourself. Travel finds three-dimensional primary source documents, transcends test prep, revolutionizes understanding, reinvents experts, involves, interacts and utilizes all senses in one lesson spanning all subjects.

“Come September, your children will have something special to add to their class discussions.”

Smell, taste, and touch memories are triggered merging subject matter and experience into an exciting lesson without ever feeling as if it was one. Providing endless learning opportunities regardless of age, travel changes people. Continual learning is redeveloped with every excursion. Come September, your children will have something special to add to their class discussions.

Each interaction unleashes the power of a new encyclopedia and uncovers details never before heard. Each journey, no matter how large or small, leaves a lasting impression for which the traveler is ever changed. Travel makes the world your classroom and everyone and everything, your teacher. Travel leaves learners desperate for more – thirsting for knowledge they never knew they wanted. Travel enlightens…you (and their teachers) don’t want your kids to miss it.

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