Edutourism and You: Learn Something on Your Next Vacation


The next time you take a vacation, don’t just sit by the pool. Instead, consider “edutourism” vacations on which you learn something while you travel. Think about hotel rooms and daily sightseeing when you’re ready to book your next vacation, but also ask yourself what new skill or knowledge you’d like to acquire.

Learn a Language

One of the most popular edutourism pastimes is learning a foreign language while travelling. Whether you brush up your high school French in a language school on the Riviera, study Spanish beachside in Costa Rica or immerse yourself in Thai, Russian or Japanese, learning another language while on vacation is a rewarding challenge. The major benefit of learning a foreign language while you’re travelling in a country where that language is spoken is you’ll be instantly able to put what you learn to use. And, if there is a particular destination that you often return to on your yearly travels, it makes sense to learn the local lingo to help yourself get around and to get a better feel for the culture.

Master a Dish

Not a linguist? Perhaps you’re better off in the kitchen? No problem, take a cooking class. Learn how to create the exotic dishes you savor in restaurants and have fun identifying new ingredients to seek out when you return home. Cooking classes are also a practical goal, because you can easily fit them into even an otherwise full itinerary. In many locations, you can take a course that lasts for a morning or afternoon — culminating, of course, in a delicious lunch or dinner you have prepared yourself. If you’ve got the time, you can also choose a multi-day or even several-week course that delves deeper into local specialties and cooking techniques. After you’ve explored the intricacies of mixing your curry paste; learned to sense the right amount of time to cook a ratatouille; and made tortillas by hand, you’ll have the skills and confidence to prepare a themed dinner party for your friends when you return home. An invitation to that would be better than any “I was here!” souvenir.

Take Up a Sport

If you prefer to get exercise in the great outdoors while you’re away from the 9 to 5, consider learning a new sport on your next vacation. Depending on your location, there’s bound to be a particularly popular sport or form of exercise that you can try. In many destinations, you can learn to scuba dive, ride horses, play tennis, rock climb, ski or snowboard. If those sound too mundane, more research can help you find kite-surfing, canoeing, free-diving, trapezeing, or archery classes. Some locations are well known for a single sport while other destinations offer a variety of lessons you can plan your trip around.

Become an Ace Photographer

With the advent of camera phones, the number of travel photos on computers around the world has skyrocketed. Unfortunately, even though you may have a good camera built into your phone or a digital camera to take with you on your trip, it’s not always easy to get shots from your travels that do justice to the amazing things you see and experience. Taking a photography course while you’re on vacation will help you orient yourself in the region you’re visiting and teach you to look at your surroundings in a new, beautiful, way.

Find Out How to Help

Learning while on vacation doesn’t have to be a situation where you take from the host culture and community. In fact, many edutourists enjoy giving back to the regions they visit by spending part of their holiday volunteering in return for what they learn. For example, you may be asked to teach English in return for receiving classes in the local language. Or, you may go through a training program to care for elephants before spending time as a volunteer at a wildlife refuge. Knowing that you have made a difference on your vacation may ultimately be the only souvenir you want to take home.

About the Author:

Shanna Gomes can’t or won’t stop travelling. She’s been to more than 20 countries in the past 10 years.

Photo by bertrandtan

*This article was made possible by Expedia.

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