Typically at least once during the summer we dedicate a series of content articles to the idea of eco-travel and use that opportunity to not only talk about the eco-impact of travel but also the consumer impact. And often during this time we also give suggestions on how to make your travel more eco-friendly. But we don’t always give ideas on the best ways to create space between your travel or vacation and the consumer machine that accompanies it. Today, however, we’re going to talk about a way to find the satisfaction of enough with travel without the “stuff” by satiating yourself with … knowledge. Today we’re giving you tips to craft a vacation around the idea of educating yourself.

Why We Often Skip the Educational Opportunities During Travel

For better or worse, it’s quite common for many people to go on vacations – both close by and far away – and never even consider the opportunities to educate themselves while they’re traveling. Why is this? We think it’s because of the overall perceived relationship between education and learning and “work” or “effort.” Let’s be honest, the entire United States school system ingrains the idea that during the nine or more months that you’re in classes you’re “working” and that vacation time is for rest, relaxation and recuperation. The problem with that philosophical stance is that education and learning can be (and are) relaxing, too. They’re also energizing. We take the mindset that education is taxing and vacation should be education-free from our school years into adulthood. Unfortunately, because we do that, we miss out on some of the best opportunities for finding satisfaction, joy and a renewed sense of energy via vacations and travel.

Begin By Figuring Out What You’re Curious About

The first step to making your vacation about filling yourself up with the joy of knowledge is to figure out what it is that you’re curious about. If you’re going to a foreign country or even a state with a unique history and culture (really, all U.S. states have unique histories and cultures), do some research on the internet. Yes, we said the internet. It can be used for good oftentimes, and reading Wikipedia is refreshingly advertisement free. Even if you think you know about the history and background of where you’re going, our guess is that unless you are a fanatical expert about the destination there are plenty of stones left unturned. You may find that you get enough information from the internet or – gasp – even a book that you’ve already filled yourself up with knowledge and will enjoy the trip even more simply because how you observe your destination will be different. Or learning more may mean that you change your itinerary around so that you can visit more of the landmarks and special areas that you’ve read about. Either way, you’ve already (painlessly) inserted knowledge acquisition and education into your vacation and made it better.

Find Out What Educational Opportunities Exist at Your Destination. Book Them.

It doesn’t matter where you’re vacationing to, we assure you that there are plenty of attractions that carry a fantastic educational value. If you’re vacationing to a large city, chances are that you’ll be surrounded with art museums, cultural events and even ethnic events. If you’re vacationing to a foreign destination, there will be plenty of opportunities to learn more about the local culture, customs, language and even food with an educational twist. Even a trip to a national or state park will have ranger talks and educational elements in the visitor’s center. You just need to find out what these enriching opportunities are. You can do internet research, but you can also contact the tourism office or local visitors’ bureau at almost any destination. You’ll find that not only are the people usually amazingly friendly but they also know a lot more “local secrets” than you’ll ever be able to find on the internet.

Pro Tip: Have a Light Itinerary or Schedule

We’re certainly not suggesting that you go into your vacation being over-planned. We do want you to relax. But if you’re anything like us it’s pretty easy to get on a vacation and then find yourself sleeping the day away – every day. Before you know it, vacation is over and you haven’t really experienced anything at all. Chances are that you’ll actually feel even a little more run down when you get home. So create a light itinerary to keep you on track. This can be as simple as a list of things that you want to do on vacation with contact information (so that you’re not hunting for it while you’re on your trip) – or it can be as detailed as a day-by-day plan. Whatever will work for you. Just something to remind you that there’s more to life than lying in bed!

We don’t want you to come home from vacation feeling like you overworked yourself. But adding an element of education to your trip can make a huge difference. Trust us – try it once and you’ll see what we mean!

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Photo Credit: William Cho via Flickr