7 Vacations That Will Make You Smarter

Sip wine or learn to drive a race car on vacations that double as classwork

Imagine sipping wine in Tuscany with a winemaker, photographing animals in Africa with a professional photographer, or digging for folsom points with archeologists in the Southwest United States. They're all perfect excuses for vacations. Call them EdVentures if you will—these educational vacations combine your favorite activities, allowing you to experience different cultures and learn new skills, while feeding your endless curiosity about the world around you. Here are some great options that can help you do just that. 

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Learn Spanish in Ibiza

Es Vedra, Ibiza
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Learn Spanish in Ibiza; try your hand at sailing in Queensland, Australia; or create jewelry as a silversmith in the South of France—those are just a few of the trips GoLearnTo offers. The educational tour company themes all of its trips around locally significant skills, languages, or adventure sports. From learning to cook to honing your yoga skills, you'll find options in the GoLearnTo catalog that will entice you to embark on a learning experience. They even offer specific options for single travelers who don't want to be left out of the fun. 

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Study Literature Locales Around the Globe

Montreal's Old Town
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You'll have to do your homework for Classical Pursuits tours—literally. The Toronto-based tour company provides a recommended reading list to its members before each of its trips, which extensively explore famous literary destinations. For instance, the company can take avid travelers and readers to along the road less traveled through Portugal or to Philadelphia to discover learn about the birth of a nation. The itineraries on offer change regularly, but each is an intriguing look into culture, art, and literature that is simply unlike any other trip you'll ever take. 

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Dig for Ruins in Colorado

Cliffside Pueblo homes in Colorado
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At the Crow Canyon Archaeological Center you can work alongside professional archaeologists studying the Ancestral Puebloans (at one time called the Anasazi) and how they lived in the cliff-side dwelling and rugged canyons in southwestern Colorado. There are programs designed for novices, as well as alumni of previous programs and for families too. The Archaeological Center even organizes trips to other parts of the U.S. and abroad to foster an interest in history, culture, and  religion. For instance, the organization regularly sends travelers to Oaxaca, Mexico to explore those aspects of the region, which has been a cradle for civilization for thousands of years. 

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Spy on Bengal Tigers in India

The Royal Bengal Tigeress
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Ecotourism pioneers International Expeditions have been offering sustainably minded trips around the world for nearly four decades. Choose from a wide-variety of themed vacations, including a tour of Tanzania with Animal Planet's Jeff Corwin; a wildlife-focused trip to India; or a 600-mile-long cruise down the Amazon River and its tributaries. The company has also been offering trips to Cuba for years as well, making it a good option for those who want to explore that intriguing country by small ship too.

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Learn the necessary skills of an adventurer

Petra in Jordan

Kraig Becker

Want to become an independent and experienced adventurer? The Matt Prior Adventure Academy can help. Prior is an experienced explorer, traveler, and adventurer himself and has created a program that allows others to learn the skills they need to survive on the road. Attendees to the Adventure Academy will learn how to plan an expedition, how to finance your excursions, how to travel using a variety of different modes of transportation, and much, much more. The week-long course will give you all of the skills and knowledge necessary to start planning that really big adventure you've been dreaming about, and then put you on the path to making it a reality. 

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Go on an Expedition with a Nat Geo Photographer

Lindblad Expeditions Antarctica

Kraig Becker

Travel and photography go together like peanut butter and jelly. There are few things as inspiring as visiting remote and beautiful places, but capturing those images takes time, patience, and a good eye. It doesn't hurt if you pick up a few tips from some of the best photographers on the planet, and Lindblad Expeditions allows you to do just that on their photography tours to places like Alaska, the Amazon, and the Galapagos. On those tours you'll get to take classes from National Geographic photographers, learning a lot more about your equipment and what it takes to capture the perfect shot. 

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Drive Race Cars in Arizona

Racers at the Bondurant School of High Performance Driving
Brent Winebrenner/Getty Images

Fulfill your Speed Racer dreams at the Bondurant School of High Performance Driving. You'll learn to combine advanced street-driving skills with techniques refined through years on the racetrack. Choose from a variety of experience levels and cars—think Corvette Grand Sport and Z06, or a Tahoe Law Enforcement SUV. There are even course that allow visitors to train in open-wheeled racing, as well as special sessions designed to help teens learn to drive more safely too. No matter what your skill level or interest, chances are Bondurant has something to offer. 

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Educational Travel Adventures

Great Wall of China
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Educational Travel Adventures is a company that is completely focused on blending a great travel experience with a chance to learn something along the way. ETA offers trips to places like Washington, D.C., Boston, and even Hawaii. Moving further abroad, there are also excursions to Canada, Australia, China, South Africa and a host of other destinations. No matter where you go the primary focus is on culture and history with an almost-endless list of possibilities to explore. Chances are, no matter where you'd like to go, ETA has an educational trip for you. 

These are just a few of the equational opportunities that are available to travelers who are looking to combine a bit of adventure with the chance to learn more. Of course, travel in general helps to open our minds and teach us new things, but these are some of the best options that are expressly focused on achieving that goal.