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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    Es Vedra, Ibiza
    ••• Learn Spanish in Ibiza, Spain, with GoLearnTo, a tour group specializing in educational trips. David Navarro Azurmendi/Getty Images

    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 trip 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 new learning adventure. 

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    Montreal's Old Town
    ••• Explore Montreal's Old Town on a trip with Classical Pursuits, a tour company with literary-themed vacations. Piero Damiani/Getty Images

    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. Visit the supposed homelands of King Arthur, Guinevere, and Sir Lancelot on The Classical Arthur tour. Or, take in the Montreal of mid-century Jewish authors on the Jewish Montreal trip. There is even an option for exploring the literary landscape of Krakow, introducing travelers to the artistic and creative minds that reside in that city. 

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    Cliffside Pueblo homes in Colorado
    ••• Study the ancient cliffside dwellings of Puebloans on a trip with the Crow Canyon Archaeological Center. Joseph Sohm-Visions of America/Getty Images

    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 all of those aspects of that region. 

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    Spy on Bengal Tigers in India

    The Royal Bengal Tigeress
    ••• Spy on Bengal tigers, and other wildlife, on International Expeditions' tour of India. ashok9in/Getty Images

    Ecotourism pioneers International Expeditions have been offering sustainably minded trips around the world for nearly four decades. Choose from a 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 them a good option for those who want to explore that country by small ship too.

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    Two Grey Reef Sharks in Palau's famous blue corner.
    ••• Dive with Grey Reef Sharks each spring in Palau, when the animals come to the region to mate. Global_Pics/Getty Images

    If diving among sharks sounds interesting—in the terrifying, adrenalin-packed kind of way—sign up for the annual shark week with the Micronesian Shark Foundation. It's run by a Palau-based, non-profit that works tirelessly to research and monitor the region's many shark species. The event takes place in early spring, when the Grey Reef Sharks come to the island to mate, and includes lectures, cocktail events, and—of course—diving opportunities. Shark Week has taken place every year since 2003, and has become a real gathering point for experts, researchers, and curious divers alike. 

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    A bald eagle in flight with a blue sky background.
    ••• Spot and learn to photograph bald eagles at the annual Carson Valley's Eagles and Agriculture Event in Nevada. Tod Ryburn Photography/Getty Images

    The annual Carson Valley Eagles and Agriculture Event in January—colloquially known as Eagles & Ag—attracts bird lovers and photographers from around the world. The multi-day event in Nevada includes tours that allow bird-watchers observe and photograph bald eagles and other birds of prey from vantage points not routinely available to the general public. Other activities include a two-day photography workshop and a guided raft/canoe trip to observe eagles, hawks and falcons from the river. The event's photography contest is always a popular attraction, with some fantastic images being captured and submitted on an annual basis as well. 

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    Racers at the Bondurant School of High Performance Driving
    ••• Test your speed demon skills 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
    ••• Educational tours to China. Kevin Frayer/Getty Images

    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, and other destinations, with a focus on culture and history. The options are practically endless for anyone who loves to learn. 

     

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.