How to Learn on Vacation – And Still Have Fun

How to Learn on Vacation – And Still Have Fun

A few years ago, I visited Niagara Falls with friends. On the Canadian side, I spotted a small history museum and convinced my friends to go in with me. It blew our minds – even my friends who aren’t into history – and made me completely rethink the War of 1812.

My friends and I went to Niagara to see the Falls, play some mini-golf, and eat ice cream. And we did all that. But we also learned about the Canadian perspective of the War of 1812, the joys of maple candy, and the science behind the Falls.

Summer vacation doesn’t have to mean turning your brain off. In fact, learning while on vacation is even better because you can focus on any topic that interests you. Want to find out more about K Pop? Interested in modern life on Native American reservations? Curious about space travel? This is the time to find out more!

Let’s dig into how to plan some learning ahead of time and ways to learn while on vacation. And none of them involve a textbook, I promise!

How to Learn While On Vacation

learn vacation

Pick your areas of interest

What are your current passions? (Notice the plural.) One might be academic, but others could be cultural, environmental, or tech-related. For example, I love all things historical, baking, and Harry Potter. Jot down a quick list.


How are your interests related to the area you are traveling? I usually start on Trip Advisor or Google and work my way out from there. You can also go old school and borrow a travel guide from the library.

Pick out a few places you want to visit or things you want to do and talk to your friends and family about those locations. How does it fit into the overall vacation plan? What will you learn while visiting that place?? (You might have to talk others into some of these visits.)

Let me share an example from my own life. We traveled to London in 2019. Needless to say, there were tons of historical and Harry Potter-related places to visit. I told my husband that the only thing I wanted to see was the Harry Potter movie set. Anything else is negotiable for me. But maybe we can fit in a few bakeries?

Ways to Learn on Vacation:

There are lots of interesting options for enjoying your vacation and learning something at the same time.


Duh. This goes without saying that you can find museums anywhere. Don’t just focus on the big ones, either. You can find a museum for just about any topic or interest. Seriously.

Take a Tour

Learn more about a neighborhood, population, architecture, etc and get some exercise at the same time. We took a bike tour once of Savannah, Georgia. Oh-so-sweaty, but we learned so much and had fun while doing it!

Not so keen on the walking or bike tour, but want to eat? Try a food tour, but be sure to come hungry! These are my favorite ways to learn about a new city – get delicious food while learning about the people that make a community.

Read or Watch  Along

Find a book (or books, overachievers!) on your interest+location. Read right before you leave or read while on vacation.

[click_to_tweet tweet=”Download an audiobook to listen to on that long car ride.” quote=”Download an audiobook to listen to on that long car ride.”]

If you MUST watch a screen, at least keep it related to your travel destination. Do a quick search on Google or Netflix for documentaries, movies, or shows about the place you are visiting. If you have a long car or plane ride ahead, it might be worth downloading a few and watching on the way.

Journal It

Don’t just watch the miles pass out your window while mindlessly listening to music! Stay involved with your trip. You can DIY it with a simple journal and a favorite pen. Don’t underestimate the power of a good pen.

If are in middle school or parent a middle schooler, consider a Journey Jotter journal. These are individualized travel journals with a variety of activities that keep kids engaged in the trip. (This is not an affiliate link – I just love the product!)

Nature Walk/ Hike/ Bike

Grab a nature guide for your destination. Plan a hike or bike ride and take your nature guide along. Learn about local plants and animals while seeing some scenery. And don’t forget to take some nature photos!

Farmers Markets

This is the fastest way to learn about local agriculture and traditions. In addition to local farmers, most markets will also have food stands with local foods and artists selling traditional or local arts & crafts. One of my favorite places I visited in Beijing was the Night Market, full of local foods and vendors. If your destination has a good farmers market, GO!

Oral History

Headed to a family reunion or Nana’s house this summer? Conduct a family oral history while you’re there. Find out more about your family’s history and your family members’ places IN history.

Happy Travels this summer! May you find a museum so amazing that you still talk about it 10 years later 😄

What is your favorite way to learn while on vacation? Share it in the comments below!

Related Posts: 50+ Fun Summer Activities for Teens & Tweens, Help Your Teen Have a Fun & Productive Summer, Why Summer is the Best Time for Tutoring

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