It’s a brand new year, and as this year unfolds we find ourselves right in the middle of a winter cold snap, hiding out in our homes from sub-freezing temperatures. At times like this, I find my mind wandering to thoughts of warmer weather and wanting to take a safe and educational road trip.
The good news is that thanks to an enclosed vehicle with windows (and a working heater, of course) we really don’t have to wait until warmer weather to take that road trip.
Any sunny day with little to no chance of precipitation would make a great excuse to escape. Even better, you can make it an educational road trip for the students in your life (or even yourself, we should never stop learning).
Why An Educational Road Trip?
Books and videos are a great way to learn about a place, and their value cannot be understated. However, actually going to visit a given location immerses the learner into the culture and history of a site with hands-on learning. With so much information shared in today’s world, it is often the nuances that make a place special.
For most one or two-day road trips, at least in the US, you aren’t going to be in a place that has a completely different language or culture, but there are subtle differences to be explored and celebrated. A breakfast in a favorite local diner in the country is going to be a different experience than your neighborhood Waffle House.
A Rich History Waiting To Be Untapped
But it’s just not culinary adventures to be had. Each place you can visit has a rich history to explore, and this presents a plethora of learning opportunities for an educational road trip.
You can gain a deeper understanding of an area buy seeing the lay of the land for yourself, and walking on its soil. Each location presents its own perspective on why it matters in this world of ours. In the US there are many such opportunities, some as close as a local walking trail.
Here in Knoxville my son and I stumbled upon just such a learning opportunity on the Third Creek Greenway. On the walkway, you will find a sign describing a circular, earthen redan that was built during the Civil War to protect a wooden trestle for the train. The redan held in its middle a cannon pointed out across a field. You can still see the dip in the redan that held the canon as it peeked over the embankment, ready to fire on any attackers.
We’ve read about the Civil War in Knoxville before, but to actually stand on top of this structure and imagine protecting it as an army advanced brought it to life in a way that words alone would be hard-pressed to do. This accidental history lesson imprinted on us a deeper understanding of what it was like during this time in our nation’s history and the impact it had on the individuals fighting the war.
If something like this can be found locally, just imagine how many opportunities there are out there when you expand your search area with the help of an educational road trip. But whatever you do, don’t forget to take pictures of your trip – you might find that there are additional lessons to be had upon revisiting through photos, and you definitely want to keep those memories.
You might even want to post them to an Instagram album like Kalu Yala did and create a learning experience for others to share.
Educational Road Trips Build Independence and Confidence
As we venture out onto the road and explore the world around us, we gain new insights into a history of the world and its cultures. But more importantly, we gain new insights into our own culture and how we fit into the world around us. This is a lifelong lesson and something that learners of all ages should seek to discover and understand more.
This is especially true as our world becomes more interconnected since understanding the history and culture of ourselves allow us to better understand others and how we relate.
This understanding gives future entrepreneurs and business leaders an advantage in life, especially as they apply for scholarships from places like Kalu Yala and go on to learn at higher institutions of education.
As you can see, educational road trips can serve to inspire inquisitive minds of all ages, and can even help prepare us as we venture out into the world on other pursuits. While I love a road trip as much as anybody (and maybe more than many), making it an educational experience adds rich bonuses that will enrich your life. With that thought, there is only one thing left to be said – “Road Trip!”
When he is not writing on his wife’s blog or has his head buried in software code, Greg Chaffins can be found celebrating nerdy things on his own website, NerdBeach.