Traveling can function as a great way to fuel lifelong learning. Engagement with education as an intellectual pursuit transforms into a visceral and experiential process through travel. It’s one thing to study the poetry of Robert Burns in a book of poems, but walking down the streets of Edinburgh with bagpipes skirling and Holyrood Castle outlined against a gray Scottish sky provides a context you never would have gotten any other way. And this kind of travel can be less expensive than you might think if you make a realistic budget and then stick to it.
Western Europe by Train
Traveling by train in Europe offers a lot more than just an economical way to cover a lot of ground cheaply. It allows you to experience the landscape connecting the cities you visit and provides a far greater level of engagement with local people. Learning about a place in the abstract is far different from seeing how rolling green meadows dotted with sheep give way to rocky crags overlooking the North Sea. And conversing with local people in a gently swaying train carriage while watching the landscape change is much more enriching than flying high above the clouds in a cramped airliner seat.
Leverage More Travel
If you plan ahead and buy a Eurail pass before your trip, it’s even cheaper than buying it upon your arrival in Europe. A Eurail pass allows you to travel as much as you want for the duration of the pass. It costs the same whether make one trip or ride the train every day during the time your pass is valid. If you have a one-month pass, you can literally travel anywhere you want in Western Europe. This is a feature that many travelers are unaware of and provides a real opportunity to leverage a lot more traveling out of one trip than just a city or two. If you’re in Amsterdam spending time walking the canals and visiting the Renoir Museum and Amsterdam gets a little chilly for your liking, the beaches of sunny southern France are a train ride away.
Taste Culture: Learn Through Your Taste Buds
Learning about a culture should involve far more than going to museums and art galleries. The regional foods and wines where you’re visiting present a unique opportunity to experience local culture. Every region will likely have local breads, cheeses and either a celebrated wine or beer to choose from. Not only is this an excellent way to experience the subtle nuances in flavor emphasis between regions, it’s a great way to stay on budget. It’s fine to go to restaurants occasionally. But if you really want to keep your travel budget in shape while eating delicious healthy food, eating locally produced foods is a must. Buying foods in local markets is cheap and a good loaf of bread and a big chunk of hard cheese travel well too. Instead of dropping twenty-five dollars on one restaurant meal, you can buy from local markets and eat for several days on the same amount of money. Using travel as an effective component of lifelong learning can be just as affordable as it is fun.