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Class trips

Bored with the beach? Tired of the cottage? Maybe your next vacation should be a learning experience. Dig up dinosaur bones in Alberta, learn Thai cuisine in Bangkok, step dance in Cape Breton: our compendium of learning vacations will tell you how

By Johnny Lucas
First published in Chatelaine's December 1997 issue.
© Johnny Lucas

A vacation in a classroom: for someone who works as a teacher, it may not sound like much of a holiday. But it's exactly the vacation teacher Marisa Glover, 48, of Willowdale, Ont., and her husband, Jim, 50, who also works for the school board, chose last summer.

They spent their holiday learning--not teaching--in a Spanish language school in Guatemala. The Glovers have sampled other learning vacations as well. This year, Marisa gave Jim a dinosaur for his birthday--or, more accurately, the chance to dig one up at the Royal Tyrrell dig in Alberta, where Jim uncovered the tailbone of a hadrosaur. "I've spent most of my working life in a classroom, and I still think learning is fun," says Marisa. "It makes me feel young."

Any kind of travel has a learning component, even if it's as basic as experiencing new landscapes and cultures. But today, more travelers demand a focus to their holiday learning. Like the Glovers, I'm a fan of learning vacations: I've gone to Australia to learn scuba diving, and studied meditation and the Thai language in Thailand. I went to Mountain Trek spa in British Columbia to learn to take better care of my body, and while on an ocean cruise, I learned the principles of dowsing (the mysterious art of finding underground water).

Interested in checking out the offerings for yourself? Take a look at the compendium of courses that follows. If what you want isn't on the list, keep looking--there's lots to find. Many of the best learning vacations are conducted by small outfits with smaller ad budgets, so they can be a challenge to locate. Start with a call to an association related to the activity or cause you'd like to study. An Internet search can also yield possibilities.

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