Experiential Education, Travel, and Why it Matters

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When Outbound Adventurer started nine months ago, we had a mission that went beyond our love of travel and adventure. You see, we’re not just travelers. We’re educators. And as such, we take the task of learning very seriously. We believe that personal growth is central to every trip and every adventure.

Furthermore, we recognize that travel and education cannot be separated. They are integral parts of one another, and that suits us just fine. With our joint backgrounds both in museums and in the classroom, we acknowledge that learning doesn’t have to be boring, and it certainly isn’t just for the young.

Experiential education can lead people to historical sites, like this image of Jessi Honard at the Colosseum

Travel and education are inextricably linked.

Experiential Learning or Experiential Education?

So what is experiential education, and why do we care about it so much? Let’s start by talking about experiential learning. 

Simply defined, experiential learning is “learning from experience.” And what is travel, if not an absolute barrage of new experiences that you can learn from? Lucky for us, experiential learning takes place without even trying. Just existing in a new place means that our brain is adapting, reacting, and absorbing.

Experiential Education - Venice, Italy

Being somewhere new forces us to learn, whether we set out to or not.

Putting it another way, think of it like this: When was the last time you traveled somewhere new and came away saying, “Wow, I learned absolutely nothing on that trip”? Even if all you learned was how to manage a foreign lavatory, you’ve still learned something.

But what if you want more? What if you don’t just want to passively absorb information throughout your travels?

That’s where we go from experiential learning to experiential education.

Experiential Education - Zagreb, Croatia

Education is so much more than four walls, a desk, and an instructor.

Whether you’re in high school or planning for retirement, the world is full of learning opportunities that go beyond passive acquisition. Regardless of your passion — be it paleontology, linguistics, architecture, geology, ecology — your understanding of the topic can only be drastically improved through experiential education.

Experiential Education - Dinosaur Valley State Park

Regardless of your passion, your understanding can only be improved through experiential education.

Experiential education is the more structured umbrella under which experiential learning takes place. There is someone who serves some sort of directing role, and you are tasked with specific activities. If that definition sounds a bit vague, that’s on purpose. The beauty of experiential education is that is takes on many different forms, from digging up fossils in the badlands of Wyoming to strolling down the streets of Dublin, following in the footsteps of literary giants.

Experiential Education - Field Work

There are experiential education opportunities out there for everyone.

Why it Matters, and Outbound Adventurer’s Role

I’ve already touched on the responsibility that travelers have to share their stories. Committing yourself to actively engaging in your destination, to learning as much as you can about what you love, goes hand-in-hand with that. Some of us are happy to learn passively, and there is absolutely nothing wrong with that. Others, however, are looking for resources that will help them tailor their journey to their passions. That’s where Outbound Adventurer comes in.

Experiential Education - Flying out of Zagreb

Our goal is to find, catalog, and present as many different educational opportunities as possible.

Whether it’s field experiences through museums or offbeat walking tours that take you through a city’s unique history, we want to make it easy for you to find the resources you need. Some resources, such as the Association for Experiential Education, exist to help middle and high school students find and take advantage of these experiences. Other opportunities that we feature acknowledge that education doesn’t stop with graduation, and the world is a vast classroom.

For you, our readers, it matters because you are the ones who will travel the world, and you are the ones who will come home and share your experiences.

Experiential Edcuation in Dubrovnik, Croatia

The lessons you learn on the road will be profound, and you will carry them with you for the rest of your life. 

As Outbound Adventurer continues to develop, we want to be your resource for all things experiential. We’re excited to hear about what you’ve learned on the road, while continuing to share our own lessons. Don’t forget to connect with us through Twitter and Facebook, and sign up for our newsletter so that you can take full advantage of our resources!

Your turn! What’s the most important lesson that you’ve learned while traveling?

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