For the Love of Road Trips

by Stacey Ebert / May 02, 2016 /
Stacey Ebert's picture

Schools in the US are mostly stationary. Students, staff, and teachers enter the building in the morning and leave at the end of the day. If we’re lucky, we may grab some much needed outdoor air and vitamin D at lunchtime or recess, but for the majority of minutes of each day, we’re inside in the same place. Travel changes this. Travel lends that added element of the unknown to the constant of the classroom. For many of us, that unknown becomes a dreaded, scary place. Having students become travelers forces that unknown to become part of the everyday removing the fear and anxiety - often replacing it with acceptance, tolerance, and even joy.

Betty's Pies - a Northern Minnesota weekend road trip with great friends.  From For the Love of Road Trips

Betty's Pies - a Northern Minnesota weekend road trip with great friends

Travel makes learners out of all of us. Students become teachers, parents become students, and lessons are everywhere. Creativity, curiosity, and interest become the order of the day while learning takes shape in new surroundings, with new people, involving new elements, techniques, and connections. Whether you’re a road-schooler, world-schooler, home-schooler, or finding your own pathways to education, travel enhances each model, melding learning with your surroundings while forcing you to be a part of the bigger world and the bigger picture.

Bryce Canyon, Utah - hiking the southern gems of Utah.  From For the Love of Road Trips

Bryce Canyon, Utah - hiking the southern gems of Utah

Road trips change the scenery often. Perhaps you wake up in one city, explore another throughout the day, and fall asleep in a third. Smacked with a changing pace from the traditional, ordinary, or stagnant, road trips force conversations between strangers, regularly include discussions of directions and maps, and continually throw choices and decisions at each of its participants. Cartography and geography are everyday elements. Learning becomes a game as car occupants count how many diverse licenses they might see in a day, possibly enhancing that game with the capitals, cities, specialty foods, or known sports teams. The landscape constantly changes outside of the moving classroom, shifting focus to weather, meteorology, or simple conversations about how many layers to wear on the upcoming adventure.

Go to Minnesota for wedding - add a seven hour return adventure to check out a few other new spots...because, Why Not? From For the Love of Road Trips

Go to Minnesota for wedding - add a seven hour return adventure to check out a few other new spots...because, Why Not? 

Whether you’re in your own country or a new one, road trips make the uncomfortable part of the every day. Cars can get too crowded or squished. Participants spending heaps of time together are forced to deal with disagreements, must learn conflict resolution, and how to spend time in comfortable silence. Weather can change or delay plans, sickness can derail a scheduled departure, and daily life must go on amidst the extraordinary. Students begin to realize that learning is not something to compartmentalize. Science, maths, literature, social studies, technology, and more intertwine in front of their eyes as they participate in various exercises.

Bills still need to be paid. Laundry must still be done. Chores take place in new surroundings as travelers deal with picking up after themselves and packing their belongings. Responsibility ensues. For those who spend more than a few days in one space, there might be the added element of cooking, cleaning, and shopping for necessities. At all ages, little ones can take on roles of carrying their own belongings, looking after siblings, asking for directions, and choosing the next destination amidst a myriad of other accountabilities. The unknown takes on excitement in lieu of fear and the uncomfortable, over time, becomes the comfortable. As the new and different becomes the traditional, routines become flexible, and challenges become possibilities, students grow in ways unseen in the traditional classroom. Travel becomes their classroom - and life, their teacher. 

Maine's Wicked Whoopies - road trip to Freeport, Portland, and Bar Harbor.  From For the Love of Road Trips

Maine's Wicked Whoopies - road trip to Freeport, Portland, and Bar Harbor

People with different backgrounds, beliefs, and political views are their three-dimensional primary source documents. Scientists, museum curators, and researchers are their professors. Currency, time, and weather bring maths and science lessons daily. Roadside kitsch becomes more than art of a different kind sharing the oral histories of their architects, lands, and visitors. Cooking classes, music lessons, technology practices along with language interaction, historical findings, social development, and common courtesies become every day lessons taking on real world applications. 

Adding our mark to the Texas Panhandle's Cadillac Ranch on a cross country journey.  From For the Love of Road Trips

Adding our mark to the Texas Panhandle's Cadillac Ranch on a cross country journey

Road trips are a special type of travel. Car, truck, RV, caravan, camper, bicycle, tuk-tuk, or other mode of transport – life becomes more about the continuous journey. Lessons can form around how to know when to ask for directions, how getting lost can be terrific, when detours share the best stories, how the people we meet on the road make all the difference, and how the world outside your window has so very much to offer. Perhaps you’re tackling the national parks of the US, museums in Europe, or setting your sights on the coastline of Australia. Maybe you’re traversing North and South America, making your way through Africa, or heading across Asia. Or perhaps it’s as simple as a few days to heritage sites, new cities, a friend’s wedding, Grandma’s house, or solely spending time with what you need most in the world. Road trips teach…get out there and listen.

Last minute Alabama addition to a road trip - worth every mile.  From For the Love of Road Trips

Last minute Alabama addition to a road trip - worth every mile

 

Stacey Ebert, our Educational Travels Editor, is a traveler at heart who met her Australian-born husband while on a trip in New Zealand. Stacey was an extracurricular advisor and taught history in a Long Island public high school for over fifteen years, enjoying both the formal and informal educational practices. After a one year 'round the world honeymoon, travel and its many gifts changed her perspective. She has since left the educational world to focus on writing and travel. She is energetic and enthusiastic about long term travel, finding what makes you happy and making the leap. In her spare time she is an event planner, yogi, dark chocolate lover, and spends as much time as possible with her toes in the sand. Check out her website at thegiftoftravel.wordpress.comfor more of her travel musings.
 
All photos courtesy and copyright Stacey Ebert