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Rites Of Passage

The euro is coming. The euro is coming.

Travelers may think a single currency in Europe sounds like a good idea, but when countries start adopting the euro next year, visiting just won't be the same.

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Sorting out the pounds from the pesetas has always been part of what makes a trip to Europe, or any foreign destination, interesting.

In fact, many travelers probably have a rite-of-passage story like mine: Being denied access to a tourist spot (the Opra in Paris) because you can't tell the difference between the largest- and smallest-valued coins (francs and centimes). Eventually you get in when you realize you have all kinds of paper money that will work just fine.

European destinations are the focus of our first quarterly section merging travel and learning. It's a marriage that seems natural. There's not a trip where you don't learn something, either by design or by force - whether it's how to be a better photographer or how many states the family has to drive through to reach Disney World.

"More and more people today travel with a purpose," reports this month's edition of the magazine I look to for travel information, Transitions Abroad. Based in Amherst, Mass., the publication is celebrating its 21st anniversary with the July/August edition. Besides features on families, seniors, and study abroad, it also has a nine-page directory of educational trips - "from folk-crafts tours of Brazil to fashion in London."

Over the years, I've come to anticipate the arrival of this publication. It often shows me how vacations and learning can go hand in hand.

And when it comes right down to it, we never know what we'll get out of a journey. Author John Steinbeck sums it up nicely: "We do not take a trip; a trip takes us."

* Kim Campbell (campbellk@ is the assistant Learning editor. Amelia Newcomb is on vacation.

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