Introduction: Travel-based continuing medical education (CME) has become a popular format for physicians looking to combine education with travel. However these programs do not usually include shared group activities and when they do, they are often social, sedentary events. Emergency Medicine Update (EMU) Europe is a unique biennial accredited CME program which combines high quality Emergency Medicine focused education with organized group physical and social activities in European locales. Methods: We undertook a participant observation-based ethnographic study of the EMU Europe program in Provence, France in 2015. Participant interviews and in-depth observation methods were used to understand (1) the impact of shared group activities on learning and (2) the ethos that is created during this type of program. Results: We describe three phenomena from the data that we feel are highly influential in the success of the program and impact on learning. The first is “social engagement and a sense of community”. Involvement in group physical and social activities supports more interactive learning and people affiliate with this as a group that they enjoy and feel good learning with. The second is “a stimulating escape”. This is the opportunity for high quality education and stimulating travel to be provided in an efficient package. The third is “the ‘flat’ faculty-learner relationships”. This is created through accessibility and innovative teaching and is a key component of the quality of the education. Conclusion: While each trip in and of itself might be unique, there appears to be some common elements - building a sense of community, providing a stimulating escape and choosing faculty with specific teaching styles - that contribute to the educational success of this model. We will discuss how this relates to medical education theory and how it is generalizable to other groups considering this type of program. To our knowledge this is the first empirical research in this area and improves our understanding of how to leverage this approach for more effective continuing medical education.