An exploration is a trip, but it's more than just a vacation — it's going somewhere to examine and discover new things.
Exploration is what you do when you want to learn more about what's out there in the big wide world. Guys like Christopher Columbus were experts in exploration. Some astronauts devote their lives to the exploration of space, looking for new planets. But you don't have to go any farther than your local library to do your own exploration — when you study or research something, you could say you're doing an exploration of it.