One must learn to travel – Mark Twain
Mark Twain wrote that “one must travel to learn”, and he couldn’t be more right. One of the best things about travel is how much we get to learn about the world, about other cultures, history, languages and about ourselves.
Each time we travel we broaden our perspective on the world and return home with mental souvenirs that last forever. Recently, as people are looking for new ways to travel, learning holidays, where you go to a destination to gain knowledge or a new skill, have become increasingly popular. When you’re away from your normal daily life, you’re in a very receptive state to taking in the new, which makes being on holiday the best time to learn a new skill or ability. There are thousands of learning holidays to choose from in all corners of the globe, but we’ve rounded up a list of some of our favourites to get you inspired.
Life begins at the end of your comfort zone – Anon
Live out your version of the Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon movie on a kung fu training camp in China. It’s a pretty strict regime, where you wake up at 05.30 and do an hour of tai chi before breakfast and practise martial arts all day, but before long you’ll be chopping through bricks with your bare hands.
Costa Rica is one of the world’s greatest surfing destinations, with two beautiful coastlines and plenty of easy breaks for beginners. Learn to surf at one of the Central American country’s many surf retreats, such as Surf Bikini Nosara – a women’s only retreat on the Pacific Coast, where in a week you get 18 hours of hands-on coaching by female instructors – or Rancho Delicioso where you can learn how to surf as well as do a course on permaculture.
For all the sun and sea you can handle, go on a sailing holiday around the idyllic islands of Greece. The calm waters make a perfect place for a beginner to learn the ropes, even if you’re completely new to sailing. In between getting instruction and practising, you’ll be able to swim in the warm Mediterranean and explore the islands.
India offers a wealth of yoga and meditation retreats, such as the Mahatma Yoga Ashram in Rishikesh, northern India, which offers yoga classes on the banks of the Ganges River, meditation classes, philosophy classes, yoga teacher training and one and two week yoga retreats.
If you love safaris but want to get a bit closer to the animals you see from a distance on game drive vehicles, then you can’t beat a volunteering holiday with an organisation such as Wildlife Act seven different reserves in South Africa for you to choose from. You’ll be helping out with their conservation projects by monitoring and tracking cheetah, wild dog, rhino, elephant, lion and leopard.
Learn to ride a horse in Mongolia, a vast and epic country where the local nomads are considered the best horse riders in the world. Mongolia’s varied and spectacular landscapes are best explored by horse – you’ll ride through desert, mountains, lush forests and past lakes and mountain streams, meeting friendly locals along the way and staying each night in a traditional nomadic dwelling.
If you love your travel snaps but would like to take your photography skills up a notch, a photography holiday is a great idea. If you’re into wildlife, there are many options for photography holidays in Africa in safari destinations such as Kruger National Park in South Africa and the Serengeti National Park in Tanzania. For landscape photography, join a trip in Iceland to photograph the spectacular island’s mud pools, volcanic craters, natural hot springs, snowy mountains and Northern Lights. Learn to shoot architectural photography in the beautiful city of Marrakech, or become the world’s next best street photographer on a street photography course in the vibrant city of New Orleans.
If you feel like you’ve got an artist inside of you but you’ve never felt confident to put a paintbrush on canvas, then a painting holiday is the thing to do. There are so many painting and drawing holidays to choose from – it depends on your artistic bent. Take your pick from a sketching holiday to the Atlas mountains in Morocco and a painting holiday in southern Spain where you make your own paints from scratch to a drawing holiday in Florence where you study the works of the great Renaissance masters for inspiration, safari art holidays where you paint the landscapes of the African bush on location, or a painting holiday off the tourist trail in Kerala, southern India, where you’ll meet locals and get to paint scenes of everyday rural life.
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