Take time out to indulge your passions with a new crop of courses that will fuel the imagination beyond cookery and painting, says Jenny Southan
Although there is a temptation to book a fly-and-flop getaway somewhere hot, where all you have to worry about is where your next piña colada is coming from, there is a rising trend for using trips abroad to invest in yourself. As adults, we rarely afford ourselves the time to indulge our interests or expand our horizons in new ways by, say, learning watercolour painting, studying reiki healing or becoming a master of Jiu-Jitsu. There are always other priorities and never enough hours in the day.
For this reason, a learning holiday can be the perfect opportunity not just to experience being in a beautiful new place far away from the everyday, but to return home with new skills, knowledge and a motivation that you didn’t previously have. Signing up for a course might not sound like a break to everyone, but for those who struggle to lie by a pool all day and block out work worries, having a focus can prove an effective way to switch off.
These days, travel companies are coming up with imaginative packages to tempt even the laziest of us to go out and better ourselves. Sure, you can learn to catch waves at the Merrick’s Noosa Learn to Surf school on the Sunshine Coast of Queensland, Australia; embark on a three-day reading retreat in Wales through London’s The School of Life; or book a gastronomy class at Hotel B in Lima, Peru, where you can discover how to conjure up zesty pisco cocktails and ceviche; but if these feel too ‘pedestrian’ for you, there are now many other empowering sojourns you can embark on.
Travellers who book with The New York Times’s Journeys are accompanied by award-winning journalists on private jets to the Middle East, for example, to gain first-hand insight into the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. During the nine-night trip, participants get to listen to ‘opinion makers, scholars, grassroots activists and media experts’, as well as ‘journey through millennia of history, politics and religion’. Other trips include Fjords, Falls and Foreign Affairs – a two-week sailing holiday from Denmark to Scotland (main picture) via Iceland, combined with a series of lectures.
If you fancy something less cerebral, take a week-long course in the US at Scottsdale’s Arizona Cowboy College where you can learn how to ride horses, tie lassoos, herd cattle and brand cows. At night, you will eat and sleep under the stars in true John Wayne style. Following in the footsteps of another American hero, Ernest Hemingway, head to Kenya in East Africa to go deep-sea fishing and learn tricks and tips to hook dorado, blue marlin and even sharks. (The Voyager Beach Resort in Mombasa and the Kipungani Explorer hotels, part of Heritage Hotels, can help with arrangements.)
Inspiring a new passion doesn’t always have to require a lot of your time – learning can be slotted into weekend city breaks alongside museum visits and fine dining. In Sin City, instead of throwing all your money away on the tables, why not take a lesson in circus performance with Trapeze Las Vegas? Next time you’re in Vienna, Austria, put your name down for a waltz class at the Private Dance Academy. Alternatively, take part in a street photography workshop in the Big Apple, organized by Shoot New York City. You might not be the next Henri Cartier-Bresson, but at least the next selfie you take with a piña colada in hand won’t be blurred.
Main image courtesy of The New York Times. Images courtesy of Arizona Cowboy College, Jack Hobhouse, Leanne Staples/Shoot New York City.