We often take vacations to escape the many stressors of life and to have a moment to recharge. Whether you travel to an entirely new country or take a trip to your own backyard, getting a break from your responsibilities is important to your mental health and overall well-being.
Another benefit to the usual vacation activities that can be overlooked is they’re also a great opportunity to explore new skills and hobbies. It can be hard finding time (and energy) for new interests while juggling work, school, family, and more each day. However, vacations often provide us with some much-needed free time. Take advantage of this by utilizing the learning opportunities in your adventures — it’ll help with your self-development, creativity, and lead you to make new friends.
Once the pandemic has faded and we can all travel freely again, consider the following activities as a way to immerse yourself in the learning opportunities traveling provides:
Whether you’re snapping shots of out-of-this-world blue waters, local wildlife, or ancient architecture, vacations are a perfect excuse to improve your photography skills. You’re likely to find a variety of unique subjects and moments to capture. And while having an actual physical camera is certainly helpful, it isn’t necessary for great photography. Considering that most people have some sort of smartphone on them at all times, having a decent camera at a moment’s notice is much more possible these days. This can be especially helpful for budding-photographers who like to pack light. Depending on what you enjoy photographing, look for opportunities to find new and exciting things to capture. You could sign-up for a guided tour of an abandoned prison or make plans to stroll around the local community garden.
Let your inner-Indiana Jones reign free on vacation with metal detecting. The modern-day practice of treasure hunting provides several opportunities to explore new areas, learn more history and geography, and even self-reflect. You could enjoy a casual afternoon on the beach searching for hidden gems or lean into finding buried treasure caches. If you want to try the latter, be sure to check out local books, maps, and ask around for any tips or leads. You could also try geocaching with a metal detector, an activity that involves using GPS or a mobile device to find “geocaches” at specific locations all over the world.
Connect With Nature
Visiting a national park offers a multitude of learning opportunities. Surrounding yourself with nature presents a chance to observe the natural world, which is a great way to improve your situational awareness. National parks also foster an appreciation for wildlife, which can encourage a more active role against threats such as climate change and deforestation. Of course, always be mindful of rules, boundaries, and follow all precautions necessary to keep yourself safe while exploring a national park.
Earn Your Sea Legs
Don’t just look at the crystal clear waters, learn to sail on them. Learning to sail is a skill you can bring back with you and doesn’t require too rigorous of training to get a good grasp of the basics. Sailing is also a great way to improve your reflexes and focus. It shouldn’t be too hard to find a local instructor and they might even let you swim or fish once your lesson is over, just be sure to wear your lifejacket when necessary.
Go Back in Time
Not all vacation activities have to look like hiking the grand canyon or deep-sea diving. While those activities can certainly be fun and educational, they aren’t everyone’s speed. Museums and historical sites are perfect places to learn more about local history, but they can become a bit repetitive. Something worth considering is immersing yourself in days gone by. Many towns, such as in the midwest, offer living history lessons that involve learning how to cook like the pioneers as well as traditional farming techniques and tools. This means you’ll be interacting with history, rather than just observing it.
Grab Your Dancing Shoes
The nightlife of many popular vacation spots can be a great excuse to practice your dancing skills. Many countries and cultures have such rich history in dance, it’s worth looking into traditional dance lessons during your journey. From belly dancing to salsa to clogging there are a variety of interesting and unique dance styles you can learn and practice. Dancing is also one way to improve your posture and coordination as well as introduce you to new people during your adventure.
Practice Finding Peace
As mentioned earlier, vacations are usually one of the few times we actually have free time to spend on ourselves. This makes them the perfect time to work on your meditation skills.
While it may not be the most thrilling vacation activity, learning how to meditate can provide a new perspective, help manage stress, and help reduce negative emotions — to name just a few benefits. Try finding a place, such as a spot on the beach overlooking the ocean, to sit down and just be in the present. You can bring headphones to follow a guided meditation or enjoy the moment in silence.
Beer and spirits making is an interesting process that many of us aren’t exactly knowledgeable about. During your vacation, consider taking a tour of a local brewery or distillery. Not only are there usually free tastings offered with each tour, but you can get a behind-the-scenes look at the complicated equipment and process that goes into a cold pint of beer. From there, if you’re interest is piqued, you can begin brewing beer as an enjoyable and rewarding hobby back home.
Feed Your Inner Artist
If you’re the artistic type or looking to awaken your inner artist, vacations can help feed that creative side. Bring along a sketchbook, even if you don’t feel confident in your skills yet, and during a moment when you’d normally snap a picture, try sketching what you see instead. Once you’re home you can display your various creations or tuck them safely away to revisit when you need a walk down memory lane.
Step Outside Your Comfort Zone
An important skill for anyone to have is learning how to manage fears and push ourselves beyond what’s comfortable. Your vacation could be the perfect excuse to try some new, albeit scary things. If you struggle speaking in public, for example, why not sign up to sing a few songs on a karaoke night? You’re likely never going to see the people hearing you sing ever again, which can ease some of the fear and pressure. Afterward, you might realize a lot of the fear you had about getting up on stage was just holding you back from having fun. Another possibility, if you’re afraid of heights, is touring a skyscraper. Or, if you’re feeling particularly bold, sign up to go sky-diving.
There are endless opportunities to hone your skills, discover new hobbies, and learn something new while also enjoying a rejuvenating vacation. The key is finding what interests you and planning around that. Don’t push yourself into an activity just because it’s popular or something you’re “supposed” to do. And most importantly, enjoy yourself!