Learning vacations have become popular for good reason – learning something new is a great adventure. Some might say touring a new area of knowledge might be the most meaningful form of sightseeing, while others simply find that engaged travel is better than just lying on the beach. Whatever your reasons, here are six learning vacations that will let you exercise your gray matter.
Learn to Surf in Cape Town, South Africa
Surfing occupies a spot on so many bucket lists. While you can always head to the beach, rent a board and take to the waves, a focused course of instruction might be the way to go. Southern California or Australia are obvious choices for your surfing experience, yet Africa is definitely more adventurous.
The Stoked Surf School in Africa organizes three and five day camps that house participants close to the beach, but also transport budding surfers to whatever local beach has the best surf conditions of the day. Comprehensive equipment rental, instruction, and lodging ensure your education is successful.
Learn to Paint in Italy
Painting for the Petrified is an aptly titled Italian tour company located in Abruzzo. Most people struggle with “I can’t draw syndrome,” but this getaway teaches vacationers to break through their limiting beliefs. There’s probably no better or more inspiring place to get the creative juices flowing than the Italian countryside. Old masters such as Leonardo da Vinci and Raphael painted here.
Drawing and painting lessons are complimented with other activities such as truffle hunting and pizza making lessons, all while touring through the central Italy and along the Abruzzo Coast of the Adriatic Sea. Paint Italian wineries while sampling their wares.
Learn to Rock Climb in the Blue Ridge Mountains, United States
Rock climbing in the Appalachian Mountains requires a baseline level of fitness that not all people possess, but for those who do, it could be an incredible adventure. Outward Bound is a longstanding program offering expeditions throughout America that are geared towards young people.
Courses are aimed to help participants develop self-reliance; rock climbing might be the best outdoor discipline to do that. One and two-week trips in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina include expert instruction and memories for a lifetime.
Learn Spanish in Costa Rica
Language immersion programs are said to wildly accelerate the growth of new language skills. The experience is challenging – communicating with hand movements, possibly feeling isolated – but a gorgeous destination must soften the learning curve. Sol Education Abroad in Heredia, Costa Rica offers programs in conjunction with Universidad Latina.
Full semester experiences combine traditional college curriculum with the added challenge of second-language learning, all in a wildly beautiful coastal setting. If you’re considering a language immersion program, consider spending a little more for a phenomenal location like Costa Rica, the Galapagos, Barcelona, or Patagonia.
Learn Organic Farming in Hawaii
Many organic farms offer free lodging in exchange for work. The World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms (WWOOF) group has created a network of participating farms, allowing cheap vacation experiences for those willing to roll up their sleeves. Kona’s Earthly Delights Farm may just be the most idyllic landing spot available.
They grow cacao, coffee and macadamia nuts. And yes, they’re located on the Big Island of Hawaii. The 8-acre farm sells coffee, chocolate and nuts direct to the public in a farmer’s market setting. WWOOFers, as participants are called, eat freely off the land and are provided some meals in exchange for part-time or full-time work.
Learn Archeology in Colorado
For those who like to dig – and learn – archeology camps offer extensive involvement with actual excavations. Learn to excavate, clean, identify, and catalog relics from past civilizations while having fun.
The Crow Canyon Archaeological Center in the southwestern United States provides lodging and guided instruction that allows vacationers to maximize their Indiana Jones experience. The group gives tours in addition to digs, and participants enjoy daytrips to the extensive ruins of Mesa Verde National Park and Chaco Canyon National Park.
If You Go on a Learning Vacation
Checkout the long list of learning vacations at Road Scholars. The cleverly named website does a great job of cataloging and organizing potential adventures. It lets you compare trips side-by-side rather than digging through the tour company’s websites to find details.