Travelling is more than kicking back and letting the experience take over. The best trips are supposed to be those that expand the mind and contain enough challenging aspects to help develop as a person.
Although language is by far the most popular thing for travellers to learn while away, many also take the opportunity to try their hand at everything from dance to photography.
Tradition is a powerful teacher. When a skill is passed on from generation to generation, it is honed to near perfection. Travellers are lucky in that they can choose to visit and learn from people who have become masters of their chosen activity.
For example, Indonesia is well known for its rattan baskets, Fiji for its pottery, Laos for hand-woven textiles, India for silver work, and Vietnam for wood carving. Locals are often happy for visitors to watch them at work and many offer classes.
Travellers with an open mind can pick up a host of new skills in this way, such as cookery, quilt-making, learning to speak a language, or playing a musical instrument.
Learning from fellow travellers can make long journeys better as well as allow for an opportunity to make friends.
People are usually willing to share their knowledge with those who appear enthusiastic enough to receive it, so just ask. Alternatively, find a kindred spirit and learn together. Seek out a course that you will both enjoy or sign up for a programme of activities.
There are a variety of ways to do some solo learning while travelling. Books may be bulky, but they can be useful allies in the quest for knowledge. Popular tourist areas almost always have well-stocked second-hand bookshops, so you don’t have to worry about packing them.
It can help to use audio recordings or flash cards for language learning too, and the internet is a great source of information. Those travelling in areas with an internet connection will be able to download structured lessons on to a smart device.
For some travellers the thought of trying to organise and pay for a class while away can be a little stressful. Organising something before leaving can make it easier to budget as well as give the trip some structure. For example, you can book lessons to study Spanish abroad from the UK before you set off. With Spanish courses Spain opens its doors to you as you can interact with locals in their own language.
World Crafts Council – Information on workshops and exchange programmes for craftspeople around the world
Lonely Planet – The famous travel guide series is a great resource for travellers
Independent Traveller – List of favourite classes to take while travelling