Go somewhere and try something new

Flying Squirrel

PADDLE BOARDING ANYONE?—Consider learning a new sport on vacation. Here, the author tries his hand at stand-up paddle boarding.

PADDLE BOARDING ANYONE?—Consider learning a new sport on vacation. Here, the author tries his hand at stand-up paddle boarding.

If you’ve traveled this summer, you may have done what many of us do on vacation: eat, drink and sleep. Indulging during one’s time away is typical. However, with a week or more of uninterrupted time, vacations can also be an opportunity to learn something new.

Many of us will try something once at home. But unless we make the time to do it again and practice it regularly, we’re less likely to acquire the skill. Think back to when you learned to ride a bike. You didn’t get it right away. It took time and patience (and a bike). Because you kept practicing, you got to the point where you liked it.



What kind of things can you do while traveling?

Try a sport. Vacation can be a perfect opportunity to learn a new sport. You have the time and resources to go beyond the “awkward beginner” stage.

I first learned to windsurf at a Club Med. Included in my vacation price was daily instruction as well as access to a well-maintained fleet of windsurfing boards.

I was terrible the first time I tried. I couldn’t stand very long— although that’s not so bad when you’re falling in 78-degree water.

But over the course of a week, I grabbed a board every day and kept at it. Eventually I got to the point where I could windsurf well consistently. Now, whenever I go to a new place, I can take out a board and enjoy the experience.

What kind of sports could you learn? You could try out surfing or sailing with a week in Waikiki. If you’re on vacation at an all-inclusive resort like Sandals, why not try stand-up paddle boarding, water skiing or scuba diving? Club Med has a resort in Florida that specializes in golf and tennis instruction.

Practice a skill. If you’re traveling to a destination with a different language or cuisine, or you’re on a cruise with those opportunities, consider devoting time to practicing a new skill.

For example, a trip to France could be a bon chance to brush up on your high school French. Set a goal for yourself to study the dialogues you might encounter in two to three common situations, like ordering a coffee, buying a souvenir or inquiring about directions to the bathroom.

If your travels take you to a destination with a unique cuisine, consider looking into a local cooking class. My bucket list includes spending time in Tuscany taking cooking classes.

Is there a culinary destination you’ve always wanted to immerse yourself in?

Other skills you might try are photography, dancing, singing (karaoke!), learning new games like chess, or even wine and food pairing.

Start a book. With lots of open time and few commitments, vacation can be an excellent opportunity to start (and even finish) a new book.

I once read an author’s recommendation that when you begin a book, you should attempt to read the first 100 pages in one sitting. Otherwise it’s too difficult to assimilate all the new characters and settings.

At home, you may only have 10 to 15 minutes a day to read. But on vacation, you have large blocks of time, the perfect opportunity to dive into that unread book sitting on your nightstand.

Adopt a new habit. If you’ve wanted to introduce a consistent habit into your daily life, consider starting it on vacation. Routines like walking, stretching, meditating or journaling are easier to adopt in a relaxed setting with no daily schedule pressing on you.

You might decide to choose one new habit you’ll do each day of your vacation. Ideally, choose something you could continue at home and that’s easy to complete. Maybe you’ll decide to walk 10 minutes every day on vacation, then also when you return home. Who doesn’t have 10 minutes a day to walk?

With these ideas in mind, you could make your next vacation a little less indulging and a little more life-enhancing.

Thor Challgren is a travel consultant who lives in Thousand Oaks. For more info and resources on this story, visit www.loveyourvacation.com/acorn. Email questions to thor@theacorn.com.