Sometimes sightseeing or staying put isn’t enough. If you’re looking for something to do that adds a new dimension to your life, here are a few ways to expand your skills and find enjoyment, whether close to home or on your next trip out of town.
Learn to Sail a Boat
If you’ve seen the beauty of a sailboat gliding across the shimmering sea, you’ve probably thought about how peaceful and relaxing it must be to navigate the open water. You would be right. The wind in your face, sun on your skin, and a vast ocean as far as the eye can see are total bliss for aqua lovers, but it takes a cohesive crew to make sailing look effortless.
If you want to test your teamwork and communication skills, try the hands-on adventure of hoisting sails and find out what it takes to harness the wind. The American Sailing Association offers a list of accredited US sailing schools where you can take a class or two. If you’re serious about being a sailor, you can also become fully certified.
How about sailing lessons in Greece or the British Virgin Islands? If you’re enthusiastic about living on the water for several days, you can learn the ropes while you make a vacation of it.
Learn to Ride a Horse
I grew up around horses, and while I didn’t become an equine professional like my father, I certainly did my share of trail riding. I was also bucked off a time or two, but that’s another story. Needless to say, there’s more to riding a horse than planting your seat in the saddle.
Like dogs, horses can sense if you’re wary of them. If they think they can bolt back to the barn or stop for a snack, they will; however, learning to ride is a great way to build confidence, as well as a sense of balance. Horses are powerful animals and they can be intimidating, but as you take control with the reins and direct them with cues from your legs, you’ll find that even though they are bigger and stronger than you, you’re still in charge.
Throughout western states like Colorado and Wyoming, you’ll find dude ranches, like Equitours, that teach you how to handle a horse and guide you on a trail ride appropriate for your comfort with the animal. If you want to take horseback riding to the next level, head out on the range and join a cattle drive in Ecuador, Canada, or Arizona.
Learn to Paint
I’m not much of an artist, but I wish I were. Creativity is a muscle that needs exercise in order to become stronger. Painting taps into creativity and self-expression in a deeply satisfying way, even if your work never makes it out of your own house. Taking an art lesson expands your creative side and helps you see your surroundings differently.
The Meritage Resort, in Napa wine country, has a twist on art that makes perfect sense to me. They offer painting classes in their vineyards, taught by a local artist. Or you can skip the class and paint a vineyard scene on your own. Perhaps if I painted while sipping on a glass of vino, my artistic abilities would improve.
Learn to Dance
A few years back, I took a series of ballroom dance lessons. To this day, it was one of the most enriching things I’ve done in my life. Learning to dance is an exercise in learning to trust — yourself and your partner. It’s also a physically tangible way to understand when to lead and when to follow. You may be surprised to discover which one comes more naturally to you.
If you’re an over-thinker, dancing will help you release your grip on predicting every step as it teaches you to go with the flow and feel the rhythms of the music. A dream of mine is to take a tango class in Buenos Aires, Argentina. But maybe you’d rather join a salsa lesson in Miami or find a swing club in San Diego.
Learn to Cook
Whether you need a fast meal when you get home from work or you spend hours in the kitchen, creative cooking is a universally useful skill. Plus, everyone loves a good cook. No matter where your cooking skills land on the scale, there’s probably room to improve your meal-making repertoire.
If cooking is something you enjoy, why not dig into cultural tastes you may not otherwise seek, and learn to cook something new, whether in your hometown or abroad?
You can discover the basics of shopping for perfect ingredients at a farmer’s market and prepare a gourmet meal in Spain. Or take an advanced course in something you’ve been intimidated to tackle, like macarons or pastries, in France.
You never know if the thing you try for the first time will turn out to be the thing you were naturally born to do.
Photo Credits: lustfish,grngobstpr,The Meritage Resort, Port of San Diego, and argearge