Adventure travel can broaden your horizons literally, but it’s also a great way to brush up the old CV.
Here’s 10 brilliant life skills you can pick up while on the road, to tap the happiness habit of learning:
Learn how to cook
The skill: dinner party prowess
From the famous Penang hawker to the street markets of Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia is home to some of the world’s most intoxicating cuisine. Jump in with both feet with a street food safari in KL (think fresh banana fritters, curry puffs and cendol) before learning how to cook the local way in the charming port city of Malacca.
Load up on family recipes that have been passed down through generations before wrapping the whole experience together with a foray through the hawker night stalls of Penang.
Help with conservation
The skill: conservation education
We all know how important conversation is, but it’s only when you pay a visit to the sea turtle conservation project in Kosgoda, a southern coasal town in Sri Lanka, that the urgency of the situation really hits home.
Learn all about the plight of these lovely marine creatures as they battle widespread pollution and the destruction of nesting areas, then help set baby turtles on their journey to freedom in the Indian Ocean. It’s an emotional moment, and one that’ll recruit you to the cause for life.
Hone your navigation skills
The skill: be your own Sat Nav
If you somehow always find yourself lost – despite being glued to Google Maps – this one’s for you. Find out how to rely on your own sense of direction (with zero call for iPhones) by taking a self-guided hike through Wahiba Sands deserts in Oman.
You and your fellow Flashpackers will be turfed out into an ocean of golden dunes about an hour from your Bedouin camp, and given instructions to make your own way there. Don’t worry, though; we have your back if you get lost 😉.
Ride a Vespa
The skill: free-wheelin’
A pair of sweet retro wheels are yours to let loose on as we zip through sunflower fields of rural Spain. Dial down in a world of hazy mountain ranges and medieval towns – with barely another tourist in sight – as you learn how to master your very own 125cc automatic Vespa. Lazy tapas lunches are all part of the deal, as are 15th Century guesthouses and evening wine tastings.
There’s nothing like whizzing along remote country roads, the wind in your hair and freedom in your soul. It’s so very Audrey Hepburn, and will give you the riding bug forever more.
Discover the stars
The skill: explore the Milky Way
Feynan Eco-Lodge is nestled in Dana Nature Reserve, a 320-square kilometre wilderness of pink-tinted valleys and open plains in the depths of Jordan. It’s completely off-grid, meaning it’s one of the best places on earth to marvel at the stars.
As night falls and the lodge comes aglow in candlelight, head to the roof to admire the Milky Way in all its glory. A 10-inch Mead telescope allows you to see Saturn’s ring or Jupiter’s moons up-close, and Feynan’s brilliant staff will point out what’s what, as you take in a ravishing night sky over hot mint tea.
Hike a glacier
The skill: outdoor fitness and stamina
If you’re going to hike a glacier, you may as well make it the largest one in mainland Europe. Step forward Jostedalsbreen, a mighty behemoth that sprawls across the spectacular landscape of Western Norway.
Don your crampons and have your ice axe handy as we tackle a challenging two-hour trek across this dazzling white giant. It’s the kind of challenge that requires every last inch of your focus and stamina. But boy is it worth it, as you navigate an otherworldly canvas of ice towers, glacial caves and deep blue crevasses.
Savour fine wines
The skill: knowing your vino
Yes, knowing your wines is a skill – one that begins with appreciation. And there’s no better way to develop a nose for the good stuff than in the Chilean wine region of Casablanca.
Visit a family-run vineyard here to see how red wine is matured in “Tinajas”clay barrels, for a particularly pure taste. Savour the rich, fruity flavours drawn straight from the barrel, then fly a few hours north to the Atacama Desert, where you can quaff more delicious vino over a sensational sundown.
Find your rhythm
The skill: connecting with people
Dancing is the spice of life; a skill that gives you rhythm, soul and verve. Even if you’ve got two left feet, it’s still a great way of immersing yourself in a local culture.
Find your salsa groove in the colourful backstreets of Cartagena, Colombia’s party city, where local dancers will help you to sway your hips like a pro. Learning to salsa won’t just give you the moves, it’ll also teach you how to break down barriers and live a little more vibrantly – especially when you add rum tasting to the mix.
Swim like a pro
The skill: wellbeing, and connecting with nature
Swimming in your local leisure centre is one thing. But flexing that breast stroke amid the hanging vines and waterfalls of Mexico’s emerald cenotes is entirely different.
The Yucatán Peninsula is peppered with these beautiful natural swimming holes, so you can consider this trip your fast-track into the art (with a few Mayan ruins along the way). Get your swim on in a maze of lovely lagoons, from mysterious underwater caves that you must pencil-drop into, to a one-time pirate’s canal.
Meet new people
The skill: confidence, and broadening your horizons
What is life for, if not making new friends? It’s a skill that gets a little rusty as we head into our 30s and 40s, which makes re-tapping it that much more delightful.
So instead of travelling with people you know this year, take a risk and hop on-board with a group of like-minded strangers. Connecting with people on your wavelength will give you a confidence hit like nothing else. And you can take that self-esteem forward with you into the world, for new friends, fresh frontiers and opportunities that never end.
Images: Shutterstock/Flash Pack