The Consummate Traveler: The Educational Vacation

BY Michele Goncalves TIMEMay 24, 2014 PRINT

To most people, the word vacation usually brings to mind images of beautiful beaches, relaxation, and fruity drinks with umbrellas in them. But have you ever considered building a vacation around learning a new skill? I am in the process of exploring this idea, and I have found this journey to be fun and exciting.

I have been in an all-natural and organic phase lately, and since I have very sensitive skin, I have wanted to learn how to make my own soap. So, I started to surf the Internet to find individuals who teach this subject. What I found was a very diverse list of possibilities, including a specialty soap shop in San Diego, Calif., and a small Bed & Breakfast on a family farm in West Virginia.

By using this approach, I let my interest in this subject provide the destination ideas for me. This has led to new choices that I would not have ordinarily considered on my own.

I truly believe this type of vacation twist could be an interesting idea for anyone to try, from retirees looking to get into a new hobby to families with older school-age children who get bored easily. Here are a few tips to get you started if this approach interests you:

1. Define the skills you want to learn: Sit down with your family (or yourself) and put a list together of at least five things you would like to learn how to do. Look over all the options and take a vote on what skill interests everyone.

2. Set ground rules: Define any criteria you may want to stick to before setting off on your research. Perhaps you want to only pick a destination within a three-hour drive, or are only interested in a day trip. Let your family know what the limits are before the suggestion to take waterskiing classes in Hawaii comes up.

3. Research your options: Type the skill you want to learn and add the word “classes” when you begin your Internet search. This method has gotten me on the right track fairly quickly. This may be a great task to delegate to a few members of your family who are expert Internet surfers. They could then present their results to the family for a vote.

4. Call to confirm: If you are considering a visit to a small shop or family-run business, it would be best to contact them first to confirm if they are still in operation or will be offering classes during the timeframe you need. Websites may not always be up-to-date, or availability may be limited.

As always, I wish you the happiest of travels!

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