Special interest travel guide


2 minute summary

If you take part in yoga, languages, cookery or photography classes, for example, you’ll know what a special experience this can be. Now, imagine dedicating a few hours a day, over the course of a week or two, to your special interest in another country; Spain, perhaps, or Italy or India - why not? You’ll get a much fuller picture of both the subject and the country you’re visiting. We don’t devote enough time to doing things we love or learning more about a subject that’s sparked imagination. Our special interest travel guide intends to rectify that with ideas on where to go and what to do as well as expert advice, and further info as to what these vacations entail. No matter whether you’re into archaeology, salsa or all that jazz, we’ve got an extra special vacation to suit, with a few curve balls – Genghis Khan Warrior training anyone? – thrown in, just to tempt you away from the tried and tested.

Especially interesting


What do special interest vacations entail

Special interest vacations let us practise a hobby or interest in a new place and, crucially, they also immerse us in it. Perhaps you belong to a language group and only get time to speak with classmates once a week, or you love yoga but wish you had the energy to commit to more sessions. How about a topic that you’ve just discovered after catching a documentary on TV: archaeology, history or the latest Attenborough offering, for example?
Sometimes, traveling to a different part of the world can be the only way to pursue a particular passion. The Northern lights, for instance, must be experienced as close to the Arctic Circle as possible. Thai, Indian or Cambodian cookery courses are always going to be much more worthwhile when you can wander to the local wet market or chow down on street food in the company of an expert local chef. Languages, too, can be learned at home but you’ll learn a heck of a lot quicker when lessons are less academic and classroom based, and more a genuine means of communication.

Healthy activities that promote wellbeing can also be practised without the need to travel. However, swap traffic, darkness and social media for peace, sunshine and socialising around the pool and you’ll find a yoga and meditation retreat in the Mediterranean much more therapeutic. A special interest vacation is a chance to make time for yourself and your hobby, away from daily distractions.

Combining interests – food and culture, for instance, or photography and wildlife watching – can be exceptionally rewarding, and itineraries will incorporate different perspectives of a location as well as free time to relax, explore and make new friends. Free time between classes and other organised activities will give you a much broader picture of the country that you’re visiting as well as reminding you that you are, still, on vacation.

Small group vacations


Joining a group with a shared interest can pave the way to discussions with people who care about the same things as you. This can lead to discoveries that you would never otherwise have stumbled across – book recommendations, new techniques, differing perspectives. Group sizes vary by activity, but are usually small enough to accommodate participants in locally owned guesthouses, converted farmhouses, language centres or yoga retreats. Solo travelers can really benefit from joining a small group tour as it lessens costs and provides an instant group of likeminded companions. Single supplements are usually available, or you can share a room with a member of the same sex at no extra cost.
Group leaders and instructors will have an in depth knowledge of their subject as well as insight into the local area and cultural heritage. Yoga instructors, photography tutors and language teachers will all be experts in their field and able to accommodate beginners and pros alike so as to provide the best experience possible, for everyone.

Tailor made vacations


Tailor made special interest vacations mean you can travel as an exclusive group with friends or family members. Cooking, languages, horse riding and archeology can all be enjoyed as part of a tailor made itinerary and, although this may be slightly more expensive, this type of vacation is exceptionally personal, and beneficial if you’re hoping to develop one particular area of study or train for a forthcoming event or competition.

Daily timetables


There will always be plenty of free time to aid your journey of discovery. Relaxing by the pool, strolling in the countryside or striking up a conversation at a bar can provide valuable down time from studies, or space to digest what you’re learned.
Yoga retreats usually feature morning and evening classes, leaving the rest of the day to relax or take part in optional workshops on healthy eating, meditation or alternative therapies. Photography vacations incorporate workshops, group and one to one feedback sessions, as well as time to practise and take photos at your own pace. On Northern Lights vacations, what you do during the day is equally as important, with a wide range of winter activities such as snow shoeing, reindeer rides, cross country skiing and snowmobile safaris to choose from.
Photo credits: [Topbox: Pablo Dodda] [Entail intro: C&M Study Center Koh Phangan] [Small group vacations: Zach Dischner] [Tailor made vacations: Times Asi] [Daily timetables: Jan Fredrik Frantzen]
Written by Chris Owen
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