Picture the scene…
Either by taking a year’s sabbatical from your very forward-thinking company, or by handing in your notice and throwing caution to the wind, you’ve managed to wangle yourself an entire year off to travel the globe.
You’re standing staring at a map of the world laid out on your kitchen table, sticking pins in all of the exotic places you’d love to visit. But remember – to really make the most of your travels, you should push yourself to try unusual activities wherever you’re heading.
After all, if you do the same things abroad that you do at home, aren’t you simply paying through the nose for different selfie backgrounds you could download on your phone?
To make travel truly immersive and life-changing, you’ve got to push that experiential envelope right to the edge.
With that in mind, here are 10 wild and wonderful things to do while travelling.
1. Swim with sharks
If you’ve been fascinated by sharks since hiding behind your parents’ sofa watching Jaws when you were a kid, a stop off in Australia presents the perfect opportunity to get up close and personal with there ferocious critters (reasonably) safely. Calypso Star Charters in Port Lincoln, South Australia is the only company officially permitted to take you cage diving with Great White Sharks, and it’s an experience you’ll surely never forget!
2. Learn kung-fu
Want to learn authentic kung fu so you can get super-fit, defend yourself, and look as cool as Bruce Lee? Of course you do! The best place to learn kung fu is the Shaolin Temple in China’s Song Mountains near the town of Dengfeng. You can book your lessons and accommodation directly at Song Mountain Shaolin Kung Fu and look forward to days of tough but terrific training that start before sunrise.
3. Chant along with football fans
No spectator sport is as fiercely competitive and fantastically fun as football (soccer), and one of the most marvellous activities is singing with the crowd ‘choir’ as they chant colourful and creative songs about their favourite players and rival teams. The atmosphere is best at a British derby, so try to bag tickets for Rangers v Celtic in Scotland or Manchester United vs Manchester City in England.
4. Polish your dance moves
If you’re a fan of TV favourites like Strictly Come Dancing or Dancing With The Stars, travelling the world is the perfect way to learn some of those stunning pro moves that make you swoon. If you fancy learning the tango, nowhere beats Argentinian capital Buenos Aires – the Mente Argentina program includes group lessons, individual sessions and outings to practice in the passionate atmosphere of the city’s Tango clubs.
5. Earn a degree
Serious about self-improvement while you’re on the road? In that case, how do you fancy tacking a part-time online degree to stimulate your mind and enhance your career prospects? You can do just that with ARU Distance Learning, who offer dynamic, vocational degrees in a wide range of subjects like digital marketing, project management and psychology. Provided that you have a reliable laptop and Wi-Fi, you can complete your coursework from anywhere on earth, fitting your studies comfortably around other activities.
6. Learn languages
The best way to learn the lingo in a certain location is simply by trial and error – there’s no better motivation than needing to eat and sleep safely, and having to navigate your way around town. However, although you’ll probably pick up some key phrases after a few weeks out of simple necessity, you should also prep beforehand by using a language app like Duolingo or Babbel. No one is expecting fluency, but locals will appreciate you making the effort. One note of caution – please don’t try to converse by talking English with a ‘foreign’ accent as that’s patently ridiculous!
7. Learn to surf
If you’re anything like us, you probably think that few things look cooler than those girls and guys who surf massive waves in exotic locations while looking as casual as they would while popping down to the shops for a sandwich. So if you really want to learn to surf properly, there’s no better location than Hawaii. Maui Wave Riders offer expert lessons on both Kihei and Lahaina. The coaches are patient and precise, and the scenery is simply sublime. From learning to pop up onto your feet on the beach to catching your first real wave, the entire experience is simply magical.
8. Go veggie
A long term vacation can be a great place to get healthy and if you’ve been considering switching to a plant-based diet for some time, there’s nowhere better than India to start. With a population that’s 38% vegetarian, this is a culinary treasure trove of legendary lip-smacking meals like butternut squash curry, Bombay potatoes, carrot Biryani and vegetable samosas. If you can adopt good eating habits on the road, there’s every chance you’ll stick to them once you return home.
9. Get tattooed
There’s no better permanent reminder of you wonderful year (or more!) away than a tattoo and half of the beauty of getting inked is the experience itself. If you can get an authentic tatt based respectfully on local cultural customs, this is a fab idea. For instance if you happen to be stopping off in New Zealand, pop into Moko Ink in West Auckland for a unique design applied by chisel rather than tattoo gun – purifying pain at its best.
10. Become a blogger
Do you keep a travel diary or journal? If you’re happy sharing at least some of your memories with other avid travellers, why not go one step further and start a travel blog? If you build up a following you can also monetise your scribblings through sponsorship and extend your time globetrotting with someone else picking up the bill! If you can express yourself clearly, have a decent camera phone and some basic knowledge of mobile video, an exciting new career as a blogger or vlogger awaits.
That’s our list! Share your own tips for wild and wonderful things to do while travelling in the comments section.
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