Whether you want to learn a new skill, broaden your cultural horizons or kickstart a healthier lifestyle – here’s how to get more from your next break.
More than just a holiday
Nothing recharges your batteries quite like a holiday. For many of us, the opportunity to relax and get away from it all is something we look forward to all year round. But what if you could come home with more than just a souvenir?
Whether you want to learn a new skill, broaden your cultural horizons or kickstart a healthier lifestyle – here’s our guide on how to get more from your next break.
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Learn something new
Educational holidays sound boring? Think again. There are so many interesting skills and activities you can learn while enjoying your new surroundings.
If you’ve always fancied yourself as a bit of a dancer, why not head to Spain and learn the flamenco? For a truly authentic experience, visit the region of Andalucía in the south (you can fly to Gibraltar from Heathrow) where its claimed flamenco first originated. Here, you can attend dance classes run by professionals. You’ll be strutting your stuff in no time.
If water-based activities are more your thing, try scuba diving. With its clear, warm Caribbean waters, the east coast of Mexico is a great place to give it a go. You can explore reefs teeming with wildlife, swim with whale sharks and even spot the odd shipwreck.
You don’t need to break a sweat to come home from your holiday with a new hobby. Why not master the art of photography in beautiful Morocco? From vibrant-coloured souks to striking desert landscapes, there’s plenty to inspire you behind the lens. Plus, you can join a guided photography tour to learn the basics. Fly direct to Morocco’s capital, Rabat, from Heathrow in about three hours.
Feel like you could use a little help in the kitchen? Where better to hone your culinary skills than Italy. Whether you fancy perfecting pizza in Palermo or just want to channel your inner Gennaro Contaldo, you can learn how to make traditional recipes and master new techniques in beautiful surroundings. Buon appetito!
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Immerse yourself in a new culture
Cultural holidays that take you out of your comfort zone are great for giving you a fresh perspective and broadening your horizons. But when the world is your oyster, where should you go?
From ancient temples and palaces to the iconic Great Wall, China is steeped in history. Discover the Silk Road, marvel at the Terracotta Warriors and see the Great Mosque of Xi’an, learning about its rich, fascinating past. Then float down the Yangtze river as you take in the country’s natural wonders. And, to get a true flavour of Chinese culture, don’t forget to sample some traditional cuisine, such as bō cài miàn (spinach noodles) and kǎo ròu (BBQ meat).
If you want to embrace more of Asia’s cultural experiences, jet off to Japan. This beautiful country is full of contrasts – from Kyoto’s historic ornamental gardens to the cutting-edge modernity of Tokyo. Spot the mighty Mount Fuji and, if you go to Japan in spring, check out the beautiful cherry blossom that blooms each year. Then there’s the Peace Memorial Park in Hiroshima – dedicated to remembering those lost in the nuclear attack. You can catch a direct flight from Heathrow to be in Tokyo in about 12 hours.
Want to explore a new culture that’s a little closer to home? With its vast landscape, impressive waterfalls and steaming hot pools, Iceland makes for a truly memorable holiday. Spend your trip trekking through the diverse sand fields, mountains and glaciers, before relaxing in the hot springs of the Blue Lagoon. No journey to Iceland would be complete without trying to catch a glimpse of the Northern Lights, but Iceland’s seas can be just as mesmerising as its skies. Home to many different species of whale, head out on a boat trip and see what you can spot.
And if wildlife is your thing, why not visit Kenya? Embark on a safari drive with a local guide and observe ‘The Big 5’ – lions, rhinos, elephants, buffalo and leopards – in their natural habitat, or stay in a Maasai-owned lodge and get closer to nature on a bush walk. For a truly unforgettable experience, book a hot-air balloon ride over the Masai Mara at sunrise and take in the peaceful scenes below. Bliss.
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Kickstart new, healthy habits
While holidays are often a time for indulgence and a few weeks away from the gym, they can actually be the perfect opportunity to adopt new, positive habits to take home with you. The ultimate souvenir!
Fitness holidays – breaks that include a programme of exercise and balanced meals – are a great way to inspire a more-active way of life. They’re tailored to a variety of ages and fitness levels, so think about your own goals and find an option that’ll help you reach them.
There are plenty of exotic places you can get your sweat on. Head to a retreat in Bali and spend your down-time exploring stunning waterfalls, temples and beaches. Or, give Portugal a go. With its beautiful coastlines, quaint villages and warm weather, it’s a great backdrop to any new fitness routine.
Exercise holidays not your thing? Healthy habits aren’t always about high-intensity workouts. If you want to reconnect with your mind and body, give yoga a go. As the birthplace of this ancient practice, where better to start your journey than India? The style and approach to teaching varies between yogis, so do your research before you book. You could even try a family yoga class – the perfect way to relax with your loved ones while on holiday.
Time for a detox? Thailand has some great spa options that’ll leave you feeling refreshed, and you can catch a direct flight to Bangkok from Heathrow. Think restorative treatments, massages and breathing exercises to help you truly unwind. Thailand’s beaches and tropical landscapes provide the perfect backdrop for a zen experience.
If you’ve considered cutting out meat from your diet but struggled to commit, a holiday might be the perfect opportunity to start afresh. Out of your usual surroundings and away from home comforts, you may be more likely to try new dishes you wouldn’t usually eat at home. Singapore, for instance, has a great array of delicious plant-based food choices – from wholesome, satisfying street food to mouth-watering tropical fruit. Try Prata – a fried flatbread often served with dhal or sweetened with chocolate or banana, and don’t miss Bee hoon – a fried noodle dish with vegetables.
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Our train service runs every 15 mins from London Paddington to Heathrow Central Terminals 2 & 3 (allow a little longer for Terminals 4 and 5). If you want to be extra-organised, book ahead online with fares from £5.50 one-way. Terms and conditions apply.