Usually, when we talk about tourism and taking vacations, people imagine idyllic destinations, luxurious conditions, and a lot of sitting around, doing nothing. Such is the profile of the typical tourist; they want to escape their familiar environment to go to a sunny island where they can be lazy and indulge themselves, and they are willing to pay a pretty penny for the experience. But however appealing that may sound, is it really that satisfying? Sure, it’s completely relaxing, but it’s also mind-numbing; you don’t come out with anything after this experience. You haven’t learned anything, you have not become a better person, you haven’t taken anything of value away from it.
To counteract the “lazy” tourism of rich people who travel to faraway lands only to hang out at the resort for the entire time, there is a new type of tourism that has emerged – a practical, valuable kind of experience known as skillstourism. The term was coined by a couple of Australian bloggers who came up with the concept and turned it into a business. Travel*Learn*Create is their motto and they were able to combine the artisan with the traveller. That sort of adventure allows people to visit fascinating places and immerse themselves in those cultures. It gives you the opportunity to escape your status as an outsider and step inside a new culture and live like a local. And how do you do that? You essentially become an apprentice, and you learn a new skill from a local. It’s a win-win-win: you get to see a new place, you learn about it first hand, and you acquire a new skill.
What can you learn and where?
Dancing in Cuba – South American lands is where you go for dancing. Spain, Brazil, Argentina, and yes – Cuba are all well-known for the sensual, elegant art of dancing. No one here has two left feet, and Cuba provides a fascinating look into a culture that does everything on musical rhythms. For all people say about Cuba is that they are truly unique in the world in that they always have the “buen humor” to dance. Learn how to move your body to the music that flows through you.
Cooking in Italy – If we’re talking about culinary artistry, we can’t ignore Italy. By far the country most well-known in Europe for its food culture, Italy offers a lot of opportunities for culinary tourism. This beautiful country is so much more than pasta and pizza, so if you are interested in learning how to make real food that is organic, delicious, and hearty, Italy is your next stop. In addition, you also have the chance to discover the world’s most famous wines and wineries while you learn from a local how to make tasty dishes.
Silversmithing in Vietnam – Working with silver is difficult, but it’s a valuable trade that is usually passed on from generation to generation, and it is no different in Vietnam. Learn this practical, but beautiful skill from a local with years of experience,while also taking this opportunity to live like a Vietnamese. Enjoy the food, the sights, and the incredible things you can learn.
Textiles in Morocco – Surely you are familiar with the Medina of Fes, Morocco. A gigantic marketplace that is complicated with winding paths and thousands upon thousands of vendors, this is the perfect place to observe the incredible diversity of fabrics, textiles, clothes, veils, carpets, etc. The colors and the craftsmanship are exquisite, and most of these pieces are dyed and made by hand. All the textiles are colored with natural dyes and left to dry in the sun, and the intricate beadwork of a beautiful dress or veil are also marks of unique talent. If you’re looking to learn how the process works, this is the place to do it.
Blacksmithing in the United States of America – You may think that this seemingly medieval practice is all gone. However, it’s not only still around, but you can also actually learn how to do it right in the States. Technical institutions provide some well-equipped workshops where you can pick up on the tricks of the trade and practice your blacksmithing skills. Whether you want to fashion yourself a mighty sword, or just see what your hands are capable of with a hammer, an anvil, and a piece of hot metal, blacksmithing is a fascinating skill to acquire.
Sculpture in Africa – Some of the most impressive sculptures in the world hail from Africa and a lot of tourists bring them home to decorate their homes and remember their incredible experience in Africa. But what if you could actually learn how to make them? What if wood carving were a skill you could acquire while visiting Africa in the meanwhile? Africa is so rich in culture, and its sculptures are truly unique. It’s amazing what can be achieved from a simple piece of wood with the talent and artistry of a master.
Mysore painting in South India – One of the most beautiful and unique forms of art is Mysore painting, which is practiced in South India. Thus, to learn the techniques, you need to travel right to the source and become the temporary apprentice of an Indian artist. Learn the significance behind the paintings, their history, and the methods for obtaining vivid colors and combining them to create beautiful, impressive pieces of mural art with gold leaf. You also have the opportunity to explore the breathtaking beauty of India, in all of its visual, olfactory, and auditory glory. You won’t be disappointed by this trip.
All in all, skillstourism is becoming an incredibly popular way of exploring a new part of the world and really experiencing a new culture. If you’ve ever wanted to master a trade, craft or skill from a foreign country, this is your chance to learn directly from the original and talented artists and craftsmen.