We all need hobbies. For many of us, hobbies provide a way to relax, to get away from the stress of the world and to spend our time more engaged with what excites us. But hobbies can also round us out as people. They can help us develop qualities and skills that are applicable in a diverse range of situations, or they can teach us to appreciate aspects of life with a depth we didn’t have before. Travel is considered a hobby by many, but if it’s more of a lifestyle for you, then additional hobbies can help you get much more out of your globetrotting adventures. Here are some hobbies that can help you become a better traveler.
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It’s one of the most accessible hobbies of all. All you need is a piece of paper and the right implement to get you started. We all love to capture the images and memories that make up some of the most exceptional moments we experience overseas. Nowadays, the tool most readily used to do that is the camera. While photography is a hobby all on its own that we will cover in more detail, drawing encourages the traveler to engage with what they see a lot more deeply. Taking the time to study monuments, animals, or scenes you encounter on your travels makes you further appreciate those memories all the more. As it is one of the most accessible hobbies, it means that it’s easy to find and replace resources overseas. Wherever you go, you’re not likely to be too far from a new sketchbook and set of pencils.
Many travelers are well acquainted with the idea of downtime. For as much time as you might spend backpacking, trekking and navigating, you spend time on planes, trains, and in hotel rooms as well. Reading can be the perfect way to get through that downtime. Reading exposes us to new ways of thinking, reduces stress levels, and helps us engage better with our imagination. When traveling, reading books from authors originally from the country you’re visiting can help you engage with those destinations in a more familiar and understanding light, too.
Exercise is more than just a helpful hobby that improves your way of life. If you’re a more active traveler, it is essential. If you have ever been interested in an adventure holiday, in more extreme activities or the idea of biking or backpacking but you feel like you’re not physically prepared for the toil, it might be time to start working on that. There are plenty of resources online that can even help you find the workouts most effective for different travel activities, such as routines for hikers, mountain climbers, and more. It’s generally a good idea to keep yourself in good health as you travel, anyway.
Much like reading, writing teaches you to engage more deeply in your thoughts, exploring a subject with the kind of focus and contemplation you might not always be afforded. However, as a means of recording your adventures, writing makes it a much more personal experience than taking visual images alone. When you write, you capture not just the mental image of the moment, but the emotional impact it has on you at that moment as well. It can help you better appreciate all those little experiences that a photo or drawing can’t quite capture. If you travel a lot, it’s all too easy for some of the more impactful moments to be caught up and lost in the whirlwind of the overall adventure.
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The vast majority of people carry a camera of some sort with them as they travel overseas. Unfortunately, nowadays, most of those cameras are in smartphones, resulting in low fidelity pictures with little control over focus or shot composition. Photography can allow you to easily capture your memories but using a high-quality camera with a real lens can help you create records that are even more vivid, lifelike and artistic. Unlike the quick, accessible snapping of a smartphone camera, real photography teaches you to take the time to pause and engage with the subject, capturing it in the best light, angle, and focus. Otherwise, it’s easy for your travel photos to become a disposable thing, just another image lost in the hoard of photos you keep building.
Not just the providence of those looking to make a trip more spiritual, meditation has a litany of benefits that can improve the quality of your travel. It’s a well-known stress-buster, helping you get away from all the hassle of organizing and catching flights, packing worries, and all the other little challenges that can pile on top of one another during your travels. Meditation improves a sense of self-awareness, too, helping you better understand your own personality and your reactions to certain situations. Keeping a cool head while traveling is important, especially when navigating a strange place in a language you don’t understand. Meditation helps you become more confident and improves your concentration, making you a much more effective decision-maker.
This is another hobby that improves you concertation, your ability to focus on a task, and your attention to detail. When cooking a dish, you have to pay close attention to what you’re doing, after all, and that talent comes in handy when you’re traveling overseas. What’s more, cooking has an entirely practical application for travelers as well. The ability to self-cater can expand your selection of readily available accommodation, as well as making you a more independent and self-sustaining camper or backpacker. You can save a huge amount of money while traveling without having to rely solely on cup noodles to sustain yourself. Cooking is a hobby that grows with travel, too, as you grow to learn new tastes and ingredients that can give you just another way of bringing your travel experiences with you that you can incorporate at home.
Some may not readily classify this as a hobby. But it’s not really an occupation or a talent, so that’s how we’re choosing to class it. Volunteering is more than just a hobby that proves helpful when traveling. For some people, it opens the door to travel, as well. Volunteering teaches you to be a more conscientious traveler, learning the issues that native-born people in the destination you’re visiting may be dealing with. Rather than remaining solely an outsider, it teaches you to engage with and work alongside the people of the country. When looking for volunteering opportunities abroad, make sure you get a thorough look at the organizations you hope to work with, including online reviews. Many of them operate as more of a tourism agency, doing little to actually support the countries they are based in. The good ones, however, enrich the lives of both the people they serve and the travelers, like you, that they welcome.
Another way of collecting the memories you acquire overseas, scrapbooking has the unique quality of making it a much more physical experience. Train tickets, receipts, seashells, you can collect almost anything you imagine if it’s small enough and take a keepsake of your travels that can build over time to make a much more immersive account of where you have been. Just make sure you don’t scrapbook anything that could get you stopped at customs.
A hobby very commonly employed in city breaks, learning to turn shopping into an artform can be a tremendous help when you’re overseas. Knowing how to barter, how to spot deals, how to spot fakes, and how to appreciate thrift shops can have you coming away with souvenirs and outfits from all over the world. From the market stalls of Marrakech to the fancy boutiques of the fashion capitals of the world like London and Paris, knowing your way around the shops can help you save money, stretch out your budget, and find deals that serve as a perfect wearable reminder of where you’ve been and what you’ve done. Your friends and family will look forward to you coming back even more thanks to the presents you have in tow, too.
Some people may not be fully aware that yoga and meditation are two separate practices. Both help you relax and encourage breathing techniques, yes, but yoga has a few applications that make it an even more effective tool when traveling. It’s a form of exercising, helping you improve your physical health which can make you a more able traveler. It’s also great for targeting specific muscle groups, helping you stretch out and relieve the physical stress that can easily build from spending hours at a time on a train or an airplane. The best thing about yoga is that it can be done anywhere, from a hotel room to a sunny beach.
Playing an instrument
You might not be able to take a tuba around the world with you, at least not very easily or cheaply. But playing an instrument teaches an ability to focus, to pay attention to detail that can very much come in handy when traveling overseas. Just as importantly, music is a hugely important part of a culture. No-one can tell you that you’re wrong or right for having a certain taste in music but learning to play an instrument can help you become much more musically intelligent and can increase your appreciation of a diverse range of sounds. It allows you to engage in the culture of other people in a whole new way. Playing an instrument has been shown to be incredibly beneficial for improving intelligence and memory retention, as well.
Challenge your brain
Mental acuity is hugely beneficial to the average traveler. We’ve already mentioned how the ability to concentrate, to retain memories, and pay attention to details can help you better navigate and appreciate your travels. It improves your ability to plan, to make decisions, and be much more self-sufficient. Nowadays, there are plenty of ways for travelers to train their brain on a daily basis. You can pick up travel sudoku and crossword books in just about every airport in the world. What’s more, there are apps that help you work out different areas of the brain just as an exercise can target different muscle groups. A little intelligence goes a long way, no matter where in the world you are.
Another specific form of exercise, martial arts is highly regarded as being one of the best for working you out mentally as well as physically. Learning to take a punch and to tolerate discomfort can be helpful in just about any situation, but martial arts is also about dedication to a specific craft that can be challenging at times, especially physically. It teaches a kind of resilience and perseverance that can very useful to a traveler that has to hike long distances or manage a situation that might otherwise be incredibly stressful. As far as personal safety goes, you might not be kung-fu fighting across the world but having some self-defense capabilities is always wise.
Learning a language
The benefits of another language or two to a traveler are immediately obvious. Of course, you’re going to have a much easier time navigating a new country if you’re able to share a few words or phrases with the people you’re meeting in that country. Nowadays, it’s easy to start learning a new language. You don’t necessarily have to take classes, but simply use apps like Rosetta Stone on your mobile phone and you can practice on the plane, in your hotel room, and at home without interruption so long as you have power in your battery. What’s more, you can be the surprise and delight of people you meet, not just another tourist, but someone who has taken the time to try better integrate with the places they’re visiting.
A hobby can help you appreciate destinations in a new light, help you access whole new activities and locations or can even make you a more independent traveler. Have you spotted the right new interest for you?