For solo travelers, educational travel (taking classes for a day or a month or more while away) is about more than the education. It's also about the community that you enter and the friendships that can be formed with people who share your interests.
I've taken a number of classes while traveling. I”ve been a cheese maker for a day and taken a variety of cooking classes. In Bisbal d’Empordà in Costa Brava, Spain I took a pottery class at Escola de Ceramica. This town is known for pottery and ceramics and this half-day class was an introduction to the art. For those with more time on their hands and really keen to learn the art, they offer courses ranging from a few days to a number of weeks. They also offer accommodation at the school.
The subject of taking classes when traveling was raised by members of the Solo Travel Society on Facebook. I was asked for tips on how to find the right classes. Here they are…
Tips for Finding the Classes You Want
- Choose your destination based on what you want to do… OR… look at your destination in terms of its specialities. Is it known for food, wine, ceramics, language schools… Then choose classes that focus on the specialty just like my pottery classes mentioned above.
- Obviously Google is the place to start when you know the kind of classes you're looking for. Google the subject, the world “course” or “class”, and your destination, and you should find some options.
- Check out sites specializing in educational travel programs such as Roadscholar.org (for boomers and retirees), companies' like STA Travel that focus on student and twenty-something travel and universities that have overseas continuing education programs that are for everyone (here's the University of Toronto's page for this).
- Use discussion forums for your areas of interest. For example, if you love cooking, go to sites like Chowhound.com which is organized geographically to find the best cooking schools in an area.
- If you'll be at your destination for a while, use Meetup.com to find people who share your interests and then ask them for recommendations on classes to take.
Once you've found the classes…
- Check for teacher credentials. This is particularly important if you are taking more adventurous classes such as skydiving or scuba diving. But it could also make the difference between a good language class and a great one.
- Go beyond the testimonials on their website and look for reviews. Google the company and/or the teacher's name to see what people are saying about them and their classes.
- Ask about class sizes. It may be important to you that there are few people in the class.
- Evaluate the full offering. What kind of accommodation will you need to arrange? What else is in the area to keep you entertained.
- Look for any additional expenses. Are there extra charges for materials? What will it cost to get to classes if accommodation is offsite.
Thanks for Cost Brava Tourism for support with the trip to their beautiful destination.