From street photography to swimming with whale sharks, unusual holiday courses to book for 2016
There are two types of people when it comes to holidays. For the first, the best part of going away is the chance to do nothing at all. A snooze in the sun, the occasional swim, and somewhere nice to eat: sorted. Type two, in contrast, are sent into a tailspin of panic at the thought of seven days with nothing in the diary. These people want structure. They want plans. They want to be learning something.
Irreconcilable differences? Not at all. Plenty of holidays allow you to combine the joy of mastering a new skill with time to relax and escape from daily life – and we’ve got some of the best holiday courses here. Whether you fancy learning to surf in Costa Rica, writing poetry in the Scottish Highlands, making ice-cream in Sorrento or becoming a street photographer in Istanbul, there’s something for everyone.
Volunteering in retirement: ‘It gives me a strong sense of purpose’
From going on a solo cruise to writing that novel you’ve been putting off, your retirement years are the perfect time to experience and explore the world in new and exciting ways. For many, this might include taking up volunteering in your spare time.
In the ‘Volunteering in Retirement‘ report from Volunteering Matters (formerly known as CSV), former Chief Executive Lucy de Groot writes: “There are 14 million people over 60 years of age with a lifetime’s worth of knowledge, skills, and experience to share.
Six hottest travel ideas for 2016
“Ahead of the annual January booking frenzy, we’ve got stacks of ideas for where you should be heading in 2016. Here, we look at some newer destinations and revisit a few old faves.
Very occasionally, it’s nice to come back from a holiday in a better physical state than when you left. Activity holidays – running marathons in some of the world’s greatest cities, trekking in Nepal or long-distance bicycle trips – are going to be bigger than ever.
And not just for youngsters. Saga, the over-fifties company, has an amazing range of active trips. See travel.saga.co.uk.
Exodus is also a great place to find a bit of adventure. They have more than 500 trips in 90 countries to choose from. See exodus.co.uk.
Volunteer holidays are also increasingly popular. You can help the rehabilitation of abused elephants in Thailand, volunteer in the schools of Fiji or help rebuild Nepalse infrastructure following the earthquake last spring, plus many other options. See gvi.co.uk for more details or inspiration.
Charity challenges are also a great way to get around the world. Charitychallenge.com lets you choose a fundraising feat for the charity you want to support and they will help you arrange sponsorship.
Try to cover at least your basic costs. If some of the sponsor money ends up funding the trip, less will go direct to the charity.”
Long working holidays in Mexico, Fiji, Seychelles…
“Global Vision International is offering divers a range of PADI diving and marine conservation internships in destinations including Mexico, Fiji and Seychelles aimed at those due to take a gap year or career break, or marine enthusiasts looking to develop a career in diving or conservation.
A 24-week programme on Mexico’s Caribbean coast in the Yucatan Peninsula costs from £5095, with four departure dates this year.
It starts with important-sounding work assessing the health of the Mesoamerican barrier reef system followed by a PADI Dive Master course taken during a 12-week dive-centre placement.
Four- to 24-week marine conservation expeditions on Caqalai Island in Fiji cost from £2000 with monthly departures, and include learning new diving skills and conducting underwater surveys.
Comparable four- to 12-weeks programmes in Seychelles cost from £2050, with volunteers able to achieve PADI Advanced and Coral Reef Research Diver qualifications while working on marine conservation projects.
GVI also has 30-week PADI Instructor internships in Mexico from £8745. All prices exclude flights.”
PADI Diving and Marine Conservation Internships with Global Vision International
Global Vision International, is giving explorers the chance to boost their CV’s, enhance personal skills and increase employability by embarking on a wide range of PADI Diving and Marine Conservation Internships in some of the world’s most exotic locations, including Mexico, Fiji and the Seychelles.
For those about to embark on a gap year, a career break, an extended holiday or marine enthusiast looking to develop a career in the diving or conservation industry, GVI’s PADI Diving and Marine Conservation programmes provide a unique opportunity to offer vital support to local communities and develop personal skills, whilst on an overseas adventure.
Insider’s Seychelles – Review by Steve Weinman
“The more substantial Underwater Guide to Seychelles is divided into three parts – an overview of the Indian Ocean islands and the marine environment, including practical information for travellers; a guide to 25 popular dive and 10 snorkelling sites; and a marine-life ID section covering 280 common Indian Ocean fish, invertebrates and corals.
The dive-site guide concentrates on sites around the main island of Mahe but also includes Silhouette and North Island, and Praslin ands surrounding islands. Two wreck sites are included, the Aldabaran and Twin Barges.
The writers are Seychelles residents who clearly know their subject very well. Christophe Mason-Parker is a conservationist and photographer and runs the local gap-year volunteer programme, Global Vision International Seychelles, while scientific diver Rowana Walton works for the conservation organisation, Seychelles Island Foundation.
For fish ID I would prefer to go with one oft the comprehensive Indian Ocean or Maldives books available, with bigger, brighter pictures and more information. But if I was heading the Seychelles, this guides overall content would probably put it on my reading list.”
The International Journal of Tropical Biology recently featured two photos taken at our jaguar conservation project inJalova, Costa Rica as well as our projects most recent paper: “Impact of jaguar Panthera onca (Carnivora: Felidae) predation on marine turtle populations in Tortuguero, Caribbean coast of Costa Rica”
Volunteer or work abroad
If you want to travel when you have finished your studies then there are a number of schemes which allow you to get work experience too.
You may have to be 18 to do some of them but there are schemes run for 15-17 year-olds such as Global Vision International which last from two weeks up to one month.
“Volunteering can offer a great experience for the CV, as well as the chance to help a community or contribute to conservation. Before signing up to a specific project, potential volunteers should ask where their money is going (placements can be costly) and how past volunteers have made a difference.
GVI handpicks a range of projects, across 12 countries, from animal care to construction. It is transparent about how it operates, and opportunities include a Marine Conservation Expedition in Fiji (four to 24 weeks; from £2,000, excluding flights). Volunteers gain a Padi dive qualification (above) and assist with the management of protected habitats; participants on GVI’s marine programmes have aided more than 40 scientific papers and articles.”
Special-needs health care, India
Caring for children with special needs puts a huge financial burden on poor families, and provision across India is far from ideal. This project sends you to the Keralan port of Cochin, where you’ll be volunteering in two health-care centres specialising in the care of children with physical and mental disabilities. You’ll be encouraged to develop your own plans and initiatives while leading sports, play, art and one-to-one classes. The hours are long and the work is as emotionally challenging as it is rewarding. A six-week placement costs £1,550. Flights are extra.
“Voluntourism is the newest travel fad making a comeback for young students looking to explore the world on a dime. Founded in 1997, GVI—a moniker for Global Vision International—has organised more than 24,000 volunteers who have raised more than $30 million worth of direct financial support to philanthropic projects worldwide.”
Expensive voluntourism trips ‘the least responsible’
The more expensive a volunteer tourism project, the less responsible it is, researchers have suggested.
“Without question, there are some great organisations that do some very good work in the third sector, and some terrible ones that probably should not be allowed to operate,” said Steve Gwenin, director of operations for GVI, a company offering volunteering programmes.
“Of course, there is also a wealth of organisations somewhere in between, some with good intentions which at times they may realise, and some without such great intentions. Even those without great intentions sometimes do some great work, depending upon the staff and the volunteers that dedicate time to them.
School’s In For Summer In Costa Rica
England’s fixture with Costa Rica on 24 June will see this Central American nation come into focus in 2014. Those who would like to glimpse it at closer quarters may be drawn to the voluntourism project that will be run by Global Vision International (01727 250 250; gvi.co.uk), starting on 16 August.
A triple process that will also take place in Thailand and South Africa, “Global Initiative 2014” will construct schools on Costa Rica’s Pacific shore.
Volunteers can do one week (£795) or two (£1,295), full board.”
Volunteer holidays: how to find an ethical project
There are hundreds of ‘voluntourism’ projects available, but a new report claims few of them are doing as much good as they claim. So how do you find an experience that genuinely makes a difference?
GVI is an organisation that does well to balance offering a large range of destinations while also giving back a lot of clear information about its work. It does conservation projects really well but also works with social enterprise – it’s a good all-rounder.
“Meet the people who are helping to preserve Thailand’s precious landscapes and cultural wonders… Volunteering Award category winner: Global Vision International (GVI), Chiang Mai Province
…GVI Thailand runs an elephant reintroduction conservation programme where volunteers conduct research on the elephants and assist local mahouts with a range of projects. From monitoring what the elephants are eating to embarking on biodiversity projects, the project aims to provide a sustainable way for elephants to have healthy lives that will ensure their long-term survival.
As well as conducting vital data collection that isn’t widely carried out, GVI also employs all the elephant mahouts and place volunteers in local homestays, which means that the surrounding tribal villages are provided with an income…”
“Ten Holidays You Never Knew Existed: If you fancy going somewhere a bit different for your next holiday, you’ve come to the right place. We’ve picked ten holidays we bet you never knew existed.
Spend a fortnight with novice Buddhist monks in Laos
In the beautiful ancient city of Luange Prabang, northern central Laos, you can teach English to young Buddhist monks on a volunteering holiday.
GVI’s Volunteer with Buddhist Novice Monks in Laos trip (two weeks from £895) takes place in an idyllic setting at the meeting of the Nam Khan and Mekong rivers, renowned for its Buddhist temples and monasteries.
As well as working closely with novice monks, you’ll learn about Lao culture, history and food, visit the local sights and enjoy a weekend on the banks of the Mekong River.”