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Try something new in 2014

Activity holidays have never been more popular with travellers over the age of 50, and are ideal for solo travellers and couples alike. If you’ve always wanted to learn a new language, try your hand at a new hobby, or simply meet new people, there’s no better time than the present.  But it’s often difficult to fit evening classes in to busy schedules – and with most evening courses focussed on attainment, you may not want the commitment of working towards a qualification. So a short holiday course could be a perfect introduction to a new hobby or skill which could give you years of pleasure, or simply be a great way to unwind for a week or two.

If you enjoy cooking as a way to relax, why not try your hand at whisking up French cuisine on a short course in destinations such as La Rochelle or the Dordogne – or those with a sweet tooth can find French Pâtisserie courses in Toulouse and one-day macaron making classes in Paris.

Alternatively, go for rich, exotic spices in a hot climate on  a cookery holiday in Kerala and learn to make authentic and delicious South Indian food.  If attaining nirvana is your thing, many Keralan residential courses also offer yoga classes alongside wholly vegan or vegetarian cookery courses too. Try Kerala Cooking Holidays or The Pimenta for inspiration.

If you want to explore your creative side, there’s no better time, as crafting is the ‘in thing’ for 2014.  Try jewellery making in France and learn how to craft your own designs in precious metal clay, or get an introduction to soap making in South Africa or try mosaic making in Spain.

Dancing holidays can be a great way to meet new people as well as keep active – ‘Strictly’ inspired dancing getaways are available on Majorca or with specialist cruises – where you have plenty of time between ports to learn your quickstep from your argentine tango.

A story telling course in Morocco could be a gateway to creative writing, amateur dramatics, or even just as a great way to boost self confidence. Learn how to craft an enticing tale to captivate your audience. Try boutique guesthouse Riad Alkantara in the heart of Fes’s medina.  There are other ways to use your voice too – with a singing holiday.  Barbados Singing Holidays run group singing activities suitable for those with little or no experience and you’ll learn to harmonise on jazz, soul, gospel and pop classics – singing holidays have a great atmosphere and are designed to out you at ease, so they’re great for solo travellers.

Languages can be the key to travel and even getting to grips with the basics by taking a short language course while you are away can enrich your holiday experience for years to come. It won’t be ‘back to school’ however, as it’s easy to find courses that get you out of the classroom – what about learning Greek on the idyllic island of Syros, where you can intersperse Greek lessons with traditional Greek dancing, guided walks and museum visits (try Omilo – http://www.omilo.com/). 

For the more adventurous, activity holidays are no longer the preserve of young gap year backpackers.  If you’re physically fit and up for a challenge, adventure awaits – as age is no bar to exploring the polar ice caps, to trekking to Machu Picchu. Tour operators such as ElderTreks have something for most abilities.

Volunteering abroad is another area that’s not just got the young, as older career breakers or retiree’s often have a richer and more valuable skill set to offer conservation or humanitarian organisations around the world. Check out companies such as Travellers Worldwide – who offer a wide range of volunteer placements from teaching drama in a Cambodian school to rehabilitating neglected and abused mustang ponies in Florida.

Whatever you choose as your next adventure – make sure you buy travel insurance before you go, and that any activity you’re taking part in is covered by your policy - even if it’s just cycling or hiking.  Insure for All cover over 150 sports free of charge, including lots of out-of-the-ordinary adventures like swimming with dolphins or walking over Sydney harbour bridge, so why not take the plunge and try something new in 2014?