As the rules around the lockdown begin to loosen in the UK, this is an apt moment to revisit all the things you determined to learn during your time at home… and never quite got around to. No more excuses, people! In the near future we'll all be back at work, and then, one day soon, we'll be exploring the wider world again. When that happens, the experience will feel even more liberating if you have some newfound skills in your locker. These are just a small sample of the many, many online options, but the clock is ticking…
Tired of taking photos on your travels that never quite hit the Insta-heights? You need to take an online photography course, and while there are lots out there (including some that specialise in travel photography), we're recommending the varied courses available through the London School of Photography. You will learn the basics from exposure to depth of field, and work your way up to next level skills such as photographing people and places, and understanding the temperature of light. (Nope, us neither. We'd better sign up.)
Learn to Dive
We're not advising taking your snorkel into the bath, but with PADI's online e-learning course you can get the boring but important theoretical elements of the entry level Open Water course under your weight belt. This means when you travel to some wonderful dive destination with Original Diving you spend no time studying, more time in the pool and you're in the sea sooner.
Learn a Language
Are you that Brit who speaks a little louder and a little slower, but still in English, when struggling to be understood abroad? In short, it's a really bad look, and one we hope to cure one language learning app at a time. There are plenty to choose from, but Duolingo gets our vote.
Learn to Skipper a Boat
There are few more pleasurable ways to spend a day on holiday than messing about in a boat, and with a day skipper's licence you can charter a yacht for coastal cruises during daylight hours. Take the theoretical part of the RYA day skipper course online and you will learn about nautical terminology, the most important knots and navigation. That sets you up nicely for the practical part of the course which you can do when we're out of lockdown, and which teaches you meteorology, sailing and piloting a boat into harbour. That last one's a skill at the best of times, but much more so under the critical gaze of several wizened old fishermen on an Aegean island in Greece.
Learn Your Ancestry
For many of us, cooped up lockdown living will only have ramped up wanderlust levels to even greater heights, but there's now another reason to travel - heritage tourism. Order one of the DNA testing kits (we strongly recommend our friends at Living DNA) and post back a saliva sample. Within a few weeks you'll learn where your recent (the last 500 years) ancestors hailed from. Visiting a region within a country that you have a direct ancestral link to can be extremely poignant.
Become a Better Birdwatcher
Anyone (we hope) can tell the difference between a blue tit and a blue-footed booby, but how much do you really know about our feathered friends? Take an online ornithological course such as The Joy of Birdwatching from Cornell University in the US and next time you're holidaying in a birding hotspot you'll be able to decode some of the behaviours that most birds display, and know where and when to look for those harder to spot species.
Learn about Art History
While we suspect that Original Travel's clients are already too discerning to subscribe to the 'I could've done that' school of art criticism, there's no harm in knowing more about art's evolution before your next visit to a highbrow cultural destination. The Open University has a good free 10-hour introduction called Art and Visual Culture: Medieval to Modern, while Oxford University's Learning to Look at the Visual Arts teaches art appreciation through the study of a series of key paintings spanning the last 500 years.
Learn to Tango
Sashaying around the sofa in the living room might not have the same allure as performing the tango in a dimly lit milonga (dance hall) in an atmospheric barrio (district) of Buenos Aires. That said, knowing your entrada from your enganche (both tango movements) when you do go to Argentina will only enhance the experience. There are several online tango classes available in the UK, one of which is Tango Movement.