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Published: Monday January 13, 2014 MYT 6:00:00 AM
Updated: Friday January 10, 2014 MYT 1:10:13 PM

10 holidays to change your life in 2014

A bridge leading to the Amazon river. - Photo from Wikimedia Commons

A bridge leading to the Amazon river. - Photo from Wikimedia Commons

From getting fit to saving the planet, change your life for the better this year with these 10 self-improving holidays.

Make 2014 the year. Whether you want to drop a dress size, run a marathon or even learn to belly dance, check out these 10 terrific ideas for holistic holidays. Go on, you can do it!

1. Get fit – run a marathon: Hawaii

Run the Honolulu Marathon in Hawaii. - Photo from Wikimedia Commons
Run the Honolulu Marathon in Hawaii. - Photo from Wikimedia Commons

Put down that last leftover mince pie. This is the year you’re going to get fit. But turning off the TV and running once around the park isn’t enough – you’ve got to aim high. Give yourself a real challenge. How about running a marathon. It may be a bit soon to contemplate the London marathon in March, so how about the Honolulu Marathon in December? 26 miles? Easy.

2. Learn to cook: Italy

Beans on toast just won’t cut it. Impress the ladies (or the men) with your kitchen skills. If you’re a budding Gordon, Heston or Delia, learn to become a domestic god(dess) on a crash cookery course. Even better, learn to whip up show-stopping dishes using organic ingredients in picturesque countryside at a cook school in Tuscany.

3. Learn to surf: Cornwall

Surfing at Gwithian Sands, near to Gwithian, Cornwall, Great Britain. - Photo from Wikimedia Commons
Surfing at Gwithian Sands, near to Gwithian, Cornwall, Great Britain. - Photo from Wikimedia Commons

If, like us, you always wanted to be in The Beach Boys, you’re probably waxing down your surfboard, and can’t wait until June. If the monster storm swell in the West Country right now is a bit scary for a novice, sign up to a surf school and learn to ride those tubes like Garrett McNamara.

4. Learn to live the good life: Devon

Learn how to look after animals in a farm in Devon. - Photo from Wikimedia Commons
Learn how to look after animals in a farm in Devon. - Photo from Wikimedia Commons

Leave the rat race far behind. If you dream of chucking in the nine-to-five and swapping your Prosecco for potato wine, master the art of living off the land on a smallholding life course in Devon. Learn how to look after cute farm animals, and how to cook from scratch using fresh, seasonal produce… not that there’s any connection.

5. Find yourself: Brazil

Going to the gym is somewhat more straightforward, but a drastic way to find a new you this New Year would be to attend a Ayahuasca healing retreat deep in the Amazon jungle. ‘Participants return with a new lease on life, having turned the corner on their problems and found the path leading to their complete health and happiness’, apparently. Definitely don’t try this at home!

6. Learn to sing: Cuba

A night view of Havana, Cuba. - Photo from Wikimedia Commons
A night view of Havana, Cuba. - Photo from Wikimedia Commons

Are you the next Sam Bailey?! Or does your vocal prowess extends only as far as murdering Tainted Love at the pub karaoke? Get your chords in trim with a singing holiday in Havana, Cuba. You could be the next Sam Callahan. Er, hang on a minute.

7. Learn a language: Spain

Learn a new language while having tea in Spain. - Photo from Wikimedia Commons
Learn a new language while having tea in Spain. - Photo from Wikimedia Commons

Go local. If your knowledge of the local lingo extends as far as ordering a beer, how about a language learning holiday? Spanish in Seville? You’ll learn all the important stuff, like how to chat up the local talent.

8. Learn to belly dance: Turkey

Shop for a belly dancer costume and dance the night away in Turkey. - Photo from Wikimedia Commons
Shop for a belly dancer costume and dance the night away in Turkey. - Photo from Wikimedia Commons

As Shakira once said, the hips don’t lie, so learn one of life’s essential skills on a belly dancing course. Learn how to wiggle those hips with more style than your usual uncoordinated floundering on the dancefloor under the expert guidance of Turkish tutors in Istanbul.

9. Save the planet: Maldives

Want a holiday with a cause? Save some turtles at the Maldives. - Photo from Wikimedia Commons
Want a holiday with a cause? Save some turtles at the Maldives. - Photo from Wikimedia Commons

Turtle power! Give something back to the planet on a conservation holiday like being a volunteer on a turtle conservation project in the Maldives. Look after cutesy turtles and spend your free time scuba diving and sunbathing. Doesn’t sound like too much like a working holiday, does it?

10. Learn to paint: Greece

Oia on the Mediterranean island of Santorini, Greece.- Photo from Wikimedia Commons
Oia on the Mediterranean island of Santorini, Greece.- Photo from Wikimedia Commons

Easel does it! Brush up on your artistic skills where the light is bright and the sun is shining, helping you to magic up a masterpiece in comfort. Capture the sunset with a sundowner in hand on a painting course on the Greek island of Santorini, or just pack your paints, head to the Med and get inspired. – Skyscanner (www.skyscanner.net)

Tags / Keywords: Travel, Lifestyle, 2014 travel, new year resolution, Hawaii, Italy, Cornwall, Devon, 10 places to visit

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