Lost your job? Travel could be just the opportunity needed to expand horizons and build some new skills.
Travel + Leisure has come up with a list of the top holidays for the newly unemployed, ranging from snorkeling for science in the Bahamas to working on an organic farm in New Zealand.
1. Farm your way around the world:
Join the nonprofit network Worldwide Opportunities on Organic Farms. In exchange for your room and board, usually in a family home, you'll work part-time on one of 1,200 organic farms around the world. Grow kiwis in New Zealand, for example, while learning the basics of self-sufficient farming, organic cooking, and alternative energy.
2. House swap:
Home swapping allows you to exchange your house or apartment for someone else's, anywhere in the world. Whether you trade for a 400-year-old stone house in medieval Padua or a ski condo in Aspen, you won't pay a penny beyond the small registration fee.
3. Sail off into the sunset:
Volunteer to work with a yacht delivery crew. Find opportunities around the world through the classifieds on Crew File, a free web resource that links yacht crews with sailing opportunities around the world. You don't need sailing skills or experience. Captains will often accept novices, if they have the right attitude, and teach them everything they need to know.
4. Take classes in a US national park:
Camp for a nominal fee, or stay in an inexpensive park cabin and take classes offered by the US Park Service. Study the technical aspects of winter wildlife photography at Yellowstone National Park, learn new fishing techniques from the marine biologists at Biscayne, or hone your wilderness orienteering skills in the Great Smoky Mountains.
5. Stretch your savings with yoga teacher training:
Yoga teacher training is available around the world at prices to suit any budget, but if you can afford it, do it in style at Absolute Yoga on Thailand's palm-canopied Koh Samui island. Some of the instructors are former investment bankers, so they'll know just where you're coming from. They say that most graduates recoup the cost of the tuition within four months.
6. Finish your novel in a medieval French village:
Got a half-written novel sitting in a drawer? Find inspiration at La Muse writers' retreat in Labastide-Esparbairenque, in the heart of Cathar country in the Languedoc. Its location in a quiet, secluded medieval village means there are no distractions here beyond the rustic food, the local farmers' markets, the nearby wineries, and the company of other writers.
7. Good works with woodwork:
Learn basic carpentry, acquire fluent Spanish, and help children with special needs by volunteering at a Peace Village center for handicapped children in the heart of La Gran Sabana National Park in Venezuela. You'll help construct a playground and therapeutic horse-riding facilities, renovate rooms and gardens, and learn wood and stoneworking techniques.
8. Become a chef - or just eat like one:
Study the classic repertoire of Italian cuisine at the Casa Ombuto, a restored luxury villa high in the tranquil hills of the Casentino valley, just south of Florence. You'll make gnocchi, roll pasta, bake pizza in a wood-burning oven, prepare a wild boar with polenta, and whip up a warm lemon pie with Italian meringue. If these skills don't get you a job, they will at least make you very popular.
9. Work the slopes:
The Base Camp Group offers ski instructor training courses around the world from Banff to Verbier, at prices to suit every budget. It provides coaching on the slopes, exam preparation, instructor shadowing, work experience, and credentials in first aid and mountain safety. When you finish, you'll have an internationally recognized qualification.
10. Save the whales, or whatever else needs saving:
Protect the world's endangered animals and habitats by volunteering with Earthwatch. You'll work with scientists on a field research or conservation project in one of 50 countries around the world. You can band penguins in South Africa, tag endangered sea turtles on the beaches of the Pacific, or snorkel for science while monitoring coral reef health in the Bahamas.