Learn a new skill on your next holiday

Are you looking for something new and interesting to do on your next holiday? With the weather turning colder, consider using your trip as a chance to gain a new skill.

Foreign Languages
Have you ever fancied learning a foreign language, or at least learning how to order things in the restaurant abroad? You’ll be happy to know that it’s possible to find language classes for foreigners in pretty much every European country.

Courses usually take at least one week, but can be much, much longer. The intensity of the courses varies greatly, and you would be able to pick one that suits you. This could be a relaxed, one hour in the morning course, or an intense full-time course.

Group courses are usually cheaper than individual lessons, but the latter focus more on your personal needs. Many language schools combine language classes with various other activities: you can sign up for Spanish and FlamencoFrench and Bordeaux wine tastingGreek with dancing, or Italian and opera!

Cooking
Do you love paella, pizza, or pain-au-chocolat, and would like to learn how to make these from scratch? What better way to learn than from local chefs on your next holiday.

Cooking courses welcome complete beginners and experienced cooks alike, and everyone can learn something new.

The variety of cooking courses is great. You could bake baguettes in France or make and decorate chocolates in Switzerland. How about preparing tapas in the heart of Barcelona or learning from top British chefs on a Food Hero cruise?

You can choose between short courses that only take a couple of hours, full-day courses, or an entire week or two of cooking lessons.

Wine
Perhaps you enjoy a glass of wine with your dinner and would like to learn more about the different types wines and grapes. If that’s the case, you may enjoy a wine tasting holiday.

These usually involve touring different vineyards, learning about the grapes and the process of winemaking, and trying many local wines. Dedicated wine tasting holidays range from weekend trips to holidays lasting a couple of weeks. If that’s a bit too long for you, many vineyards offer short daily tours with wine tastings.

It’s not only the big wine countries, such as France, Italy, or Spain, that offer wine tasting holidays. For an off-the-beaten-track wine holiday consider Hungary, the home of the sweet Tokaji wine, or Portugal where Port wine comes from.

Photography
Have you marvelled at beautiful photographs in travel magazines and thought you would like to take better pictures? Adding a photography course to your next trip might be a good idea.

Photography holidays vary in their focus (pardon the pun!), offering a lot of choice: portrait, wildlife, cityscapes. During a photography course you would learn about light, composition, and how to capture movement in your photos. Some courses require you to have your own camera, while others offer rental of equipment.

Why not select a destination and see if there’s a photography holiday available? You are sure to return home with a collection of stunning photos that will remind you of your holiday. What a way to impress your family and friends!

The courses described here are just a taste of what’s on offer. (We have not personally checked these courses, and they are not specific recommendations, but they give you some idea of what is available.)

There are many different activities available in all the European countries. With some research, you are bound to find a perfect learning holiday for you.

An update on car hire following the DVLA changes

New rules
The following information is a summary of the DVLA advice site. This information does not apply to people living in Northern Ireland.

Since 8 June 2015, the paper counterpart to the photocard driving licence isn’t valid and is no longer issued by DVLA. The paper counterpart was introduced to display driving licence details that could not be included on the photocard.

A new computer system has now taken over from the paper counterpart, which includes some vehicle categories you are entitled to drive and any endorsement/penalty points.

Since 8 June 2015, new penalty points (endorsements) are only recorded electronically, and won’t be printed or written on either photocard licences or paper driving licences.

If you are hiring a car on holiday, the hire car company will need to see your driving licence. Some companies will also want information on any endorsements/penalty points too.

You should check with the hire company what they need to see when you hire a vehicle. If you’re asked for evidence of what vehicles you can drive or confirmation of any penalty points, you can request a unique code from the government’s website which allows you to share your driving licence details, or you can download a summary of your driving licence record. The code lasts for up to 72 hours and will allow the hire companies to make any necessary checks.

If you cannot generate a code online then you can call 0300 083 0013 and DVLA will provide you with a code.

Alternatively, you can call DVLA on 0300 790 6801 and leave permission for your driving record to be checked verbally by a nominated hire company. This also applies if you have a paper licence that was issued before 1998.

Not all vehicle hire companies will ask for this information and we advise that you check with your hire company.

Useful links
For full details, see https://www.gov.uk/government/news/driving-licence-changes
To generate your code, go to: https://www.gov.uk/view-driving-licence

Our conclusion and simple advice:
The BBC has reported that some people have had problems using the new system.

Our advice is simple:

1. If you’re hiring a car, then just before you set off on your holiday, generate a code just to be on the safe side in case your car hire firm asks for it. You’ll need your driving licence number, your National Insurance number, and the postcode associated with your driving licence. BE CAREFUL! The code only lasts for 72 hours, so do this as close to when you leave your house as you can.

2. There are lots of pitfalls for the unwary when hiring a car abroad. You can find out more on this below, and at our sister site CHEW Insurance.

Special offer: 10% discount on Car Hire Excess Waiver Insurance
Most car rental companies charge an excess if you have an accident. This means that you will be responsible for the first part of the claim.

The part you are responsible for is called the “excess” and it varies from one car hire company to another. However, it’s usually between £500 and £2,000 depending on the vehicle type you rent – but it can be substantially more on high-value cars.

You can protect yourself against these charges by purchasing an excess waiver, sometimes known as a Super Collision Damage Waiver (SCDW). Some companies will try to sell you a waiver when you book the hire car, often with hard-sell tactics, but it can cost over £20 a day! It’s better to buy your policy in the UK before you travel: you’ll save money and get more comprehensive cover too.

So if you’re hiring a car when you travel, go to CHEW Insurance and use discount codeJUL15 for a 10% discount.