Pursuing a passion can be difficult when you’re frequently on the road. Schedules get disrupted, classes and events are missed. But the good news is that loving travel doesn’t mean you always have to choose between your wanderings and your hobby or side hustle. You might even discover a new one while you’re gone!

A woman hangs face down by a rope from a colorful ceiling
The writer practicing her aerial arts while traveling in London © Bailey Freeman / Lonely Planet

In addition to being a writer, I’m also an aerialist and aerial instructor. I fell in love with the world of aerial acrobatics several years ago thanks to a Groupon and an aversion to traditional fitness classes, and now I spend as much of my time as I can in the air. That said, the activity exercises muscles that aren’t always used in daily life, or even at the gym — hand grip, forearm strength, the ability to lift your legs above your head, etc. How do I stay on top of training when I’m away from home?

I began seeking out aerial classes in the places I travel, and I’ve had some of my most wonderful experiences with the aerial community to date. Not only have I learned new skills in the air, but I’ve benefited from different teaching techniques and gotten chances to polish up my analytical skills in a different language. I took aerial hammock class in Paris, tested my acrobatic endurance in tropical heat in Mexico, learned aerial rope skills in one of London’s railway arches and nerded out at the Montreál Cirque Festival — each destination felt even richer thanks to my time in the local circus community.

Passions and hobbies come in many forms — read the stories below and get inspired for your next trip.

A band plays on a small stage in front of an active audience
When traveling for work, its a great opportunity to incorporate doing something you love in a new place, like checking out the local music hotspots wherever you are © David Peevers / Getty Images

Travel for the live music junkie

A few coworkers and I have music backgrounds, all playing instruments from hobby to professional level. When we are on the road for work, we always look for something music or arts related to break up the stress of work week. Being able to enjoy something we are passionate about brings the stress level down and brings me a level of joy that not much else can match. We have been to Voodoo Fest and all kinds of music venues in New Orleans, a metal concert in Pittsburgh, Phantom of the Opera in Baltimore, a steakhouse with live jazz music in Orlando to name a few.

Cassie Malmquist, Tennessee

Snuba, anyone?

[My husband] and I typically go on vacation near the ocean, and about six years ago we discovered an activity called Snuba – a cross between snorkeling and scuba that doesn’t require certification but allows the use of an oxygen tank to stay under water. I’m not a strong swimmer and found a scuba training session overwhelming, so it’s been a good in between for us! We’ve sought it out on all trips since. So far we’ve done snuba in Grand Cayman, St. Thomas, Maui, and the Great Barrier Reef!

Amanda Wahrer, Colorado

a group around a campfire under a starry sky
There are dark sky parks worldwide and so many opportunities to admire the stars © Zafer Çimen / Getty Images

Find the stars

One of my hobbies is stargazing. I grew up under the New Mexico sky and my dad passed his love for astronomy on to me by always taking us out to look through his telescope when we were kids. When I moved to a big city, I realized how much I missed seeing the stars, because there is so much light pollution. I started incorporating stargazing purposefully into my travel plans just because it's something I can't really experience at home in London. Some of the best night skies I've had were in Central Asia – remote Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan have some of the clearest, darkest, starriest skies on earth. I also made a pilgrimage to the Cosmic Campground in my home state – it's a dedicated dark-skies site with low light pollution and platforms for telescope setup. My interest in astronomy has also taken me on hunts for cool space-themed museums, one of the best of which was the Museum of Cosmonautics in Moscow, where you can see Belka and Strelka – the first two dogs to go into space – preserved in taxidermy for the world to pay tribute!

Megan Eaves, UK

Nature’s treasure hunt

My travel hobbies include looking for rocks and mushrooms. Since traveling out west [USA], I’ve been interested in the geology and the hidden ecology of the lands that I visit. The Tucson mountains have rocks with strands of mica, giving a beautiful sparkle under the desert sun to the earth tones amidst the saguaro cacti in Tanque Verde. Bryce Canyon in Utah amazes me with its hoodoos formed by temperature extremes. Snow Canyon is striated with black volcanic rock from ancient volcanoes. I like to hold the rocks in my hands and absorb the warmth of the sun. On a recent trip to Lake Saint Clair along the US/Canada border, I looked for mushrooms in the woods, peeking under trees and leaves to see how many different varieties I could find. It’s like a scavenger hunt for small treasures that most of the time we’d pass by without noticing. This sort of exploring helps me learn about the natural history, to connect to and feel grounded in the places I visit.

Christy Rose, Tennessee

a line of people wearing aprons have woks and food in front of them
Taking a cooking class is a great way to get a deeper understanding of culture as well as meet other travelers © Anders Ryman / Getty Images

Cook up new experiences

I am passionate about cooking and improving my kitchen skills at home everyday. So, each time I travel, I try to find a local cooking class and I always learn so much more than I could by following a recipe. Peruvian ceviche. Pasta in Italy. Paprikash in Hungary. Krapo in Thailand. The best part, though, is meeting the chefs and other students from around the world.  

Jon Phillips, Illinois

Hit the dance floor with new friends

My two passions apart from my job are dancing and traveling, so why not mix them up together? I do many styles of dances: salsa, bachata, merengue, kizomba, Argentine tango, swing, contra dancing, waltz, a little bit of flamenco – I try pretty much anything “danceable.” I have danced in Colombia, Mexico, Spain and the United States, and I had incredible experiences in cities like Salento, Medellín, Oaxaca, Ciudad de México, Boston, New Orleans and Seville. I travel solo a lot, and dancing has been a fantastic way to meet people, to discover different [dance] styles, and, of course, feel fulfilled. I feel like dancers in general are pretty open and social, and I usually find friends to share experiences with, which makes my trips super special! 

Lucía Fraile, Kentucky

Read local

I enjoy reading local books while on location, attending readings and joining a local book club, if I can. Sites like Meetup help you find local book clubs you can join, while bookstores are great places to learn about readings and sign up for clubs. I've done it in the Virgin Islands, France, Iceland, Ireland, and Mexico; Shakespeare and Company in Paris, for instance, hosts the Feminist Book Club every 3rd Sunday of the month and anyone can join. Reading is a strong way of immersing in another culture and way of thinking. You are able to discuss different subjects with locals and understand how they experience life. Travel is a great way of widening our perspectives, of being more aware of how others live, and books are, to me, cultural and social barometers we can use to see a place beyond the surface.

Melissa Alvarado Sierra, Puerto Rico 

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