If you’re spending this time at home researching your next adventure, acquiring the right know-how could help you get more out of your next trip while also giving you a taste of the world without leaving the front door. Here are four easily accessible skills you can hone from home.

Learn some language basics

Whether you’re a social traveller who lives to meet new people or just want to string together enough words to find the nearest restroom, the benefits of knowing even basic phrases in the local language is an undeniable plus.

Apps like Duolingo have made learning a new language widely available to smartphone users who are eager to get started quickly. Many local libraries also offer online resources such as Rosetta Stone Library Solution and Mango Languages to help you find your footing with a new dialect.

Focus on your photography

Taking a quick picture as a memento has never been easier, but the difference between a good photo and a great photo takes a bit of practice and skill. If you’re looking to switch your swanky Nikon camera off of automatic mode and learn the ins and outs of your gear, check out the Nikon School Online, which is offering free video courses throughout the month.

Elsewhere online, you can find courses on sites such as Skillshare and Lynda.com (again, check your local library to see if membership includes a free subscription). Or find a bevy of free fundamentals tutorials on YouTube and other such sites.

Sharpen your culinary skills

From a multi-course dinner at a Paris institution that you planned your whole trip around to that Portland doughnut you stood in line through the better part of a morning for, food can often be the centrepiece of a trip. And while Michelin stars may not be awarded in your home kitchen, you can pick up some new skills with online cooking classes led by some of the world’s most celebrated chefs, including Massimo Bottura and Jamie Oliver, who have taken to Instagram and YouTube to put their approaches on display. Many local cooking schools are also now offering online courses via video conferencing, so you can join a class anywhere in the world.

For a “go at your own pace” vibe, the Food Network Canada’s #CanadaTogether page offers tutorial videos and baking ideas, while countless sites offer online recipes (including our own collection of international recipes).

Perfect your packing

Unlike an unforgettable meal in the shadow of the Eiffel Tower, packing probably won’t be amongst the fondest of travel memories. But it’s certainly an essential skill and getting it down pat is sure to save you time (and headaches) in the future.

Countless websites will give you the 411 on better packing practices, including the ranger roll technique (a military-inspired fold, roll and tuck approach for shirts), compression bags (vacuum-sealed bags to help maximize space) and packing cubes (a solution to keeping similar items together for easy access). For a wrinkle-free arrival, check out our tips from a pro, and get practicing to ensure the next last-minute packing session doesn’t result in a cursing fit.

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