I think drawing is still the most basic skill in all the visual arts. Nothing compares to learning about perspective, depth, form... you name it. It's something you can do anywhere and anytime with materials so cheap anyone can afford it... even me.
I often work from photos on complicated subjects like this guy. On vacation though I like to draw whatever is in front of me.
Since I am in the middle of some not very pleasant surgeries right now, drawing really makes things seem a little easier to deal with.