What's a group activity I can do abroad that is fun and not exhausting?
August 4, 2022 7:26 AM   Subscribe

I would love to go to an interesting country and do group activities that are physical but not overly athletic. What should I do?

I'm single, in my 40s, and the past two years of isolation have been very tough.

I thought re-entering the world after covid, I would buy solo plane tickets to exotic places and take new places by storm like I used to feel in my 30s. But I realized covid changed things. It's made me feel more lonely and single and the feeling has not really gone away. I worry a solo trip would be miserable and I would ruminate.

I am in decent shape (used to play soccer and run more) and I thought group bicycle tours in Europe would be fun. But I also have the feeling I'd be older than some folks and lagging behind which would suck...

Has anyone done anything with a group of strangers in foreign countries that was fun and social? If I was the only single person in a group of couples that would also be slightly triggering, but perhaps it can't be avoided. I'd just rather not be walking around a foreign country in total silence if I can help it.

Thank you!
posted by deern the headlice to Travel & Transportation (23 answers total) 21 users marked this as a favorite
Walking tours? Bus tours with walking? I did a tour of Skye with a bus-tour company some years ago, and it was genuinely delightful. Not enforcedly social, but some socializing.
posted by humbug at 7:30 AM on August 4, 2022 [2 favorites]

Dance classes would probably be a lot of fun
posted by Mchelly at 7:32 AM on August 4, 2022

Cooking classes / food tours might be good?
posted by nkknkk at 7:36 AM on August 4, 2022 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: (Walking tours would be great too, never done one! Would love to hear about particular countries or tour companies people have used)
posted by deern the headlice at 7:36 AM on August 4, 2022 [1 favorite]

It is very popular now to walk all or some part of the Camino de Santiago, staying in pilgrim hostels (albergues) along the way. You can, I believe, use a service that will shuttle your stuff and do your planning, but a lot of people do it alone or with friends/family. It's common to fall in step with someone and walk together a while, or go to dinner with other pilgrims. This youtube channel has a ton of info about all things Camino.

I have an acquaintance who went on a walking holiday in Scotland with this company and had nothing but good things to say about them.
posted by Lyn Never at 7:46 AM on August 4, 2022 [4 favorites]

Work your way around on organic farms. Stay in beautiful places, grow and eat beautiful food. It's physical but not exhausting and will help you meet people. I forget the name of the network - agroturismo?
posted by Lawn Beaver at 8:10 AM on August 4, 2022

I recommend a small group tour of somewhere like the Galapagos or Antarctica; going somewhere magical and completely different from most travel destinations is inherently bonding. Snorkeling is a an excellent easy athletic activity that also fosters group interactions as you discover underwater flora and fauna together, share your experiences later, etc.
posted by carmicha at 8:27 AM on August 4, 2022

Hostels are especially social, and you can usually pay for the events without staying at the hostel itself .

If you were to stay, you can usually book a private room instead if shared living, which i find more confortable in my post-twenties.

I love to start a trip to a new place with a conference or a workshop if possible. If not, I'll schedule a walking tour as soon as possible. They often end with grabbing a bite with some of the people you've met.

Yoga classes are in every major city around the world. And the movements are mostly the same, so you don't need to know the language . Some more social than others
posted by jander03 at 8:28 AM on August 4, 2022 [1 favorite]

New Zealand Great Walks. (Book *far* in advance.)
posted by eotvos at 8:33 AM on August 4, 2022

Sign up as crew on a sailing ship.
posted by automatronic at 9:36 AM on August 4, 2022 [1 favorite]

Take a look at the Happy Walkers of Crete. We had a blast with their walking tours where you get to learn about the local landscape, forage for interesting foods, and even sample backyard hooch from elders in the countryside!
posted by oxisos at 9:40 AM on August 4, 2022 [1 favorite]

Hostels can be great places to go- most of them will have activities and tours that you can sign up for and go with other people staying at the hostels. Hostels tend to be pretty social and open and easy places to meet interesting people.

Are you interested in yoga at all? You could do a yoga retreat or course. I got a teaching certification in India and the teacher took the class members on local hiking trips on our time off. It was great and very easy to meet people.

I also lived in China for several years. Lots of interesting places there. The cities are all walkable, and there is lots of beautiful hiking in western China. There are hostels all over the country (and hotels, of course) and generally speaking, locals are friendly and younger people especially speak some English.

SE asia is a wonderful place to travel as well and there are lots of organized tours.

I would also suggest going on Lonely Plant forum (if that still exits) to get specific travel advice on specific countries.
posted by bearette at 10:51 AM on August 4, 2022 [1 favorite]

If you search for "working conservation holidays" you'll come across lots of fun things to do in the British Isles. Alas, the National Trust are no longer running their scheme - you used to be able to do things like learn how to repair dry stone walls or restore thatch cottages over a weekend. But there are many other opportunities to do interesting things outdoors with other people. For instance: restore a canal! Or count endangered birds!
posted by EllaEm at 11:06 AM on August 4, 2022

I was recommended by a friend who's happily used them a few times to check out Road Scholar. I haven't used them myself for various personal reasons (my health and finances are both deteriorating). But she loved them. It's popular with seniors, but you can screen for age groups. They go all over the world and you can specify the level of physical activity, as well as other factors.
posted by primate moon at 11:21 AM on August 4, 2022 [1 favorite]

Work your way around on organic farms...

(Worldwide Opportunities on Organic Farms)
posted by Rash at 11:49 AM on August 4, 2022 [1 favorite]

A friend went to Australia for a few weeks to volunteer at Tolga Bat Hospital taking care of rescued bats! From their website it looks like they suspended the international volunteer program for a few years but it's coming back soon.
posted by moonmilk at 12:52 PM on August 4, 2022

Earthwatch has been running for 50 years matching people who want to help push the frontiers of science [mostly conservation and archaeology] to projects in exotic places. Punters pay for a more interesting holiday; investigators get some free labor. Browse locations
posted by BobTheScientist at 2:02 PM on August 4, 2022 [4 favorites]

Volksmarching! A volksmarch is a noncompetitive mass walk, usually 5k or 10k, most popular in Germany. There are also some other volkssports events, such as swimming or cross-country skiing.
posted by NotLost at 8:04 PM on August 4, 2022 [1 favorite]

Consider voluntourism. Sorry, I don't have any specific recommendations.
posted by NotLost at 8:43 PM on August 4, 2022

My sister loves group bike tours and says the average age on the low-medium intensity tours is about 65, and mostly casual cyclists. A lot of tour companies provide e-bikes now as well. I get the distinct impression that it would take some real effort to slow anyone down. She likes the company Vermont Bike Tours.

There are also travel companies that cater to solo travelers; here's one agency's list of tours popular with single travelers over 40. There are a few other agencies that do similar stuff, including telling you exactly how challenging the physical activity is. Here's a list of them, including info on which agency specializes in us elder millennials (spoiler alert: it's El Camino Travel).
posted by Snarl Furillo at 11:38 PM on August 4, 2022

Best answer: All these are great as a single, outdoorsy but not terribly athletic person in your age range:

-Surfing classes in Costa Rica (I went to the city of Dominical, but the particular school I used seems to have gone away or changed its name, but there are several still.)

-Remote resort island on Belize's barrier reef offering great water activities, where you can do easy things like snorkeling, paddleboarding or kayaking, or get ambitious with wind surfing, kite surfing or even surf kayaking.

- Any tour with MT Sobek or Wilderness Travel (a bit pricey, some trips more than others)

- Visit grey whales, camp and snorkel in Mexico (Lots of companies offer this)

- Snorkel with humbpacks in Tonga - truly a once in a lifetime experience.

- Snorkel and paddle kayaks among the beautiful rock islands of Palau while learning about wildlife and conservation. Go on a trip with Ron Leidich - his knowledge, passion and experience is incredible. And the rock islands themselves are just ... wooooow.

- Hiking tours anywhere with REI adventures

- And finally, my number one best trip ever, rafting down the Grand Canyon. Absolutely the best trip, by a mile. (Second best was snorkeling in Palau by the way).
posted by bluesky78987 at 7:18 AM on August 5, 2022

Olive picking in Italy or Croatia!
posted by gakiko at 8:05 AM on August 5, 2022

You can take Segway tours of Prague, with at least two different routes. I'm pretty sure they offer group tours, and everyone's learning how to maneuver theirs makes for a good source of levity and an easy icebreaker.

Also had fun touring Lisbon in motorbike sidecars, don't know whether that might be available in a group too.
posted by troywestfield at 7:49 AM on August 11, 2022

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