Trying new hobbies is a great way to learn new skills and meet people. But it can be tricky to find something that you’re passionate about and want to commit to.
If you’re feeling uninspired, it might be helpful to think outside the box and explore some of life’s more unconventional activities.
So, we’ve come up with eight unusual hobbies that you might not have tried before…
If you’re a railway buff with a taste for adventure, then trainspotting might pique your interest. First conceived in the UK in the 1940s, it’s now a popular pastime for people around the world.
Although there are no set rules to trainspotting, it generally involves sighting and recording as many different trains, and types of trains, as you can. Traditionally, sightings were recorded in notebooks, but many modern trainspotters now take photographs and videos too.
To get started, it’s worth picking up a list of every train that’s currently on UK train tracks – from high-speed modern trains to old-fashioned steam locomotives. This British Railways handbook is a go-to for many trainspotters, and it’s re-published every year with up-to-date information.
Trainspotting is also an excellent hobby to combine with other activities. For example, if you love spending time outdoors, trainspotting trips can be combined with beautiful countryside walks and photography practise. If you’re into travel, trainspotting can also take you all over the UK.
For more information on how to get into trainspotting, why not take a look at this guide from Rail Record?
2. Flying remote-controlled model aircraft
Have you always wanted to take to the skies? If so, why wait any longer when you can get airborne with this unconventional hobby? Remote-controlled model aircraft (including planes and helicopters) are small, unmanned aircraft that are flown recreationally by people all over the UK.
Flying model aircraft involves some skill and artistry, but it’s plenty of fun too – and can be a good way to get outdoors. Plus, because some model aircraft enthusiasts choose to build their own, it’s also a chance to develop your craftsmanship and engineering skills.
If you like the sound of flying model aircraft, then the best way to get involved is to join a club. The club will provide you with insurance, access to a flying field, and the option to be trained by a British Model Flying Association (BFMA) certified instructor.
An instructor will not only make sure that you’re flying safely and responsibly, but with their expertise, you’re also less likely to make mistakes – which means less time and money spent repairing your aircraft.
Joining a club is a great way to meet like-minded people too, and you can get helpful tips and advice from seasoned model aircraft pilots. Most clubs offer free taster sessions, where you can speak to some of the members, find out what it’s like to fly, and see if it’s for you. You can find model aircraft clubs near you using the BFMA search tool.
It’s important to remember that although model aircraft are small, lightweight, and unmanned, they’re still aircraft – so there’s a wide range of laws in place to make sure people fly safely and responsibly. Before you invest in your first aircraft, it’s worth familiarising yourself with the rules and regulations around flying, including what kind of registration you’ll need.
For more information on how to get started with flying, including tips on buying your first model aircraft, why not take a look at the BMFA website?
If you’re looking to do something crafty, origami could be your new favourite hobby. Over the centuries, origami – which is the art of folding paper – has become heavily associated with Japanese culture, and is used to create different models and displays.
While your models can make great decorations and gifts, the focus of origami should be the process of folding, rather than the end result – and, therefore, can be useful for practising mindfulness. Mindfulness can help us to focus on the present moment and manage feelings of stress and anxiety.
As Akira Yoshizawa, the ‘grandmaster’ of origami, once said: “When you fold, the ritual and the act of creation is more important than the final result. When your hands are busy, your heart is serene.”
One of the best things about origami is its accessibility. All you need are your hands, origami paper, and a little patience. There are also plenty of learning resources available to help you on your journey. For example, this course from Udemy will teach you how to create 24 different origami masterpieces, and YouTube also has thousands of origami tutorials too.
To find out more about origami, including information and advice on materials and the basic folds, why not take a look at our introduction to origami?
4. Recumbent cycling
If you’re looking for a type of outdoor exercise that’s safe and easy on your joints, look no further than recumbent cycling.
Recumbent cycling is a type of cycling where the rider is positioned in a reclined posture. Just like regular cycling, it’s an excellent low-impact, cardiovascular workout. Plus, recumbent cycling is generally seen as a safer alternative.
This is because, on a recumbent bike, you’re less likely to topple in a crash, especially if you choose the popular three-wheeled version. You’re also seated much closer to the ground, so you’ve got a shorter distance to fall if you do topple and are less likely to sustain an injury.
Another advantage of recumbent cycling is that, due to the rider’s low centre of gravity, braking distances are significantly reduced. This allows more control over the bike and, again, can reduce risk of injury.
The reclined position of recumbent cycling places less stress on your neck, back, and joints. This added support is particularly advantageous for those who suffer from conditions like arthritis or sciatica.
And for any daredevils out there, recumbent bikes are generally faster than traditional ones as the reclined position is more aerodynamic.
To browse recumbent bikes and learn more about them, you can head over to the Get Cycling website.
Tarot has received a bad rap over the years. Popular culture has often cast it as a voodoo practice, and cynics have dismissed it as a fortune-telling gimmick.
But tarot doesn’t claim to predict the future, nor does it deal exclusively with death and destruction. Tarot is, in fact, a lighthearted way for us to reflect on ourselves, our lives, and our relationships with others – and, over the past few years, it’s become more widely received.
A tarot reading involves pulling from a deck of 78 pictorial cards. Each one has its own imagery, symbols, and story associated with it. During the reading, questions are posed, such as “How do I feel about my current job?” or “What do I want out of my next relationship?”, and the meanings associated with the cards are used to reflect upon these questions.
Many see tarot as a way to look objectively at someone’s life and consider alternative decisions, feelings, and viewpoints. And some claim it’s a useful way to find out what you unconsciously want or feel.
The best thing about tarot is there’s no right way to engage with it, and you can take it as seriously as you like. Once you’ve practised your skills, you can use tarot reading to help make decisions when you find yourself at a crossroads, or even as an enjoyable party activity.
If you’d like to find out more about tarot, there are plenty of useful online resources that can start you on your journey. Biddy Tarot is a popular website with lots of free information and guidance for beginners. There are also plenty of handy books out there, for example, The Ultimate Guide to Tarot: A Beginner’s Guide to the Cards.
And finally, we have a wide range of courses available on our website. This course from Udemy offers a well-rounded introduction to tarot card reading.
If you’re looking for a creative, hands-on hobby, why not give whittling a try?
Whittling is a simple form of woodcarving that, at its most basic level, only involves a knife and a piece of wood. With these, you can carve whatever you please. Bowls, spoons, figurines, chess pieces, and wood spirits (bearded deities that are said to reside in the forest) are popular among the whittling community.
Like origami, whittling is also a mindful activity. In fact, research shows that carving wood helps to reduce stress, encourage positive emotions, and support emotional processing. Plus, your creations can make unique and personal gifts or decorations.
Although whittling doesn’t necessarily need to be learned or practised outside, working with natural materials is a wonderful way to connect with nature – and carving outside only increases this connection.
While you can collect your own wood on nature walks and hikes, most modern whittlers choose to buy softwood blocks that are ideal for whittling. Amazon has a great selection of whittling wood.
If you don’t know where to start, our beginner’s guide to whittling covers everything from equipment and technique to learning resources and project ideas. Amazon also has a selection of whittling kits for beginners that you can browse here.
Once you’ve got to grips with whittling, you might want to move on to working with wood in other ways. Have a read of our articles, A beginner’s guide to carpentry and 12 practical things you can make from wood, for more information and inspiration.
Stand-up paddleboarding (or SUP) has recently grown in popularity as a great way to keep fit and explore our nation’s waterways. No matter where you live in the UK, you’re never too far from a lake, canal, river, or ocean, so it’s generally quite easy to get involved with this fun outdoor activity.
Paddleboarding can be described as a cross between surfing and canoeing. Like surfing, the board is flat and you stand up on it (although it’s much larger than a surfboard), while you propel and steer yourself with a single-bladed, two-handed paddle, just like you would in a canoe.
Paddleboarding provides an effective full-body workout that can help with improving and maintaining strength and balance, losing weight, and building muscle. It’s also a low-impact form of exercise, so you can keep fit while protecting your joints.
Plus, because it’s a mindful activity that gets you outdoors, paddleboarding can benefit your mental wellbeing, particularly when it comes to reducing stress and anxiety.
If paddleboarding sounds like something you’d enjoy, then the best way to get involved is to sign up for a lesson. This won’t only help you learn the basics – including all the essential skills and how to stay safe – but it’ll also allow you to dip your toe in the water without having to buy all of your own equipment.
8. Brew your own beer
Humans have been brewing beer for millennia. In fact, the oldest known recipe for beer was written by the Sumerians in ancient Mesopotamia nearly 4,000 years ago. So, if you’re partial to a tall, frosty pint, why not take part in this longstanding tradition and brew your own beer?
Brewing beer is an entertaining and surprisingly creative pastime, and it can also save you money – particularly nowadays, with beer prices having risen by as much as 11.8% in the last year (and far more in some places).
Plus, getting started with brewing beer at home is simpler than you might think, especially if you start with a small batch. All you need are four key ingredients and a handful of items.
For your ingredients, you’ll need malted barley, water, hops, and yeast, which you can buy as part of a kit. And as for your equipment, you’ll need a beer brewing bucket with a lid, a long mixing spoon, a thermometer, a siphon tube, and a sanitiser solution. You can buy these at your nearest home brewing shop, or from online retailers like Love Brewing.
To help you brew your first batch of beer at home, you might want to take a look at this short course from Udemy, or have a watch of the video below.
We hope that you’ve been inspired by this list of unusual hobbies.
However, if none of these have caught your eye, why not check out the wide range of beginner’s guides we have on our website? From stargazing and beekeeping to knitting and calligraphy, we’re sure there’s something to pique your interest.
Or, for more ideas and to search online courses, you can visit the learning section of our website.
Have you got an unusual hobby? If so, what is it? We’d love to hear from you in the comments below.