Getting involved in new hobbies is a great way to learn new skills and meet new people. But it can sometimes be a little tricky to find something that you’re passionate about and want to stick at. When this happens, it can be helpful to start thinking outside the box and exploring some of life’s more unconventional activities.

So, to give you a little inspiration, we’ve come up with six unusual hobbies that you might not have tried.

1. Trainspotting

If you’re a railway buff with a taste for adventure, then trainspotting could be a hobby that piques your interest. First conceived in the UK in the 1940s, it’s now become a pastime for people all around the world.

Although there are no set rules to trainspotting, it generally involves sighting as many different trains, and types of trains, as you can, and recording your sightings. Traditionally, sightings were recorded in notebooks, however, many modern trainspotters now take photographs and videos too.

What’s more, is that trainspotting is an excellent hobby to combine with other pastimes. If you love spending time outdoors, then trainspotting trips can be combined with beautiful countryside walks and the chance to practise your photography. Lots of trains won’t be available for you to see locally so, if you want, trainspotting can also take you all over the UK.

If you’re interested in getting started with trainspotting and seeing all kinds of machines, from high-speed modern trains to old fashioned steam locomotives, then it’s worth picking yourself up a list of every train or wagon that’s currently on the tracks in the UK. This British Railways handbook is a go-to for many trainspotters, and it’s re-published every year so you know that it’ll be up to date.

For more information on how to get into trainspotting, why not take a look at this excellent guide from Rail Record?

2. Flying remote-controlled model aircraft

Have you always wanted to take to the skies? If so, then why wait any longer when you can get airborne with this unconventional hobby? Remote-controlled model aircraft are small, unmanned aircraft (including planes and helicopters) and are flown recreationally by people all over the UK.

Flying model aircraft involves some skill and artistry, but, most of all, it’s great fun. This hobby is an excellent way to spend some time outdoors and, 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 near you. There are a few benefits of joining a club: you’ll get access to a flying field, they’ll provide you with insurance, and you’ll have 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 you’ll also make far fewer mistakes, resulting in fewer crashes, meaning you’ll have to spend less time and money repairing your aircraft.

Joining a club is also a great way to meet like-minded people. Plus, you can get some helpful tips and advice from seasoned model aircraft pilots. Most clubs offer free taster sessions, so you can go and speak to some of the members, find out what it’s like to fly, and see if it’s something you’d like to do. You can search model aircraft clubs near you here 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 ensure 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?

3. Origami

If you’re looking to do something crafty with your time, then origami could be your next favourite hobby. Over the centuries, origami – which is the art of folding paper – has become heavily associated with Japanese culture, and it’s used to create a range of different models and displays.

Though you can make pretty much anything with origami, some of the most famous ‘models’ to make are the crane, the lotus flower, and the jumping frog.

While your models will certainly make great decorations and gifts, the focus of origami should be on the process of folding, rather than the end result. Folding origami is a great way to practise mindfulness and focus on the present moment, which allows us to be better in control of our thoughts and emotions, so we can manage things like 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 to get started are your hands, origami paper, and a little patience. There are also plenty of learning resources available to help you on your journey. For instance, this course from Udemy will teach you how to fold and master origami. YouTube is also a great resource that has thousands of origami tutorials.

To find out more about origami, including information and advice on materials and the basic folds, why not take a look at our article An introduction to origami?

4. Recumbent cycling

Exercising outdoors can be difficult. Running (especially on uneven ground) can put pressure on joints and cycling on roads with cars comes with a range of safety risks. However, if you’re looking for a mode of outdoor exercise that’s easy on your joints and helps you stay safe, then look no further than recumbent cycling.

Recumbent cycling is a type of cycling that positions the rider in a reclined posture. Just like regular cycling, it’s an excellent cardiovascular workout. However, recumbent cycling is widely viewed as a safer alternative to upright cycling for a few reasons.

Firstly, on a recumbent bike, you’re much less likely to topple in a crash, especially if you opt for the popular three-wheeled version. You’re also seated much closer to the ground. So in the event that you do topple, you’ve got less of a distance to fall, meaning that you’re less likely to sustain an injury.

Another excellent safety advantage that recumbent cycling has over its more conventional counterpart is that, due to the rider’s much lower centre of gravity, braking distances are greatly reduced. This gives you much more control over the bike and, again, reduces your risk of injury.

What’s more, recumbent cycling is easier on your body than upright cycling. The reclined position 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 just like regular cycling, recumbent cycling is a low-impact form of exercise.

And for any daredevils out there, recumbent bikes are actually, in most cases, faster than traditional ones. This is because that reclined position is much more aerodynamic than an upright one.

So if you’re interested in an unconventional hobby that’s fun, gives you a great workout, and is easy on your body, then why not check out recumbent cycling? Just remember, as with regular cycling, to stay safe by wearing a helmet and, if riding at night, stay visible with some high-vis gear. Some recumbent cyclists even choose to attach a high flag to the back of their bike, for extra visibility.

To browse recumbent bikes and find out more about them, why not head over to the Get Cycling website? And for some tips and tricks on how to ride one, check out this guide from Austin Recumbents.

5. Tarot

Tarot has received a bad rap over the years. Popular culture has often cast it as a voodoo or occult practice, and cynics have dismissed it as a fortune-telling gimmick.

But the truth is, tarot doesn’t claim to predict the future, nor does it deal exclusively in death and destruction. Tarot is, in fact, a fun way for us to reflect on ourselves, our lives, and our relationships with others – and, over the past few years, it’s become increasingly popular.

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?”, and the meanings associated with the cards are used to reflect upon these questions.

Many see tarot as a way to look objectively at your life and consider alternative decisions, feelings, and viewpoints that are posed by the cards. And some claim it’s a great way to find out what you unconsciously want out of life or how you feel about certain things.

The best thing about tarot is there’s no right way to engage with it, and you can take it as seriously as you want. Once you’ve practised your skills, you can use it to help you make a decision at important crossroads in life, or even as a fun activity to do with friends and family at a party.

If you’d like to find out more about tarot, there are plenty of great online resources that can help you along on your journey. Biddy Tarot is a popular website with lots of free information and guidance for beginners. There are also plenty of great books out there, for instance, The Ultimate Guide to Tarot: A Beginner’s Guide to the Cards.

And finally, if you really want to hone your tarot skills, we have a wide range of courses available on our site to help you. With this course from Udemy, for example, you can learn everything you need to know in one day.

6. Whittling

If you’re looking for a creative hobby, but origami doesn’t pique your interest, then why not consider giving 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 two things, 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 conducted at Simon Frasier University in British Columbia observed that carving wood helps to reduce stress, encourage positive emotions, and aid emotional processing. Plus, your creations can also make unique and personal gifts for your loved ones, or decorative additions to your home or garden.

Although whittling doesn’t necessarily need to be learned or practised outside, working with natural materials is a great way to connect with nature, and carving outside only increases this connection. You can also collect your own wood on nature walks and hikes. However, most modern whittlers opt to buy softwood blocks that are specially selected for whittling. Amazon has a great selection of softwood.

If you don’t know where to start, the web is full of great resources such as Make from Wood and Best Wood Carving Tools, which have comprehensive advice and tutorials for beginners so that you can get straight down to creating your masterpieces. 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.

If you’re keen to get started, Amazon has a great selection of whittling kits for beginners that you can browse here.

Final thoughts…

We hope that you’ve found some inspiration from this list of unusual hobbies. If you know which hobby you’d like to get into, then 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 that’ll pique your interest.

Or, for more learning inspiration, and to search online courses, why not take a look at the learning section of our website?

Have you got an unusual hobby? If so, what is it? We’d love to hear from you. Join the conversation over on the Rest Less community forum or leave a comment below.

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