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Traveling With Coworkers? Try These Offbeat Team Building Activities

Most cities offer a variety of great ways to use the local culture to build teamwork.

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BY Karen Tiber Leland - 31 Aug 2017

PHOTO CREDIT: Getty Images

One of the great things about the global economy in my opinion is that it leads to an opportunity to have meetings, attend conferences, and gather groups in locations far and wide.

In between the marketing meetings and business opportunities, many groups are looking for an activity that combines experiencing the culture, seeing the city, and improving team spirit. Here are a few short, easy, and fun team-building activities to consider on your next business trip abroad.

Learn to make traditional foods with a local chef

Every country in the world is famous for some type of food and cooking schools in every city, offering classes where your team can learn to make traditional dishes from a local chef. Almost all the schools focus on the classics.

For example in Spain, your group can whip up a seafood paella, while improving their communication skills. In France they can try their hand at making a warm, crusted bread - while bonding over a nice Bourdeux.

Most classes include the meal, a glass of wine, and a trip to the local outdoor market to select and buy fresh ingredients.

Create a group work of art, craft or performance

In the same way that each country is famous for its food, each nation proudly offers an art, craft, music or dance specialty as well. From lei making in Hawaii, to Bollywood dancing in New Delhi, private group workshops are available to teach your team the local culture, while they bond.

I recently ran across a unique offering in Barcelona based on creating mosaics. The Spanish architect Antoni Gaud is well known for his use of broken tiles to create art and sculptures.

Your team can create their own mosaic masterpiece by doing a group smash of big, vibrant tiles into small, colored pieces and then placing them to create a large group mosaic.

Go climb a rock

The typography of various parts of the world offer an almost unlimited number of options for outdoor team building activities. Rock climbing in Yosemite, kayaking in Alaska, horse back riding in Scotland, take your pick.

While their are limits to what your HR Department will let you do (and not do), physical, outdoor activities can be a powerful bonding experience between co-workers.

Take an off the path tour

Instead of taking your team on the typical guided tour of a cities main sites, why not go beyond the expected and do something a bit more unique. For example, try a fragrance and aroma tour through Le Marais in Paris. Here your nosey group will be guided to the local smells of fresh baguettes baking, Parisian perfume, and intense French cheeses.

One of my personal favorites this year was a Game Of Thrones tour in Girona, Spain. This hit TV series is famous for among other things shooting in cool, beautiful and interesting locations around the globe including Spain, Iceland, Croatia, Ireland, Morocco and more. Most of which offer a tour of where the show was filmed.

I've spoken at enough conferences to know that while it's tempting (and typical) to plan team activities around eating out, it's been my experience that taking people just a bit out of their comfort zone creates a better bonding experience.

The rich abundance of food, culture, and art, offered around the world provide a chance to take your team beyond the ordinary sit-down dinner, to a stand-up experience they will long remember. 

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