HALLOWELL — Participants in a local travel group say it’s better to have people with similar interests to travel with, whether the trip is a walking tour of Ireland, or just a walk on the Kennebec River Rail Trail and back to a pub.

On Sunday, members of the Maine International Adventure Club did just that — hike the rail trail, that is, not tour Ireland. After the hike, though, over food and drinks at Liberal Cup, some members did chat and plan for their upcoming July guided walking-tour trip to Ireland.

“I like to travel and I like to meet people who like to do the same,” said Ann Roy, 62, of Augusta, who started the group last summer and who has taught art at Waterville High School and the University of Maine at Augusta for more than 20 years. “It’s fun. The tour guide companies do everything for you. It’s nice to (have tour guides) so you know what you’re looking at, when you’re looking at 3,000 years of history. It’s a much richer experience that way.”

Though some group members have been lifelong friends, most of them met up through meetup.com, a website that helps people of like interests find each other. Users type in their interests and where they live, and potential groups pop up — assuming that such groups exist in the area. Roy said the Maine International Adventure Travel Club is the only international travel-related Maine meetup.com group she’s aware of.

Karen McFadden, 61, a retiree who lives in Massachusetts but plans to move to a home she owns in Belgrade, said in Massachusetts she’s a member of some 20 meetup groups. Until she typed in her ZIP code and found the adventure club, however, she hadn’t found any here.

“There’s nothing here,” she said of meetup groups in central Maine. “I needed to find people to do things with.”

They don’t just meet up on meetup.com, however. They also actually meet in person, as about 10 of the 44 group members did Sunday in Hallowell.

As they do at most of their gatherings, they started with something active outdoors. In this case, it was a hike on the rail trail to Augusta, where they crossed the river and hiked some more before returning to Hallowell to reconvene at the Liberal Cup restaurant to talk about trips they have taken or places they’d like to go.

Beyond the upcoming Ireland trip, they’re also considering trips to Greece, Turkey, Italy and maybe Paris.

There’s no fee to join and group members aren’t required to go on any trips. If they just like to talk about travel, that’s OK too.

Mark Reed, 46, a consultant from Farmingdale, found the group online. He’s not going to Ireland, but he hopes to join a trip in the future.

“I’ve got to make some money first,” he said.

Roy had her first experiences with international trips as a teacher leading student groups. On some of the trips, adults came along too. The trip to Ireland will be the group’s first adults-only trip.

Beverly Gilbert, 59, a library media specialist from Bath, went with Roy as part of a recent student trip to Greece, where, the two joked, they got to know each other well because they were roommates in tiny rooms.

Gail Drouin, 59, a retired massage therapist from Belgrade Lakes, said it’s more fun to travel with a group of friends than go it alone. Also, having the details of the trip planned makes it easier to do, especially on a longer trip.

“I love my husband, but if it was just us going, I’d end up having to do all the planning,” said a laughing Evelyn Greenlaw, 59, a librarian from Lewiston.

The group’s website is www.meetup.com/International-Adventurers.

Keith Edwards — 621-5647
[email protected]