When you think of wellness travel, you probably conjure up thoughts of a beach yoga retreat or ultra-relaxing spa getaway. While there’s no doubt these indulgent trips are good for your physical and mental health, wellness vacations can mean so much more than whiling the day away with a hot stone massage and slow-flow yoga class. As the concept of wellness vacations becomes more popular, today’s travelers are thinking outside box when it comes to active and healthy-minded trips. Does exploring the world with a sense of purpose appeal to you, but you’re wondering where to start? These five travel tips are wellness-oriented and the perfect way to escape the hustle and bustle of everyday life.
1. Disconnect in nature
In today’s modern world, connectivity is 24/7. Smartphones and tablets keep the world at our fingertips, offering an endless loop of social media feeds, breaking news updates, and targeted ads relentlessly pushing the latest and greatest products. While it’s exciting to be on the cutting-edge of technology, it’s also exhausting—both mentally and emotionally.
Wellness travel that offers the solitude and peacefulness that only Mother Nature can provide will do wonders for your mental health, and reconnecting with nature lets us take a break from the break-neck speed of everyday life. Best of all? Planning a trip to nature can be as simple or exotic as you want it to be. Try these suggestions:
- Admire the rugged Rocky Mountains on a day trip to Rocky Mountain National Park
- Glide along the treetops and take in the spectacular views of the rain forest on the Karuda Skyrail
- Get an exclusive view of the bald eagles as you float down the river with the Squamish Rafting Company (Extra perk: They donate $5 for every booking to the Squamish Environment Society’s Eagle Watch Volunteer Program!)
- Take in the sunrise or sunset as you roam the desert on the back of a camel
- Spend your days hiking and sleeping under the stars on a three-day national parks camping tour
2. Rest and relax by thinking outside the box
One of the main elements of wellness travel is taking the time to focus on your mental health. For some people, physical activity is what helps them reconnect with their thoughts. For others, rest and relaxation is the magic elixir that allows them to slow down and decompress from the stress of day-to-day life.
If your quest for emotional wellness involves plenty of downtime, consider a trip that offers that—plus a little more. For example, instead of booking a weekend away at a posh hotel where you won’t leave the resort grounds, look into a leisurely excursion that lets you experience some local culture, too. Still not quite sure what we mean? Check out these experiences:
- Take in the panoramic views of the Icelandic countryside as you soak in a geothermal hot tub
- Inhale the scents of essential oils as you relax in a soothing Arabian bath house
- Enjoy a traditional Thai massage and body scrub
- Indulge in some champagne and chocolate fondue as you soak in some stunning views
- Linger over an alfresco brunch on a terrace rooftop
3. Explore the local culture through food
Food is an essential aspect of any trip, and there is no better way to get to know your destination than to immerse yourself in the local cuisine. Wellness vacations are just as much about physical health as they are about your mental well being, and indulging in fresh regional cuisine can give you a better understanding of local cultures and the day-to-day lives of the people who live there.
Bonus? Cooking and dining with others is an excellent exercise in social wellness, too. Creating and eating new-to-you dishes with people you’ve just met helps you break out of your comfort zone and expand your horizons to not only different foods, but different ways of life, too. As you continue to explore the concept of wellness travel for your next trip, consider adding a cooking or dining experience to your itinerary. Try one of these:
- Take a hands-on cooking lesson at a private home in Manila
- Savor a unique culinary feast in Barcelona’s Jewish Quarter
- Indulge in a rotating and seasonal seafood tasting menu in Brooklyn
- Spend the morning learning how to make fresh handmade pasta in Rome
- Discover the secrets of Mediterranean cooking with an multi-course meal on the beach
4. Fully immerse yourself in your destination
Traveling to a new destination means opening your eyes to the world around you. Sure, sticking to comfortable and predictable activities can feel safe, but it won’t help you expand your mental wellness. When you reach your final destination, whether it’s a new city in your home country or a tiny fishing village on a remote island across the world, make an effort to immerse yourself in the local cultures.
After you’ve explored any famous attractions and landmarks the area is known for, sign yourself up for a few lesser-known activities. Look for excursions that put you in touch with the local people and expose you to the realness of the area, not just the glitzy touristy side. Drawing a blank? These activities can offer some inspiration:
- Take in a classical concert in one of Vienna’s most beautiful baroque buildings
- Follow along as a local expert takes you on a design and architecture tour of Milan
- Learn about New York City’s dark side on a criminals, gangs, and mafia crime tour
- Take a private surfing lesson in Hawaii
- Explore Rio’s largest favela and meet the locals who live there
5. Give back through your excursions
Wellness vacations aren’t just about your own personal health—they’re about the health of our planet, too. Learning how to give back and preserve the Earth’s delicate ecosystems is a driving factor behind the idea of responsible travel and an important aspect of wellness travel, too. As you’re planning your trip, consider exploring an eco-friendly destination or a green-minded city.
No matter where you go, add an excursion (or two) to your itinerary that focuses on conserving the environment and preserving the well-being of local people and cultures. Not only will you be helping local initiatives, it will do wonders for your mental wellness. Need some ideas? Try these:
- Spend the day with the Maasai community—your tour fee goes towards purchasing building materials for the tribe
- Take a stroll on Laguna Beach and find out how you can help fight against the global plastic endemic
- Visit the Alaska Wildlife Sanctuary and learn how they’re working to preserve local wildlife through conservation, research, education, and animal care
- Discover the endangered glacier ecosystems at the Perlan Museum in Reykjavik
- Volunteer for the day at Dujiangyan Panda Base in China
Wellness travel is aimed at improving your mental, emotional, and physical outlook by traveling with purpose and exploring the world outside of your comfort zone. Looking to plan a trip? PlacePass can help you book the perfect excursions and experiences as you embark on your next mindful adventure.