Though a nomadic sense of wonder has been an innate part of the human spirit since the beginning, trends around traveling continue to evolve every year and each season. Coined as “wellness travel,” these trips are often led by fitness, nutritional or wholistic professionals who provide more than tickets, lodging and recommendations, but lead jet-setters through a multi-day program, tying together our minds, bodies and spirits.
Regardless of if you are going through a break-up, going through a transitional period in your career or simply need a long-awaited refresh, a wellness-focused adventure might be exactly what you need to feel inspired for your next chapter.
Here, experts detail the benefits of wellness travel.
1. Wellness travel does not make you feel like you need a vacation from your vacation.
Limited paid vacation times and lengthy flights can leave you with a finite time to explore a new country. In your mad dash to see every last landmark, dine at recommended restaurants, visit the local club scene and still recover from jet lag — you may never feel like you were disconnected at all. This is where wellness travel stands apart from other genres of trips, according to the head trainer at IdealFit, Lindsey Mathews. Many people feel as if they need a vacation from their vacation since so much of their adventure was action-packed. But with a retreat experience, Mathews says you will feel relaxed, rejuvenated and renewed. “You will return to work and your family and life with a new outlook and motivation to be your best self. Wellness travel is truly an investment in yourself,” she says.
2. Wellness travel allows you to go at your own pace.
Though most people dream of faraway lands when they are feeling stressed about their day-to-day routine, very few give themselves permission to take their vacation slow. VP of programming and founding teacher of The Class by Taryn Toomey, Natalie Kuhn says wellness travel is less about following an itinerary, and more about taking the days at your own pace. In fact, she argues the perspective is found in the definition itself: integrating our body, mind and spirit. “‘Wellness’ is the term for a holistic approach to that intention. In the body, wellness travel would include healthy foods that are grown in the area. In mind, that might mean sleep without setting an alarm. In spirit, it might mean going somewhere inspiring, witnessing art, soaking up vitamin D,” she continues. “Wellness travel is setting the intention to take care of all of you.”
3. Wellness travel requires you to step out of your comfort zone.
At the heart of any traveling, the experience is the quest after something. Whether it is to witness history, change your perspective, open your perspective or teach you something about the world and its people — you don’t apply for a passport to stand still. Founder of Ketanga Fitness Retreats, Stacy Schwartz explains while much of wellness travel does include heart-racing exercising, it also supercharges our most valuable organ in another way, by putting us out of our comfort zone. Especially since most people choose to travel alone for wellness travel, meeting new people, diving deep into emotional roadblocks and spending time in quiet are all somewhat uncomfortable experiences. The beauty, Schwartz explains, is found in the growth that comes from the process. “Sometimes the best way to connect with yourself and others is to try something new and exciting — from zip lining to surfing, salsa dancing to tasting exotic new food,” she says.
4. Wellness travel prevents you from overindulging.
There is one part of traveling that often feels like a double-edged sword: food. You want to sample all of the dazzling flavors of Thailand night markets, sip on an endless flow of pisco sours in Peru and indulge on one English breakfast after another in London — but all of the foreign foods may not leave you feeling your best. Especially if you have certain food sensitivities, the sometimes questionable ingredients might not work in your favor. Mathews explains wellness travel is less about checking off certain meals from your must-taste list, and instead, focusing on vibrant, healthy fare that leaves you feeling energized. Depending on the type of getaway you take, you can expect locally-made selections that feature garden-rich goodies that aid your digestion, as well as fresh smoothies and juices. Most retreats will cater to various palettes too, making them ideal for the vegan, vegetarian, dairy or gluten-free crowds.
5. Wellness travel leaves you feeling strong and balanced.
After a long weekend or a full week of focusing on what you eat, how you move and how you think, Schwartz says most people end the retreat feeling like a whole new person. And more importantly: better prepared to lead a healthy lifestyle once they return back to their own zip code. “Regardless of the type of fitness, the retreat entails, guests go home feeling strong: physically, mentally and emotionally. It is refreshing to come home from vacation without feeling bloated, over-partied or unhealthy from unbalanced indulgences,” she explains. “Just like a healthy balanced lifestyle, wellness travel is all about balance.”