Traveling doesn’t have to equate to ticking off items on a must-do list. It’s not necessary to hit all the sights, taste all the food and say you’ve “done” a country. It’s not about the passport stamps (though those are pretty cool, I admit).
Sometimes travel should simply be about you. About making you feel good. About making your body feel better. About clearing your mind and refocusing on your priorities.
Though we can do a lot of these things at home, sometimes it takes a trip—a change of scenery—to reground yourself in healthy habits and routines that emphasize wellness.
It hasn’t been until recently that I’ve given thought to what it means to take a trip focused on health and wellness, and the main thing I’ve realized is this: Everyone’s definition of wellness is different. Being “well” generally means a lack of sickness and positive reflections of health and well being, but how this is achieved is subjective. Vacation packages labeled as “wellness trips” are only as authentic and helpful as the people who decide to take them decide they are.
Nonetheless, if you’re interested in reaching and achieving wellness when you travel, there are some things you can do, places you can go and thoughts you should keep in mind to get the most out of your trip.
What does it mean to be well … to you? Physical health might focus on eating better or running farther. There are destinations designed with healthy eating in mind, and there are tours and programs that are specifically designed to increase your physical health with training sessions and focus on weight loss. If you want to work on your mental health, look into a destination that isn’t fringed with stress. Big, chaotic cities don’t qualify. Instead, seek out a place where you can meditate or that focuses on stretching and yoga. There are also destinations that bring people together to work on issues related to mental and emotional health. Again, it all depends on your definition of wellness. What do YOU want to focus on?
You can create your own wellness getaway or you can tap into a wellness destination.
If you’re working within a certain budget or want to meld several different things together to create a wellness retreat, then it’s best to tailor your own. This may involve finding a place you find relaxing and then bringing your own yoga mat or workout routine with you. You might want to mix some healthy eating with local trail running capped off with a spa treatment.
If you prefer not to think to much about planning the details of your trip, you might be a good candidate for an all-inclusive resort or vacation package. I recently spent some time at Red Mountain Resort in southern Utah, which combined workout classes, hiking, healthy meals and relaxation opportunities. I wasn’t necessarily interested in everything that was offered even though I was paying for it in some way, but it was also nice to simply arrive and enjoy.
Style of travel
There are some ways of traveling that are more suited to wellness than others. Embracing slow travel is one way to turn an ordinary vacation into one focused on wellness. Zipping in and out of a place just to squeeze in a single yoga class isn’t relaxing … it’s stressful. Slow down. Breathe. Relax. Enjoy. Be in the moment.
Think about what you’re bringing with you on your trip. We have the ability to travel with baggage—both physical and mental—but don’t let it weigh you down. If you need to travel to relieve something on your mind, that’s one thing, but don’t let a heavy bag keep you from staying focused on the moment.
Traveling for wellness purposes—regardless of how you define the word—is a good reason to travel. It’s okay to want to focus on you and not on the sites or the restaurants or the local culture around you. Travel isn’t a selfish thing to do, and taking a trip in order to feel better is something that many people are embracing and even more should consider. You owe it to yourself to do the same.