Trips don’t have to be full of booze and decadent foods, though that’s often on the menu! If you’ve considered a wellness trip recently, you’re in good company. Wellness travellers took 830 million vacations, worldwide, in 2017 alone. Every year, that number ticks upwards as retreats get more creative to lure you away from life’s little vices.
From safari yoga to rainforest spas, these wellness trends cover a lot of ground. But if there’s a common thread here—whether luxurious or crunchy—it’s that travellers are craving not only wellness, but also a return to nature.
Yoga here, yoga there. Yoga literally everywhere.
There’s tons of evidence to suggest that yoga improves fitness and quality of life by reducing stress, anxiety and pain. As a result, yogis are 20% more likely to think positively about themselves, both physically and mentally.
It’s no wonder why yoga tourism is such a force—who wouldn’t love a beachy retreat with tangerine skies and Lululemon attire fluttering in the breeze? (Yes, we wish we were there too. Thankfully, there are lots of exciting yoga retreats out there.)
For other exotic options, check out alternative yoga excursions like Namibia’s Namaste Yoga Safari. Or why not practice your sun salutations on a misty mountain in Transylvania? For that experience, you’ll want to explore the acclaimed Akasha Retreat, only “15 minutes from Dracula’s castle.”
We’re totally downward dog for all of the above, but our fave has to be Souljourn Yoga. Part cultural adventure, part volunteer program and epicurean exploration with lots to make you go “ommm”—this nonprofit organization raises funds and awareness for girls’ education through retreats and training programs.
Good to note: Yoga wellness retreats are typically the most economical wellness option, unless they fall under the luxury category. Speaking of luxury…
Detox from life, Cali style.
Life is pretty good here in the developed world, though it does come with its own issues: namely, being tethered to our tech and surrounded by pollution.
The potential for toxic buildup is everywhere. Between work computers, smartphones, televisions and tablets, we’re spending 11+ hours in front of blue-light screens daily. This can lead to sleep disturbances and increased stress levels, which are both linked to serious disease. It’s no wonder people are searching for the Joy of Missing Out (JOMO).
Enter, the digital detox. With the aim of replacing our tech dependence with mindfulness, digital detoxes focus on self-connection and internal validation over ‘likes’.
If you’re looking to run away and meditate on life while overlooking the Californian sunset Don-Draper style, then look no further than the Esalen Institute. This renowned coastal retreat ticks a few detox boxes (technological and physical), and its location is fit for an epic Coca Cola commercial. Sitting atop majestic cliffs on the California coast, and with 500+ workshops, hiking and sea kayaking, there’s tons to support your digital detachment. Dreading the detox? When you’re back, you’ll have all the freedom to spark up Instagram to share photos of your postcard-perfect retreat. (Don’t forget to mention its bevy of famous visitors!)
Wake up to the sleep retreat trend.
We’d be remiss to be caught snoozing on the benefits of sleep retreats. Sleep is a growing public health concern, with most folks failing to get the required amount or quality. Statistics Canada reports that 1 in 3 Canadians sleeps less than the recommended 7-9 hours per night, and we aren’t alone.
Thanks to screen time, caffeine, work, and even undiagnosed sleep apnea, poor sleep is now associated with reduced quality of life and serious health issues that place heavy burdens on people, society and healthcare. The resulting burnout has inspired spas and hotels to cater to circadian travellers.
One of those offering RnR and long-term sleep strategies is The Kamalaya, located on the stunning island of Ko Sumai, the third largest island in Thailand. Kamalaya is consistently rated one of the world’s best sleep retreats, with a ‘Sleep Enhancement’ experience that arms you with strategies to carry off into dreamland when you arrive home. Other snoozy retreats like Indonesia’s Revivo Wellness Resort in Bali serve up food ideas that support the production of sleep-regulating substances.
Did someone say “Girls Trip”?
The sheconomy is here to stay, and the ‘girls trip’ is along for the ride. (Heck, it even has its own movie). With more women delaying family life to focus on careers—and with divorcees re-joining the work force as well—that means women have more resources to travel with than ever before.
Not surprisingly, some are choosing to fly solo. As a growing niche market, female solo travel options are increasing, with plenty of safe options and liberating experiences proven to increase open mindedness, self-awareness and confidence.
Despite those reasons to go solo, there is one major drawback: solo travel is plain expensive. Thankfully, there are trip operators that have flexible options for solo female travellers and small groups. One of our favourites is Wild Women Expeditions. From horseback and camel treks across Mongolia and Morocco to kayaking and whale watching in Baja, they offer epic excursions, for whatever your calling.
(Animal lovers, read up on some ethical animal experiences.)
Go where the wild things are.
Re-wilding isn’t just for the flora and fauna. Following in the footsteps of the digital detox and the spiritual retreat is the nature immersion. And whether you call it an ecoadventure or good ol’ fashioned camping trip, re-wilding adventures are on the rise for those who want to trade the concrete jungle for the real deal.
In 2018, 55% of the world’s population was living in urban areas. By 2050, the UN expects that to rise to 68%. For city folk, there are pros and cons to that lifestyle. Urban dwellers generally walk more and are happier, healthier and wealthier. On the flip side, they’re more likely to encounter stress and its associated health issues.
If even seeing a patch of green from your office window can have positive health benefits, then surely running for the hills is fantastic for your health. Therein lies the idea behind ‘forest bathing‘, a Japanese nature therapy. While forest bathing is found across Japan, tours of the Kii Peninsula in particular take bathers on a spiritual forest journey in the Kii Mountain range—sacred Japanese ground and a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
For something further north, you can journey into the Yukon’s Kluane National Park, also a UNESCO World Heritage Site. You’ll need to be well prepared or use a guided tour that will take you across the ice fields and up Mount Logan, Canada’s largest mountain and second largest in North America. (Start your packing with these essentials.)
Fitness that’s more ‘fun’ than ‘grind’.
From improved self-esteem, to increased bone density and decreased blood pressure—regular physical activity is a staple of wellbeing. But despite the rise of gym culture, step counters, and the “clean” living trends sweeping social media, Statistics Canada reports that only 16% of Canadian adults ages 18-69 are getting enough physical activity.
Still, the sportier among us are opting to get away to places that are fitness centric. ‘Fitness holidays’ are different from ‘fitness camps’, in that you don’t have to train beforehand. If that sounds like your jam, check out Wanderfit in Costa Rica, which gets people moving with snorkelling, paddle boarding, kayaking, surf lessons, yoga classes, hiking, as well as ATV tours through Costa Rica’s rainforest.
If it’s a grind you’re after, you could suit up for an Italian bike trek with a Dolomites Bike Tour. You can also try some boot camping, boxing, and high-intensity training with a Ketanga Fitness adventure, like the Bahamas Box Party.
(For the less sporty among us, here are a few TuGo tips on how to keep moving on your non-fitness related travels.)
Some like it hot, hot, hot.
Hot springs and wellness retreats go together like organic peanut butter and jam: it just makes sense. While thermal spas are a more traditional wellness offering, that doesn’t mean they can’t offer you a completely unique experience. The best part is, you can find them in or around most places on your bucket list.
Or how about a thermal chill in the middle of the rainforest? It’s totally a thing. The Tabacon Resort, for instance, was one of the first of its kind in Costa Rica and boasts completely natural springs. On top of natural springs and jungle trails ready for exploration, this eco-friendly resort is also 100% carbon neutral. (And its adults-only pool is perfect for bolder bathers who want to avoid making people blush.)
On the topic of things that make folks blush…
The Goop era of wellness extravaganza.
The wellness summit takes ‘wellness retreat’ to the next level—and is currently being led by the force that is Gwyneth Paltro’s Goop. While it’s the one example on our list that deviates from the nature-heavy trend we’re seeing, all-things natural are still on the menu. Along with some eyebrow-raising fare: Jade eggs aside, the 2019 summits came complete with unorthodox offerings like a B12 injection station. The November 2020 ‘In Goop Health’ Summit, with yet again feature talks and workshops on improved psychology, beauty, and nutrition.
In August 2020, Goop will host its first ‘Goop at Sea’ wellness cruise—a trip that takes you (and Gwyneth) on a sailing tour of Balearic and Tyrrhenian Seas, with stops in Barcelona, Nice, Rome and Valencia, among others. Not surprisingly, there’s a hefty price tag for all of the interesting Goop!
That’s a (vegan) wrap on some zen-inducing wellness travel trends! One option not included here is the foodcation. For you foodies, check out TuGo’s Guide to Planning a Vegan Vacation.
Wherever you head to next, you’ll want to pack your eco-friendly gear.
Happy trails to you,