Travel has an extraordinary power to heal. Whether you want to clear your head, soothe the soul, or expand your heart and horizons, discovering a new destination is both uplifting and restorative. Sometimes staggering surroundings are all that you need, or the diversion and delight that comes from engaging with a new culture. At other times, we seek an escape that is carefully crafted to enhance our physical, mental, or spiritual wellbeing – enter wellness travel.
Wellness tourism is a relatively new part of this iconic industry, but it has boomed in recent years. According to Forbes, wellness tourism is growing 50% faster than conventional tourism with that trend set to continue throughout the decade. The global pandemic sparked a collective prioritisation of health which heavily influenced this rapid growth as demand for wellness holidays soared.
Wellness holidays were once largely limited to stays at spas, but the definition has broadened as demand has grown. Active holidays such as cycling trips and hiking adventures are also recognised as healing due to their physical and mental benefits, as are yoga retreats which are increasing in number across the globe. Wellness travel more closely focused on spiritual healing is also coming to the fore, such as silent retreats dedicated to meditation or going totally off-grid in a stripped-back rural setting.
Whether you are looking to improve your physical fitness, manage grief, break down a mental block or get to know yourself on a deeper level, a wellness holiday is a wonderful way to achieve your health and wellbeing goals. Use this comprehensive guide to wellness travel to discover the best healing holiday for you.
The Main Types Of Wellness Holiday
Active holidays are one of the most popular forms of wellness travel. As the name suggests, these are trips that focus on a specific physical activity, ranging from hiking and cycling to water-sports including surfing, kayaking and scuba diving. Accessible for almost all ages and available in destinations across the globe, active trips are set to stay as a sought-after wellness travel option.
The physical benefits of exercise are well-known, and include weight management, a reduced risk of disease, and improved cardiovascular health. However, not everyone appreciates its ability to heal the mind as well. Exercise helps to reduce anxiety and depression and boosts cognitive function. When enhanced by the mental health benefits of spending time in nature, it is undeniable that active holidays are ideal for total reinvigoration.
For those seeking to explore the soul rather than achieve a physical transformation, spiritual escapes are the answer. Often centred around a single retreat, these wellness holidays provide a space for embracing all things spiritual, either independently or through guided sessions.
Yoga retreats are a category of spiritual holiday that has dominated wellness travel for a decade. The slow, repetitive movements known as the ‘flow’, combined with a focus on breath, help to calm the mind and open a window to the self that exists beyond the physical. You can opt to do a programme of expert-led sessions, often focused on a particular theme, or to practice independently.
Meditation centres are another type of spiritual escape and can be especially beneficial to those focusing on a specific issue. Sitting with your feelings in total silence is a great way to clear confusion and reveal truths that you have been blind to. As well as promoting emotional health, benefits of meditation are widespread and include better sleep, improved focus, and strengthened memory.
There are many other types of retreat, with each niche aiding healing in its own unique way. Tailored self-awareness workshops often form the basis of these mindful experiences.
Those with an artistic flare will enjoy the creative escape of the likes of a poetry course, painting workshop, or music and movement classes. Total creative freedom means unlimited opportunities for self-expression and provides an outlet for repressed feelings such as grief and trauma. A testing but immensely rewarding mindful holiday experience is to spend time at a silent retreat, the ultimate way to press ‘reset’.
Mindful retreats are not limited to mental health improvements: many focus on physical wellness too. For example, Ayurveda retreats offer a personalised health programme centred around holistic healing that includes a diet plan, wellness treatments, and physical exercise. Comprehensive and safe detox courses similar to this are widely available.
For those who prefer to be independent, spending time alone in nature away from urban life can be all that is needed for body and soul renewal. A trending wellness holiday option is to go off-grid and stay at a remote nature retreat where you can reconnect with the Earth away from the demands and distractions of our online life.
Last but certainly not least is the classic: a stay at a luxury spa. While it is good to be active in our day-to-day lives, sometimes we simply need pure rest to recover.
This type of trip should be a total indulgence from start to finish. Remove potential stresses by planning ahead: investigate private holiday transfers between the airport and your resort, warn friends and family that you will be offline, and remember to pack any essentials for relaxation including books and comfortable clothes.
Spas offer a wide range of healing experiences that simultaneously aim to de-stress and stimulate the mind and body. There is usually a menu of massages on offer from hot stone treatments to country specialities, all of which help to improve blood circulation, aid quality sleep, and relax the muscles. Themed rooms such as quiet spaces and sunlight simulators provide comfortable environments for self-reflection and mental escape, while the hot saunas and steam rooms help to draw out toxins from the body.