A wellness vacation offers many benefits for both your mental and physical health. That said, like any vacation, the whole trip will be more relaxing and worry-free if you plan properly beforehand.
The following are some key factors you should keep in mind when planning your wellness vacation.
As the name implies, a wellness vacation should be a trip that helps you relax and improve your health by getting away from life’s stresses. That’s why it’s so important to choose the right location.
It’s a good idea to consider a location that allows you to spend time in nature. Research consistently shows that spending time in the woods or another natural environment can significantly boost a person’s overall well-being by reducing blood pressure, decreasing production of the stress hormone cortisol, improving sleep, and even improving short-term memory. Nature is the ultimate stress reliever, so consider planning your vacation somewhere you can spend lots of time outside.
More specifically, you may want to choose a location where you can go forest bathing. This meditative Japanese practice is now popular in the West; it refers to the act of “bathing” in nature by walking through a forest and taking time to fully absorb your surroundings with all your senses. Luckily, the US has no shortage of majestic, forested wilderness areas and parks. From the Adirondacks and Catskills in New York, the Ozarks in the southern Midwest, and the Rockies and Sierra Nevada in the West, there is a forest not far away, waiting to offer healing and rejuvenation.
Proximity to nature is an important quality in any spot you choose for a wellness vacation. That said, unless you’re comfortable camping in the woods for days on end, you’ll likely want to spend your nights at a hotel or resort.
Don’t choose your accommodations randomly. Look for an option that complements its rejuvenating setting—perhaps with wonderful views and easy access to a natural area. The last thing you want to do is have to commute from your hotel while on your vacation.
Look for hotels and resorts that offer other wellness-focused amenities, too. Saunas, cold plunge pools, massage therapy, spa treatments, and yoga—most quality resorts will offer these and/or similar amenities to help you relax.
What do you want to do all day during your vacation? Sleep in, then sleep some more? Forest bathe? Attend a wine tasting seminar, then get a massage? All of these are possible. You’re the expert on what you find the most relaxing, so be sure to look for a destination that allows you to spend time doing what you want.
It’s also a good idea to consider who your travel companions will be. You may jump at the chance to vacation alone—after all, a solo trip is a chance to spend your time the way you want, without having to compromise, and to engage in quiet reflection and meditation. Other people find it relaxing to vacation with their significant other or friends. Making new memories and reconnecting with each other, without having to worry about work, chores, kids, and other stresses, can be deeply relaxing.
“Boosting wellness” is a fairly vague goal. To take full advantage of a wellness vacation, try defining a more specific intention.
Some people take wellness vacations with the goal of introducing themselves to habits or activities (like yoga) that will form the basis of a healthy lifestyle they intend to continue after the vacation is over. Others take wellness vacations to step back, take stock of their life, and consider a change.
Take the time to determine what you want to achieve with your wellness vacation. Just make sure the intention you finally set aligns with your genuine goals. For instance, it’s fine if your goal is simply “getting away from it all for a mental reboot.” By considering why you want to take a wellness vacation, you’ll find it easier to determine where you want to go and what you should spend most of your time doing while you’re there.
Don’t forget to account for how you’ll reach your destination. You don’t want to counteract the wellness-boosting benefits of your trip by choosing a spot that you can’t reach without some stressful traveling.
In addition, with the world still in the grips of COVID-19, be sure to consider how the pandemic will affect travel, whether local businesses at your destination will be open, and the safety risks involved. Check the CDC’s website on travel considerations and coronavirus. Keep in mind also that the State Department advises Americans not to travel internationally right now. So if you simply must get away right now, pick a domestic destination. You may also want to plan for a trip later in the year, when it may be safer to travel.