Wellness travel focuses on self-care and personal growth through activities and experiences that promote physical, mental, and emotional wellness.

The Global Wellness Institute’s 2020 report on Wellness Tourism estimates that the wellness tourism industry will reach $919 billion by 2022, representing an annual growth rate of 7.5% between 2017 and 2022.

This indicates that wellness travel has become an increasingly important sector of the global travel industry and is growing rapidly, if not disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic. In addition, the report found that wellness travelers spend 60% more per trip than the average traveler, highlighting the economic impact and potential growth opportunities for wellness tourism companies.

What is wellness travel?

Wellness travel aims to promote one’s health and well-being through travel. Yoga, meditation, spa treatments, fitness classes, and nature-based adventures can contribute to this experience.

Wellness travel is characterized by an emphasis on self-care and personal growth, a commitment to healthy habits and practices, and a desire to disconnect from the stresses of daily life.

Benefits

Health benefits of wellness travel include increased physical fitness, reduced stress and anxiety, increased self-awareness and mindfulness, and a deeper connection to nature.

  • Providing a break from daily routines and responsibilities and offering yoga, meditation, and spa treatments that promote relaxation and stress reduction can help wellness travelers reduce stress levels.
  • Physical fitness and overall health are improved through wellness travel. This can be accomplished by participating in physical activities such as hiking, yoga, or water sports.
  • Wellness travel can provide opportunities for introspection, self-reflection, and personal growth, leading to a better sense of mental and emotional well-being.
  • A wellness travel itinerary often emphasizes relaxation and sleep, which can result in a better night’s sleep.
  • Wellness travel involves exposure to new cultures, foods, and wellness practices, which can broaden one’s horizons and enhance one’s understanding of different lifestyles and practices.
  • Individuals can become more aware of their needs, values, and priorities through wellness travel, as it offers opportunities for self-reflection and introspection.
  • Wellness travel experiences often occur in natural settings such as mountains, beaches, and forests, which can help individuals feel more connected to nature, promoting peace and well-being.

Wellness travel vs. conventional holidays

There are several differences between wellness travel and conventional travel:

  • Purpose: Wellness travel primarily aims to improve or maintain one’s physical, mental, and emotional well-being, whereas conventional travel is often done for leisure, entertainment, or cultural exploration.
  • Activities: Traveling for wellness involves activities that promote relaxation, rejuvenation, and self-care, such as yoga, meditation, spa treatments, and healthy eating. Conventional travel may include various activities, such as sightseeing, outdoor adventures, and cultural activities.
  • Venue: It is important to note that wellness travel frequently takes place in serene and natural settings, such as beaches, mountains, or forests. In contrast, conventional travel can occur in various settings, including cities, theme parks, or resorts.
  • Cost: Wellness travel is often more expensive than conventional travel, particularly when it involves staying at a luxury resort or participating in specialized wellness programs.

Types of wellness travel

Wellness travel activities can be diverse, ranging from physical fitness exercises, such as yoga, hiking, and cycling, to spiritual and mindfulness practices, such as meditation, sound healing, and energy work. Wellness travel can also include spa treatments, healthy eating, and other relaxation and rejuvenation activities to promote mental, physical, and emotional well-being.

Yoga and meditation retreats

A yoga and meditation retreat involves spending time in a peaceful, serene environment, practicing yoga and meditation, and participating in other activities that promote relaxation and mindfulness.

Spa and relaxation vacations

Relaxation and spa vacations typically consist of spending time at a luxury spa, receiving treatments such as massages, facials, and body wraps, and engaging in other activities to promote relaxation and rejuvenation.

Fitness and adventure travel

Adventure and fitness travel involves engaging in physical activities such as hiking, cycling, rock climbing, and participating in fitness classes.

Mindfulness and nature-based trips

Mindfulness and nature-based trips involve spending time in nature, practicing mindfulness and meditation, and engaging in other activities to promote a deeper connection with oneself and the natural world.

Planning a wellness trip

Planning a wellness journey involves identifying personal wellness goals, researching wellness destinations and programs, selecting a program that aligns with one’s goals and interests, and booking travel arrangements and accommodations. It is also essential to consider budget, travel logistics, and necessary health precautions.

Choosing the right destination

Choosing the right destination is an integral part of planning a wellness trip. Consider factors such as the climate, the local culture, and the availability of wellness activities and experiences.

Selecting accommodations and activities that align with your wellness goals

Another important consideration is selecting accommodations and activities that align with your wellness goals. Look for hotels and resorts that offer wellness amenities such as yoga classes, spa treatments, and healthy dining options.

Preparing for the trip mentally and physically

Mental and physical preparation is important for ensuring a successful wellness trip. This can involve practicing meditation or yoga in the weeks leading up to the trip, getting enough sleep, and eating a healthy diet.

Staying healthy while traveling

The importance of staying healthy while traveling cannot be overstated. Pack healthy snacks, stay hydrated, and exercise and rest enough to achieve this.

Travel companions

A good wellness travel companion can be a close friend who enjoys outdoor activities such as hiking, running, or biking and prioritizes healthy eating and getting enough rest. They support your wellness goals and enjoy trying new healthy activities together.

A partner interested in mindfulness and meditation practices and values taking time to slow down and focus on self-care. They encourage and remind you to prioritize your mental and emotional health and enjoy practicing mindfulness exercises together.

A family member who shares your interest in a particular wellness activity, such as yoga or swimming. They also prioritize healthy eating and getting enough rest and can provide a supportive and positive atmosphere for you to achieve your wellness goals together.

Going on a wellness trip with an ideal companion is important for several reasons:

  • Motivation and Accountability: When you have a companion who shares your wellness goals, they can motivate and inspire you to stick to your healthy habits. They can also hold you accountable and keep you on track, making it easier to achieve your wellness goals.
  • Positive Environment: A wellness trip with a supportive and positive companion can create a healthy and uplifting environment, which can help reduce stress and promote relaxation. This can be especially important if the trip is focused on mental and emotional wellness.
  • Enhanced Experience: A wellness trip with an ideal buddy can enhance the overall experience. Sharing experiences and creating memories with someone supportive and like-minded can be more meaningful and enjoyable than going alone.
  • Increased Enjoyment: Having a fellow traveler who shares your interests and enjoys the same activities can make the trip more enjoyable. It can also allow one to try new things and discover new wellness practices together.

Going on a wellness trip with an ideal partner can provide a supportive and positive environment to help you achieve your wellness goals, enhance your experience, and increase your enjoyment.

Examples of wellness destinations

Ubud, Bali, Indonesia

This town in the center of Bali, Indonesia, is known for its lush green forests, rice terraces, and sacred temples. It’s also a hub for yoga, meditation, and wellness retreats, with numerous yoga studios and retreat centers offering various programs and classes.

Ubud, Bali offers a wide range of wellness activities that promote physical, mental, and emotional well-being. Here are some examples of wellness activities in Ubud:

  • Yoga and meditation: Ubud is home to numerous yoga studios and meditation centers, where visitors can attend classes and retreats led by experienced teachers. Some popular studios include Yoga Barn, Radiantly Alive, and Taksu Yoga.
  • Spa treatments: Ubud has a variety of spas that offer traditional Balinese massages, body scrubs, and facials using natural ingredients such as coconut oil, honey, and Balinese herbs. Some popular spas include Karsa Spa, Jaens Spa, and Tjampuhan Spa.
  • Traditional healing practices: Balinese culture has a rich tradition of healing practices, such as massage, reflexology, and acupuncture. Visitors can experience these practices at healing centers such as Ubud Bodyworks and Tirta Spa.
  • Healthy food and cooking classes: Ubud is a hub for healthy eating, with many restaurants offering vegan, vegetarian, and raw food options. Visitors can also take cooking classes to prepare healthy Balinese dishes using local ingredients.
  • Outdoor activities: Ubud offers a variety of outdoor activities, such as hiking, cycling, and white water rafting, which allow visitors to explore the natural beauty of Bali while staying active and healthy.
  • Ecstatic dance: Ubud is also home to ecstatic dance events, which combine movement, music, and meditation to create a fun and energizing experience.

Sossusvlei, Namibia

This remote desert area in Namibia features stunning red dunes and is home to some of the darkest night skies in the world, making it an ideal spot for stargazing and reconnecting with nature. There are also wellness retreats and lodges that offer guided meditation, yoga, and other wellness activities.

Sossusvlei is a stunning destination in Namibia that offers a range of wellness activities amidst its natural beauty. Here are some examples of wellness activities in Sossusvlei:

  • Sunrise and sunset meditation: Visitors can experience meditation at the top of the red dunes while enjoying the breathtaking sunrise or sunset views.
  • Guided nature walks: Guided nature walks are available to explore the Sossusvlei region’s unique landscape, geological formations, and local flora and fauna. Walking in nature is a great way to connect with the environment and improve overall well-being.
  • Star gazing: Sossusvlei is home to some of the darkest skies in the world, making it an ideal location for star gazing. Visitors can participate in night sky tours to learn about the constellations and planets while taking in the peaceful atmosphere.
  • Yoga and Pilates: Yoga and Pilates classes are available in lodges and campsites, providing a peaceful and relaxing way to improve physical and mental well-being.
  • Hot air balloon rides: Hot air balloon rides offer a unique and awe-inspiring perspective of the Sossusvlei landscape, providing a sense of tranquility and peace.

Luang Prabang, Laos

This charming town in northern Laos is a UNESCO World Heritage Site with a rich history and cultural heritage. It’s also becoming a destination for wellness tourism, with numerous yoga studios, spas, and meditation centers offering various wellness programs.

Luang Prabang is a charming city in Laos with a rich cultural heritage and stunning natural beauty. Here are some examples of wellness activities in Luang Prabang:

  • Yoga and meditation: Luang Prabang has a range of yoga studios and meditation centers where visitors can practice yoga and meditation in a peaceful and serene setting. Some popular studios include Mekong Yoga and Mandala Ou.
  • Traditional healing practices: Laos has a rich tradition of traditional healing practices, including massage, acupuncture, and herbal medicine. Visitors can experience these practices at local spas and healing centers like L’ Hibiscus Spa and Bodhi Tree Spa.
  • Mindful activities: Luang Prabang is a great place to practice mindfulness activities such as tai chi, qigong, and mindful walking. Visitors can participate in classes or practice independently in the tranquil settings of the city’s temples and parks.
  • Cycling and hiking: Luang Prabang is surrounded by stunning natural landscapes, including mountains, rivers, and rice paddies. Visitors can rent bikes or go on guided hiking tours to explore these areas, promoting physical fitness and overall well-being.
  • Cooking classes: Luang Prabang is known for its delicious cuisine, which blends traditional Lao flavors with French influences. Visitors can take cooking classes to prepare these dishes using local ingredients.
  • Volunteering: Luang Prabang has a range of volunteering opportunities, such as teaching English to local children or working on animal conservation projects. Volunteering can provide a sense of purpose and connection, promoting overall well-being.

Banff National Park, Canada

This iconic national park in the Canadian Rockies offers stunning scenery, including glaciers, lakes, and mountain peaks. It’s also a popular destination for outdoor activities such as hiking, skiing, and snowshoeing and has a range of wellness retreats that offer guided hikes, yoga, and other wellness activities.

  • Hiking: Banff National Park has over 1,600 km of trails, providing ample opportunities for visitors to enjoy a variety of hiking experiences, from easy walks to challenging mountain hikes. Hiking can improve physical fitness, boost mood and reduce stress.
  • Hot springs: Banff is home to natural hot springs, such as Banff Upper Hot Springs, Radium Hot Springs, and Miette Hot Springs. Soaking in the hot springs can promote relaxation and relieve muscle tension.
  • Yoga: Banff offers a range of yoga studios and classes, including outdoor classes in beautiful locations such as Vermilion Lakes or the Bow River. Yoga can help reduce stress, improve flexibility, and promote overall well-being.
  • Wildlife viewing: Banff National Park is home to a diverse array of wildlife, including elk, bighorn sheep, and bears. Observing wildlife can be a peaceful and meditative experience, connecting visitors with nature and promoting mindfulness.
  • Skiing and snowboarding: Banff is a popular destination for winter sports, with three world-class ski resorts – Mount Norquay, Sunshine Village, and Lake Louise Ski Resort. Skiing and snowboarding can promote physical fitness, reduce stress, and provide a sense of accomplishment.
  • Spa treatments: Banff has a range of spas and wellness centers that offer a variety of treatments, such as massage, facials, and aromatherapy, providing a relaxing experience after a long day of exploration.

Tulum, Mexico

This beach town on Mexico’s Caribbean coast is known for its turquoise waters, white sandy beaches, and Mayan ruins. It’s also a hub for wellness tourism, with numerous yoga studios, health food restaurants, and eco-friendly hotels that offer wellness programs and retreats.

  • Yoga: Tulum is known for its yoga scene, with a range of studios offering classes for all levels, from beginners to advanced practitioners. Visitors can practice yoga in beautiful outdoor settings, such as on the beach or in the jungle.
  • Beach activities: Tulum’s beaches are beautiful and offer a range of activities, such as swimming, snorkeling, and paddleboarding. These activities can improve physical fitness, reduce stress, and promote relaxation.
  • Mayan healing traditions: Tulum is located in the heart of the ancient Mayan civilization, and visitors can experience traditional Mayan healing practices such as temazcal (sweat lodge), energy healing, and herbal medicine.
  • Spa treatments: Tulum has a range of spas and wellness centers that offer a variety of treatments, such as massage, facials, and aromatherapy. Many of these treatments use natural and organic ingredients, promoting overall well-being.
  • Cenote swimming: Tulum is home to a range of cenotes, natural swimming holes with crystal-clear water. Swimming in the cenotes can be a peaceful and refreshing experience, connecting visitors with nature and promoting mindfulness.
  • Healthy eating: Tulum has a vibrant food scene, with many restaurants offering healthy and organic options. Visitors can try fresh, locally-sourced ingredients and traditional Mayan flavors.

Challenges of wellness travel

Challenges of wellness travel can include finding a program that meets one’s individual needs and preferences, managing costs, and balancing the desire for relaxation with the need to stay active and engaged. Travelers may also encounter language barriers, cultural differences, and other logistical challenges when traveling to unfamiliar destinations.

Maintaining healthy habits while on vacation

One of the challenges of wellness travel is maintaining healthy habits while on vacation. This can be especially difficult when faced with tempting foods or a lack of exercise opportunities.

Finding affordable and authentic wellness experiences

Finding affordable and authentic wellness experiences can also be a challenge, as some wellness retreats and activities can be quite expensive or may not live up to expectations.

Balancing relaxation and adventure

Balancing relaxation and adventure can be another challenge of wellness travel, as travelers may be torn between unwinding and engaging in physical activities and adventures.

Dealing with jet lag and travel-related stress

Finally, dealing with jet lag and travel-related stress can be challenging for wellness travelers, as these factors can negatively impact physical and mental well-being.

Managing cost and wellness expenses

Wellness trips can often be expensive, particularly if traveling to a remote or exotic location or staying at a luxury retreat. This can be a barrier for some people, as it may be challenging to afford the trip or justify the expense.

Finding a suitable to embark on a wellness vacation

Finding the time to take a wellness trip can be challenging, particularly if you have a busy work or family schedule. It may require taking time off work or arranging childcare, which can be difficult and stressful.

Adjusting to a new environment

If you travel to a foreign country or a different climate, adjusting to the new environment may take some time. This can include adapting to different foods, weather conditions, or cultural norms.

Social isolation as a new experience

Depending on the type of wellness trip, it may involve spending much time alone or with a small group. This can be challenging for some individuals, mainly if they are used to socializing frequently.

In conclusion, wellness travel is a growing trend that offers many benefits, including improved physical fitness, reduced stress and anxiety, and a deeper connection with oneself and the natural world.

To make the most of a wellness trip, it’s important to choose the right destination, select accommodations and activities that align with your wellness goals, and prepare mentally and physically for the trip. Additionally, it’s important to be mindful of the challenges of wellness travel, such as maintaining healthy habits while on vacation and finding affordable and authentic wellness experiences.

As travelers prioritize their health and well-being, wellness travel is likely to continue growing in popularity, by making conscious choices and being mindful of their well-being while on the road, travelers can ensure that their vacations are both restorative and rejuvenating.