With more Americans feeling stress and anxiety in their lives, it makes sense that wellness travel is growing in popularity. An estimated 17 million travelers identify themselves as being ‘health and wellbeing’ focused, with 40% of them traveling regularly.
A recent study from the Wellness Tourism Association (WTA) found that the top five reasons people take wellness vacations are to return to life feeling rejuvenated (38%), to escape the demands of everyday life (26%), to experience activities outdoors (25%), to look and feel better (24%), and to connect with nature (24%).
Three of the most popular wellness vacation activities are fitness classes, surfing, and guided meditation, according to a Fast Company “Burned-Out Americans Are Helping Wellness Tourism Flourish” article.
“Vacations used to be associated with excess. You would have lavish meals, drink a lot and party,” says Beth McGroarty, the research director for the Global Wellness Institute, in a New York Times article. “In today’s high-stress world, however, people are desperate for rejuvenation and are prioritizing wellness when they have time off.”
From yoga in Bali to skiing at Whistler, let’s explore ten destination fitness trips that will enhance your physical, mental, and spiritual well-being.
Yoga In Bali
“The epitome of paradise, Bali is a place where just about every activity seems tinged with rejuvenation,” according to The Globe and Mail “The world’s top wellness tourism destinations” article. “In Ubud, a hub for cultural tourism, yoga is the name of the game. The famous Yoga Barn welcomes all levels of practitioners, from beginner to advanced, to its lush, tropical environs.”
“Tegalalang Rice Terrace, 20 minutes north of Ubud, is one of Bali’s most photogenic – and well-trodden – destinations,” according to a Condé Nast Traveler article. “The UNESCO World Heritage Site contains wide, undulating layers of rice paddies, kept alive by an ancient, sophisticated irrigation system and farmers who tend the terraces just as previous generations have done for millennia.”
Running The Marathon In Greece
“The Athens Marathon is like no other on Earth,” say the organizers of the Athens Marathon. “According to legend, it covers the same ground that the Athenian messenger Phiedippides ran when he brought news of victory from the battlefield of Marathon 2,500 years ago. When you run the Athens Marathon, you run in the very footsteps of the ancient gods and heroes that gave birth to western civilization.”
The course starts by the sea near the ancient battleground in Marathon and the finish line is located in the center of Athens at The Panathenaic Stadium, which hosted the opening and closing ceremonies of the first modern Olympics in 1896, and was used again as an Olympic venue in 2004.
After running the original marathon route, The TravelPorter recommends walking around the Acropolis Hill, eating a Greek lunch close to the finish line, and/or visiting a spa to energize yourself after the race.
Hiking Acadia National Park In Maine
“Acadia National Park is one for superlatives – both the most-visited national park in the Northeast and home to the highest peak along the North Atlantic seaboard, Acadia is one of the best hiking destinations in the US,” according to Tripadvisor. “Make the drive up Cadillac Mountain to take in stunning views from the 1,500-foot tall peak, or challenge yourself to hikes like the Gotham Mountain Trail.”
Tripadvisor says that you can rent canoes and kayaks to take out from Bar Harbor, as well. You can explore Acadia National Park on your own, or by taking part in a guided tour.
“Acadia National Park is filled with an amazing variety of hiking trails,” according to Earth Trekkers. “From easy strolls along coastal paths to summit climbs to thrilling cliff walks, there is something here for everyone. One of the things that makes Acadia so unique, and so exiting, is the large number of trails with ladders and metal rungs.”
Surfing In Costa Rica
“Costa Rica has become a popular surf destination for good reason,” according to Lush Palm. “There’s consistent year-round surf, it’s relatively inexpensive, the water temperature averages in the low 80s, and there’s an ever-present relaxed vibe.”
And if you’re on vacation with a partner who doesn’t surf, or just want to do some different activities on your own, there’s zip-lining, horseback riding, and ATV’ing, according to Surfline. You and/or your partner can also explore the jungle or even just lounge by the pool.
“Although small, Costa Rica comes jam-packed with adventure, biodiversity, and of course, waves,” according to Surfline.
Trekking In Nepal
“Nepal is an ideal place for adventure, spiritual cleansing, and cultural encounters,” according to Magical Nepal. “There are a plethora of options for you to choose from when you are in Nepal – trekking, mountaineering, hiking, rafting, and jungle safari.”
Magical Nepal says that the 7-day Ghorepani Poon Hill Trek is the best short trek from Pokhara and the 14-day Everest Base Camp Trek will allow you to see the highest peak in the world.
The two main seasons for trekking to Everest Base Camp are pre and post monsoon, which is March through May and October through November, according to Adventure Alternative.
“One thing you can’t train for is altitude and that can prevent people from reaching base camp where there is 50% less oxygen compared to sea level,” according to Adventure Alternative. “The secret is to acclimatize well and to do so you need to take a slow pace, a good itinerary, ascend to altitude slowly, rest, eat good food, sleep well, and drink plenty of fluid.”
Rock Climbing At Yosemite National Park In California
“There is hardly another climbing area in the world with as much history as Yosemite,” according to 57Hours. “Climbers used to call it the ‘Centre of the Universe.’ Indeed, they were right. For generations, the world’s best climbers used to make the legendary Camp 4 their home.”
57Hours says that the skill level to climb Yosemite ranges from intermediate to advanced and elite, and the best times to go are in the spring and autumn.
“Yosemite’s Merced River Canyon has sustained crack climbs, and there are rope climbs on Tuolumne Meadows’ domes,” according to The Wilderness Society. “The truly adventurous can enjoy multi-day aid climbs on the big walls of the Valley, where there is also popular bouldering areas. Because of its popularity, it’s all the more important to make efforts to minimize your impact.”
Paddle Boarding In Hawaii
“With over 15 islands to paddle board, Hawaii’s lush lands and flourishing oceans will blow you away,” according to ISLE Surf & SUP. “Hop on your SUP and explore Hawaii’s many calm bays and lively coral reefs. While you enjoy the clear blue waters, look down for a chance to see anything from sea turtles to whales.”
ISLE Surf & SUP says the best time to visit is from April to May and September to October.
“Fantastic for both surfing and stand up paddle boarding, Sunset Beach on the north shore of Oahu is legendary and with reason,” according to Men’s Journal. “If you happen to visit in the calmer summer months, you can paddle the 4 miles from Sunset Beach to Waimea Bay.”
Cycling In Puglia, Italy
“Today, along with hiking, mountain climbing, and camping, cycling is one of the most popular outdoor activities,” according to a Travel + Leisure article. “And of course, this means there are tons of excellent biking destinations that are perfect for cyclists young and old, experienced and inexperienced.”
In Puglia, which is also known as the ‘heel of the boot,’ you can bike at your own pace while discovering the Romanesque cathedrals of Bari, Trani, and Ruvo di Puglia, the Murgia National Park and Castel del Monte, and if you’re up for going a little outside of the region, you can visit Sassi (cave-dwellings) of Matera in Basilicata.
Meditating And Paragliding In Dharamshala, India
“Home to the Dalai Lama and his government in exile, Dharamshala is possibly the best place in the world to experience Tibetan Buddhist culture firsthand,” according to The Globe and Mail article. “The world-renowned Tushita Meditation Centre offers free daily meditation classes and popular 10-day silent retreats, while the nearby Thosamling Nunnery is a more low-key alternative.”
Adventure seekers can also go trekking and paragliding in the surrounding Himalayan foothills.
“The hilly part of Himachal Pradesh is well known for its enchanting beauty and the array of adventure sports organized here,” according to Adventure Nation. “Though the region is full of high mountains, offering numerous great locations for the activity, Bir draws most of the attention. The town has become somewhat synonymous with paragliding adventures in Dharamshala.”
Skiing At Whistler
“Every winter, more skiers and snowboarders pick Canada’s Whistler Blackcomb than any other resort in North America,” according to a USA Today “Whistler Blackcomb: How to ski North America’s largest resort” article. “It is stunningly large, with the most skiable terrain (8,171 acres) and highest vertical rise (5,280 feet) on the continent, and each of its two interconnected mountains is bigger than other top-tier destination resorts. The result is virtually every snow condition, level of challenge, and type of terrain you could imagine.”
And skiing isn’t all that Whistler has to offer.
“Not everyone can or likes to ski, but Whistler is not just a ski resort,” according to Travelzoo. “It’s a mecca for outdoor enthusiasts. You can snowboard, ice skate, snowmobile, or try winter zip-lining.”
Nightlife is also big in Whistler Village, which has over 100 restaurants and bars, and lots of shops.
“In Whistler, they believe in après-anything – you’ve always earned the right to kick back and refuel with your friends and family over hot cocoa, a cocktail, or a bite to eat,” according to Travelzoo.
The area also has hotels, condos, and rental homes in every price point.