Here at Travel to Wellness we have seen the concept of Wellness Travel change and develop since we launched way back in 2004 as the first online travel magazine and resource for the wellness-minded. Way back then it was rare to hear the two words “wellness” and “travel” even used in the same sentence. And, when they were used together, the term was mostly associated with the spa experience. But not so much any more. Today the main pillars of Wellness Travel are healthy food options, fitness activities and nature.
We anticipate that in a post-Covid19 world, health and wellness will be even more at the forefront of our travel planning and decision making.
So what is driving Wellness Travel?
As the population ages, health care cost increase, medical science continues to reveal new discoveries, we become more educated consumers, and the interest in pro-active “self care” continues to increase, we are witnessing the continuing growth and development of this still evolving sector of the tourism industry called Wellness Travel. The Wellness Tourism Association defines Wellness Travel as: Travel that allows the traveler to maintain, enhance or kick-start a healthy lifestyle, and support or increase one’s sense of wellbeing.
The Wellness Travel sector is driven by two types of travelers: On one hand, today’s savvy, wellness-minded traveler actively seeks out destinations, accommodations and experiences that will allow him or her to maintain a routine of fitness, healthy eating and other pursuits associated with wellness living.
On the other hand, we have those wanting to use travel as a break from the regular routine of daily life for the proactive betterment of their health and well-being. Vacation/holiday time – away from the normal stress of daily living – allows for greater concentration and focus on the objective of improving personal health and wellbeing.
That ‘break’ from the day-to-day grind – it could be three days or three weeks, the length of time is not overly important – is, when planned with a special wellness Intention is what we call the Wellness Vacation. The WTA defines the term as: Wellness Vacation / Holiday is Wellness Travel powered by a wellness-focused intention. Wellness Vacations/Holidays are typically self-directed with the traveler setting his or her own timetable and schedule. They may also include a Wellness Retreat.
The Wellness Vacation begins with the conscious decision to take action to travel – near or far – for a purpose related to one’s state of health and sense of well being. It can include spa treatments and therapies, healthy eating and culinary events, fitness activities and adventures in nature (such as walking tours, hiking, kayaking, canoeing, strand-up-paddle boarding and snowshoeing), and educational programs that share ways to incorporate healthy habits into our everyday lives. The Wellness Vacation can also include “voluntourism” experiences because “giving back” increases one’s sense of well being and is part of living a wellness lifestyle. Environmental sustainability is also key as both wellness living and wellness travel incorporate “wellness for the planet.”
When it comes to the Wellness Vacation, one size does not fit all.
For one person a Wellness Vacation may take the form of a a totally-focused, two-week or longer, weight loss program that teaches him or her how to rethink the relationship with food. For another it might be a fitness-focused adventure, an opportunity to learn how to manage stress or to heal following a major change in one’s life. The next person might need a yoga retreat, time for self-reflection, an opportunity to get in touch with nature with a like-minded group. A Wellness Vacation could include a spa experience, a visit to thermal hot springs, an art class for self-expression, proactive medical testing, an opportunity to try something new to increase confidence or sense of well-being. The intention and objections for taking a Wellness Vacation are personal and as varied as the choices we now have available to us.
At Travel to Wellness, we believe that whatever the Intention and whatever form this “break” from daily life may take, the Wellness Vacation can be an annual tonic for body, mind and soul.