As far as global travel trends go, travelling for health and medical reasons is nothing new. The Romans first introduced the concept of spa resorts to Britain in 43AD with Aqua Sulis – now known as the city of Bath Spa, where visitors can still plunge into the same hot spring waters.
More recently, luxury medical tourism has grabbed the headlines, with medical tourists travelling to destinations such as Costa Rica, South Africa, Thailand, Brazil and Bali to have elective or cosmetic surgery in style and comfort – and away from prying eyes ready to note the swelling evidence of rhinoplasty and breast augmentation.
In 2019, the trend shows no sign of abating. The wellness tourism sector in particular is growing twice as fast as the overall tourism industry, according to the Global Wellness Institute. The global wellness industry is now worth an astonishing $4.2 trillion.
And why not? It’s easy to understand why more and more of us are choosing to spend our holidays tending to our physical, mental and spiritual needs in spas or on mindfulness and yoga retreats and exercise programmes. Have you ever heard anyone say they need a holiday to get over their holiday? What a waste of precious holiday time! What if the saying is wrong and a change isn’t actually as good as a rest, and our busy, ever noisier lives need some serious time out?
Here are some of the next big trends for wellness travel, as forecast by global wellness travel company Health and Fitness Travel
, so you can make sure you return from your next trip stronger and healthier – mentally, physically and spiritually.
1. Immerse yourself in nature
If you suffer from anxiety, stress or depression, a trip that involves plenty of time in nature could help. Spending time outdoors results in both a reduction in cortisol levels (the stress hormone) and depression.
Reconnect with nature at Granö Beckasin
retreat in Swedish Lapland, where you can stay in a treehouse hotel room with views of the Ume River and wildlife-dense forest. In winter, explore the pristine environment by husky sledding and snowshoeing; the rest of the year you can take a raft trip, go cycling or trek with a willing husky.
Join one of the Californian Forest Bathing Club
’s experiences. Based on the Japanese practice of shinrin-yoku
– which mean ‘luxuriating in nature’ – the mindful act of forest bathing is “scientifically proven to lower heart rate and blood pressure, reduce stress hormones, boost the immune system, and improve overall feelings of wellbeing.”
2. Pick yourself up on a divorce retreat
Thelma & Louise has already written about how travel can help heal the wounds of divorce, and it seems we’re not the only ones who recognise the emotional healing benefits of a wellbeing holiday following the breakdown of a relationship. Retreats with an array of emotional healing therapies, stress management and life-coaching services all help you tap into the transformative power of travel.
It’s no longer the case that you have to pick between relaxing spas and active adventures. This trend embraces both by using the endorphin rush you get from adventurous activities as a tool for transformative self-improvement. If you’re prone to being a lazybones, give yourself a kick up the proverbial on an exhilarating experience, such as abseiling and kayaking, then follow it up with a spot of indulgent pampering.
Book one of Surf Sistas
’ surf and yoga retreats and join a group of like-minded women on a mission to learn to surf – or improve their surf skills – and stretch. They also do surf and cycle safaris. Destinations on their books include Cornwall, France, Java, Bali, Costa Rica and Morocco.
3. Treat yourself to a mumcation or menopause retreat
Several female-specific trends are highlighted by Health and Fitness Travel’s report, with women being encouraged to take time out for themselves to learn coping mechanisms and deal with any underlying issues, whatever stage of the female reproductive lifecycle they’re at.
A short healthy break allows new mums to recharge the batteries and give themselves permission to put themselves first, while menopausal and perimenopausal women can learn some important coping mechanisms for any mood swings, hot flushes, emotional outbursts, etc etc – you know the drill! – they may be experiencing.
“Queue the launch of highly specialised sleep enhancement wellness retreats around the world”
4. Enhance your sleep performance
A remarkable 35% of Brits have long-standing sleep problems, with many citing stress and worry as the main reasons their slumber is disturbed. Queue the launch of highly specialised sleep enhancement wellness retreats around the world, which combine expert sleep tips with a range of holistic treatments to help you reach the hallowed zzzzzzzzzs.
If this is you, check in to Six Senses Douro Valley and try out the Sleep with Six Senses
programme, which promises to fix your lack of shuteye with everything from optimal bedding to a personal consultation with a wellness expert.
5. Sit with the silence
Aeroplanes, cars, mobile phone notifications, other people droning on: the world is NOISY. And, unsurprisingly, all this noise pollution is having an unbalancing effect on our health and wellbeing.
Silent and meditation retreats give those of us with loud, busy lives the chance to get some hardcore peace and quiet in our lives. It’s a chance to develop some mental clarity and start to establish the sort of long-term practices that allow a calmer, more peaceful you emerge.
You can find 1-day, 10-day, 1-month and longer silent retreats all around the world, from the UK to Thailand.
“a uniquely resonant tabernacle and energy machine sited on a powerful geomagnetic vortex in the magical Mojave Desert”
But if complete and utter silence doesn’t appeal, try sound bathing. Participants are immersed in the sound and vibrational energy of gongs or bowls in order to still the mind and enter a state of deep physical relaxation, although some bathers can experience unease as they experience a shift in consciousness.
For a truly out-of-this-world experience book a sound bath in the Integraton
, California, which played a key part in the creation of the sound healing moving. This historical structure is, and I quote, “a uniquely resonant tabernacle and energy machine sited on a powerful geomagnetic vortex in the magical Mojave Desert.”
And if the thought of all this wellbeing malarkey makes you want to bang a few heads together, well, maybe you should consider a trip to New York City’s The Wrecking Club
, where you can get to grips with your rage as you smash computer monitors, TVs, alarm clocks, plates, mugs, furniture.