By Julie-Ann Sherlock 

The current COVID-19 pandemic has put a halt to travel plans for the moment. Holidays in far-flung (and near-flung!) destinations are off the cards until long-term solutions for the virus can be found. Until then, planning for a Coronavirus free future trip may help to keep many people, like me, sane. 

Living as a digital nomad, I am used to being able to just pack up and move around the globe on a whim. Having my wings clipped is almost grief-inducing, but I am using this time to plan ahead, research destinations and save for when I can get on the road again. 

One type of vacation that seems to be calling out to me these days, is a wellness break. Having spent the last few months cooped up in a small studio apartment in Kuala Lumpur, I have had no access to the pool or gym (not that I am much of a gym bunny, to be honest!). I haven’t even been able to go for walks around the nearby park as my asthma makes me a high-risk person, and going outside somewhat terrifies me right now. 

Combine this lack of even minimal activity with copious amounts of comfort eating and occasionally too much alcohol, and I am an even more unfit, unhealthier mess than previously. I am not happy. Maybe a health retreat is what I need.

What Is A Wellness Holiday

For me, all holidays are a part of my wellness. I am addicted to visiting new places, exploring cities, relaxing by beaches and learning about the world around me. But now, with my extra “baggage” and months of reflection, it might just be time for me to consider taking a trip that does more for me than tickle my tourist bone. 

Wellness holidays are different from medical tourism, which is generally considered travelling abroad to get cheaper surgical or medical treatment for a specific issue. So while the new nose you bought in Turkey looks great, Becky, you are a medical tourist, not a wellness one.

There are three main types of wellness travel — physical, mental and spiritual. All three are appealing to me right now! Travelling to another place for a few days or longer to immerse yourself in activities that benefit your health is not a new concept by a longshot. The Romans loved a spa break and even a character from one of my favourite books, Little Women, takes a holiday by the sea for medicinal purposes. 

Nowadays, trips to revive our bodies, minds and souls are more focussed on organised activities such as yoga classes, mindfulness courses or detoxing retreats than just enjoying sea air or bathing in salt waters. 

A whole industry of specialised holidays to suit all your needs has evolved globally. It is one of the fastest-growing areas of tourism as people try to get more out of their vacations than before. To give you some inspiration, here are some ideas for trips:

Let Your Soul Shine In Bali

One of my favourite musicians (and all-round cool dudes) Michael Franti and his wife Sara own what can only be described as one of the most blissful hotels on the planet. Nestled amidst the paddy fields just outside of Ubud in Bali, the hotel is host to yoga retreats like no other, including some with Michael himself, followed by party evenings. As Sara says, “green juice by day, vodka at night”.  

Yoga retreats abound, particularly in Asia, so pick one that suits your needs and budget and get flexing. 

Lose Weight, Feel Great

If you are tired of carrying extra weight around and need to kickstart your slimmer new life, consider taking a boot camp approach like that offered by The Ashram, California. Hiking, vegetarian food and wellness lectures make up a big part of the programme. And if it’s good enough for Oprah…

Maybe you prefer a gentler, more holistic style? Then somewhere like Absolute Sanctuary in Thailand might be right up your street. They examine your diet, help you to detox, encourage physical activity and send you home with a detailed plan to help you continue your wellness journey. 

Detox Your Mind

Need to unwind and find relief from everyday stresses? Just need some time to commune with nature or switch off the world? Tap into your soul via meditation and nature immersion with a retreat in the Great Himalayan National Park of India

Learn from the ancient Mayans at Yäan Healing Sanctuary in Mexico. Take full advantage of the detox and wellness programmes available, including a healing Ceremonial Temazcal using sweat lodges to help your body, mind and soul heal. 

No matter what you are searching for, there is a wellness holiday out there for you. After the stress and trauma of this global pandemic, I think we will all need something to look forward to and to find a way to help us heal. Start planning today, and find the ideal trip to soothe your soul, quiet your mind or rejuvenate your body.