If you want to live & travel well, this article is for you. And…if you’re looking for some practical ideas for how to build well-being while traveling, pull up a chair and keep reading my friend!
Those who love travel know just how recharging it can be.
Few of us would argue that travel is anything less than enriching and sometimes even life-changing.
Just about every reason we travel touches our well-being because it’s all about the journey of growth.
With wellness booming worldwide, and a renewed focus on mental health due to the pandemic, shining the light on well-being couldn’t be more timely.
Conversations around health & well-being seem to be everywhere and it’s about time!
Nothing is more important than health & well-being, because without it, not much else matters.
Health & well-being is at the core of our lives.
Why Health & Well-Being Matter
So, what are we talking about when we say well-being & travel in the same breath?
We’re talking about meaningful travel that enhances your mind, body, & spirit. Travel that provides opportunities to learn, grow, & transform.
Travel that matters…to YOU!
There are many ways we can cultivate well-being and travel is DEFINITELY one of the best around!
I know that as an avid traveler, time & time again my mind & body have benefitted from my adventures.
Travel has helped me help me to stay sane, restore balance, and find happiness. As well as heal grief and make heartfelt memories with family & friends.
In fact, beyond the well-known health benefits of travel, a University of Surrey study found that even the simple act of planning for a vacation increases happiness.
You know that feeling, right?
The Travels & Inspiration Approach to Well-Being
More and more, the research is showing us that certain day to day things we do can improve our health & well-being.
This is something that has definitely played out in my life over recent years, so I am keen to share and promote well-being practices.
In fact, I ‘m a tireless advocate for health & well-being, especially through the avenue of travel.
Anyone who knows me will tell you that I bang on about this stuff all the time. 🤣
Because your health is THE thing that changes everything else.
Well-being is increasingly finding its way into our language and culture. Yet, like the word wellness, there are many definitions and interpretations.
So, how is well-being different than wellness? And how does that translate to travel?
Let’s dive in and find out!
Well-being and wellness share many things in common. Yet, they are conceptually different things.
What is Wellness ?
Wellness has to do with the intentions, actions, & activities we undertake to maintain and enhance our state of being.
The Global Wellness Institute defines wellness as the active pursuit of activities, choices and lifestyles that lead to a state of holistic health.
I simply think of wellness as an active process of living an engaged life.
Since it’s a dynamic process of change & growth, it involves using strategies, techniques & tools that will support optimum well-being.
Wellness is the integration of the mind, body, & spirit throughout life’s journey.
What is Well-Being ?
Well-being is the positive OUTCOME of wellness.
It comes from your thoughts, actions, and experiences.
The Oxford English Dictionary defines well-being as “the state of being comfortable, healthy, or happy”.
However, well-being is a broader concept than just moment-to-moment happiness.
It can be measured in multiple ways in the overall quality of life. It helps to think of it as an umbrella term.
It’s a state of being that also includes:
- how we feel about ourselves
- how well we function
- how satisfied we are we with life
- the quality of our relationships
- having a sense of purpose
It may seem broad to define, but most of us know what it feels like when we feel good and are thriving versus when we feel burned out and are on survival mode. Right?
Well-being encompasses all of the things in life that are important to us.
The Center for Healthy Minds at The University of Wisconsin describes well-being in a more actionable way saying: “It’s not a static “thing” – but a set of skills that can be learned and cultivated over time”.
Which means, with a little intention, we can enhance our well-being. We can flourish!
In travel terms, if well-being is the destination, wellness is simply the way to get there.
What is Wellness Travel ?
So, how does wellness travel fit into the picture of personal health & well-being?
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”.
Which means, if we…
marry wellness (the pursuit of activities that enhance health) with well-being (the outcomes of more energy, happiness, & satisfaction)…
you can start to see how travel is an ideal AVENUE that brings them together.
Basically, the wellness oriented activities we do, lead to the experience and outcome of better well-being.
Unsurprisingly, The Global Wellness Institute sites that wellness travel is growing at more than twice the rate of general tourism.
It’s probably not a long shot to say that the COVID-19 pandemic will only fuel this trend even more.
People simply want to travel well & be well.
Why Wellness Travel is for Everyone
Here at Travels & Inspiration, one of our core tenants is that travel is a way to well-being.
An opportunity to enrich your life and enhance your health.
As a health educator, I consider myself pro wellness and pro people. Meaning the only thing you really need on your journey, is YOU and your intuition.
Well, and perhaps a few tools to help along the way! 😉
Wellness travel can happen anywhere, anytime, on any budget.
Wellness travel has traditionally been thought of as luxury spa holidays and exclusive retreats.
But..oh, it’s so much more!
It’s really a personal approach that combines any number of things, both inside and outside of ourselves that contribute to the betterment of our mind & body.
Since well-being is more of an inside-out job, wellness travel is more holistic than it sometimes appears.
Some of the most valuable well-being tools we have are those we possess and choose to practice…self-reflection, mindfulness, and the ability to listen to our inner guidance.
Often, the tuning-in and healing we need starts from within.
Well-being is unique to every one of us and arises from the awareness of where we are & what we need.
How to Plan a Wellness Trip That Enhances Well-Being
Wellness travel, or traveling for well-being, is about bringing your wellness goals & travel dreams into one place.
It’s about creating spaces that center around overall well-being.
Sometimes the path to well-being can be packaged for you, like a dedicated health retreat or a bespoke wellness vacation that focuses on things like meditation, yoga, or fitness.
But, if you’re the type of person who likes to take charge of your own agenda and direct your own experiences, it’s also quite simple to plan wellness focused trips on your own.
Whether you are planning a trip that is primarily motivated by wellness, or simply looking for a few elements to incorporate, it’s easy to plan.
Firstly, you can start with a simple set of wellness planning questions to get the ball rolling.
Alternatively, you could find your focus by choosing a theme, something like:
The exciting this is this, because every destination has something unique to offer travelers, traveling with an eye to better well-being can take you anywhere in the world.
Yet, you don’t have to travel far and wide to combine wellness with travel.
As T & I champions, you can tune-in, thrive, & transform through travel.
That’s the beauty of what any trip can do.
Well-Being Travel Tips
Here are some practical steps to help foster well-being on the road.
As a bit of a research nerd, most days I dive into podcasts, articles, & studies to keep a pulse on all things health & well-being.
So the ideas in these travel tips stem from a mix of well-being research, positive psychology and evidence based programs.
Some of my favorites? Dr. Martin Seligman, Dr. Rick Hanson, The Being Well Podcast, and The Berkeley Center for Greater Good.
These tips are for everyone, from the seasoned wellness traveler, to those who are just starting on their journey.
They are bite-sized ideas that can be incorporated into any type and length of trip.
Since there is no one way to well-being, take the ideas that resonate with you to strengthen your self-care toolkit for your next adventure.
Create Connections & Find Community
It’s clear that social connections are critical for well-being.
The talking, sharing, and valuing of others & their culture is a one of a kind experience that travel affords.
Take advantage of the opportunity and:
- talk with an artisan about their craft
- ask a local for recommendations
- go on an group excursion
Exercise is good for both mental & physical health.
Since movement is a natural part of travel, this is a simple way to experience well-being while exploring new destinations.
Fast or slow, on your own or with others, here are a few ideas:
- find a local walking tour
- rent bicycles to explore
- stay at a fitness friendly hotel or resort
Be Present in The Moment
There is plenty of evidence that mindfulness can make a difference to well-being and even support the experience of travel.
By devoting your attention to each travel experience, you will deepen your appreciation of the moment.
So, on your next trip, practice mindful travel by:
- sit & look for colors in the your new environment
- experience the sunset
- take a mindful photo walk
Learning has a positive effect on well-being and with travel, the world is your classroom!
On your next trip, why not:
- take a cooking class
- try something new
- visit a museum & learn about what interests you
Get out of your comfort zone, gain a new perspective, and expand your horizons. After all, that’s what travel is all about.
Give of Yourself
Giving is good for us!
It leads to better physical health and even lowers the risk of depression. In addition, it reduces stress and helps us to feel happier. Woohoo!
Here are a few ways to give during travel:
- simply smile, it can brighten someone’s day
- pick up litter while hiking or walking the beach
- Pack For a Purpose: This program allows you to use small spaces in your luggage to pack supplies needed by community projects all over the world. Brillant, aye?
Align Your Travels With Your Purpose
Purpose gives us a foundation.
It acts to pull us in the direction we want to go, by highlighting what has meaning in our life.
By extending this to your travel adventures, you are more likely to travel in the way that best supports your well-being.
Why not build more meaning into your trips with one of these ideas:
- find flow doing something you love
- choose hotels & tours that align with your values
- be a good steward of any land on which you tread
Let Nature Recharge Your Well-Being
Nature is the perfect anecdote to stressful living.
In fact, one University of Michigan study show that just 20 minutes in nature can lower cortisol!
No wonder we all love to get outside!
Here are a few simple ways to get your dose of nature when traveling:
Culturally Immerse with Wellness Traditions
The heart of why we travel is to connect with and experience other cultures.
So, don’t forget to consider local wellness traditions as a way to experience and connect with the people & places you visit.
Think of country specific opportunities like forest bathing in Japan, saunas in Finland, & Hammams in Turkey.
Or try one of these simple ideas:
- take part in a local dance tradition
- attend a religious event or festival
- explore a UNESCO tradition from The Intangible Cultural Heritage list
Well-Being, Travel, & You
The great opportunity post pandemic is reimagining every moment of travel as an opportunity to enrich our lives and enhance our health & well-being.
It’s my hope that these ideas will help you on both the inner and outer journey of travel.
until the next time…
…live well – travel well – be well
Share, Connect, & Inspire!