The average Australian employee stock piles their holidays, with 21 days of their annual leave left in the bank at the end of the year, according to stats from 2015. It seems we love to hoard our leave, saving them for a rainy day (or a far flung European holiday). But when you only take time off onceÂ a year, thereâ€™s the difficulty of those first few days, trying to rid yourself of your stressful everyday routine in order toÂ achieve your specific goal: that all-consuming, blissful ignorance of time and day, when you feel as though itâ€™s been years since your last email.
But if thatâ€™s the desired effect of your travel plans, why arenâ€™t we focusing on specifically achieving it? We spend our day-to-day squeezing every extra moment out of our hectic day but when it comes to holidays, we let our objectives fall by the wayside.
We propose an alternative: travelling for the specific purpose ofÂ improvingÂ your wellbeing by putting your physical, emotional and spiritual health ahead of all other priorities (followed closely by beach bumming). Yes, youâ€™ll relax. Yes, youâ€™ll finally read that novella youâ€™ve kept on your bedside table since last Christmas. Yes, a Wednesday will feel like a Sunday. But more than that, youâ€™ll be making self-care the focus of this trip and purposefully taking time out to check in with yourself, find yourself and reinvent yourself so that coming home wonâ€™t feel like a disappointment â€“ it will feel like a welcome opportunity to throw yourself back into everyday life with your new-found strength.
Hereâ€™s how to get planning:
Pick a trip type
For physical health try…
The locations of Tracks and Trails jogging spots is distraction enough from the real reason you arrived: with routes snaking through the Swiss, French and Italian Alps, a â€˜running holidayâ€™ with this company is all about getting out into the mountain air and making fitness fun.
A surfing retreat
Anyone whoâ€™s ever taken a board out knows itâ€™s a lot harder than it looks. Physical fitness aside, the act of surfing is a proven restorative activity, with studies uncovering the positive psychological effects of hitting the surf, with programs around the world using it to treat depression (like at this San Diego Naval Medical Clinic or this UK-based charity).Â Try a far-flung tropical retreat like Soul and Surf in Sri Lanka to focus on developing your fitness with both surfing and yoga offered at the same spot.
For mental health try…
A workshop retreat
The Esalen Institute in Big Sur, California offers an extensive range of workshops for their visitors, from culinary arts to dance but they excel when it comes to workshops of personal development, like the seminars of Personal Reflection and Psychology/Interpersonal Psychology.
For spiritual health try…
A temazcal ceremony
Used by the ancient Aztecs as a healing ritual for both physical and spiritual diseases, entering a stone cave for a few hours is all the rage on the Yucatan Peninsula of Mexico. Hotels like Coco Tulum and Casa Violeta in Tulum both offer this service on-site and the benefits are considered a mix of both the spiritual and the physical: the steam vapour that surrounds you during the generally two-hour long treatment clears the digestive tracts and ups blood circulation, as well as renewing muscles and clearing pores. On the spiritual side, the chanting of your shaman and meditative quality of your time cleanses and clears the mind â€“ just what you need on your wellness trip.
Hiding out in an ashram
If youâ€™re keen to dive inwards, India abounds with ashrams that allow weeks of introspection, focusing on meditation that develops your spiritual depth, while refocusing your mind on self-care. Popular ashrams include Sri Ramananasramam and the Isha Foundation, both in the southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu.
Also, make sure you pack right:
What you take on your wellness trip is almost just as important as where you take it so donâ€™t forget to pack:
– functional, comfy clothes that will go the distance
We love the versatility of Kit and Aceâ€™s technical clothing that works as well for your long haul as for your holiday time.
– a daily planner so youâ€™re keeping track of your achievements while on holiday (donâ€™t forget to schedule in relaxation, too!)
Above: MiGoals Desk PadÂ ($11.95)
– aÂ journal that sparks daily focus, allowing you to think deeply about the best use of your time while youâ€™re away.
Above: Dan Zadra, 7: How Many Days of the Week Can be Extraordinary?Â ($24.25)