Practicing health and wellbeing in our daily lives is insufficient; we also look for wellbeing when we travel.
The Global Wellness Institute (GWI), a nonprofit organization based in the United States, defines wellness tourism as travel to preserve or improve a person’s total wellbeing.
Although “wellness” and “wellbeing” are sometimes interchangeable and related, it is crucial to remember that they have significantly different connotations. While both Gallup and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) define wellbeing in a broader life context — feelings of contentment and satisfaction and positive function in career, social, financial, physical, psychological, and other frameworks — which are essential for personal and public health, wellness is a component of wellbeing. It refers to a healthy lifestyle beyond acute illness.
Numerous strategies exist for promoting general wellbeing through wellness tourism.
For some, it may require traveling to a place specifically for wellness-related activities, such as a yoga retreat in the mountains. For others, it can entail incorporating healthy routines and experiences into regular excursions. Take your family to a hot spring on your yearly holiday or visit a spa for a massage in between sessions at a business conference.
Others may find that immersion-based wellness travel, like a pilgrimage, intensive yoga instruction, a trip to a humanistic integrative education facility (like the nonprofit Esalen Institute), a silent vipassana meditation retreat, or a retreat focused on indigenous plant medicine, can deepen a path of spirituality, self-discovery, or purpose.
The key idea? These excursions and wellness-focused activities will be around for a while. Currently valued at $451 billion, the global wellness tourism market is predicted to grow to $1.02 trillion by 2030, according to a Grand View Research estimate from 2022.
Here, we explain wellness tourism’s operations and potential advantages.
Wellness tourism’s past
Even though wellness tourism is increasingly popular, individuals have long prioritized their health and wellness when traveling.
According to Health-Tourism.com, most ancient civilizations understood the medicinal advantages of mineral thermal springs, and many established hospitals around them, according to Health-Tourism.com.
According to the previous study, the ancient Greek, Egyptian, Roman, Celtic, and Hebrew cultures built hospitals that drew visitors from all over the world. According to the World History Encyclopedia, baths with various temperatures, swimming pools, fitness centers, and facilities for massages and other medical treatments became a staple of Roman civilization. And even 5,000 years ago, people made a long journey to India in search of the advantages of Ayurvedic medicine, a holistic treatment for both physical and mental health.
Although traveling for wellness has been practiced for thousands of years, the Wellness Tourism Association points out that the global wellness tourism sector is relatively new (WTA).
The options for wellness travel these days are nearly limitless. There is a trip to meet your needs, whether your interests include yoga and meditation, spa visits, weight reduction, hiking, or even therapies allegedly tailored to your DNA, like the Chenot Palace Weggis health and wellness retreat in the Swiss Alps.
How Wellness Travel Operates
Do you ever feel the urge for another vacation after returning from one? With wellness tourism, though, that might be different. Unlike standard holidays, which are frequently hectic and stressful, wellness travels focus on stress reduction and health promotion so that you may return to your regular life feeling refreshed and centered.
Being in a situation where you are not required to make daily decisions may provide you the freedom to try new behaviors or put your attention into improving old ones. This can assist you in developing healthy habits that you’ll want to maintain once you get home, such as getting more rest, eating well, and exercising every day. A small observational study from Australia published in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine in February 2017 found that participating in a weeklong retreat could significantly improve a person’s health and wellbeing and keep those improvements for six weeks after the withdrawal.
Additionally, many wellness vacations include access to amenities like massage therapy, yoga sessions, and dietary counseling that can enhance physical and mental health. According to Lorandini, these encounters can give you the energy to face daily challenges when you go home.
Of course, your home could also be your wellness sanctuary. Whether it’s your comfortable beddings, the lavender scent from your humidifier, or the plushy sofas for your patio, you can also relieve some stress at the comforts of your own home.
Although many people arrange their own wellness-related travel experiences, if you don’t have the time, need help locating high-quality options, or can’t pull it off, you can engage a travel advisor. You may identify vetted travel advisors who focus on wellness tourism in the WTA’s member directory.
Advantages of Wellness Travel
The majority of wellness tourism’s health benefits are anecdotal and unsupported by scientific evidence. In addition, wellness tourism is not the main emphasis of the current research but instead travel in general. We might be able to identify a few possible advantages of wellness travel.
1. It might increase happiness
Some people can feel happier when they have new experiences or alter their surroundings. According to a study in Nature in July 2020, those with more variety in their daily location are likely to be happier. According to a previous study, women who took two vacations each year were less likely than those who had fewer vacations to experience depression and chronic stress.
2. It Offers Long-Lasting Stress Reduction
You can unwind from the pressures of daily life and concentrate on experiences and activities that enhance wellbeing when you take a vacation with a wellness theme. And the advantages of this form of travel in reducing stress start almost immediately. According to a non-academic Expedia online poll cited in 2018 by the Global Coalition on Aging, 88% of U.S. respondents said they felt more at ease and less stressed after a short trip of one or two days, and the same percentage said they felt upbeat and optimistic.
Once you get home, taking a break from the everyday stressors can also help you feel less stressed.
Even a brief vacation, including to nearby attractions, has the potential to provide long-lasting stress alleviation. Twenty midlevel executives were asked to spend four nights in a hotel away from their usual environment as part of a small study published in 2018 in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health. The other twenty executives served as the control group and spent their vacation at home. While stress and overall wellbeing improved right away for both groups, the hotel cohort experienced more success. Furthermore, 45 days after the holiday, the benefits may still be felt.
3. It might strengthen heart health
Travel’s ability to reduce stress may have positive impacts on your heart.
A previous study over nine years found that middle-aged men at high risk for heart disease who reported having traveled during the last year had a 17 percent lower mortality rate than men who hadn’t.
As mentioned above, the authors of the study point out that even though stress-reduction vacations may enhance heart health, healthier individuals may be more prone to travel. More research is required to determine if and how travel lowers mortality risk and the risk of heart disease risk. Always check with your doctor before traveling if you have a heart issue.