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Wellness Travel

Used to be, people traveled to get from Point A to Point B, then to get to where the weather was soothing or the sightseeing was awesome. Now, people are on a mission, to heal themselves and society—medical tourism, eco-tourism, citizen peace delegations, and voluntourism (such as volunteers building Habitats for Humanity).

The newest adventure—in pursuit of a healthier lifestyle—is wellness travel. Health-conscious people visit places offering services and experiences designed to rejuvenate a person's mind, body, and soul, which may even transform the person's life. Individuals, couples, and families go to reduce stress and anxiety, lighten their mood, gain restfulness, lose weight, feel fit, kick-start a healthier lifestyle or continue on a path they've already started, finally returning home with their lives enhanced.

The revenue of the industry that promotes a healthier lifestyle has reached just shy of one half a trillion dollars (nine zeroes; count 'em). Its rate of growth approaches 13% annually and keeps climbing upward, growing at twice the rate of overall tourism. That equals one out of every seven dollars spent on travel worldwide.

It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World

Americans are stressed out. Our fast-paced lifestyles—the "rat race"—make free time the new luxury. Money worries for many only worsened since the recent recession.

Parents have reason for concern. Children are overweight and overwhelmed at unprecedented and alarming levels. Kid's play has turned as sedentary as adult's work, rooted to desk jobs versus rooted to desktop games. All ages are hyper-connected, even in social situations keeping glued to devices rather than interacting with real humans in real time and real space. Both young and old keep long, demanding hours, missing too much sleep, diminishing health.

And we all know somebody dealing with cancer. The percent of us getting some type of cancer in our lifetime recently rose from 40% to 50%. While most tumors are environmentally induced, one's lifestyle is the first line of defense—hence the varied pursuits of a healthier lifestyle abroad.

The Healthy Escape

The living human being needs a timeout, a break, some relief from the constant stress. We're desperate for downtime. Moderns must detox from the effects of hi-tech, and gravitate to hi-touch.

Everyone knows this and that they must eat well and exercise plenty, but that's not so easy when daily life impinges. So, in pursuit of a healthier lifestyle, going to a place isolated from the demands of work, bills, and errands, where other travelers are setting a good example, there disciplining oneself to finally keep that New Year's Resolution becomes entirely feasible. And once begun, the new routine becomes easier to keep.

It's not just a better diet and healthier movement and deep relaxation. It's also a beautiful setting that inspires healthy choices and healthy living. Some wellness vacationers photograph the rare beauty. Then, having experienced pristine nature in all her glory, one returns not just refreshed but also re-sensitized. Back home, most feel invigorated, uplifted, joyful, and find it easier to continue a healthier lifestyle pursuit. It's a life-affirming experience. For a few it is life changing.

Yoga on Beach

"Two of the greatest gifts we can give our children are roots and wings."

Earthly & Heavenly Delights

Just the opposite of the cruise and the festival—boastful of offering excess—wellness travel is all about harmony within variety. There's a whole smorgasbord for health-minded visitors to choose from: meals, mindfulness, exercise, and much more. Every avenue to wellness is opened.

Topping their list of healthy things to do, of course, is to eat well—maximize nutrition, indulge the tastebuds, and lose weight. Wellness hosts provide healthy meals, restricting the use of high-sodium and high-sugar products, while offering organic ingredients. Some go beyond farm-to-table meals and harvest clean, sustainable food from their own backyard, just as they always used to do in Mexico. With an extensive menu it's an opportunity to intuit one's personally satisfying foods and return to eating as pleasure. One may even take a culinary tour.

Along with tasty, healthy meals, the other traditional attractions are calming; indulgent spa treatments such as massage, meditation, yoga, classes (e.g., Pilates and tai chi), workshops, and lectures by experts. Hosts today provide quiet rooms and instruction to make mindfulness more accessible and non-intimidating, so regular people can finally start actually practicing it. By the end of their wellness vacation, some couples report better communication and warmer intimacy.

An Alive Breakfast
Water's warm year round

Fun For Fitness

Many hotels, spas, resorts, and hot springs catering to wellness travelers have expanded their health-oriented spaces to include energy-healing tiles, color therapy, and walking paths. Their outdoor, daytime activities on tap are lessons in golf, tennis, or other sports. Guided hiking follows fitness trails with views overlooking mountains, parks, and wilderness preserves where encounters with wildlife is possible.

To get the heart rate up, they offer fitness classes, group spin classes, a jogging partner, cycling, paddle-boarding, even a personal trainer, followed by rest.

At night, are you ever plagued by insomnia? You can find places that incorporate the latest to help you relax and fall asleep:

  • peaceful slumber through meditation and breathing techniques
  • the best bedding
  • an assortment of herbal teas and bedtime snacks
  • menu items packed with amino acids, vitamins, and minerals that aid rest and reset sleep-wake cycles

Consultations are available and may include a Lifestyle Physical—medical testing of metabolic rate, body composition, nutrition, posture, stress, and life-balance. Their test identifies health concerns. Based on individual health issues and medical history, consultants design a culinary and fitness regimen tailored to one's lifestyle.

The Latest Offerings

If the "first wave" of wellness travel focused on healthy meals and stress-reducing yoga, meditation, and massage, the newest wave embraces adrenaline-pumping adventure. There's an excellent physiological reason—contrast therapy is a way to reset the mind and body. Stressed out humans seek stressful adventure, from ziplining to circus schools. Topping off high-octane adventure with "après-adrenaline" relaxation is addictive: adrenaline rushes followed by Zen relaxation (whether massage or meditation) quiets the brain, granting one blissed-out relaxation.

So what do they do for the rush? Surf. Surfing is not only dramatically expanding its demographics—to women and families with kids of all ages —but also to wellness travelers. Surfing and its spinoff standup paddleboarding are a couple of the fastest-growing trends in wellness travel.

While some hosts encourage a holiday from hi-tech, others accommodate the gadgetry. Guests can borrow headphones for spin classes and link their personal trainer app during fitness sessions. Low-tech loans are available, too—workout gear like running shoes and workout clothes, so guests won't have to pack all that.

Learning to Surf

The Mexican Connection

The origin of wellness travel is rooted in Mexico. In 1940, two emigres—Hungarian Edmond Bordeaux Szekely, founder of the International Biogenic Society, and his wife, Deborah Shainman, whose mother was active in the New York Vegetarian Society—couldn't enter the United States because it was war time. So the couple opened the Rancho La Puerta retreat in Baja California. It became a place for people who were ahead of their time. Out of it grew wellness retreats worldwide and the launch of today's trend towards healthy lifestyle pursuits.

Along with the retreats, all over the globe today wellness festivals are cropping up to combine health with the social spirit. In Mexico City last year (2015), the Global Wellness Summit drew more than 470 delegates from 40 counties. Representatives came from the Mayo and Cleveland clinics, Harvard and Duke universities, and wellness-minded corporations such as Johnson & Johnson and Zappos. Speakers suggested ways to bring preventative health into our world of chronic disease and escalating healthcare cost.

Nutritionists noted that what we eat has changed more in the last 40 years than in the previous 40,000.

Dr. Deepak Chopra noted that "cracking" the human genome won't likely eradicate many diseases, but what could deliver the goods is decoding the epi-genome. That's the DNA which is constantly modified by lifestyle choices and the environment. Current research is aimed at pinpointing the 20 or so genetic markers (out of 2,400) that we can improve by choosing a healthy lifestyle.

What are business and government doing about medical costs that have reached 30 percent of GDP in a world aging like never before, with 800 million people now over 60? Insurance companies will lower premiums for healthy behavior, which could be tracked by wearable/implantable devices. Governments will lower taxes for wellness, maybe even make vacations mandatory!

For wellness travelers seeking an authentic cultural experience with anthropological validity in order to connect with forces of the physical and spiritual world, a popular path is Mexico's temazcal. After thousands of years healing indigenous peoples, the ancient and elaborate ritual takes place in an igloo-like structure where a trained shaman uses heat, steam, aromatic herbs, and ancient prayers and chants to induce rebirth. It's a transformational mind-body experience, offered by many resorts in Mexico.

The country being first, hosting a major global symposium, and preserving its ancient therapy, may have put thoughts of wellness travel to Mexico into your head. Wellness tourism in Mexico is cutting-edge and growing. Where could you take a wellness vacation in Mexico? What are the wellness destinations in Mexico? The area we operate in has a hot springs spa, the lake, trails, tennis courts, golf courses, and other play fields, all of which lead to a healthier lifestyle pursuit.

If you decide to come, it could be convenient for you to combine that venture with some medical or dental tourism in Mexico. We here at DocTours can answer all your questions about how to get plastic surgery in Mexico, where you can find affordable anti-aging medicine In Mexico, and who are the best dentists in Mexico.

Before and between procedures, you can spend your free time visiting exotic locales and getting to know a foreign culture. Some of our favorites are the outdoor markets; another is the lakeside promenade, with pauses for energizing drinks and exquisite food. Your recovery room is in a friendly house in a walkable town.

If you enjoy traveling with another, familiarize them with this site, too.

Happy trails!