Last year, I took a wellness trip to Costa Rica with G Adventures. While these types of retreats typically conjure up images of a spa or yoga, this trip challenged that idea for me. Afterward, it inspired me to think of ways to practice wellness while traveling that weren’t just spa- or yoga-related.
Yes, being in a relaxing location full of beautiful nature helps calm the mind. Yes, our various adventure-, culture- and spa-focused activities curated by G Adventures promoted calming the body and feeling centered. However, I learned above all else, wellness is about mind, body and spiritual renewal. How you achieve that depends on you.
Throughout the week, I appreciated having a set time and place to practice wellness habits. At the end of the trip, I felt more balance, refreshed and re-energized.
As someone who’s constantly traveling and on-the-go in various environments, wellness doesn’t come naturally. However, since my wellness week, I’ve challenged myself to apply the ideas I learned there to my every day. They’ve slowly become healthy habits that I hope to maintain when I’m on the road and in daily life.
Here are 15 ways to practice wellness while traveling.
Wellness Habit 1: Turn off the Phone
We all know how addicting our phones can be. The problem is we never get a mental break if we’re always connected. In turn we miss out on real life moments and meaningful connections. As someone who runs her business and social life largely from her phone, this is a difficult one. Yet for my creativity, mental health and sanity, I always take phone breaks. For example, during our trip, I put an auto-responder on my email letting people know I was in the jungles of Costa Rica and would not be responding right away.
Wellness Habit 2: Practice Mindfulness
Mindfulness for me is being fully present in the moment. This should come quite easily while traveling because you’re always in new environments. Numerous studies show that time spent doing nothing, or the “creative pause”, allows the mind to drift, opening up new ways of understanding. Similarly, mindfulness requires nonjudgmental, sustained and alert awareness from living in the moment. In other words, accept each moment as is it and soak it all in. It’s a vital skill if you want to practice wellness while traveling.
Wellness Habit 3: Cultivate Community
Part of being mindful involves being fully present with those around you. Whether it’s strangers turned friends you meet during a wellness trip to Costa Rica or long distance friends connected by phone calls and video chats, it’s important to have community. Tips: Put away your phone during meals. To stay connected with friends and family, schedule in phone dates.
Wellness Habit 4: Learn Something New
I hope I never stop learning. During our trip, we had many opportunities to learn new skills like surfing, canyoneering and stand up paddleboarding. For example, most of our group never surfed before, but were open to trying during this trip. Maybe it was the nature of the trip, our group support or wanting to conquer fears, but I believe wellness goes far beyond the physical. It looked different for everyone, but this trip encouraged us all to step outside our comfort zones in more ways than one.
Wellness Habit 5: Have Alone Time
The older I get, the more I like my alone time. It’s nice to be quiet and have time to process things, which is a big part of mental health. I always intentionally schedule a few solo trips into my year to recalibrate and relax on my own terms. In addition, going on small group trips is the best of both worlds–you can be alone as much as you’d like but also have the opportunity to make new friends.
To book the same Costa Trip I went on, visit G Adventures Wellness tours.
Wellness Habit 6: Recharge the Body
Who can say no to soaking in hot springs after a relaxing massage? My favorite spot in Costa Rica were volcanic mud baths adjacent to natural hot springs in Rincón de la Vieja. It welcomed ultimate relaxation, especially in such an ideal location.
Wellness Habit 7: Get Enough Sleep
We all know how important a good night’s sleep is for our health, but it’s often difficult to do. Sometimes it’s just not possible when when you’re getting on/off planes or would rather being out exploring than sleeping. Yet it’s essential for body restoration, ensuring we’ll have energy for more adventuring. I try to get my 8 hours, but if it’s not possible, I’ll take many naps whenever I can. I’m known for being able to fall asleep anywhere! For example, we had a few long drives in Costa Rica and I would always pass out in our cozy van.
Wellness Habit 8: Exercise
I find it difficult not to exercise and practice wellness while traveling. When I’m in cities I’m always walking everywhere and for those nature trips, most of them center around adventure activities. My favorite forms of exercise involve moving without it feeling like a “workout”.
For example, during our wellness trip, we did different types of yoga every day, hiked to an epic waterfall, did stand-up paddleboarding, swam in the ocean and hiked through a lush rainforest with multiple hanging bridges! Since the trip, I’ve made it a point to stretch every morning, swim in the hotel pool or nearest body of water and say yes to adventure activities.
Wellness Habit 9: Eat Well
It’s obviously easy to eat well on a wellness retreat, but it’s also possible to enjoy local cuisines and have a balanced diet with the necessary vitamins and nutrients while traveling. For example, if there’s a fresh market nearby, I’ll always buy fruit as a snack. Or if I’m in a country that does vegetarian really well, I’ll always opt for the plant-based meal. Tips: bring vitamins in smaller bottles. Rent your own place with a kitchen so you can make your own meals.
Wellness Habit 10: Drink Lots of Water
Like getting enough sleep or taking your vitamins, it’s important to stay hydrated! Besides preventing jet lag, it keeps your skin glowing and body in check. Six to eight 8-ounce glasses of water per day is the recommended dose. I always bring an eco-friendly drink bottle with a filter to refill.
Wellness Habit 11: Have Morning Quiet Time
At the start of our wellness retreat, we had an intention setting ceremony where we were given time to think about what we wanted to get out of the week. One of my goals was to start every morning off with my own “intention setting ceremony”. I used this time to list things I was grateful for, think about what I hoped to accomplish that day and pray. It allowed me to set goals and reminded me of the bigger picture, to keep everything in perspective.
Wellness Habit 12: Do Activities That Bring You Joy
Through traveling the past 3 years, I’ve learned so much about myself like what I enjoy and what I don’t enjoy as much. For example, I never knew how much I loved animals and photographing wildlife until I went on safari in Tanzania.
In Costa Rica, one of my favorite days was visiting a community coffee plantation to learn about a coffee cooperative that supports more than 200 small farmers. Supporting local communities while I travel is something that gives me joy and why I like traveling with G Adventures. This coffee coop is just one of the many G for Good projects, where G Adventures works in partnership with Planeterra, a non-profit organization that helps the development and support of small communities around the globe.
Wellness Habit 13: Spend Time in Nature
Have you ever looked at a beautiful sunset or majestic mountain range and felt a sense of awe? The sheer magnificence of our world, the seemingly unexplainable–more powerful and bigger than us alone? I’ve experienced this sense of wonder so many times and always feel more grateful and full after experience an awe-inspiring moment.
There are scientific studies that show being in nature is calming. From Vitamin D intake to melatonin production in natural light, it seems our bodies were created to be in nature.
Wellness Habit 14: Have 3 Big Laughs Everyday
This is something my grandmother used to say and lived out very well. She would laugh at my silly jokes or make her own, but we always had a good time. It’s important to keep things light, especially when things don’t go as planned while traveling, which happens often.
Wellness Habit 15: Go on a Wellness Retreat
One of my favorite trips from last year was this wellness retreat to Costa Rica with G Adventures. Like I started this article with, it shattered my perceptions of what a wellness retreat looks like. More importantly, it gave me insight into incorporating wellness habits into my life. There are so many ways to practice wellness while traveling. I hope this list inspired you!
To book this Costa Trip trip, visit the G Adventures page on Wellness tours. They also have trips to Bali, Iceland, Nepal and Peru!
Thank you to G Adventures for hosting me on this relaxing retreat. As always, all opinions and photos are my own.