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7 Key Wellness Travel Trends For 2020

One of these 7 wellness travel trends for 2020 may well change your life…

By Chiara Spagnoli Gabardi

Transformative Travel has truly taken off. No longer is it sufficient to take a holiday that involves throwing yourself on a beach and reading an airport novel for a week. Nope, people want a trip that will change their lives; a vacation where they return home a happier, healthier, more rounded and improved person.

This can be achieved through various means, from getting fitter and eating more holistically at boot camps to going deep down in your psyche with South American shamans at plant medicine retreats. You could get a taste of the good life you can’t usually afford by staying in a KOALA resort, or try living off grid for awhile in a gorgeous glamping environment.

Transformations on travels also occur when you experience different cultures, immerse yourself in nature, or radically change your usual routine, seeing your ‘normal’ life more objectively, re-evaluating it, and possibly re-shaping it when you return home.

We asked Co-Founder, CEO and Chairman of the Global Wellness Summit Susie Ellis about trends that are gathering momentum in the wellness travel world, and incorporated her predictions for 2020 with a bit of our own observations. The end result? We’ve come up with 7 key wellness travel trends for 2020 that are bound to change people’s lives for the best.

7 Key Wellness Travel Trends For 2020

1. Food as Medicine

We’re living in an era where pills are being popped for any basic malaise, be it sadness, hyperactivity or a just bit of a headache. Luckily, awareness of the need to replace chemical pharmaceuticals with more natural remedies is growing, and there’s now a huge trend towards seeing ‘food as medicine.’ This is, of course, nothing new: Greek philosopher Hippocrates famously said: ‘Let food be thy medicine, and medicine be thy food.’

But this year, you’ll find increasing numbers of wellness retreats offering to teach people how to eat to manage and avoid illnesses and improve energy and overall wellness. Expect cooking classes and nutrition talks, in gorgeous settings – and some retreats will even focus on certain health issues, like fighting cancer or detoxing the body.

Top destination: SHA Wellness Clinic (Spain)

2. Mental Health Breaks

Philosopher Merleau-Ponty emphasised the correlation between body and mind at the beginning of the 20th century, and now, over a century later, wellness retreats are starting to strongly acknowledge this connection.

In fact, ‘mental health’ has been trending for some time, thanks to Prince Harry speaking candidly on the subject, and due to the fact that many reports have suggested that Millennials are particularly suffering from mental health issues. The main reasons for this, it seems, are money stresses, drug and alcohol abuse, and loneliness.

The coming year will likely see a significant increase in retreats offering mental health breaks that focus on being physically dynamic and mentally conscious – think: gym programs that shun the ‘no pain, no gain’ mentality of the 1980’s for more focus on the connection between body and mind via gently powerful exercises like yoga and Tai Chi.

Top destination: Epic Sana Mindfulness Retreat (Portugal)

3. Hidden Archeology Tours

Thanks to innovative researchers such as Graham Hancock and Brien Foerster, people are starting to wonder if what tour guides are telling them about the Great Pyramids and Inca ruins is really all that true. More and more archeological tours are being offered ‘off the beaten track’ by tour guides who believe many of the megaliths that pepper our planet are far, far older than you may think!

Some of the best places to see ancient archeology are Turkey, Cambodia, Lebanon, Tunisia, and of course, Egypt and Peru. Learning about ancient cultures is really thought-provoking, and is sure to get you contemplating our place in history.

Top destination: Inkaterra, Sacred Valley, Peru.

4. Offline Living

Let’s face it: most of us are addicted to our smart devices and need to unplug and unwind from it all. Even on holidays, many of us are still obsessed with posting on social media. It’s not just our minds that need to be detoxed from this addiction to wifi: it affects our bodies profoundly, too, interfering with the Schumann resonance that helps regulate our sleeping and waking cycles, for example.

So, what can we do? More and more of us are opting to go to hotels and retreats where wifi is either limited, or prohibited altogether. After all, without someone imposing the rules, it’s just all too tempting to reach for your phone when you’re bored.

You may surprise yourself: when you have no access to wifi, you may actually be forced to converse IRL with other human beings. You may sleep better. And your mind may not be so preoccupied with stupid things, like how many Likes your latest Facebook post just got.

Some retreats are simply places where it’s easy to switch off, where there’s no wifi or mobile reception, for example, or where they actively encourage you to limit your screen time. Other wellness retreats offer dedicated detox breaks which make it easy to break your social media or screen habit surrounded by like-minded people. You choose.

Top destination: There are plenty of interesting options here.

5. Plant Medicine and Ayahuasca Retreats

So many have benefitted from plant medicines like ayahuasca and San Pedro, that visiting retreats that offer these magical plants has started to trend. Even celebrities including Jim Carrey, Lindsay Lohan and Chelsea Handler have tried the stuff, and there’s no doubt millions more will head to South America for one of these mind-blowing experiences in the coming year.

Although these medicines are still illegal in most of the world, Peru, Brazil and Colombia are top destinations for those wishing to partake in these deeply healing plants. If you choose to partake, just ensure that you do so with the help of a qualified local shaman.

Top destination: Etnikas, (Peru).

6. Happiness Retreats

According to several recent studies, experiences make us happy, not things. Therefore, it’s no surprise that people are investing more on satisfying their wanderlust than buying material goods. For this reason, some retreats are now offering packages with your happiness in mind: they include experiences that stimulate the body and mind through activities like morning hikes, collective meals, mindfulness exercises, meditation and beach circuit training – all of which foster the production of serotonin, also known as the ‘happy hormone.’

Top destination: Shanti Maurice De-stress (Mauritius).

7. Rewilding

Cities have become rather depressing concrete jungles where we commute, work, watch TV, and repeat. But you know what? The human body was made to be in nature – even being around trees for a few hours will have a notable effect on our physiology.

City dwellers will especially enjoy and benefit from retreats that focus on ‘rewilding’ the human body using a combination of nature, adventure, exercise, play, rest, nutrition and mindfulness. The idea is to use your body and mind the way nature intended (as opposed to giving in to economic necessity and culture), all whilst enjoying some of the world’s most beautiful venues, particularly selected for their outstanding eco-designs and stunning natural surroundings. Get inspired in these immersive wildlife experiences in breathtaking locations.

Top destination: Mawell Resort (Germany)

Chiara Spagnoli Gabardi
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