Key Wellness Travel Trends For 2021

One of these wellness travel trends for 2021 may well change your life…

By Chiara Spagnoli Gabardi

I think we can all agree 2020 was a heck of a year! And that we all need a break. Big time!

Given how miserable people were in lockdown, it’s no wonder that we’re all absolutely gagging for a getaway.

Unfortunately, it’s not as easy as it was. Jumping on a plane and taking off for a dirty weekend is practically impossible from some places. And while some countries, such as Mexico, Brazil and Croatia, are open to all travellers, other places, including Canada and Peru, require 14 day quarantines for tourists. Which means if you have a two week holiday, you’re stuffed.

So, where can you go to lift your spirits and improve your health? We’ve found a few key wellness travel trends for 2021 that we hope you can indulge in.

Key Wellness Travel Trends For 2021

Villas Borghetto in Croatia

1. Camping

After many months spent locked indoors, people have been craving to be in nature more than ever before. In fact, as soon as restrictions eased, people ran to the mountains, countryside and the beaches to enjoy the great outdoors. The sensation of immersing oneself in the wilderness and reconnecting with the elements of the earth is rejuvenating on a physical, emotional and spiritual level. So no wonder camping is another one of our top wellness travel trends for this year.

Oh, and btw: having a camping holiday doesn’t have to be uncomfortable. More people are now renting campers because they allow you to experience the outdoors in a new location every day, carrying around all the comforts of your home. 

Top destination: Any forest or beach near you

travel trends 2021

2. Learning To Use Food As Medicine

We’re living in an era where people are paranoid about their health. They’re washing their hands to the point of rawness, avoiding contact with others, and are popping pills 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, improve energy and overall wellness. Expect cooking classes and nutrition talks, in gorgeous settings. Some retreats will even focus on certain health issues, like fighting cancer or detoxing the body.

If you visit a luxury destination, such as Villas Borghetto in Croatia, you’ll be treated not only to health-boosting meals, but also a private wellness and spa centre. They can also arrange visits to attractions and restaurants, beauticians and arrange cooking classes according to your desires.

Top destination: Villas Borghetto (Croatia)

cooking holidays

3. 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.

Given the insanity of the past year, 2021 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. I’m sure you’ll agree, this is one of the most essential wellness travel trends for 2021.

Top destination: Epic Sana Mindfulness Retreat (Portugal)

wellness travel trends for 2021

4. Offline Breaks

Let’s face it: media is toxic. Whether you’re getting stressed out by the news or by seeing inflammatory comments on social media, we’re better off without it. And 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.wellness travel trends for 2021

5. Plant Medicine and Ayahuasca Retreats

Now is the perfect time for turning our attention within and focusing on the spiritual. 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 their lives were transformed. 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. Also ensure you go to a reputable retreat, such as one of these.

Top destination: Etnikas (Peru). The Dalai Lama stayed here! And it’s one of the safest ayahuasca retreats in the world, with a full medical staff on hand, and much personal attention given to each guest. But just know you will have to quarantine there for 2 weeks

6. Happiness Retreats

No wonder depression levels skyrocketed in lockdown. According to several recent studies, experiences make us happy, not things. Being locked inside had a serious detrimental effect on our wellbeing, since we could no longer enjoy as many exciting experiences as before.

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.

These include wonderful 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 Holidays

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). This is all done whilst enjoying some of the world’s most beautiful venues, particularly selected for their outstanding eco-designs and stunning natural surroundings.

While you’re on your holiday, you can also help rewild nature itself by planting trees. And that’s a great idea, since there are plenty of studies that show simply being around trees can positively affect your health. 

Top destination: Mawell Resort (Germany)

8. Staycations 

Who said that staying in your city or town for your holiday is boring? It actually couldn’t be more thrilling than experiencing it with new eyes: those of a tourist! It’s funny how people who live around tourist attractions actually rarely enjoy them themselves. Check out any museums, art galleries or historic buildings you’ve never been to – but heard (from tourists) are wonderful!

This is one of the easiest wellness travel trends for 2021 to engage in. It’s gentler on the body since you’re not crossing time zones, but it’s also beneficial to your bank account, since you have the accommodation covered (your home), possibly also some meals, and the travel expenses are reduced to local attractions and petrol in your car, bus fare, or local taxis.

Top destination: Wherever you are

wellness travel trends 2021

9. Maskcations 

Let’s face it: masks suck. They’re hard to breathe in, they irritate the skin, and they make you look like some kind of criminal. So no wonder people are choosing tourist destinations that don’t require their use. For example? Most countries in Africa don’t require them – with the notable exception of South Africa – and many of these destinations are stunning, such as Zanzibar in Tanzania. Another country we love that doesn’t have mask mandates in most parts? Uruguay! And if you’re worried a lack of a mask might make you sick, don’t be. Tanzania and Uruguay have minimal cases compared to other countries despite – or maybe because of – the lack of masking.

Top destination: Estancia Vik, Punta del Este, Uruguay. You’ll enjoy loads of fresh air, open space, and vast beaches, populated mainly by friendly locals.

wellness travel trends 2021



Chiara Spagnoli Gabardi
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