The last time Camille Hoheb went on a wellness vacation, she didn’t set her sights on strenuous hikes, lowering her blood pressure by a few notches, or changing treacherous everyday habits. She brought a sketchbook, no itinerary, and a general desire to find locally popular restaurants rather than chewing through a must-visit list.
The two days she spent with her dog, her camera and her art equipment in a quaint Massachusetts seaside town were more relaxing than a week of forced fun, says Hoheb, 58. And she would know: Her day job is advising tourist offices about it how they can better position themselves towards travelers seeking wellness.
At this point in 2022, leisure travel has returned to pre-pandemic levels and is forecast to continue – as much as possible as airlines reduce the number of flights they operate and hotels, restaurants and destinations may close due to the chronic Barely stay open due to labor shortages. After postponing major trips by two years, many Americans are determined to save for blowout trips, despite vacation disruptions to popular national parks and European destinations due to fires, drought and flooding, experts say.
Changing travel expectations
Is it possible to create a relaxing getaway in an already notoriously stressful year?
Yes, experts say, especially when you use the planning itself as a mindfulness exercise and then, like Hoheb, shift expectations from activity to personal recovery. And new research even suggests that appropriate travel can make sense for people with dementia.
dr Jun Wen, a lecturer in tourism and service marketing at Australia’s Edith Cowan University, argues that the proven physical, psychological and social benefits of travel should position travel as a form of medical therapy for vulnerable groups, including people with dementia.
“All tourism experiences offer elements of anticipation and planning, both of which stimulate brain function. Exercise is often an important part of tourism experiences and is often included in dementia intervention plans. Tourism experiences like going to the beach provide dementia patients with sensory stimulation, mood elevation, exercise, music therapy, and a sense of freedom than non-medical dementia interventions,” he says. “Group travel can simulate psychological interventions, and music in a destination is consistent with music therapy programs for people with dementia.”
I see how this plays out with my own mother, who at 89 only does day trips. When I call her to confirm a trip to the botanical gardens or an outdoor living history museum, her voice brightens. With only a few days’ notice, the length of anticipation matches her memory, and she has the dual gift of expecting and then having a good time.
My own ability to plan is more elastic than ever, which is good considering that like any traveler I need to be more flexible than ever.
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It’s no longer enough to take basic precautions and expect everything to go as planned: today you must be on hand to change your reservations and your expectations while airlines, hotels and destinations adapt their services to their current capabilities. With so many obstacles to a go-go-go vacation, you might as well move on to a slower agenda.
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Let the days unfold
Or no agenda at all. A few weeks ago my husband and I spent a very long weekend in Asheville, North Carolina, the artsy town in the Blue Ridge Mountains. Aside from our hotel room, the only reservation I made was for the Homer Winslow exhibition at his newly renovated art museum. That aside…well, for four whole days we spent our calories eating one new restaurant a day, our energy hiking the hilly downtown areas of Asheville and nearby Brevard, and our patience navigating the hairpin bends of the mountain roads to the highlands and cashiers. Our goal wasn’t to come back smarter, leaner or more sophisticated, but just to let your feet and mind wander.
Wellness travel consultant Samantha Lippiatt proclaims herself a fan of expensive spas, but says the end result of deep refreshment is free to anyone willing to expand their journey to include “non-negotiable things like exercise, getting out in nature, and good sleep.” to plan .”
This seems like the sweet spot for making the most of a (thankfully) dwindling 2022: focus on your big health goals, allow the day and the experiences to unfold, and resolve the demands that you normally ask yourself without slipping into situations that guarantee a regret hangover.
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Agendas are the opposite of real relaxation, says Hoheb, arguing against the widespread notion of wellness vacations with purposeful excursions that strain physical stamina and willpower.
“Wellness is not a spa. It’s about being reflective and purposeful. It’s about culture, food and light activity – knowing your limits and not pushing yourself,” she says. “Return home as a better version of yourself.”
Joanne Cleaver is a freelance writer based in Charlotte, NC. She covers women’s issues, travel, entrepreneurship, financial planning and retirement planning. She has written seven non-fiction books, the most recent being “The Career Grid: Combat Brain Drain, Improve Company Culture and Attract Top Talent.”
This article is reprinted with permission from NextAvenue.org© 2022 Twin Cities Public Television, Inc. All rights reserved.
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