Global Travel Experiences to Reduce Stress
April is National Stress Awareness Month.
While stress can be challenging to ignore in the day to day, there are many ways to help manage it.
Here are a few experiences from hotels, resorts and travel companies around the world that show how travel can be a stress relief in April and beyond.
Courtesy of Las Catalinas
Stress Relief Therapy: The Human and Animal Relationship
Dating back to centuries ago, studies have shown that horses can have a calming effect on people and provide a therapeutic value in the relationship between humans and animals. Research shows horses may have a sixth sense that can identify anxiety, stress, and fear in humans, thus helping individuals identify these emotions in themselves. Being around horses can help people build confidence, communications skills, trust, social skills and can be a huge benefit for those dealing with stress and anxiety.
Horseback ride through La Estancia and Sugar Beach in Costa Rica with Las Catalinas’ La Estancia Equine Experience. A guide leads guests to the hillside of Vivero La Estancia and through a path of untouched tropical dry forest all the way to an ocean viewpoint. Then, descend to Sugar Beach, or as locals call it Playa Pan de Azúcar. The horses Canela, Luna, Cangrejo, Palomo, Lucero, Juancho, and Jalapeño are happy and healthy, tended to daily by Las Catalinas’ thoughtful team. They stretch their legs in the pasture during the day and enjoy the comfort and security of their spacious, individual stalls at night. During this two-hour experience, guests will learn about La Finca and Las Catalinas’ current and future initiatives as well as Las Catalinas’ Collective Impact efforts in the community dedicated to regenerative agriculture, regenerative tourism, and climate resistance. Experience ($75USD per person) includes a chicken coop visit, 90-minute horse experience, refreshments, and a donation to the Collective Impact program. For more information, visit here.
Guests can get to know La Estancia at Las Catalinas and meet, greet, and groom a horse, snuggle a chicken or take a short walk through the tropical dry forest to their hillside plant nursery. Learn about La Estancia’s composting program, their efforts to support the community of Tempate and how to get involved. Guests can purchase eggs de gallinas felices or honey from La Estancia, or other organic produce from their partner cooperatives. Visits are adapted to guests’ interests and can take anywhere from 10 minutes to 2 hours, Monday through Friday ($10USD Collective Impact Campaign donation; $5USD for children under 12). For more information, visit www.lascatalinascr.com.
Courtesy of ConnectOcean
Ever wonder why there are so many aquariums in doctors’ waiting rooms and hospital lounges? It’s been reported that watching fish in an aquarium reduced the viewer’s blood pressure and created feelings of calm. Imagine the added benefit of immersing yourself in an ocean-sized aquarium and watching the beautiful, fluid movements of the marine life from the inside. Given all we know about humankind’s connection to the sea, it’s no wonder that scuba diving and stress relief go hand in hand. The wonder, awe and pure pleasure of being up close to amazing marine life produces a feeling of increased well-being. The weightlessness of the body and the silence that’s imposed by being submerged underwater all provide an ideal environment for being at peace with yourself and for relaxing. Scuba diving helps slow you down and improve concentration and focus on your surrounding and self.
The dive sites around Las Catalinas in Costa Rica include one of the most bio-diverse ecosystems in our oceans and offer a plethora of marine life and natural marine history. Catalina Islands are home to some of the most endangered marine species – from large pelagic creatures to tiny organisms such as nudibranchs and sea horses. Enjoy an introduction to exploring a plethora of marine life with ConnectOcean. While not a scuba certification course, Discover Scuba Diving is a quick and easy introduction to what it takes to explore the underwater world. No previous experience is required. Participants must be at least 10 years old. There is a maximum of 4 people per instructor. This is a shared experience; a private charter is available upon request. This experience with ConnectOcean includes a private professional marine guide, full equipment rental, and refreshments. For more information, visit here.
Courtesy of Ananda in the Himalayas
Invest in Self-care: Go on a Wellness Retreat
In a world that is constantly changing, pulling us in different directions and creating a collective culture of chasing dreams, how do we find our inner peace? With the pandemic and other life stressors, self-care is more important than ever and wellness offerings around the world are focusing on addressing the importance of improving one’s mental and emotional wellbeing.
For anyone who is seeking inner peace and self-acceptance, Ananda in the Himalayas’ Stress Management Program aims to leading a well-balanced, healthy life by reducing stress and relaxing the mind. This program is a customized holistic approach of Ayurveda, Yoga, meditation, and emotional healing to tackle the stress naturally. The whole program is designed to provide tranquility to the stressed body & mind and to bring back the natural rhythm of the psychosomatic system. Holistic healing treatments intensify the experience of deep relaxation by removing tensions from physical, mental and emotional levels.
The objective of the program is to improve the nervous system and to stimulate the free flow of energy within the body. Other meditative techniques and emotional healing sessions uses the universal life force energy to break up energy blockages within the body, allowing healing energy to flow again freely and stimulating the body’s natural ability to heal itself. The first phase is to understand the basic cause of stress, the imbalance in the body and mind. Planning of the diet and activities is streamlined based on these findings. It helps the body and mind to relax and release the tension accumulated through various deep work treatments. In the second phase, treatments and procedures help to soothe the mind and bring about relaxation on a deeper level. These include sessions on meditation and yoga, which help cleanse the mind and facilitate stress management on a long-term basis. In the third phase of the program, procedures with even deeper impact on the mind and spiritual level. Ananda’s Stress Management Program reduces stress and anxiety, improves sleep, strengthens immunity, provides relief from discomfort of the mind and emotional energy blocks.
Prices start at $990USD per night which includes accommodation, all wellness meals, consultations, therapies and treatments and airport transfers. Located on a 100-acre Maharaja’s Palace Estate, Ananda in the Himalayas is a multi-award-winning luxury wellness retreat in the Himalayan foothills, surrounded by the majestic Himalayan Mountains, the birthplace of India’s ancient practices of yoga, meditation, and Ayurveda. For more information, visit www.anandaspa.com.
Courtesy of Las Catalinas
Movement is Medicine: Wellness in Nature
Numerous studies have shown that exercise and time in the outdoors reduces stress, improves memory and attention, and promotes feelings of calm. Exercise boosts endorphins, which can reduce stress hormones and alleviate mild depression.
Exercise in the great outdoors is beneficial for so many reasons and with its ideal setting in a tropical dry forest bordering the Pacific Ocean, Las Catalinas in Guanacaste, Costa Rica offers many wellness pursuits. An outdoor paradise for hikers, trail runners, mountain bikers, yogis, and water enthusiasts, Las Catalinas has an exciting array of activities for all ability levels. With over 26 miles of world-class, single-track trails that feature stunning views of the coastline and valley vistas, Las Catalinas is the most prominent mountain biking destination in the American tropics. All hiking and running trails feature spectacular viewpoints and opportunities to get a glimpse of some of the area’s amazing local wildlife, including monkeys, peccaries, and coatis, not to mention a wide variety of exotic birds. Trails vary in difficulty and length, from high-intensity hills to low-impact flatter tracks. The town is flanked by two of the best beaches on Costa Rica’s Pacific coast. Sheltered just enough from the southern swell, Las Catalinas is a haven for water sports enthusiasts, and consistent moderate waves make it ideal for body surfing and boogie boarding as well as standup paddle-boarding and sea kayaking.
For rejuvenating the mind, body and soul, Beach Town Travel, the preferred travel agency in Las Catalinas offers a Re-Balance Retreat on April 26 – 30, 2023. The retreat aims to provide a space where people have access to practices that support their physical, mental, and spiritual health and especially, the opportunity to experience the better way of living found at Las Catalinas. Whether you’re interested in a group retreat such as the Re-Balance Retreat or just want to come on your own and build your own itinerary, Las Catalinas links travelers to nature and the surroundings in an organic way. Guests can stay a few days or longer, with extended trips to focus on improving their health, wellness and fitness regimens or set new goals. Stay in town at Santarena Hotel or book a studio, flat or villa through Beach Town Travel with an array of villa options including daily housekeeping and laundry service, a fully equipped kitchen, free Wi-Fi, use of the Las Catalinas Collection resort facilities and more. While not biking, hiking or running the trails or swimming or paddle boarding in the ocean, enjoy the convenience of the cardio classes and private training at CORE by Chakfitness outdoor gym, massage and facials at WAKE Day Spa, wellbeing treatments, pilates, sound healing and organic cooking classes at Center of Joy, mountain bike, kayak and SUP rentals at Pura Vida Ride, healthy food to go, private chef dinners or wine tastings at Copper & Stone gourmet market, fresh smoothies and made from scratch organic dishes for all dietary restrictions at Pots & Bowls and more. For more information on Re-Balance Retreats, visit here. For other information, visit www.lascatalinascr.com.
Ignacia Guest House, Credit Jaime Navarro
Solo Travel: Embracing the Unknown
Traveling solo is a time for personal growth and building self-confidence and studies have shown that solo travel has many mental health benefits. Disconnect from the everyday stress of life and take control of exploring a new or familiar destination by being in charge of your own itinerary and travel planning. Solo travel encourages people to focus on yourself and be comfortable with embracing the unknown.
Ignacia Guest House in Colonia Roma is the perfect place to stay for a solo travel adventure in Mexico City. Colonia Roma is one of the safest districts in the city and Ignacia Guest House is walking distance from some of Mexico City’s best restaurants, galleries, attractions, and shops. The coziness of their intimate spaces and warm staff make guests feel at home in this “home-away-from-home”. Within the bed and breakfast’s list of activity suggestions, in which the staff can help guests book in advance, guests will discover food safaris, cooking classes, balloon flight over Teotihuacán pyramids, sunrise in the chinampas of Xochimilcan, walking tours through the districts and historical landmarks of the city that are the perfect excuse to be immersed in culture, meet new people, and make local friends.
With their new renovations and the addition of four stylish rooms and additional amenities, guest can enjoy the beautiful casona with an array of indoor activities. The concierge can help with making a reservation for an in-room massage and facial or even booking a yoga or fitness class. The staff can provide guests with tailor-made experiences with their insider knowledge of CDMX. The new renovations also features a private terrace with a fire pit and jacuzzi for relaxation and meditation. Every morning guests wake up with Ignacia Guest House’s homemade breakfast served in the privacy of your suite (Master Suite Negra, Balcón 1 and Balcón 2, Terraza 1 and Terreza 2) or at their stunning dining room. The chef modifies menus to include personal specifications, from vegan to lactose-free. Each morning, the chef prepares fresh-baked breads, and complimentary signature breakfasts like Chilaquiles, Molletes and Sopecitos are made from scratch – as is freshly squeezed orange juice and homemade orange marmalade from the garden’s two old-growth citrus trees. All ingredients (fruits, vegetables, legumes, coffee, eggs, dairy, tortillas) come from small local producers, which guarantees their freshness and quality, as well as supporting the local community.
In the late afternoons, gather in the garden under the orange trees for cocktails from 5:00 pm to 7:00 pm, savoring libations such as a mango-and-mezcal concoctions and more hand crafted drinks by the mixologist. The concierge service is available from 7:00 am to 9:00 pm on the weekdays and 8:00 am to 8:00 pm on the weekends and also offers a private driver for guests. For more information, visit www.ignacia.mx or email email@example.com.
Courtesy of Calabash Cove Resort and Spa
Ocean Therapy: Head to the Beach
It’s known that there are numerous health and psychological benefits to being close to the ocean. For more than just beautiful ocean views and vistas, travelers continue to choose trips and vacations that bring them up close and personal with the ocean. The feel of salt water on the skin, the smell of the ocean in the air, the soothing sound of the waves lapping in the distance, the ocean is not only meditative, but reduces stress and allows for self-reflection and discovery.
Where beachfront really means right there, Calabash Cove Resort and Spa is one of the most popular all-inclusive, adults-only boutique hotels in Saint Lucia, a hideaway offering seclusion, beauty, and mesmerizing views at every turn. Its 26 villas feature old Caribbean charm coupled with luxurious resort amenities of today. From the heavenly Windsong restaurant and lively C-Bar overlooking the infinity pool to the peaceful Ti Spa, guests have everything at their fingertips when vacationing at Calabash Cove. Ti Spa offers a wide range of treatments that combine European technique with St. Lucia’s storied tradition of using plant- and food-based curatives. Each and every treatment is expertly designed to cleanse the body of stress, rejuvenate the spirit, and relax the mind. The exfoliation products are all organic made from local products that are in some case directly from the resort. Their therapists will be happy to demonstrate the different benefits between a coffee or papaya scrub, and more.
Try their signature Spa Sampler (80 minutes/$140USD), a blend of holistic spa treatments fused together to create the ultimate spa experience. Melt away the stress and tension from the back with a hot stone massage followed by deep tissue massage on the back of legs. To the front of body Swedish massage techniques are used with a mix of counter stretching. Aromatherapy facial massage is then performed to rebalance and to induce even deeper relaxation and we end this blissful experience with a revitalizing foot scrub. The resort’s outdoor gazebo is perched on a hill overlooking the ocean and is the perfect spot for a spa treatment while listening to the waves down below. For more information, visit www.calabashcove.com.
Courtesy of Origin
Digital Detox: Going off the Grid
Brian McMahon, Travel Curator at Origin, a luxury travel company based in Palo Alto, California, with regional experts around the world creating completely individual, personalized trips recommends the following for those looking to de-stress.
“If you have a job where you’re constantly thinking about emails, Slack messages, or your never ending to do list, the best trips are where you can disconnect completely—which is easier said than done. But a few properties graciously don’t give you a choice in what is what referred to as “digital detox.”
Patagonia Ecocamp in Torres del Paine National Park of Chile feels so remote that it’s a top choice for disconnecting and managing stress. There’s no cell service in this region, but Ecocamp goes a step further by deliberately choosing to not offer Wifi. The first day or two may feel like withdrawal, but the cleansing effects quickly take over. Not that you have to travel to the extreme points of the Earth to disconnect. Villa Stéphanie in Baden-Baden Germany is a spa and retreat that understands disconnecting is essential for true wellness. All of the rooms have a light switch next to the bed which literally creates a digital sanctuary, activating copper plates in the walls so your room is completely blocked off from wireless interference, cell signal, and internet.”
Origin’s mission is to deepen the traveler’s experience through boundless personalization and unique connections. Origin uses the knowledge of human travel experts and then superpowers their trip curation with machine learning – all in one app. Start planning on the Origin app or on the website. For more information, visit www.origin.me.
Courtesy of Naya Traveler
Spiritual Awakenings: Wander the World
For those who travel to escape the often-numbing effects of everyday routine and stress and seek to explore the diverse healing traditions across cultures, Naya Traveler’s Wellness Wanders specialty trips are designed to detox, refuel and rejuvenate mind and body within a unique cultural context. These carefully crafted wellness-centric experiences are rooted in the ancient healing and wellbeing traditions of each of their destinations, taking advantage of the unique knowledge and practice this context offers though its experts and discipline practitioners, as well as endemic ingredients and native remedies often not found outside their country of origin. Pairing the transformative power of travel with the benefits of native wellbeing practices, Naya Traveler invites travelers to further engage with a destination. Some other destinations include Morocco, South India, Utah and others. For more information, visit www.nayatraveler.com.
Enjoy reconnecting with yourself on a private island retreat in Cambodia. Partake in nourishing natural treatments stemming from traditional Chinese medicine, mindful physical activities, and spirit-awakening sessions with Buddhist monks. Khmer therapists will take you on a healing journey with a variety of detox meals and therapeutic sessions that suits your needs. Learn how to cultivate the Buddhist virtue of metta bhavana(loving-kindness) through spiritual rites and discover the restorative beauty of stillness every morning at sunrise. Spend time exploring the private island on a number of excursions, allowing you to connect with nature and improve your physical wellbeing.