Wellness travel has become a popular trend in recent years, encompassing everything from yoga classes to eco-tourism.  To better understand what this concept really means, we looked to the seven foundations of wellness (physical, emotional, intellectual, spiritual, social, environmental and occupational wellness) to see how these aspects of health relate to travel.  Read on to learn about wellness travel and what you can do to incorporate it into your next vacation or business trip.

Physical.  Most of us understand what we need to do to take care of our physical health:  eat well, exercise regularly and get adequate sleep.  But these simple steps can become a challenge when you’re out of your normal routine in an unfamiliar environment.

Planning ahead is key to improving and maintaining your physical health away from home.  Pack workout gear and look for gyms, running trails or other activities before you leave. Bring healthy snacks or go grocery shopping to avoid overeating or relying on unhealthy options between meals. Do your best to stick to your regular bedtime and wake up early.

Emotional.  We look forward to travel as an opportunity to have a break from daily life and enjoy some free time in different surroundings.  This can cause us to forget that travel, even on vacation, can also be hectic and stressful.

Be sure to leave extra, unplanned time when you can relax and focus on your mental health. Tune into your feelings and take the time to reflect on them, either on your own or with loved ones.  Stay optimistic and look for the positive around you.

Intellectual.  Rather than just zoning out by the pool, use your vacation time to explore, learn and grow as a person.  Take this opportunity to read, write, brush up on a foreign language, practice art-making or whatever else stimulates your creativity.  Visit museums or historic sites to deepen your knowledge and experience.

Spiritual.  This may mean different things to different people.  If you are religious, look to attend a service or connect with your spiritual community by visiting a sacred site. Practice meditation, either individually or through a guided class, to develop your spiritual feelings and awareness. Even a stroll through a natural environment can awaken and renew your sense of spirit.

Social.  Wherever you travel, there are people who live, work and call this community home.  Make an effort to get off the tourist track to understand what life is like in this place. Learn about its history and the local issues and concerns of the people.  You might even connect with the community by volunteering your time or becoming involved in a worthy cause.

Environmental.  From jet fuel to hotel linen service, the travel industry can put a big strain on the environment.  This has led many companies to adopt “green travel” practices that help reduce or eliminate that strain to help create a better world.

Seek out these travel options but also take some responsibility on yourself.  Follow the same green practices you do at home, such as carrying reusable bags, dishware and water bottles, utilizing public and alternative transportation, and conserving energy and resources.  Ask questions about the commitment to the environment of the companies that you choose to patronize.  

Occupational. Many of us see travel as a way to escape work but this can also be a chance to reflect and develop satisfaction in your career.  Are you fulfilled in your work and maximizing your potential?  This may be time for you to explore other paths, develop business contacts or network with colleagues outside your city, consider creative or unconventional solutions, or simply rededicate yourself to your work when you return home.

Kevin Arnold

Kevin Arnold writes about health, wellness and travel.  For more tips and information, check out all of his posts at www.pureroom.com/blog.  

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