Of course vacations are a wonderful time to chug margs and lounge by the pool. But they can also be a great time to restore your body and mind, and come back feeling healthier than you did when you left.
1. Soak up some healing vibes at Ojo Caliente Mineral Springs in Taos, New Mexico.
These springs are the oldest natural hot springs in the country, and the only hot springs in the world that have four different kinds of mineral waters. Staying at the actual resort at the springs can get pricey (some rooms are almost $300), BUT the cool part is that you can stay in the area — and then go to the springs for a day trip. Taos is also only one and a half hours from Santa Fe, so you could stay there, too.
Day rates are $20 during the week and $32 on the weekend, and they include unlimited use of the mineral pools, the mud pool, the steam, and the sauna.
More info on what to do in Santa Fe and Taos here.
2. Find your inner peace at the San Francisco Zen Center.
"They offer private rooms for anyone to rent that are far cheaper than SF hotels, especially in that central area. And they also provide free healthy breakfasts and affordable vegetarian lunches and dinner in the dining hall. Plus, you have full access to the meditation sessions, Zen Center talks, and yoga classes every day." —Travel blogger La Carmina
Rooms start at $140 and include breakfast and all of the classes. More info here.
3. Stretch your body and your mind at the Sivananda Ashram Yoga Ranch in Woodbourne, New York.
"This is not for the faint of heart! It's a great deal if you want to be super healthy. Accommodation starts at $60 and includes yoga classes, meditation, vegetarian food, and Ayurvedic classes." They also have day rates; $50 gets you two yoga classes, two meals, and use of their facilities. Plus, they have locations in India and the Bahamas, and free meditation and chanting two times a week at the NYC center in Chelsea." —Travel writer Leah Ginsberg
More info here.
4. Do go chasing waterfalls at the Finger Lakes in upstate New York.
"New York's Finger Lakes have everything you need for a relaxing healthy getaway. There are incredible hiking trails, stunning waterfalls in Watkins Glen State Park, and lovely lakes and rivers perfect for a trip out on a canoe or kayak. The region is also so large that there's somewhere to stay no matter what your budget is (including Airbnbs), and because it's wine country, there's a nearly unlimited supply of wine to help you unwind and forget your worries." —Travel blogger Lauren Bassart, The Constant Rambler
More info on how to do the Finger Lakes on a budget here.
5. Cleanse and detox your way through Ojai, California.
Once John Lennon and Yoko Ono's hippie retreat, Ojai is now on the map as one of the last authentically boho towns in the country. There are lots of expensive hotels that offer all sorts of cleanses and detoxes, but you can also stay in an Airbnb (like the one above), and explore the wellness scene on your own.
More info on how to find your budget-friendly zen here.
6. Surrender to the good energy in Sedona, Arizona.
"Sedona is famed for its 'energy vortex' and the healing energies that come along with it. Native American tribes have long insisted that the place has spiritual importance. Whether or not you believe in that sort of thing, Sedona is overflowing with good energy and healthy options. Make sure to pack comfortable shoes for a hike in the red rocks, and a bathing suit for a play on the natural rock slides."
—Travel blogger Christine Amorose, C'est Christine
7. Take (many) deep breaths of crisp, fresh air in The Berkshires, Massachusetts.
"The Berkshires are my favorite relaxing escape from New York City: They're only about a two-hour drive from the heart of the city, but it seems like a world away. My boyfriend and I rent a lake house where we can barbecue, and buy lots of fresh fruits and veggies at the local farmers' market. My boyfriend takes long runs on the quiet country roads while I meditate in the sunny and silent backyard, and we start every morning with a canoe ride on the lake." —Christine Amorose, C'est Christine
The Berkshires are also home to Kripalu Center for Yoga & Health, a well-known yoga center for both novice yogis and instructors. They offer retreats and wellness workshops; midweek rates start at $166 per person, per night (and there's a two-night minimum). More info here.
8. Find new perspective in Redwood National Park in California.
"I like to rent a Jucy Camper Van from San Francisco to the Redwoods, and use the scenic drive as a chance to reflect on my past and think about my future. The van sleeps four people and has a kitchen, so you can pull up to any campground, set up camp, cook yourself a feast, and then get a great sleep.
Once you arrive at the Redwoods, there are tons of trails to hike and calming forest sounds to listen to. The trails are often shrouded in fog, with dew and rain dropping from the giant trees, giving it an even more calming feel. All you will hear is your feet on the soft fern-filled ground." —Travel blogger Sherry Ott, Ott's World
More info here.
9. Slow down in Kennebunk, Maine.
"There’s something about visiting the little seaside town of Kennebunk in Maine in the summer that just takes the weight off my shoulders. Maybe it’s the freshly-painted homes that put a smile on my face, or the sweet Maine blueberries that tempt my tastebuds at the farmers' market. Maybe it’s the relaxed pace of life, or the fact that I can get anywhere I need to be on a bike. Whatever the reason, I know that Kennebunk is my go-to long weekend escape, where I can kick back with a book on the beach without a care in the world."
—Travel blogger Katie MacLeod, Stories My Suitcase Could Tell
10. Meditate with monks at a temple stay in Asia.
11. Chill out in a treehouse at the Earth Lodge in Guatemala.
"My favorite place in the world for a healthy and budget-friendly retreat is Guatemala. Along with Lake Atitlan, which is full of organic farms and inexpensive yoga retreats, I highly recommend Earth Lodge, a treehouse accommodation set on an organic avocado farm (they use only organic fertilizers, fungicides, pesticides). They offer a free stone sauna, donation-based morning yoga, free games and sports, amazing vegetarian cuisine (aside from during their weekly Sunday barbecue, which also has meat), family-style dinners, hikes, and bird watching within walking distance.
Views from almost everywhere on the property overlook Jocotenango Village, Ciudad Vieja, and the volcanoes of Acatenango, Agua and the active Fuego. Nightly rates range from about $17 to $52 per night." —Travel blogger Jessie Festa, Jessie On A Journey
More info here.
12. Visit a medicine man in Ubud, Bali.
"Rather than pay for an expensive organized retreat, I instead did a DIY budget yoga retreat, and it was amazing. I stayed in a local guesthouse, did yoga at the Yoga Barn, and ate super healthy vegan food. I also visited a medicine man, tried reflexology, and explored the beautiful rice paddies that surround town. More info on what I did and how I did it so cheaply here."
—Travel blogger Ashley Fleckenstein, Ashley Abroad
13. Walk for hours on end along the Camino de Santiago in Spain.
"Walking the Camino de Santiago — a 450-mile path across Spain — is probably the cheapest way you'll ever travel through Europe. Your days are reduced to three simple things — eating, sleeping, and walking — and that frees up your mind to think. Stay in Albergues (they have sleeping quarters specifically for walkers) for 10 euro a night, and eat four-course Pilgrim meals for seven to 10 Euro a night." —Travel blogger Sherry Ott, Ott's World
More info here.
14. Look on the bright side in Costa Rica.
The country practically screams wellness, which is why it's one of the most popular spots for insanely expensive wellness retreats. But! There are ways to soak up the healthy vibe on a budget. For example, the Pura Vida Retreat & Spa is actually pretty affordable. Rates start at $130 a night, and they offer lots of wellness options, like Reiki and Pranic healing.
Tabacon Grand Spa Thermal Resort is also a good, budget-friendly option. While staying there is pricey, you can stay in a hostel in nearby La Fortuna, and then just go for a day trip to the spa itself. A day pass is $94 including one meal, and access to the hot springs.
15. Live the simple life in Sayulita, Mexico.
"This small town on Mexico's west coast just might be the perfect beach town in Mexico. It's located north of Puerto Vallarta, which means you can often hunt down great flight deals. The town is very small, so you won't need a car, and you can usually swing a beachside bungalow even on a budget. Street eats are tasty, and I spent many afternoons at the heaps of cafes and smoothie shops. I also loved the weekly farmers market, where I stocked up on locally-grown kale and organic fruit for my morning smoothies, and the yoga studio in town, which runs regular classes. The town abuts the Pacific Ocean, so evenings are spent watching the sunset and waves. Sayulita has the best sunsets I've ever seen, bar none."
—Travel blogger Shannon O'Donnell, A Little Adrift
16. Nourish your body and mind in Negril, Jamaica.
Instead of paying thousands of dollars for an overpriced yoga retreat, get the real deal at the Negril Yoga Centre. Rooms are around $50 a night, and yoga classes are only $10 per session (and you're free to use the studios to do your own practice whenever you want). The centre also serves healthy meals — many vegetarian and vegan. More info here.
If you have a bit more money to spare, check out Zimbali Mountain Retreats. Also in Negril, this place starts at $129 a night, but comes with the option to consult an ancient Jamaican healer, who will help you figure out the lifestyle that's right for you.
More info on what to do and where to go in Jamaica here.
17. Get to know — really know — your own mind through a Vipassana 10-Day Silent Course in New Zealand.
18. Reconnect with nature (and yourself) in the Austrian alps.
"What struck me most about the Austrian alps was the overbearing sound of silence — there wasn't even the slightest hint of a man-made noise. There were no fancy resorts, just fresh mountain air, awesome hikes, and gorgeous food." —Travel blogger Keith Jenkins, Velvet Escape
More info on what to do and where to stay here.
19. Wander through loads of lushness in Phong Na, Vietnam.
"Phong Na, Vietnam is the perfect back-to-nature trip. It's got timeless karst mountains, the world’s biggest caves, glistening rivers, sprawling rice fields, lush jungle, farm-to-table restaurants, eco-conservation hikes, more buffalo wandering the streets than cars, and the chance to live with locals — and all for less than $25 a day. You are practically guaranteed to have the most relaxing, adventurous, and no-stress trip — it's one of the most spectacular atmospheres in all of Southeast Asia."
—Travel bloggers Jarryd Salem and Alesha Bradford, Nomadasaurus
20. You can also DIY your own wellness retreat anywhere in the world.
Similar to what Ashley Fleckenstein did in Bali, you can just pick a beautiful, nature-y spot, and then rent an Airbnb (or a HomeAway, or a campsite, or whatever your preferred method of affordable accommodation may be). Then, hit up the local market for good, fresh produce.
Finally, check out the active offerings in the area. If there's an ocean, go swimming every day. If there are mountains, go hiking! The MINDBODY app is also super useful if you want to go to local fitness classes, like CrossFit and Pilates. It's a GPS-based global network of fitness classes that has over 50,000 businesses and 270,000 practitioners listed. So just open the app wherever you are, and find local classes that may work for you.
21. Or, if you really want to go with a group, find or lead a retreat that's actually affordable with Trip Tribe.
Trip Tribe is a community of like-minded travelers interested in having a healthy adventure. They lead actually-affordable trips that are healthy by nature, including yoga and meditation retreats, hiking trips, farm-to-table food vacations, and more.
How it works: Once you sign up as a member of the "tribe," you fill out a profile about your interests, and the Trip Tribe hooks you up with a list of cool adventures with similar travelers they think you'd like. Trips usually last from four to seven days, and range in price, starting around $600 (including everything but airfare). On the flip side, you can also choose to lead a retreat in yoga, fitness, food, or photography if you're qualified — and you also get paid to do so.
More info here.
22. Or enjoy an active adventure on wheels with Green Tortoise Adventure Travel.
Green Tortoise Adventure Travel is a company that leads adventure bus tours around the U.S., Mexico, and Central America. Commonly referred to as "hippie busses," Green Tortoise busses are both transportation and accommodation, as they can hold and sleep up to 36 passengers, thanks to their fold-out beds (though "riders" are also free to camp outside).
Green Tortoise tours go all around North and Central America, from the national parks (Grand Canyon, Yosemite, etc.), to the beaches in Baja, Mexico, to the L.A. Canyons and more. Trips are around $300 to $500 total, occasionally lasting for an entire month.
More info here.
23. Or open your mind with Intrepid Travel.
Intrepid is a small group adventure travel company that offers 1000 itineraries in over 100 countries, many of them rooted in wellness. They lead active trips, like hiking and cycling, and also more spiritual ones, like learning about traditional medicine and healing in the Amazon. And they're actually affordable, too, because they're all about living the local lifestyle. If you take a trip with Intrepid, you won't stay in fancy hotels or resorts; you'll sleep and eat the way they locals do, whatever they may be. (For example, the "Active in Chiang Mai" trip is $370.)
More info here.
24. Or with G Adventures.
G Adventures is a small-groups adventure tour operator that offers nearly 60 different "Active" tours — like cycling through Italy or hiking through Japan — around the world. They can be a bit more expensive than some of the others, but they often have killer deals listed on their website, like a week-long trek through Colombia for under $700.
Bonus: They also give back to local people through development projects that help bring the benefits of tourism to underserved communities. More info here.