Wellness Travel Guide for 2024

Immersive travel can be an excellent and exciting platform for self improvement, behavior change, eating well, exercising, being kind to oneself and to others.
Discover a healthy you in the new year.

New Year, New You, New Places

Solo travel, to me, means freedom to try out new paths, new ideas, new smells, new flavors, new sounds, new feelings, new perspectives, a new you, a new number, who dis

It means growth, autonomy, opportunities to recognize your strength, but also your limitations as a tiny speck on earth. I see immersive travel as an excellent and exciting platform for self improvement, behavior change, eating well, exercising, being kind to oneself and to others.

The timing of this post coming out with the new year was no accident, and while it can be exciting to get into the hype of the new year and a hypothetical clean slate, there is never a better time than the now for self reflection and developing goals.

Topoje, Albania reached via a day hike from Vusanje, Montenegro

Perhaps you are interested in mindful eating practices, or you want a hands (and palate) on experience with understanding the “terroir” (taste of place) of another culture.  Maybe you want to travel, but would like some guidance navigating the experience. Or, possibly you’ve reached a plateau and simply want to experience travel in a different and enriching way.  Goal oriented travel (G.O.T.) can be a great way to hit the reset button and focus on your wellbeing wherever you are. And while wellness travel goals are by no means a one size fits all, I thought I’d share some of my favorites with sample SMART goals to enhance your wellness and nutrition routine before, during, and after travel.  

Expand your palate and your mind.

Trying new foods, dishes and flavors can be a step towards allowing yourself enhanced experiences. There are limitless reasons you may decide this is an area you would like to focus on whether it is to expand your world, broaden your foodview, understand a culture or history through foods, or maybe your tastebuds are bored. Perhaps you are stuck with your current eating routine or simply want to step out of your comfort zone

As a recovered fair to moderately picky eater, I can say I am so glad I branched out and started retrying foods I used to dislike. Now food experiences provide color to my travels that I internalize and take with me. Some of my favorite food memories include celebrating the end of Ramadan (Eid al-Fitr) with feasts, preparing dishes for Diwali, stepping outside in the late mornings and buying cups of green mango slices doused with lime and salt in Colombia, enjoying grilled frog legs stuffed with rice and Khmer mixed spices in Cambodia after a bike ride, trying dried camel meat following a wild adventure in the Empty Quarter in Oman, and eating pulled squirrel at a slow foods dinner in Vermont.  

Empty Quarter, one of the most peaceful places on earth.

Expanding your palate coincides well with travel which can provide inspiration, motivation, education and unforgettable experiences that will stay with you long after returning home. Create Joy can help you identify and reach your wellness goals with the adventure of a lifetime.

Potential SMART goal: Try one new food, dish, or flavor each week. 

Don’t go thirsty.

Hydration. This is a biggie for travel, energy levels, and, well, life in general. It sounds simple, yet can be so impactful and the difference between feeling blah and amazing.  

I love this one, as hydration is an ongoing area of improvement for me. During a trip to Kashmir and Ladahk, I was continuously re-evaluating my fluid goals, which varied day to day due to variables such as altitude (increased respiration rates and urine output), hiking around 17,000 feet, and gastrointestinal issues. Replenishing electrolytes was also key along with some antibiotics in this scenario. It sure was worth it!

If you find you are not meeting fluid needs (not counting EtOH… we all know those needs were met ringing in the new year) this can be a great focus for a SMART goal

First determine if you are meeting fluid needs; there are a plethora of methods to determine this including caloric intake and body weight, but for a healthy individual, you could typically start with a baseline amount using the following:

  1. The National Academy of Medicine suggests the following Adequate Intake (AI) of daily fluids of about 9 cups (8 oz per cup) for healthy women and 13 cups for healthy men, with adjusted amounts based on variables such as physical activity. This AI also assumes you get a fair amount of water from foods, so depending on your diet, needs may vary. 
  1. Check your urine- if it’s on the darker side, this may be a good area for you to work on, but remember urine color can be influenced by things such as medications, foods, supplements, etc. 

Then when setting your own goal, make sure to consider fluid needs often increase with physical activity, higher altitudes, flying (the Aerospace Medical Association recommends drinking about 8 ounces of water per hour while on an airplane), extreme temperatures, and illness.  

Potential SMART goal: For a healthy individual consuming 2000 calories/day (but only drinking 1.5L of fluids/day); Increase your water intake by ~500ml a day. 

Get mindful with your eating habits.

Incorporate mindful eating practices into your daily routine. Maybe you find yourself practicing distracted eating or overeating. Perhaps you would like to work on being more present and mindful during meals and engaging your senses. Maybe you would like to improve your travel eating habits whether on a daily commute, road trips or traveling abroad. 

Personally, I’ve found my senses are often heightened during travel, which was helpful when starting to practice mindful eating. I also love participating in homestays where I eat with local families and learn new practices.

Create Joy can help you develop travels centered around mindful eating practices. 

Potential SMART goal: Practice mindful eating by turning off screens at each dinner meal. 

Homestay in Kargil Zanskar

Increase & Elevate your physical activity.

Maybe it’s time to jump start your fitness routine to enhance overall wellbeing, reduce stress, get that revenge body, prepare for hiking Mount Kilimanjaro, walking Camino de Santiago, or whatever inspires you. 

The winter before hiking the W Circuit solo in Patagonia I had fallen out of an exercise routine and generally was not feeling my best, so I used that adventure as a way to help get me motivated and excited about improving my fitness levels to comfortably hike ~10 miles a day with a pack. 

As with any goal, it should be individualized and is important to assess your current fitness level to develop appropriate actions. When setting your goal, remember the best kind of exercise will always be the kind that you WILL do. 

Potential SMART goal: If you already have a cardio routine, try switching it up with four sets of 12 reps of upper body strength training two times a week.  If you are someone who does not routinely exercise, but would like to, may be start with 30 minutes of light to moderate intensity exercise three to five times per week with plans to reassess.

Start your new year, new you off with a bang and connect with Create Joy.  

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