There’s a lot of hype around wellness retreats at the moment — especially if you’re clued in to the wave of health consciousness becoming more and more popular around the world. People near and far are choosing to swap out their lazy, booze-filled vacations (you know the kind: when it ends, you feel like you need another vacation) for ones that promote good health, daily rituals, life skills, inspiration and a detox from life’s mundane stressors.
There are several offerings on the market — from one-day retreats in Malibu to three-week breaks in India — and choosing the right one can feel overwhelming. But we’ve got your back. Below is a list of things to consider before leaping into your most rewarding vacay ever.
Certain parts of the world obviously offer certain experiences. If waking up at 5 a.m. in an ashram to meditate is not what you’re looking for, then India might not be your jam. If you need to be connected to wifi and you have a fear of spiders, a tropical island might not provide you with all your retreat desires. Research the area the retreat is located in. Make sure it matches your needs for the time you will be spending away. This process often involves some reflection on what it is you are really looking for.
More research is required. If you are spending time with and learning from the instructors/chefs/guides, you want to know that you are a fan of their work. Check out their philosophies online. Ask your friends about them. If possible, meet them before you commit to an experience with them — take their yoga class, eat at their restaurant, or have a consultation with them. You want to be sure you’re aligned with their offerings.
It’s all fun and games until you come home and can’t afford your next rent payment. Retreats have a vast price range, so make sure you are signing up for one that’s suitable to your financial situation. This experience is not meant to cultivate stress, so be smart about the retreat price tag, as well as the cost of transportation, insurance, new swimsuits and any add-ons you want to take advantage of while you are away. (That could include massages, nutrition consultations, etc.)
If you feel you need to relax and unwind, taking a yoga retreat that emphasizes partying and “balance” is probably not going to serve you best. If sleeping in and having a biodynamic glass of wine or two with a gourmet dinner is on your radar, then a meditation retreat in an ashram in Peru might not be the right path for you. Get crystal clear about what you want out of this experience and then make sure the retreat provides exactly that. It’s out there — you just have to find it.
If you have dietary needs, this is a big one. Be sure to communicate with the facilitators before you commit to ensure they can tailor to your needs. Be smart about it too — most retreat offerings include a lighter, cleaner way of eating. If this is not what you’re looking for, you might research a cooking retreat or a retreat with an emphasis on the food you are most interested in fueling yourself with for the duration of your time there. If you are vegan or vegetarian, remember that places like Colombia are home to a meat-heavy culture, so instead opt for more familiar locations (same country you live in) or renowned for their plant-based mastery (hello, Bali).