Advertised wellness retreats are mostly out of reach for the budget traveller. With a reputation for being an elitist holiday, most of us just dream about a health focused get-away. Yet, like any do-it-yourself (DIY) project, you can save money and enjoy the benefits by planning your own wellness break. You’ll need to invest some time upfront for planning. Then, if you then stick to your schedule the enjoyment level will be well worth the effort.
Your four-day DIY wellness retreat guidelines
Before you plan a wellness retreat, you need to understand what wellness means to you. Generally, wellness is about reaching a state of physical, mental and social wellbeing. So, a wellness retreat might include some or all the following:
- physical activity that extends or challenges you beyond your everyday activity
- meditative workshops like yoga or mindfulness
- staying well hydrated
- choosing to eat foods that add value to your physical health
- time to read, watch some favourite films or enjoy other activities you miss indulging in
- minimising the intake of food, drinks or habits you know aren’t good for you
- situations that stimulate good conversation and reflections on life.
Why a four-day wellness retreat?
Taking four days out of a busy lifestyle is achievable if you really want to do it. Any more than four days can make it a little harder to schedule in, logistically. Plan your four days to run through a weekend so you can make the most of local weekend markets or festivals; or take a mid-week break away from the hustle and bustle of fellow weekenders.
Following are some basic guiding principles to ensure you get the best value from planning your own wellness retreat.
Step 1: Decide on your wellness theme
What is a priority for you right now in terms of achieving wellness? For example, if you’ve neglected regular physical activity and you’re experiencing discomfort or health issues as a result, you may want to explore scheduling in a range of physical activities to motivate you back towards fitness goals. Think indoor rock climbing or abseiling, trail walks, stand-up paddle boarding, kayaking or packing your bicycle and exploring bike paths.
If you’ve found yourself eating poorly and you’re feeling lethargic and generally unwell, your wellness retreat may be a focus on nutritional food or a detoxification program (ideally under the guidance of an expert). You could plan to book into a cooking class or two or explore farm gate produce – or book a deep-sea fishing half day as part of your wellness retreat program.
If anxiety or stress is consuming you, booking in a few massages, a mindfulness workshop and a reiki session may be part of your plan. The choices and combinations of activities are endless, and only limited by your imagination and budget.
Make sure that if it’s reading you want to indulge in, you have borrowed or bought the books you plan to enjoy. Or, if hitting bike trails is your thing, book your bicycle in for a service and check your roof racks are good to go. Being well prepared beforehand, will make for a pleasurable four-days.
Your idea of a wellness retreat may be simply to eat well, go for a few walks and binge read some favourite novels or sociology books!
Step 2: Invite a like-minded retreat buddy, or not
Like committing to a gym or exercise group, inviting a friend is one of the surer ways to achieve this well-earned wellness break. Going solo can be a great way to refresh your mind too. It really depends on what you want to achieve from your wellness retreat. To achieve your desired outcomes, you need to find a retreat buddy that shares similar goals or your plans could unravel quickly.
Step 3: Block out your calendar right now
Make sure you book your planned retreat in like you would any holiday. Let people who need to know that you won’t be available on those dates. Don’t book in any other appointments. Prioritise this. You’ll be so grateful that you did.
Step 4: Find a destination and accommodation an easy day trip from home
I once planned my own wellness retreat – at home. Disaster! It was a disaster because it never really happened. I let way too many distractions, and not enough planning get in the way. Of course, if you’re super disciplined, you could make it work at home.
If you’re like me and being at home means thinking about all the house or yard work that needs to be done, you need to find yourself an escape away from home. The secret to achieving wellness and relaxation starts with the word ‘retreat’. Try and keep your choice of accommodation in a destination that has the following features:
- Within a comfortable day trip from home: you don’t want to spend the equivalent of a full day travelling to your destination and home again!
- Easy access to natural parklands, beaches, walking or cycling trails: the more convenient it is to step out your front door and be inspired to get active, the better.
- A destination with ready access to bookable wellness activities: there are many destinations that are hubs boasting activities like massages, yoga, meditation or cooking classes.
- Affordable: you don’t want to add financial stress to your wellness break.
While flying somewhere exotic has appeal, when it comes to focusing on wellness, you can achieve the same outcomes in a location kinder to your budget.
Step 5: Plan your sleeping and waking schedule
Seriously. Getting good sleep for three nights could be just the wellness retreat you need to regenerate! A good wellness retreat is always best supported by early morning activities to kick-start your day, and get you moving from sun up. Look into early morning yoga or pilates classes, or plan a series of early morning walks so you can claim an achievement every day, before breakfast!
Step 6: Plan your eating schedule
If you’re not someone who enjoys cooking, consider planning an eating schedule that minimises the amount of time you need to spend in the kitchen. Healthy meal delivery services are readily available if you’d prefer to simply eat in but eat healthily.
If you love to cook, consider looking into local cooking classes. Many winery and farming regions offer a range of cooking experiences with farm gate, or freshly picked local produce.
If you’d prefer to eat out on your four-day wellness retreat, research some great local dining experiences that suit your budget, and your wellness goals. For example, if detoxing or cutting down on meat or dairy is a goal, consider setting yourself a goal to go vegetarian or vegan for the four-days. You’ll feel a sense of achievement, and you may end up switching your dietary preferences for the longer term!
Step 7: Schedule in a couple of treats
Complete abstinence from vices like alcohol or chocolate can tempt an all-out binge. Schedule in some treats to your wellness retreat, so you can focus on your health and wellness most of the time but indulge in a bit of naughtiness that you can look forward to.
Of course, you could switch from your author’s mindset, and consider reading a book your treat instead of sipping on a cocktail!
What are the activities that feed your soul?
Step 8: Book in wellness activities before you arrive
Explore the local network of wellness practitioners in and around where you plan to stay for the four days. Book in your planned activities before you arrive, so you can optimise the way you spend your wellness break. It may feel like a lot of planning upfront. However, once you arrive at your retreat digs you’ll be well rewarded. With all the decision making done, all you need to do is just turn up!
Step 9: Plan to limit your time online
Turn off your mobile phone or tablet most of the time. Being online can distract you from the best laid plans. If you must catch up on social media or emails, schedule in a couple of half hour time slots per day and stick with the plan. If you find yourself online often, you’ll almost immediately feel the lift as you move from screen life, to real life.