How to make your trip smoother and less stressful

The last time Camille Hoheb took a health-focused vacation, she didn’t set any goals for power walking, lower her blood pressure by a few points, or reform any nefarious daily habits. She brought a sketchbook, not an itinerary, and a general aspiration to find popular restaurants in the country, rather than flipping through a list of must-visit restaurants.

The two days she spent in a picturesque Massachusetts seaside town with her dog, her camera and her art supplies were more relaxing than a week of forced entertainment, says Hoheb, 58. And she would know: her work daily consultation with tourism offices. how they can better position themselves among travelers seeking wellness.

At this point in 2022, leisure travel has returned to pre-pandemic levels, and predictions are that it will continue — as much as it can, given that airlines are reducing the number of flights they operate, and that hotels, restaurants and destinations are barely able to stay open due to chronic labor shortages. After delaying major travel for two years, many Americans are determined to save up for breakout travel, according to experts, despite vacations to popular national parks and European destinations being disrupted by wildfires, droughts and floods.

Shifting travel expectations

Is it possible to create a restorative escape in an already extremely stressful year?

Yes, experts say, especially if you use the planning itself as an exercise in mindfulness and then shift expectations, as Hoheb did, from activity to personal restoration. New research even shows that proper travel can be meaningful for people struggling with dementia.

Dr. Jun Wen, a lecturer in Tourism and Services Marketing at Edith Cowan University in Australia, argues that the proven physical, psychological and social benefits of travel should position travel as a form of medical therapy for vulnerable groups, including people with dementia.

“All tourism experiences provide elements of anticipation and planning, both of which stimulate brain function. Exercise is often an important component of tourism experiences and is often included in dementia intervention plans. Tourism experiences, such as beach visits, provide dementia patients with sensory stimulation, mood enhancement, exercise, music therapy and instilling a sense of freedom as non-medicinal dementia interventions,” he says. “Group tours can simulate psychological interventions and music in a destination is compatible with music therapy programs for those with dementia.”

I’m seeing that game for my mother, who at 89, is now limited to day trips. When I call her to confirm a walk to the botanical garden or a historical outdoor living museum, her voice lights up. With only a few days’ notice, the length of the wait matches her memory, and she has a dual gift for waiting for a good time, then passing it.

My capacity for planning is as flexible as it’s ever been, which is good, considering that, like any traveler, I need to be more flexible than ever.

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It’s no longer enough to make basic arrangements and expect everything to go as planned: these days, you have to stand by to change your reservations and your expectations as carriers, hotels and destinations adapt their services to their current capabilities . With so many obstacles to a vacation, you might as well switch gears to a slower schedule.

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Let the days unfold

Or, no agenda at all. A few weeks ago, my husband and I took a very long weekend in Asheville, North Carolina, the artsy town in the Blue Ridge Mountains. Other than our hotel room, the only reservation I made was to see the Homer Winslow exhibit at his newly renovated art museum. Other than that… well, for four whole days, we spent our calories at a new restaurant a day, our energy walking in the hilly centers of Asheville and nearby Brevard, and our patience navigating the hairpin turns of the mountain roads. to the high altitude highlands and to the cashiers. Our goal was not to come back smarter, thinner or more sophisticated, but simply to let our feet and minds wander.

Wellness travel consultant Samantha Lippiatt says she’s a fan of expensive spas, but also says the end result of deep refreshment is free for anyone who wants to plan their trip around “non-negotiables like work, getting out, and insurance.” of good sleep. .”

This seems to be the sweet spot for making the most of a (thankfully) waning 2022: focus on your big-picture health goals, allow time for the day and experiences to unfold, and let go of the demands you normally make on yourself without slipped. situations that warrant a regret hangover.

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Agendas are antithetical to true relaxation, says Hoheb, arguing against the popular notion of wellness vacations as purpose-filled excursions that stretch physical endurance and willpower.

“Wellness is not about a bathroom. It’s about being reflective and intentional. It’s about the culture, the food and the light activity – knowing your limits and not going beyond them,” she says. “Come home a better version of yourself.”

Joanne Cleaver is a freelance writer based in Charlotte, NC. She covers women’s issues, travel, entrepreneurship, financial planning and retirement preparedness. She has written seven nonfiction books, the most recent being “Career Networking: Combat brain drain, improve company culture and attract top talent.”

This article is reprinted with permission from NextAvenue.org© 2022 Twin Cities Public Television, Inc. All rights reserved.

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