Travel really can transform your life, and these are a few of the trips that will make it happen.
Globe Aware Volunteer Trips
A volunteer vacation in another country can help you put your life into perspective. Globe Aware, for instance, operates trips in 15 countries, from Costa Rica to Cuba, Brazil to Vietnam. You’ll assist in rural schools, build wells, and deliver supplies to orphanages, teach English and computer lessons, or distribute fruits and vegetables to low-income families. Travelers come home and say that every aspect of their week was meaningful, and that they felt that they were able to give back to the community. Rates range from $1,140 to $1,390 per week depending on the trip. Cost covers meals, accommodation, and on-site travel (but not airfare).
Kripalu, Berkshires, MA
Located among the beautiful Berkshire Mountains, Kripalu has a special Just for Women program—among many others with a wellness emphasis. In July, the retreat hosts a program called “The Science of Happiness,” lead by an expert on the science of Positive Psychology, who can help you enhance your general well-being, self-esteem, and motivation. A stay helps open you up to new experiences and cope better with difficult issues by being more connected to your inner self. Rates range from $86/night for dorm style accommodations up to $307 per night for a lakeside room with a private bath. The rate includes all your meals, daily yoga classes, and the use of Kripalu’s facilities (fitness room, trails, labyrinth, sauna, whirlpool).
If you want to unplug in an easy-going location, Jackie’s on the Reef in Negril, Jamaica is a smart choice. You’ll be far from the Caribbean’s see-and-be-seen crowd and able to unwind in a relaxed beachfront space that overlooks a coral reef on the west end of Negril. Each day begins with a yoga session in an open-air waterfront veranda, followed by an organic breakfast. Additional activities range from seaside massages to full moon ceremonies. Suffice it to say, you leave relaxed and with a renewed appreciation for the environment. Rates from $150 per night and include breakfast and dinner.
Get ready for an adrenaline rush: Thee Body & Soul Adventure Trip sets out from Brazil’s colonial town of Paraty. You’ll spend your days ocean kayaking, hiking out to refreshing waterfalls, and participating in daily yoga and massages experiences-all while eating healthy, fresh food (imagine all the delicious Amazonian fruit). The experience includes six nights’ accommodations, three meals a day, 6 full body massages, 11 yoga classes (75 minutes twice a day), hiking, kayaking, transfers between Rio de Janeiro and Paraty. Rates from $2,250 per person ($375 per night), not including airfare.
Why not detox along the Mediterranean? Spain’s Sha Wellness Clinic is based in the historic port city of Alicante and offers anti-stress and sleep-well programs, plus an instruction in macrobiotic foods to fine-tune your middy and mind. No coffee and sugar here! You can listen to Chinese medical gurus, focus on your nutrition, or simply hike the nearby mountains and take in the sparking Mediterranean Sea. Rates from $277 per night; $2,155 for the seven-day anti-stress program.
Esalen Institute, Big Sur, CA
The 120-acre Esalen Institute has been a wellbeing destination since the 60s. It has a wide range of programs—anywhere from 2 to 28 days—that are geared toward enhancing the mind-body connection. There are workshops, writing exercises, creative programs, and forms of therapy, such as grief counseling. Whatever the program, everyone comes back talking about the cliff-side natural hot spring. Rates for the Esalen workshops begin at $555 for a weekend and includes meals.