Body and soul travel. (John Wiseman)

Body and soul


Make health, wellness and spa treatments part of your travel experience and return feeling refreshed and invigorated from your holidays

Travel is the perfect way to rejuvenate your tired body or sagging soul. And there are many traditional and terrific ways to give your being a boost worldwide.

Spas are often faceless and expensive – but in some countries they are authentic, incredible and extremely cheap. For example, if you’re heading to the Middle East don’t miss a visit to a hammam. These great public bathhouses – found across Morocco, Turkey, Syria and beyond – will allow you to steam with the masses and gain a real insight into local culture.

Many European cities have historical wellness centres too – try the coastal resorts of Estonia, the Art Deco glamour of Budapest’s baths or the saunas of Arctic Sweden (a post-steaming roll in the snow is optional but recommended).

In Asia your spiritual well-being is well catered for. Stay at an Indian ashram for complete removal from the modern world, plus healing meditation and a fascinating cultural immersion. Or make a holy pilgrimage – perhaps to the source of the River Ganges in the Himalaya, or a circumambulation of Buddhist biggie, Mount Kailash, Tibet. Cambodia, Bhutan, Thailand and Laos also offer chances to visit temples and witness monastery life up close.

To refresh yourself without recourse to religion, you could try learning a new skill – a vegetarian cookery retreat in Turkey, a sailing course off Gibraltar, painting lessons on an art safari in Malawi… All can leave you far more fulfilled than just flopping on a beach.

Sometimes just getting away from it all is enough: maybe heading out into the wilds of Patagonia or the Australian Outback, to regain a sense of scale.

But whether you chose to go bush or devote yourself to intensive laughter therapy in frenetic Mumbai, travel can leave you invigorated and refreshed and ready to take on the world.

Further Reading

Top 10 trips to soothe your body and soul

From religious pilgrimages to natural hot springs, there are plenty of ways to rejuvenate yourself on your travels

  1. Trace the River Ganges to its source, India – join Hindu pilgrims on a spiritual and spectacular stroll in the Himalaya to reach the start of the holy river.
  2. Walk the Camino de Santiago, Spain – Europe's ultimate pilgrimage trail, the Way of St James weaves from France across northern Spain to the city of Santiago de Compostela – or add on an extra few days to finish at Atlantic-side Fisterra, the 'end of the world'.
  3. Take a dip in a traditional spa, Estonia – the Baltic coast is dotted with grand old bathhouses offering a range of treatments (chocolate body wrap, anyone?).
  4. Strip off in a Japanese hot spring – immerse yourself in the healing waters, and singularly Japanese culture, of a steaming onsen (hot spring).
  5. Check into an Indian ashram – find holistic healing and meditation, subcontinental style. Ashrams can be cheap as chips – just make sure you like early starts and veggie food before signing up.
  6. Learn to scuba dive, Dominica – picking up a new skill does wonders for the psyche, as does learning to float safely and serenely with the fishes of the Caribbean.
  7. Laugh in Mumbai, India – head to the beach in this Asian megapolis for a hilarious dose of early morning laughter therapy.
  8. Float in the Dead Sea, Jordan – take a dip in the super-salty – and super-therapeutic – waters then go for a hike in nearby Wadi Mujib Nature Reserve.
  9. Learn capoeira in Salvador, Brazil – have a go at this most graceful martial art by taking lessons in its pulsating birthplace.
  10. Steam with the locals in a hammam, Damascus – search out a public bathhouse in the labyrinthine Syrian capital, the perfect intro to local culture. Note, hammams are either single sex or have different opening hours for men and women – find out before you go.