virtuoso communities The Stressed-Out Traveler's Guide to Really Relaxing on Vacation

The Stressed-Out Traveler's Guide to Really Relaxing on Vacation

Photo by Orbon Alija/Getty Images
From family reunions to group spa vacations, Virtuoso advisors who specialize in wellness travel share their pro tips for how to make time for yourself.

Even the most exciting and joyful trips can sometimes be a little stressful – especially when it’s a group getaway with many different personalities, for example, or a multigenerational family reunion with your slightly combative aunt. The key to finding your Zen on vacation, according to several Virtuoso travel advisors that specialize in wellness travel, is making time to take care of yourself. Here, their best advice for finding balance and joy on a potentially stress-inducing trip.
First order of business: Use a Virtuoso travel advisor. They may not be able to alleviate every single little family-induced stressor or travel-related anxiety, but it’s their job to handle all of a trip’s logistics – booking flights, securing hotel reservations, organizing group activities – and they’re always on call if something planned goes awry during your trip. For group spa retreats (your best friend has been strongly hinting at wanting her bachelorette party at a destination spa, maybe?), an advisor that specializes in wellness travel can help your group decide which spa resort is right for you.
On a group trip – whether it’s with extended family, friends, or strangers randomly brought together on a tour – it’s essential to carve out alone time to find inner tranquility. The am, when it’s still quiet, is an especially fertile period for exercise and reflection. Virtuoso advisor Jamie Jackson suggests that her clients not go to bed too late, ensuring mornings aren’t rushed. “If you have a routine back at home of stretching or meditating, allow time for that before your busy day gets going,” she says.

Jackson – who organized a yoga trip to Southern Italy last fall – checks her email and practices yoga every morning, which can be done without leaving your hotel room. She likes The Yoga Collective’s library of online classes: “I pull up a 10, 20, or 30-minute workout on my phone or laptop and get my body in balance for the day,” Jackson says.

Explore a new city on an early-morning jog. 
Explore a new city on an early-morning jog. 
Photo by ai_yoshi/iStock/GettyImages
If a daily workout routine helps you handles stress while at home, try to make time for it on vacation too. “For early risers, it’s fairly easy because they can get up at five in the morning, go for a run, or work out in the hotel gym,” says Virtuoso travel advisor Betsy Donley. If you’d rather sleep in, Donley advises skipping the long group lunch and using that time for a run and quick meal instead, or squeeze in an energizing, pre-dinner 30-minute workout. “Leaving your hotel room is the hardest part of the workout,” she says.
Just because it’s a group trip doesn’t mean everybody has to be together all the time. Peeling away to do things that are important to you is key, otherwise resentment might mar the bevy of blissful bonding experiences that await. Donley, for instance, has orchestrated an annual trip for a group of moms and their children for ten years. One of their highlights is discussing the variety of different activities each person partakes in.
Fellow travelers aren’t the only potential source of anxiety: A too-crammed itinerary can cause burnout, not transformation. Be OK with down time, and don’t be afraid to say that you need a break from the itinerary. Virtuoso travel advisor Jessica Renshaw, who recently plotted a solo wellness getaway in Saint Lucia for a cancer survivor, notes that “feeling well and full of energy doesn’t only have to be available when you have copious amounts of time.” She suggests taking ten deep breaths every morning, while focusing on filling the belly, expanding the chest, and setting an intention for the day.
Finally, don’t sweat the small stuff (let your travel advisor do that), and instead focus on identifying what’s amazing about your trip, rather than what might be annoying.
“Another great way to still one’s mind and bring it into a state of gratitude is to travel with a journal,” says Renshaw. For just a few minutes a day recognize “how the sights and the people you met made you feel, the smells of the street market, the intense colors of the malachite kingfisher bird, or the sounds of the hippos sleeping outside your safari tent. Our senses are heightened when we travel. Use that as a tool to get present."

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