There’s more to globetrotting than snapping selfies for Instagram. Traveling is about experiencing different cultures, whether you’re vacationing in a different state or journeying halfway around the world. I find that gaining knowledge about other people and places makes me a happier, well-rounded person, but only if I keep up my self-care habits on the road. A fun way to do this is to find wellness events while traveling.
What exactly do I mean by “wellness events?” That’s a fair question with a complex answer. A wellness event is anything that contributes to my health, my development as a person or, in general, my happiness! So you can see the benefit. But in order to find wellness events while traveling, it does take a bit of sleuthing. Read on for some of my favorite options anywhere in the world.
This one might be tricky when you’re traveling abroad — gyms aren’t really a thing everywhere — but when you’re in the U.S., you should have no problem finding a local yoga studio. Better yet, if you’re visiting in the warm weather, you might be able to find a free yoga class at a park. Heading to one of these wellness events while traveling won’t just help you beat any stress associated with jet-setting, it might also help you make some new local friends who can show you other parts of town.
Maybe yoga isn’t really your thing. That doesn’t mean you should skip the workout altogether. See if the city you’re visiting has a “signature” workout (think SoulCycle in L.A.) or just try any drop-in fitness class that’s new to you. Bonus points if you can find something outside, like a guided hike, or a class that otherwise gives you an excuse to explore — maybe just by seeking out a fitness studio in a particularly hip part of town.
After you refresh with a yoga session, the next step is to fuel up for the day. Instead of hitting the nearest drive-through, try to find a nearby farmers’ market instead. You can find a lineup of local markets (and basically any other area events) online. Scour websites like Eventbrite, Meetup and Facebook when you want to see what’s going on in your adopted city. All of these sites arrange upcoming events in a way that makes them easy to scan and sort, so you’ll be able to find a farmers market nearby quickly.
If you’re not within walking (or Uber-ing) distance of a farmers’ market, you might be in close proximity to a farm-to-table eatery. I love dining at these types of local watering holes because I know I’m not only enjoying the freshest, healthiest food around, I’m also helping out the chefs and farmers that call the region home. One of the best ways to discover hidden gems — other than asking around — is to book a food tour when you first arrive. The tour should introduce you to local spots off the beaten path.
Wellness doesn’t just refer to personal health. It can also mean the health of an area — even economic health. As I already mentioned, dining at a farm-to-fork restaurant contributes to the economy of the place you’re visiting, but then again, so does patronizing any small business. Look for the shopping district in the area where you’re staying (guidebooks and the internet are your best friends, here) and seek out small shops helmed by warm, friendly owners. These are the places to buy your souvenirs.
After I’d already become a seasoned traveler, I realized something that, at the time, seemed pretty novel: it wasn’t really all about me. Seeing the world was all well and good, but if I wasn’t making a positive impact on the places I saw, then what was the point? I decided to leave behind a positive impact whenever I could by actively seeking out volunteer opportunities everywhere I went. Help clean up a park, serve meals at a soup kitchen or find another way to make your presence known where you vacation.
Setting out to see the world is a life-changing endeavor that obviously is worthwhile even on its own. But when I make sure that I’m taking care of myself in the process, I get so much more out of my globetrotting than I would otherwise. So the next time you take a plane halfway around the world or road-trip to a city you haven’t seen, make sure to spend time on wellness events while traveling. This might be your only chance to visit a foreign farmers’ market or do yoga in a city park — don’t miss out.