Wellness Adventures: The Rise of Health and Fitness Holidays

Feb 20, 2024 BY Paul McWilliams

Wellness adventures and health and fitness holidays are defined by the Global Wellness Institute as getaways ‘made by tourists who seek to improve or maintain their well-being during or as a result of their trip’.

Wellness adventures The rise of health and fitness holidays Flickr CC image by mikebaird

And over the last few years wellness holidays have seen a surge in popularity. Tourism centred on health and well being grew by more than 9% in 2017, almost 50% faster than the overall global tourism.

This gives you some insight into how popular this section of the global tourism industry has become. It’s also understandable that some travel companies now focus exclusively on health and fitness holidays.

But what kind of wellness adventures are out there? And why are people rejecting fly and flop holidays in favour of using their down time to get in shape?

The Rise of Health and Fitness Holidays

As everyday workplaces and lifestyles become more sedentary, the number of people using their holiday time to work on their physical and mental well-being has doubled over the last five years. According to a survey by Travelex, one in three Brits want to tone up on holiday while a quarter said they wanted to lose weight.

Wellness adventures The rise of health and fitness holidays Yoga in Nicaragua photo by Tamsin Ross Van Lessen

This is in direct contrast to the traditional holiday, which is a time to splurge, put the diet on the back burner and to indulge yourself. But it seems attitudes are changing. These days people are more likely to be taking beneficial supplements such as Wan Ton than popping pills like ecstasy.

Of course, lounging by the pool or on the beach all day still appeals to many. But Health and Fitness Travel found that 82% of people would rather stay active on holiday.

Types of Wellness Adventures

There are no specific definitions of what counts as a wellness, health or fitness holiday. So we’ve broken them down into several categories.


After a year of eating at your desk, late night pizzas or breakfast on the go, the idea of spending a week or two eating nothing but healthy food has big appeal. Detox holidays aim to give you the space and time to focus on good nutrition, carefully chosen activities, mental clarity and body detoxification.

Wellness adventures The rise of health and fitness holidays Flickr CC image by Robert Gourley

Ideally your holiday will start with a detox consultation which will help to identify your key goals for the trip. From this you will be able to work out a nutrition and exercise plan that’s tailored to you. At the end of your trip, you will have developed a clearer idea of what your body needs and will have a plan in place for longer term overall health.

At the end of your trip, you will have developed a clearer idea of what your body needs and will have a plan in place for longer term overall health. So perhaps invest in a juice machine to continue detoxing at home. For more extreme interventions regarding addictions a visit to a restore detox centre may be the answer

Fitness and Coaching

These are holidays that achieve better health and wellness through physical exercise and activity. Sometimes centred around one activity such as windsurfing, football or mountain biking. But often they combine different forms of exercise and wellness for a more holistic approach. For example, a surfing and yoga week or a ski holiday combined with mountain spa and pilates.

Whether it’s tennis, snowboarding or zumba, kickstarting your metabolism with an action-packed couple of weeks could be exactly what your body needs. This is your chance to improve circulation, strength and stamina so that you can return fitter, more relaxed and in better shape than ever.

Weight Loss/Bootcamp

Find that you’re carrying extra timber that faddy diets or self-restraint just isn’t shifting? Then a weight loss/ bootcamp holiday could be just what you need.

Wellness adventures The rise of health and fitness holidays Flickr CC image by benwebboz

Losing weight and keeping it off is all about developing good habits. And a break from your usual routine can make this easier. You’ll develop a personalised weight loss plan built around dietary concerns and cardiovascular exercise.

Bootcamps are a more intense form or weight loss and exercise regime that put your body to the test. They often involve a range of high energy activities such as running, cycling, pilates, gym work, martial arts and more. It’s an exhilarating and effective way to slim down.

Mindfulness, Yoga and Meditation

These are health and fitness holidays that give you the chance to slow down. You’ll take stock and spend time working on your mental well-being. Mindfulness is a meditative practice that encourages heightened awareness and aims to disrupt negative thoughts. Just having the chance to ‘switch off’ from your everyday routine and thought pattern can really restore balance.

This focus on mental well-being is often accompanied with mediation. Or it is part of a physical activity, such as on yoga or pilates retreats. The idea is to provide a whole body holiday that sets you on the path to a less stressful and more mindful future.

Everest base camp trek Get fit for trekking holidays: 8 cheap fitness hacks Flickr CC Image by Rick McCharles

If you are in need of more support for mindfulness and general happiness, then please discuss it with a professional. You could enroll in some online therapy to help, visit your doctor or talk to a counsellor – many places of work and education have this available.

Spa Breaks and Medical Spas

A spa break is nothing new. Of these different types of wellness adventures it is probably the original. People have been soaking in hot, mineral rich, therapeutic waters for Millenia. But it has become big industry with many hotels offering spa facilities and plenty offering spa breaks as their central theme.

As an offshoot of this, medical spas play a role in the rise of health and fitness holidays. Expert doctors and health specialists use the latest technology combined with medicine and medical procedures to combat specific health concerns. With nutritious food, exercise and top notch spa facilities, medi-spas set you on the right path.


These wellness adventures are often once in a lifetime trips. Kayak, trek, cycle, swim or all of the above your way to your ultimate destination. These trips test your physical and mental strength.

Best Time to Climb Kilimanjaro? Image provided by Kilimanjaro Safari Holidays

Think two weeks trekking in the Himalayas or trekking up mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania. Perhaps kayak your way around the Great lakes, or along the Croatian coastline. How about cycling the length of your country, or crossing the Alps by pedal power.

Expeditions put your body and mind on the line. They aren’t supposed to be easy but encourage a sense of achievement that is often lacking from our everyday lives. And six to eight hours trekking every day for a couple of weeks is going to shift some excess body fat and tone muscles.

Specialist Health and Fitness Holidays

As well as the trips outlined above, there are also specialised options out there. From post-cancer retreats to sleep enhancement and Ayurveda to stop smoking breaks, there are all sorts of holidays aimed at helping you overcome specific health and well-being concerns.

Wellness adventures all round!

Planning on topping up your tan and sipping cocktails by the pool?

cycling in the Dolomites, italy flickr CC image by Monica Guy

Instead use your free time to get in shape, de-stress or learn a new skill! As the popularity of health and fitness holidays grows as do the options. So book wellness adventures that suits you, and return home fitter, healthier and with a sense of well being.

We hope you fund this guide to the different types of wellness adventures inspirational. To get involved in the rise of health and fitness travel, check out hundreds of adventure holidays here.

Africa, Asia, Caribbean, Central America, Europe, Middle East, North America, Oceania, South America
Cycling, Fitness, Kayaking, Multi Activity, Running, Surfing, Trekking, Yoga
Exercise, fitness, Gym, health, Stretching, training, wellness
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