The Rise of Fitcations
More and more travellers are not only including exercise in their vacation plans, but also making it the main theme of their getaway. It’s called a fitcation!
Taking a vacation doesn’t have to mean sipping margaritas poolside and indulging in the all-inclusive buffet. Sure there’s aqua aerobics, and many resorts now have gyms, but more and more travellers are not only including exercise in their vacation plans, but also making it the main theme of their getaway.
Fitcations—growing in popularity
Wellness tourism is the latest vacationing trend. From cycling holidays to yoga retreats, fitcations are a great way to improve your fitness while soaking up the atmosphere and culture of an exotic locale. According to the Global Wellness Institute, wellness tourism worldwide is a multi-billion dollar business, growing at a faster rate than tourism in general.
Anne Dimon, CEO of Travel to Wellness, a website dedicated to wellness-inspired travel destinations, says she’s seen traffic to her site steadily increase since its launch in 2004. As we spoke, Dimon was heading to a stretch class before hitting the hiking trails while on a wellness retreat in Malibu, California. Her four-day fitness holiday included four hours of morning mountain hiking, an afternoon exercise class, organic vegetarian cuisine, and a daily massage.
“I try to take an annual wellness vacation, and fitness is typically my main focus,” says Dimon. “Over the years, I have incorporated climbing Mount Kenya, trekking down to the bottom of the Grand Canyon, hiking to the top of a volcano in Guatemala, kayaking around the BC Gulf Islands, and cycling in France.”
What makes fitcations so popular?
Dimon says it’s all about changing lifestyle priorities. “As consumers become more educated about what they need to do to feel better and live healthier longer, they’re working elements of wellness into their lifestyles and they don’t want to give up some of those elements when they travel,” she says. “Vacationers have so many more options today than simply sitting around a pool.”
Alistair Butchers, innovation manager with the Canadian adventure travel company G Adventures, says he’s seen an increase in bookings for active vacations, particularly the company’s trekking, cycling, and multisport trips. For some travellers, it’s the challenge that motivates them—hiking up Mount Kilimanjaro, for example, provides instant bragging rights. For others, an active holiday is simply a way to incorporate a hobby into their vacation.
“A lot of people cycle to work every day and it’s something they enjoy so much that they want to work it into their vacation time,” Butchers says. An active holiday can also be a great opportunity to try a new sport, such as rappelling or canyoneering, that you wouldn’t typically get to experience at home.
Are you ready for a fitcation?
While you don’t have to be super athletic to enjoy a fitcation, there are a number of things to consider before booking. Take a look at these popular fitcation ideas.
Whether committing to a three-day trek in Machu Picchu or weeklong climbing expedition up Mount Kilimanjaro, your legs are sure to thank you for the workout.
Before booking: Be sure to consider your physical condition. You may love walking around town, but can you walk 20 kilometres a day on gravel roads or up mountainous terrain? If you aren’t sure your legs will carry you the distance, look into trips that provide options. Some Machu Picchu trips, for example, offer a train ride so you don’t have to hike for three days.
Take your asanas to the beach, the mountains, or the jungle with a yoga retreat. Retreats can be as short as a two-night weekend getaway or 10 days or more in an exotic locale.
Before booking: Consider the type of landscape that will inspire your yoga practice and familiarize yourself with the instructors’ teaching style. If you prefer an intensive flow practice but the retreat offers restorative, you’ll be disappointed. Consider how much yoga you’ll want to practise while you’re on the retreat. While some retreats offer only one hour of yoga daily, others offer several classes a day.
City running tours
Run at a comfortable speed and spend time visiting sites that interest you—just make sure you pack a decent pair of running shoes.
Before booking: Research the many US and European cities that offer daily or weekly running tours, allowing fit-minded travellers to soak up the city sights on foot.
Riding a bike is a great way to experience a new landscape and culture.
Before booking: Consider your level of fitness and the type of riding you’ll be doing. Some cycling trips will have you riding long distances every day to a new location while others incorporate sightseeing stops along the way and allow you to go at your own pace.
Protect your health while travelling
Your health should always be your number one priority, but even more so when you’re on holiday. Keep these health tips in mind when planning your fitcation.
Visit a health care practitioner
International travel means exposure to unfamiliar ailments. Visit a health care practitioner before embarking on a foreign journey to get informed about the risks of disease and receive necessary immunizations. Gio Miletto, MD, of Vancouver Travel Medicine and Vaccination Centre, advises scheduling your appointment a minimum of six weeks ahead of your trip in case immunizations require more than one shot.
Fend off airplane germs
Dry cabin air causes the mucous lining in airways to deplete, increasing your risk of developing a respiratory virus. Drink plenty of water and avoid dehydrating drinks such as alcohol and caffeinated beverages.
Watch what you eat
Eat at clean, reputable restaurants and make sure foods are cooked to kill bacteria. Only eat fresh fruits that you can peel, and avoid the skins. Take special caution with drinking water, ensuring bottles are sealed before drinking.
Get plenty of sleep
Sleep helps your body recover and fend off illness. Getting adequate sleep is even more important while embarking on a fitcation to allow your muscles time to heal from exertion.