There’s a lot of talk about how travel can broaden the mind and how seeing new sights, eating new food and meeting new people can become a life-changing and life-enhancing experience. But for many of us, a break in the sun just isn’t quite enough. While it’s certainly relaxing to spend a week or two by a hotel pool, catching up on reading and feeling the warm sun on your skin, it doesn’t leave you with any lingering sense of having done something purposeful and meaningful.
For some, that’s just fine but for others a standard holiday like that is never going to cut it. That’s why, in this article, we’re exploring the concept of holidays with a difference. A place where, yes you can get away from it all somewhere picturesque and charming but with the goal of helping you to get in touch with your spiritual or intellectual side or indeed just helping others.
Take a look at our guide to holidays that are far from the norm.
The Best Yoga Retreats
The great thing about yoga retreats is that they’re in pretty much every country. You’ll find some a stone’s throw from your hometown, in Europe and into every major holiday destination you can think of. We take a look at some that always get rave reviews:
Tucked away in a tiny village near Morocco, you’ll be near the beach and surrounded by the stunning nature reserve of Imi Ouaddar. If you’re into surfing, you’ll be able to spend some time catching great waves but you might instead choose to take part in the Villa’s yoga and meditation course.
Between 7am and 7pm you’ll have a programme of mediation, yoga and healthy food to keep you busy with space in the day programmed in to enjoy the infinity pool and sunbeds or to book yourself in for a massage or other treatments.
While the cost is certainly at the higher end of the market, a retreat like this is well worth saving up a little money for as you experience this once in a lifetime trip. You may even learn a new skill with SUP yoga on offer alongside the more traditional land based classes.
You can’t really go to Thailand and not expect to find some relaxation but in this exclusive resort you’ll also find some highly professional and experienced yoga and meditation teachers as well. Not only will you spend time working on your practise and booking in for healing treatments you’ll also have the opportunity to take part in cultural excursions, though tearing yourself away from the hotel will be hard.
If you’re a big yoga fan then this yoga resort is definitely the place for you to learn more and get some of the most relaxing and healing Ayurvedic treatments you’ll find anywhere.
This 60-acre private island found just off the Greek coastline is truly unique. You’ll forget all about your busy, modern life on an island where you can wander at leisure and see beautiful scenery and wildlife up close and stay in the most traditional looking of whitewashed, blue-shuttered Greek houses.
Included in your price are six nights accommodation (depending on which house you choose), all the yoga and sports equipment including kayaks, transfer to and from the island, full board and two yoga sessions a day. A holiday that you’ll never forget as you take a tour of your own private island.
Fancy listening to the sound of monkeys playing in the jungle in a hut surrounded by exotic flowers? This stunning setting is the home of the Ulpotha yoga retreat in Sri Lanka.
This organic farm has an inspiring list of yoga teachers and Ayurvedic practitioners, all set to help you find full relaxation and peace. You’ll be sleeping in huts in the jungle in the heart of this Buddhist farming community and sharing the breathtaking lake with lazy boats as you take a dip.
You’d be forgiven for going for the views alone but with some of the best teaching in the world, you’ll come away with a heightened yoga experience.
If you’re looking for a more active holiday and certainly one that makes a difference in the lives of other people, look no further than some of these volunteering holidays.
To get started, look at a site such as Projects Abroad where you’ll be able to choose from a topic that really catches your interest and possibly taps into your existing skills. If you teach there’ll be opportunities to take your skills into schools into developing countries, healthcare professionals will be able to find jobs helping out or training in a hospital or specialised clinic.
Or you may just choose to go and help in a field that’s a little outside your comfort area and find yourself facing challenges you’ve never before encountered.
Go for a little as two weeks or turn it into a trip of a lifetime and select multiple destinations to visit as you travel around the world, giving something back with every new country you visit. A perfect way to help others while opening yourself up to new experiences and doing tourism in a sustainable way.
Whether you want to face the challenge of upping your game in the yoga stakes, finding a retreat that combines luxury with meditation or just want to get away from it all with your own private island, there’s a retreat out there for every budget and you’ll find one without needing to break the bank or taking out a loan, learn more.
Maybe you’re looking to indulge that adventurous side of your nature and visit somewhere you’d never thought you’d have the chance to go to. Giving something back as you do can be an immensely rewarding experience and one that can teach you so much about yourself.
Whichever holiday you choose, say goodbye to bog standard legs by the pool shots for Instagram and hello to life changing holidays.