US Wellness Travel Standouts

Our founder, Linden Schaffer, may spend most of her year outside of the country, but she still has a love for wellness when she's home. Check her some of her favorite US spots that allow anyone to add wellness to their routine. 

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1 Hotel Central Park, New York, NY – New York does not lack in the hotel department, but this stunning new property is committed to bringing touches of wellness into your stay in the form of reclaimed wood decor, farm-to-fork food, Telsa electric vehicles, and eco-friendly cleaning products.

Laughing Lotus Yoga, New York, NY – You’d be hard pressed to find a more New York wellness vibe than that of Laughing Lotus with its pink crystal chandelier and street art homage to Ganesha. A yoga mainstay for the past 18-years, you’ll find plenty of asana to get your rock and roll on here.

via Instagram

via Instagram

Ojo Caliente Mineral Springs, New Mexico - These sacred hot springs have long been a gathering place for healing and rejuvenation. With transfixing, meditative views and a mud bath, it’s time to bake out the toxins under the desert sun.

True Food Kitchen, Phoenix, AZCo-founded by famous Integrative Medicine doctor, Andrew Weil, with now 16 locations (and counting) around the US, this southwest original was the first of it’s kind in 2008. Finding delicious organic, anti-inflammatory food at your fingertips has never been so easy.

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Wanderlust Hollywood, Los Angeles, CA – Yoga studio, event space, café, and all around haven, Wanderlust has become the go-to spot for wellness seekers in it’s short tenure at its permanent home in Hollywood. Hosting guest speakers and teachers from around the globe will inspire you on your road to wellness.

Café Gratitude, Los Angeles, CA – 100% vegan and organic may be the current mantra of L.A., but this popular mini-chain, with 3 locations throughout the city, has been serving up yumminess since 2004. The bright beautiful beachy interiors will make you want to linger for multiple courses.

5 Essential Truths That Unite The World (From Someone Who Travels For A Living)

Linden in Thailand | photo: @sfreneenyc for Pravassa

Linden in Thailand | photo: @sfreneenyc for Pravassa

From the time I got my first passport at 16, I've had a case of wanderlust.

The need for constant exploration has taken me across six continents and into 40 countries and counting. Traveling opens your eyes to the fact that no matter our race, religion, ethnicity, or circumstance, we are all in this together. As Mark Twain so famously wrote, "Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness."

No matter where in the world I find myself, my journey of discovery has led to these universal truths.

1. Simple is better.

During a family vacation I took as a child, my mother accused the maid at our hotel of stealing her engagement ring. After a day of upheaval, my mom found her ring, secreted away in a hidden layer of her suitcase. She had been so afraid of losing the ring that she had actually hidden it from herself. After much embarrassment and profuse apologizing, nothing like this ever happened again—to my mom or me.

The experience taught me once and for all that you need less than you think when you travel. Today, I advocate for using a carry-on whether you're traveling for five days or five weeks. Having less with you at the start of your trip is physically and spiritually freeing, and it shows you can really survive on less than you think.

2. Intuition is your guide.

Fear stops many people from ever taking a step outside their comfort zone, let alone outside their country. Remember that some basic common sense and intuition is all you need to head in the right direction. A motorbike ride up a mountainside, a trek through the woods, dinner with a family of strangers—these are all experiences that have enhanced my travels. I've embarked on these somewhat uncomfortable adventures because they felt right, and I've declined a fair share of offers that did not. You know more than you think, so be open to your intuition and trust what your body tells you.

3. Plans change.

Traveling is a lesson on relinquishing control, as something is always bound to go wrong on the road. Life goes on after canceled flights, lost hotel reservations, sudden changes in local government, and other unexpected hiccups. Sometimes these diversions from the original itinerary can even lead to unexpected lessons or exciting discoveries. Stressing out over the things you cannot change is wasted energy. Early on in my travels, I began leaning on my yoga teachings and quickly noticed that being able to go with the flow can mean the difference between an amazing trip and a terrible one.

4. You have the power to make someone's day.

Energy, both good and bad, is contagious. If you make the decision to start your vacation on a positive note—saying hello to the person next to you before you curl up to sleep on the plane, smiling at the taxi driver who picks you up from the airport, learning how to say "thank you" in a new language—you can set yourself up for a wonderful experience. It may not always be easy, especially when your plans change, but take a breath and tap into the feeling you had when you first booked your trip to give yourself a boost.

5. People are inherently good.

Travel is the best educator, and learning from other cultures is priceless. Everyone in the world is seeking a way to feel more connected and less alone. From the waitress I chatted with in a cafè in Istanbul to the history professor I met in Cairo to the young woman studying to be a nurse in India, I've connected with all types of new people and found it extremely easy to make friends on the road. These complete strangers have enhanced my travel plans by suggesting new things to see and do, inviting me to their dining tables so I wouldn't have to eat alone, and sharing their life stories—all of which have shifted how I relate to my surroundings. To me, these chance connections are what make the world so beautiful. - Linden Schaffer

Article originally appeared on MindBodyGreen

CustomWELL: Mix & Match Your Perfect Getaway

With thousands of travel companies out there, how do you know who to trust with your hard earned money and limited vacation time? Pravassa's scouted, vetted and specially curated wellness travel offerings are always being updated. We spend about half the year traveling to track down the best places in order to offer you the most incredible experiences. Here's a sneak peak at some of our latest finds throughout Southeast Asia.

Want to book a customized wellness vacation of your own? Get started here.

5 Ways To Wellness: New Mexico

America’s Southwest is filled with vast sprawling landscapes and colorful floral oases that can be mistaken for mirages. New Mexico has an added air of Wild West and Butch Cassidy fused with healers and art galleries that make it unique in its own right.

PHOTO PRAVASSA©

PHOTO PRAVASSA©

Physical Activity

Rock Climbing. With over 300 days of sunshine a year, rock climbing is a year round sport in Taos (though morning shade is the best time to get started). Test your skills with the vertical to low angle granite cliffs in the Sangre de Cristo Mountains, which offer beginners and experienced climbers bolted routes or multi-pitch climbs. Pack your gear and set out for an adventure on these uncrowded cliffs that offer magical panoramic vistas.

Stress Reduction

Absolute Nirvana. Located in a quaint B&B and run by an ex-pat French couple who were inspired after numerous trips to Bali, this spa has an other worldly feel. Spas and healing treatments are available on every corner in Santa Fe; to stand out, Absolute Nirvana only works with Master level therapists (that’s 17+ years of experience) and only use green, chemical-free massage products. I’d give you more details, but I only remember being expertly rubbed down and coming out of the room feeling like jelly.

Photo by Pravassa

Food Education

Santa Fe School of Cooking. In its 25th year, the award-winning Santa Fe School of Cooking led the charge toward a local, sustainable lifestyle tradition when it opened in the late 1980’s. Offering more than just hands-on cooking classes, you can make reservations for a restaurant walking tour or sit down and enjoy the spoils from a demonstration class. If you don’t have time for any of the above, just swing by for the market place and stock up on clay pots, cookbooks (written by the founders of course), and southwestern spices.

Spiritual Connection

Ojo Caliente Hot Springs Tranquilo. The sacred hot springs of Ojo Caliente have long been a gathering place for healing and rejuvenation. One of the oldest natural health resorts in the U.S., these springs have been generating geothermal mineral waters for thousands of years. The cliffside pools have transfixing, meditative views and the mud baths allow you to bake out the toxins under the desert sun.

Photo by Pravassa

Photo by Pravassa

Cultural Involvement

Taos Pueblo. As the only living Native American community, this UNESCO World Heritage site is worth a visit. Local residents will give you a tour through the village and walk you through their oral history. The adobe buildings date back to 1000 A.D. with most of the structures having been preserved from their discovery in the 16th century. Take time to chat with some of the 1900 Taos Indian residents about their thoughts on advancement of modernization and how it will impact their cultural heritage.

Pravassa’s 5-tenet wellness philosophy is rooted in Breathe. Move. Mindfulness. Nourish. Experience. These principles have guided our company’s wellness practices from inception and are the foundation on which we build our travel vacations and educational content.

1 Thing We Never Fly Without

IMAGE PRAVASSA

IMAGE PRAVASSA

MindBodyGreen asked top travel experts, including our founder, Linden Schaffer, what is the one thing they never travel without. 

I never board without my essential oil wet wipes — your plane seat doesn’t clean itself!
— Linden Schaffer

Read what the other experts had to say here.

 

India: A World of Wonder

PHOTO: PRAVASSA

PHOTO: PRAVASSA

Full of colorful saris, fragrant spices, and rich cultural heritage, India is magic and one of my favorite destinations of all time. My first visit to Northern India included being welcomed into a family’s home for an extravagant dinner, a privately guided tour of Mehrangarh Fort in Jodhpur led by a Sanskrit scholar, and sitting in silent meditation in Sarnath, where it is said the Buddha gave his first teachings. But it was in Varanasi on the Ganges, where my hand was grazed by a dead body laid to rest in the holy river, that the cycle of life and how small a role we all play in this world became apparent and provided me with a #changedbytravel experience that will forever be like none other. - Linden Schaffer

Want to plan a custom wellness vacation to India? Tell us more!

 

Article was written for and originally appeared on MindBodyGreen.

Dispatches From the Road: #changedbytravel in Vietnam

PHOTO: MADELEINE PENFOLD FOR PRAVASSA©

PHOTO: MADELEINE PENFOLD FOR PRAVASSA©

Almost one year ago on a scouting trip to Vietnam I ended up in a White Thai village on the outskirts of an area called Mai Hich. Walking around the empty streets it was quiet and peaceful – birds singing, laughter in the distance. I asked my guide a question about one of the houses and not knowing the answer he looked around for a local to ask.

At that moment, coming toward us up the road was Minh Chung, a 19-year-old boy. A chance meeting that would change my life and his life forever. After our brief conversation, which happened on November 9, 2016, I could not get Minh Chung out of my head. With thoughts of the U.S. election on my mind and the crazy divisiveness on display for the world to witness, I was moved to send a very personal email to my close family and friends. It read:

I’m writing to you from the jungle of Vietnam. Today I met Minh Chung, a 19-year-old White Thai Villager who is studying English on his own from a journal where he writes down every new word he learns. His hope is to pass his university entrance exam and win a free scholarship to school to study to be a tour guide. This is just one example of the many #changedbytravel experiences I am lucky enough to have every time I travel. It reminds me there is hope and the desire to better ourselves all around the world no matter your current situation.

What this email did not convey was the depths of my compassion and empathy for Minh Chung. I literally called my husband to discuss the possibility of sponsoring Minh Chung and sending him to University. As thoughts of helping him continued to swirl in my head, I struggled to find a sustainable solution that would further Minh Chung’s education without taking him away from his single mother, who desperately needed him around for her care and to contribute to their household.

Last week, Pravassa and our Vietnam group of travelers were lucky enough to return to this White Thai village and meet Minh Chung. What I had decided to do was ask our wellness travelers to bring university to him, by building a library to help him further his studies. Thirteen people from the U.S. (and Costa Rica) traveled thousands of miles with their favorite English language travel novel and shared how important these books were to them. Sitting in Minh Chung’s house being served tea in borrowed cups from the neighbors and sharing our collective knowledge was an indescribable moment. At a loss for words, Minh Chung wouldn’t stop smiling and saying thank-you, telling us how words were failing him at that moment.

He did mange to tell us that often the tourists he meets give him money. And while “I like money, sure. It is a gift like this that is much more meaningful and will help me in my life.” This is the reason I travel. This is how I’ve chosen to use my place and privilege in this lifetime and pay it forward. It is small moments like these that I strive for. These moments connect our souls to each other and the to the world. Many thanks to the Pravassa group and our guide Lena Franklin that helped make this dream come true and truly offered a #changedbytravel experience to Minh Chung. And a big thank you to Madeleine Penfold for the beautiful image that captured a moment of pure joy. – Linden Schaffer

 

Looking to have a #changedbytravel moment of your own?
Pravassa curates both group and custom wellness travel opportunities around the world. Just tell us where you want to get started.

 

We Know You're a Super Hero.

Ever thought about traveling with Pravassa, but weren't sure what to expect? Self-care takes center stage. Thank you Organic Spa Magazine for shedding some light on our wellness travel philosophy.

At Pravassa, we purposefully build in free-time during our trips. We know you’re a super hero in real life, so just because you’re sitting by the pool or sleeping in, you’re not lazy. Sometimes people just need to hear that.
— Linden Schaffer, Pravassa Founder

{WELL ON THE ROAD} Brock Cannon

IMAGE via Brock Cannon

IMAGE via Brock Cannon

Brock Cannon
Author & Professional Tree Hugger

Most recently in: Augusta, Georgia (man that sounds so exotic)

The one snack you can always find in my carry on is: Bananas or LaraBars

Tell us your in-flight ritual: When I first get seated, I pull out my journal and use that first 15 minutes do some gratitude reflection. The headphones go on too. I find that I can avoid the tension of boarding an airplane by putting on music that puts me in a happy, peaceful state. Once I'm up in the air, I pull out my laptop and use that time to work on my books, send thank you letters, or just journal more random thoughts. If it's a long flight, I usually always take a nice nap. For my food choices on the plane, I almost never eat what they give out, even if I'm in first class. As a vegan, there is NEVER an option for me, so I just bring my own stuff. The bottom-line for me on planes: plane time is my game time; I've literally written entire books by using airplane time effectively. 

How do you conquer jet lag once you've arrived? Immediately upon landing, I chug 20 ounces of water, sometimes with a packet of Amazing Grass added in if I have one. Once at the hotel, I move my body by taking a short walk, a short run, 25 push-ups or if anything that moves me. Moving definitely decreases the effects jet lag. 

Describe your workout on the road style: Growing up as a pro cyclist, I love biking. However, on the road it's pretty tough. Up until 2 years ago I was still racing actively, so I'd rent a bike if I were able to. Nowadays I'm more of a runner. The first run in a new city is always really fun for me. I put on music, lace up and head out to explore what's around. I love finding new parks, new restaurants, cool museums and always make the first run just a complete surprise. If the weather is bad, I do a short run on the treadmill, and some weight training. Truth me told though, I hate gyms so I also do push-ups in my room, step-ups on chairs, wall sits etc. Music is always a must for me. My hotel neighbors probably hate me. 

How do you keep sickness at bay? Hydration is huge for me. In the morning I do 40 ounces of water or liquid green drink before my coffee. If I feel like my body is just really tired, I do supplement with zinc and vitamin C. Staying away from sugar is key. I meet with hundreds of people each weekend, so washing my hands is huge too. When we sick on the road, I think that we build up a stronger immunity to things, yet I've very, very rarely been sick in 6 years of travel to hundreds of locations. 

What's your 'go-to' restaurant item when traveling? Being vegan an awesome salad is great, but veggie burrito is definitely a favorite.

What do you do to stay grounded? I have a pretty specific morning routine, which really grounds me for the entire day: waking up with gratitude journaling, working out, and a short meditation. I also love to take short power naps! 

What is your preferred method of staying connected with loved ones? I really like to video chat. It offers a feeling of greater connection versus just texting or talking for a few minutes on the phone. It definitely can be hard. Sending funny messages and laughing even though we are in different places is really great too. 

Splitting his time between Utah and New York, Brock Cannon is an author, life coach, and vegan ultra endurance athlete. Follow his adventures online via Facebook and Instagram.

Create a Wellness Vacation without leaving town

IMAGE VIA

IMAGE VIA

Growing up is hard to do. From the time we get our first homework assignment we’re expected to be masters at time management and stress reduction. Early on my mother decided that once a year, when things became too stressful, her kids could have a mental-health day—the opportunity to call in sick and use the next 24 hours as we saw fit for recovery.

As a teenager, this would mean sleeping in, eating whatever I wanted, and watching as much TV as I could stand. Now, as the founder of Pravassa, I recognize the significance of a day like this, albeit a much healthier version.

As a nation, we consistently average 47-hour workweeks and drink 3.1 cups of coffee a day. 130 million of us are not getting enough sleep, and 26 percent report going to work completely burned out after sleepless nights. Each year, statistics are released that show that Americans do not use all of their allotted vacation time. Some save days only to let them expire come December, while others hope to take big chunks of time off for an extended trip that never materializes because they are too busy to plan it.

Now more than ever, it’s time to pause your busy life and create a wellness retreat day—an occasion dedicated to restoration and recovery that will have significant impact on your well-being. - Linden Schaffer

How To Create A 1-Day Wellness Vacation

Choose your day.

Look at your schedule and find a weekday that works within the next few weeks. Why a weekday? With friends and loved ones committed to their daily routines, a weekday will offer the best opportunity for free time without interruption. Personally I like Wednesdays as it allows me to catch up from the weekend and then totally disrupt my routine, allowing for greater appreciation of change and a more mindful awareness of my self-care.

Research ahead of time.

The last thing you want to do is waste precious hours of your retreat day trying to figure out how to spend it. Instead treat this day as vacation, and do some advanced planning. Make a list of all the places you want to go, including everything from spas to museums, restaurants to yoga studios. Then sit down to commit your schedule to paper, with all the particulars in place.

Set expectations of those around you.

Decide how available or unavailable you want to be, and prepare those around you. Let your coworkers know in advance that you’re taking a vacation day and will be completely unreachable. Set up an auto-away message on your email to drive home the point. If you do not live alone and are working with a larger budget, consider checking into a hotel for the night or even for a few hours during the day (thank you, Day Use).

Gift yourself eight hours.

Setting yourself up for a good night’s sleep will only enhance the effects of your wellness retreat day. By 9 p.m. the night before your big day, shut down all your electronics and rock the sweetest sleep routine you’ve ever seen. Start with a long, hot bath or shower, then make yourself a cup of tea and write down what you’re looking forward to tomorrow while you drink it. Apply some calming essential oils to your feet and as you curl up in bed, mindfully relaxing each part of your body until you drift off to sleep.

Savor your schedule.

Make the most out of your wellness vacation day and wake up with the sunrise. On my retreat days, I gather my belongings and head out before most people are awake. The sound of silence is somewhat of a luxury these days, but by starting out early and leaving your phone at home you remove sensory input, allowing the brain to relax and restrict the release of cortisol, the stress hormone. I’ll spend my first hour outdoors in nature taking in everything around me and writing in my journal. Next I’ll head to a new café, one where no one knows me, and take up residence in a comfy area to mindfully eat my breakfast. Oftentimes I’ll eat all my meals on this retreat day with my headphones in, the cording trailing to nothing in my pocket, in order to dampen the sounds around me. Then without hurrying through the rest of the day I’ll head to the baths or a spa, where I can linger in self-care bliss, take in an exhibit at a museum, enjoy an early dinner in an uncrowded restaurant, and end at a restorative yoga class where I’m being fully supported by props.

Throughout the wellness retreat day, try to use minimal language and keep a smile plastered to your face. By the time your head hits the pillow for the second night of sweet retreat sleep you’ll feel completely refreshed, de-stressed, and ready to head back into real life with a better attitude and a brighter outlook.

Article was written for and originally appeared on MindBodyGreen.