This blog post was updated on July 20, 2021.
It’s inevitable for every traveler: at some point, a trip can become a marathon race to check off landmarks and cross off a few lines on the bucket list. You get home and realize that the whirlwind of a trip only left you in need of a vacation to recover from your vacation. John Steinbeck explained in Travels with Charley, “A journey is a person in itself; no two are alike. And all plans, safeguards, policies and coercion are fruitless. We find after years of struggle that we do not take a trip; a trip takes us.”
If you are seeking trips that will “take you,” those that will rejuvenate and renew, these journeys won’t disappoint.
Meditate in Bali
The Indonesian island in the South Pacific knows how to turn off the background noise and leave you feeling restored. Bali might be known for its many attractive beaches, but it also happens to have loads of meditation and yoga retreats. The island is rich in spirituality, so much so that it is common practice to seek out a Balian (spiritual healer) to help with physical and mental imbalances. Aside from meditating with your Balian, it is hard not to feel moved and centered by a visit to some of Bali’s main sites like the Elephant Caves or the Pura Besakih, the largest and holiest temple on the island.
Find Your Spiritual Vortex and a Spa in Sedona, Arizona
Nestled among multi-colored stone formations, Sedona, Arizona makes for a great spot to get away from the world. Surrounded by 1.8 acres of national forest land, the community has long been regarded by Native Americans as sacred. The red rock buttes and canyons seem to exude healing and spiritual renewal, especially if you buy in to Sedona’s claim as housing vortex sites — enhanced energy locations that facilitate prayer, meditation, and mind/body healing. Then again, if you just need basic rest and relaxation, Sedona delivers with loads of spas to unwind at or a number of hiking trails around sacred rock formations to clear the mind and spirit.
Hop into Hot Springs in Iceland
Since Viking times, Icelanders have been bathing in volcanically heated pools. Luckily for travelers today, you can do as the Vikings did and recharge your batteries at a number of hot springs while in Iceland. Many of these geothermal pools are situated in the most compelling natural locations, furthering your restoration. While you can always head to the tourist-developed Blue Lagoon, some of Iceland’s more natural hot springs can bring about a certain inner peace. Try a dip at the tranquil Landmannalaugar — the work of a 15th-century lava flow to Grettislaug, set on a remote stretch of Iceland’s north coast.
Practice Yoga in Rishikesh, India
Found at the foothills of the Himalayas in northern India, Rishikesh is the self-proclaimed yoga capital of the world. A Hindu pilgrimage site, the city resides on both sides of the sacred Ganges river. It makes for a great spiritual getaway as it houses one of the world’s largest concentrations of ashrams, or spiritual retreats. You can take all kinds of yoga and meditation classes here. Rishikesh was perhaps truly put on the map as a spiritual destination when the Beatles came to Maharishi Mahesh Yogi in 1968 to study transcendental meditation and write many of the songs on The White Album. In between bouts of yoga, you can also appreciate the natural gifts of the area by river rafting or hiking. However, there might be nothing more grounding than practicing yoga on the banks of the mighty Ganges.
Walk with the Aboriginals at Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park, Australia
Right in the deep center of Australia, Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park presents its star attraction — Uluru or Ayer’s Rock. With a circumference of 6 miles and two-thirds thought to be underground, Uluru is more than just an immense and overwhelming red rock. With deep cultural significance to the Pitjantjatjara and Yankuntjatjara Aboriginal peoples, this natural wonder has a way of changing perspectives with its many changing colors depending on the angle and intensity of the sun. Perhaps the best way to experience the UNESCO site is to go on a guided walk with the Aboriginal people who officially own the park.
Hike Table Mountain, South Africa
South Africa‘s iconic Table Mountain might just be a slab of shale, sandstone, and granite that rose from the ocean some 250 million years ago, but the flat-topped mountain can be so much more. Thought to be one of the most climbed peaks in the world, Table Mountain is often hailed as a great sacred site in Southern Africa. You can find no better way to clear the mind than hiking up one of the 350 paths to the summit. The Pattekloof Gorge route is the most popular and takes roughly two to three hours. Once you reach the summit, some 3,500 feet above Cape Town, you’ll see just how powerful strolling up the Southern African natural wonder can be for a tired spirit.
Have you been on a trip that helped rejuvenate your body and spirit? Share your favorite destination with us in the comments below.