Trend: A More Intellectual Wellness Travel

May 10, 2022

Travelers now seek purpose, personal growth and new skill sets, so programming is moving beyond mindfulness to actually feed their thinking mindsfrom more citizen science programs to immersing people in the creative arts    

Our 2022 trend, “Wellness Travel, Seekers Welcome”, argues that with social forces such as the “great resignation,” record retirements and global nomadism, people are now seeking travel experiences that tap into their sense of purpose, their desire to grow creatively and intellectually, and that make a real impact on the planet. Intention is the future of travel, and more travel destinations and companies are answering the call for what could be called a new “intellectual wellness”whether the surge in citizen science programs or more destinations getting people writing, painting and immersed in all kinds of creative expression.

You could say that the first chapter in wellness was mostly “mindless” (the focus was physical fitness and beauty), the second chapter revolved around mindfulness, and a new chapter is emerging of experiences that respect and feed people’s intelligence and their growing quest for knowledge and personal growth. May is Mental Health Month, and while the mental wellness space has focused on stress-reduction and meditation, the wellness that comes from a life of intellectual growth (is there any true wellbeing without it?) has long been the missing piece. The future? Less wellness that requires magical thinking and more that sparks some actual thinking.  

A few ways the trend is playing out in travel:  

Contributing to science 

Lifelong learners who want to make a difference can increasingly participate in citizen-science programs. Visitors to the tropics have long been able to help ocean stewards with coral growing efforts; at the Conrad Maldives Rangali Island in the Maldives, guests work with the resort’s marine biologist to help plant the coral nursery, and the Rosewood Bermuda in Bermuda offers family-friendly coral-planting swims. 

Cruise lines are newly encouraging passengers, particularly on small-ship expedition sailings, to assist the teams of working scientists and researchers they often take along. Cruise lines Aurora Expeditions and Hurtigruten will introduce new scientific programs that allow passengers to contribute to work done by biologists on the ships in Antarctica and beyond. Viking will introduce a pair of new ships with Science Labs aboard each, offering demonstrations as well as hands-on learning activities. Coming to the Galapagos later this year, Quasar Expeditions’ 18-guest yacht, Conservation, will engage scientists and passengers in archipelago research, monitoring the impacts of introduced species and tourism. 

Education, volunteer work and adventure meet in the new eight-day conservation experience at Kalahari Private Reserve in South Africa in which guests participate in fieldwork such as predator monitoring, game counts, vegetation surveys and antipoaching work. 

Cultivating creativity 

The wellness travel world wants you to write and paint again, or take up any creative means of expression for the first time, as a path to intellectual growth and introspection. 

In Japan, the Temple Hotel Zenko-Ji introduces guests to the traditional practice of Shabutsu tracing to improve mental and emotional health and increase gratefulness. The new Bishop’s Lodge, Auberge Resorts Collection in Santa Fe calls its creative offerings—such as calligraphy, an introspective spiritual practice in Zen Buddhism—“healing arts.” It offers foraging walks to gather rocks, leaves and flowers to create mosaics, as well as classes in pastels, painting, storytelling and journaling. Miraval Resorts & Spas recently debuted Celebration of the Arts programming promoting the therapeutic benefits of art-making via pottery, photography and painting classes. A new, more sophisticated intersection between art and wellness is evident in the culture more broadly: For instance, the Met Museum recently launched a podcast, Frame of Mind, that is the highest-level exploration of how art supports wellbeing.  

As the industry recovers from the crippling pandemic, travel will increasingly offer myriad ways for intentional travelers to fulfill their personal missions and get them thinking, learning, creating and researching. The future of travel is more about making an impact and getting an education.  

This Trendium is based on “Wellness Travel, Seekers Welcome trends from the 2022 Global Wellness Trends Report.

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