6 Tips For Turning Any Vacay Into A Wellness Retreat

Gabrielle Kassel is a New York based writer who has a deep affinity for weight-lifting, living mindfully, and the em-dash. She has been published at Women’s Health Magazine where she worked on the online editorial team, Feather Magazine where she was a contributing health writer, and ICE NYC where she works as the social media editor. In her free time she can be found reading self-help books, making soup, and practicing hygge.

Pack your favorite workout leggings, grab a bottle of Rebbl, and spritz yourself with some refresher mist because it's time for vacation! With only 4 days until GOOD Fest, we are ready to embrace the good life with a weekend of wellness and fun. When we planned GOOD Fest we wanted every aspect of the day to support our missions of creating a space for the modern woman to build on her wellness in a community, which is why the GOOD Fest Speakers will be staying at Hotel Monaco -the revolutionary Kimpton Hotel in downtown Philly. With amenities like Kimpton's custom designed PUBLIC bikes, which are perfect for a ride around town, a free yoga mat in every room, and Luxury Atelier Bloem bath amenities for bath time zen, Monaco is the perfect hotel for any wellness-junkie. Plus, in addition to a fully equipped onsite fitness center, Monaco offers a Monday evening yoga class, Mind, Body & Spirits taught by Three Queens Yoga for sweat-fenes who are motivated while working out with others that we can’t wait to try.

Feeling like you need to justify a weekend away? Don’t. A few days of wellness-focused activities actually benefit our health! According to a small study from Thomas Jefferson University Hospital, a health and wellness vacation—i.e. a few days spent focusing on healthy food, exercise, and stress management—is the ticket straight for a clean healthy bill. In the study, people who experienced such a trip lost an average of 6.8 pounds, lowered their blood pressure by 7.7 percent, and saw a 5.2 percent decline in cholesterol levels and BMI.

Wellness retreats do what they say they do, and their IG’s make great procrastination tools during a long day at work… but whether it’s because all our friends are gettin’ hitched and all our vacay days are being put towards weddings or baby showers, or because they come with a not-so-lean price tag, wellness retreats aren’t always as affordable or doable.

Here are 6 tips for turning any vacay (or weekend away for GOOD Fest) into a ~magical~ wellness retreat. A.k.a following tips can calm your nerves, improve your diet, boost your energy, amp up your brainpower, and help you get your sweat-on, all sans a pricey trip to a wellness retreat.


Does “not working” to you mean answering 15 emails, taking a conference call, posting on IG 2-3 times a day, and staying on top of your IG and snapchat story? Studies show 77 percent of Americans work on vacation, and 40 percent of millennials work every day of their vacation. No wonder everyone is stressed, tired, and exhausted!. Even committing to only using our phones for “pleasure” isn’t enough to keep business out of our vacays. Research shows that every ding, ring, and bright light takes us out of the moment, and we are often left spending time explaining to coworkers and business partners that we are NOT working on vacation, but will get back to them as soon as we return. A vacation where you are constantly explaining that you are on vacation or defending your right to a work-free vacay is not only not relaxing, but it completely defeats the point. In order to really pull-off the tech-free retreat you need (sorry IG feed!) you may need to take some preparatory measures: set an away message on your email that automatically informs anyone trying to contact you when you will be back on-grid, make sure your office or partners know the current status of any you-led projects, and don’t hesitate to inform your friends and family about your digital-detox, the novelty of this idea in 2017 will certainly force others to think about their own tech habits (and addictions).


Write or print out your daily schedule of practice and to-do and keep it in sight. Include yoga, meditation, walks, meals, rest, writing if you want, inspirational reading (hi Gabby Bernstein!), and/or listening. Make a schedule that feels doable, but when you’re on vacation be understanding if you don’t keep to it exactly. The purpose of the schedule is to help show you boats of time that are available for wellness activities. (This trick even works for business trips!).  


Finally on vacation! You’d think with all that rest and relaxation promised with a vacation you’d sleep like a baby, right? Not necessarily the case... whether it’s nerves, jet lag, just plain excitement, or trouble adjusting to a new sleep-setting, trouble falling asleep on vacation is a struggle that’s all too real. But sleep is the ultimate travel essential, especially when crossing time zones or trying new outdoor activities like biking, ziplining, or even just exploring by foot. Anything that helps you squeeze in extra minutes of Zzz’s is well worth its weight in your carry-on. Whether it’s your fave PJs, a lavender-scented sleep mask, melatonin, your favorite pillow or a childhood stuffed animal, keep them on hand to help drift off in peace.


When we're traveling, despite our best intentions, sometimes our lofty fitness goals fall off the to-do list (even when we make and print a schedule ahead of time). For the days when hitting up the “foreign” hotel-gym sounds unappealing, and Siri isn’t telling us which local barre class is best, we recommend working out right in your hotel room (even better, if you're vacationing in a warm-weather destination, do it on the balcony!). Packing some lightweight, carry-on workout gear can help us stick with our regular routine right in the hotel, without taking up precious luggage space.

Obviously you can skip the dumbbells and kettlebells, but there's plenty of light equipment you can bring with you. Think about packing a jump rope, resistance band, water bottle, and TRX band. Jump ropes burn a ton of calories per minute, water bottles make decent hand weights (with different weight depending on how much water is in it), and resistance bands/TRX bands are incredibly versatile tools for a full-body or targeted workout.  

Don’t be afraid of giving your body a break from the gym and the workout routines you’ve become accustomed to. Try varying it up with equipment free workouts in your room, or replacing your usual with a workout unique to the area (Are there mountains? Hike! Is there an ocean? Take a surfing lesson! Are there wide bike lanes on the road? Rent a bike or see if your hotel offers them for free!).


 Traveling almost always means eating on the road or in the air. But that doesn't  have to mean making nutritional sacrifices if we plan ahead. When we travel we should aim to eat roughly the same amount and same kinds of foods that we eat at home, which means bringing your go-to snacks with you on vacation (or stopping at a nearby grocery store when you arrive). If you need some snacking inspiration try: a baggie of unsweetened cereal, fresh (or dried) fruit, a peanut butter and banana sandwich on whole grain bread, or baby carrots. If you pack snacks you’ll be able to avoid snacking on things that don’t make your body feel good (like sodium-packed foods with artificial flavoring) and hanger (which your vacay-pals will thank you for).


Ever notice how a whiff of something can instantly transport you back in time (for example, baking cookies with Grandma? Macking with your high school boyfriend in his dad's Honda? Walking on the beach with your bff, both of your lathered in coconut oil and sun-in? Smells can activate the brain's memory center; they're also powerful enough to change your mindset and help ease pain! Research published in the journal Flavour found the scent of citrus can erase a cranky mood. Surround yourself with aromas you love with essential oils, candles, or mists. And if citrus is your jam, add a lemon or orange peel to your water so that every time you hydrate the smell reinvigorates your mind.


IG | @gk.fitness
WEB | gabriellekassel.com

The GOOD Festival LLC