Robert Q Travel Byron's Blog

6 Reasons Why Travel is the 'Best Medicine'
Are you missing travel?  Evidence tells us that travel benefits us more than getting a fresh tan, new social media posts of us having fun in some exotic location, or even new stories to entertain our friends and family.

When we had the privilege of unrestricted travel, we took for granted all the benefits it brought, including real benefits to our health that research was beginning to reveal.

The old cliché that laughter is the best medicine could really be said of travel. Maybe not quite a magic potion, like the fun image above suggests, but something that explains how our missing travel is not just nostalgia.

Lynn Elmhirst, Producer/Host of BestTrip TV, explains 6 reasons how a return to travel will help our health as well as our enjoyment of life.

Recently, I was the guest expert invited to speak about ‘Travel in the Age of COVID’ on a radio show and podcast called Aging Better in Uncertain Times, and it encouraged me for a couple of reasons.

Not only did the conversation between me, broadcaster Gord Martineau and Dr. Fabio Varlese include valuable information about how to stay healthy while traveling, which you might expect, we also talked about why travel itself is a pursuit that’s good for us.

It inspired me to gather some of the latest information that makes the health ‘case’ for travel. It…

1. Boosts Your Immune System

My farmer grandfather used to say every kid should ‘eat a peck of dirt’ before they were 10 to stay healthy. Granddad was on to something. Research shows being in contact with new bacteria can help develop stronger antibodies, make your gut stronger, and build your body’s resistance to diseases.

Of course you should continue practicing hand hygiene on the road, but studies suggest exposure to new environments help make our bodies adapt and makes us stronger.


2. Increases Our Activity

Working from home likely isn’t doing much to help us achieve our goals to move more. Travel does.
A new environment encourages us to get out and experience it, whether it’s walking the streets of a new city, along the beach of our resort, cycling through vineyards, or even trying a more active or extreme sport. Movement is health, and nothing gets us more active than a new destination.

3. Strengthens Our Hearts

First they told us moderate amounts of wine and chocolate were good for our hearts. You can add travel to that list, too. Life doesn’t get much better than this, does it?

Heart health and travel has been studied in both women and men. Reportedly, women who vacation twice a year are substantially less likely to suffer a heart attack than women who travel only once every few years. Men who skip an annual vacation are at a 20% higher risk of death overall, and that jumps to a 30% higher chance of dying from heart disease.

Another, long-term study revealed that women in their middle years who travel more have less likelihood of having heart problems 20 years later, and the same study found travel also helped with blood pressure.


4. Supports Our Brains

We want our brains firing on all cylinders now… and protected from ailments like dementia in our later years. Happily, travel helps our brains throughout our lives.
 
New experiences, which are the essence of travel, including new scents, sounds and minor challenges like navigating a different town or language, give our brains a workout, and that is good for creativity and mental health in the short term, and the new connections we build in our brain as a result of processing new sensations help reduce the risk of dementia and even Alzheimer’s in the long term.
 
Researchers say the more engagement and immersion we have in a new location and culture, the more our brains have to adapt, and the more powerful the brain stimulation results.
 

5. Reduces Stress and Depression

This one is a no-brainer. You can tell – and research agrees – that taking a vacation makes you feel less anxious, better rested, and lifts your overall mood. Studies confirm these effects linger for weeks after our return home, reinforcing how important regular vacations are for our mental well-being. 

One study revealed 90% of people showed significant stress reduction after just the first couple of days of a vacation, along with a more positive outlook on life.

Another showed that women who vacation twice a year are less likely to suffer from depression than those who take a holiday less than once every couple of years.

6. Increases Happiness

I don’t want all this good news about the health benefits of travel to actually depress you, considering we can’t do all the traveling we want right now.

You’ll be happy to hear that even planning a trip provides a direct increase in happiness. Anticipating your vacation, one study shows, is much more powerful than the anticipation of acquiring objects. 

So planning a trip during our pandemic downtime can help us stay cheerful and happy until we can travel again. Crack out the guidebooks along with that wine and chocolate and here's to your good health!
 

#DreamNowTravelSoon


Top Image courtesy Open Jaw

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6 Tips for Planning Your Post-COVID Wellness Vacation
This January, two powerful forces for wellness travel converge: yearly New Year's resolutions to become or rediscover our best selves, and this year, the pandemic that's both kept us from traveling, and for many, fostered a lifestyle that may not have kept us at our peak.

In the travel era BC (Before COVID), wellness travel was already one of the most popular, and growing, vacation styles.
Since COVID, the idea of wellness travel has taken on a new dimension – now, ALL travel has a ‘wellness’ element as concerns about staying safe and healthy have already transformed how we travel. 

Wellness travel means many things to many people, from extreme diet or fitness programs, meditation, yoga or other mind and body practice retreats, even a luxury resort with wide-ranging spa treatments that restore and renew and reset us even as we delight in an escape to a beloved destination.

COVID has added to our range of wellness vacations, with interest in programs designed to boost our immunity and elevate our self-care to thrive under the intense pressures of the times. 

And COVID has offered us new ways to approach wellness travel. Work from Home and School at Home have inspired people and families to consider months-long escapes to dream destinations, where they can participate in local activities and resort wellness programs that don’t have to end after a few days, but can become core elements of daily life abroad.

If a wellness retreat or wellness vacation seems like an ideal post-COVID trip for you, here are my top 6 tips for making it a success:

1. Homework:

As in, work with your travel advisor to do yours. It’s really important you find a program that exactly matches what you hope to achieve and how you hope to achieve it. Make sure the program’s goals match your goals, and how they are going to help you achieve them matches how you want to develop yourself – and spend precious vacation time.

And of course, make sure every point of your journey has comprehensive health and safety plans and follows best practices to protect your health – the very foundation of any wellness vacation.

2. Be Open to New:

These times have broken the mold of our daily lives, why not shake it up when it comes to your approach to renewing your mind, body, or spirit? New treatments and ancient therapies are more commonly available and a wellness vacation is an ideal time to try something new as you’re immersed in the charms of a new destination.
  

3. Location:

There are wonderful and interesting health and wellness resorts, retreats, cruises, and spas all over the world, but you should choose a vacation that’s a reward for you in and of itself. Someplace that is a dream for you to travel to, so when your program is getting tough, or your muscles are a little achy, you can interact with your destination and experience that as your reward and boost your spirits to keep up with your wellness program.

4. Check on qualifications:

Verify the qualifications of the wellness practitioners where you’re going, as well as their record of success. You’re putting your health in the hands of people you’ve never met, and almost all fitness or fasting or therapies or treatments come with risks. Make sure you’re in the hands of experts who know what they’re doing and they’ve done it lots of times before.

5. Do your prep work:  

Cold turkey is one approach. But it might be painful. So if there’s prep work you can do to be primed for your wellness program – from starting to cut out sugar, or beginning or increasing your regular fitness or wellness regimen, it can only help you achieve your desired results.

6. Travel with a wellness buddy:

You know you’ll meet great, like-minded people at your wellness retreat, but it’s amazing to have someone with you who you know will be there to support you. It’s not always easy getting to the top of the hill, or maintaining that juice fast, or dealing with overwhelming emotions of a wellness retreat, so it’s nice to know you have someone to lean on and share strengths to achieve the change you’re looking for.

It also means that when you go back home, you have that person who’s had the same experience, and they can help make sure you take all the practices and techniques you’ve learned home with you along with the memories of a travel experience that we’ve all been waiting on for so long.

#DreamNowTravelSoon

 

By: Lynn Elmhirst, Producer/ Host, BestTrip TV
 
Image: BestTrip TV

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New Wellness Cultural Journeys from Abercrombie & Kent Enrich Mind, Body, Spirit
Run and train like a warrior with the Maasai or hike to a vantage point high above Machu Picchu.

Feed your spirit with inspiration at a home for underprivileged girls in India, or a silent alms ceremony in Luang Prabang, and feed your body with healing, Ayurvedic herbs in India, or fresh local produce at a cooking demonstration on Krabey Island. 

Re-orient your mind through guided meditation with a local teacher at Kuang Si Falls, or learn about the meaning of tribal beading traditions in Kenya.

Now you can take your commitment to your wellbeing and desire for authentic experiences in global cultures to another level. Luxury tour company Abercrombie & Kent has debuted wellness-inspired journeys that immerse travelers in the local traditions of some of the world's most influential wellness cultures and practices, and provide uplifting visits to philanthropic projects where tourism directly supports local wellbeing.

Groups are limited to only 18 participants, and the pace is slower, with experiences and travel over 9- 13 days to allow you to stretch your mind, body and spirit, and linger in the deeply personal experiences. You'll stay in wellness-focused deluxe hotels, boutique lodges and luxuriously-appointed camps in one-of-a-kind locations. 


The first A&K wellness cultural journeys depart in Fall 2019, and explore the rich cultural traditions of bucket-list destinations Kenya, India, South-East Asia, and Peru. Imagine how enriched you'll feel after these journeys:

Wellness India: Ancient Traditions & Inspiring Icons
Explore India’s rich spiritual heritage, from the temples dedicated to Shiva and Lord Vishnu to the Taj Mahal. Participate in a guided meditation and bike ride through the countryside in Udaipur. Privately consult with an Ayurvedic doctor during a leisurely stay at Amanbagh. Explore the countryside of Rajasthan visiting local artisans. Visit an A&K Philanthropy-supported residential school for young girls. Spend two nights in the spiritual heart of India, Varanasi, where you stay in a former palace on the banks of the sacred Ganges, and take an evening boat ride to experience the pitru tarpana, a moving ceremony that honors the memory of a loved one.
 
Wellness Southeast Asia: Timeless Rituals of Indochina
You won't have to chose among your favorite Southeast Asian country, as the wellness traditions of Thailand, Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam are all part of this journey. Take part in inspirational ceremonies such as a baci ceremony in Luang Prabang and tak bat, a silent food offering to local monks. Witness sunrise at Angkor Wat.  Luxuriate on a private tropical island at the new Six Senses Krabey Island. Enjoy a Khmer cooking class, spa treatment or sunset cruise. Discover the difference that clean water makes during a visit to a remote village, where A&K Philanthropy is building wells.

 
Wellness Kenya: Cultures & Wildlife
Discover tribal traditions and learn about conservation efforts on an active safari in the Masai Mara and Tsavo National Park. Hike through the cloud forests of the lush Chyulu Hills and learn about traditional warrior training from the Maasai, and wonder at game drives and your mythical surroundings during sunrise and sunset yoga. Gain a new perspective on giving back at an A&K Philanthropy-supported school and see how sustainable tourism is providing safe drinking water.
 
Wellness Peru: Spirit of the Incas
From the Sacred Valley and Cusco, discover local traditions in remote mountainside villages and working farms. Learn about a traditional Amazonian medicine, and hand-feed llamas and alpacas. Kayak in a secluded lagoon 12,464 feet above sea level and hike up to a birds-eye view of Machu Picchu. Overnight at the only property located on the ancient Incan site to explore the sanctuary at sunrise. Have your coca-leaf fortune read by a shaman.
 

Start your Trip!

 
 


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Is the Modern Travel Luxury... Sleep?

You can't enjoy life - even luxury travel - if you don't have sleep. That's the premise of the new ship-board wellness program on Celebrity Cruises in conjunction with its spa and wellness partner Canyon Ranch SpaClub.

It's not just about getting your 'beauty sleep' these days. It's about stressful lifestyles and poor sleeping habits that have left many of us chronically exhausted.

That takes the fun out of even the most amazing travel experience or destination.

So what better time than on vacation to not only catch up on some rest and relaxation – but also to experience new sleep treatments that can help you improve your sleep even after your holiday? Especially after your holiday?

Celebrity Cruises and onboard Canyon Ranch SpaClub now offer cruise travelers a curated program for sleep called Mindful Dreams. The program is available fleet-wide beginning the fall of 2017.

The program takes a 360-degree view of sleep and sleep 'hygiene'. There are so many factors that affect a restorative night's sleep. Celebrity's guests can try new treatments, products and sleeping aids, receive nutrition advice on the best culinary choices to aid in sleep, and enjoy expert lectures and special instructional classes promoting a holistic approach to mindful sleep that will benefit you during your cruise… and back at home.

Mindful Dreams got its name from an existing Canyon Ranch SpaClub relaxation treatment. This sleep-encouraging experience incorporates products specifically designed to soothe, alongside a sleep-inducing cultural massage, and meditation techniques. It's a focused treatment to evoke instant tranquility and foster inner wellbeing, calmness and serenity, transporting guests to the perfect getaway state-of-mind. Now that's a holiday!

Additional sleep-enhancing treatments in the program include:

  • Organic lavender and seaweed sugar glow
  • Age-defying restorative facial
  • Lazy days detox seaweed bath

The program features VOYA luxury products. For centuries, it's been known that lavender can contribute to relaxation and sleep. The lavender body care range, Tranquility, incorporated in many of the Mindful Dreams treatments, helps to ease the stresses of everyday life, leading to a feeling of relaxation and peace. All ingredients are organic and sustainably harvested on the western coast of Ireland.

More and more travelers are planning holidays with self-improvement – especially wellness goals – in mind. We love Mindful Dreams' focus on providing Celebrity's guests with relaxation and sleep during your sailing… and especially a lifetime of wellness habits and techniques for mindfully improving your sleep in your daily routine once your cruise is over.

Your whole life and life outlook feels better with a good night's sleep. What better gift to give yourself with a gift of travel than a whole new approach to restorative sleep?

Start your Trip!

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Where's the Coolest Place to do Yoga in Vancouver?

It's where stand up paddleboard meets downward dog – in a South Beach-style pool overlooking Vancouver's seawall and mountains.

The latest trend in West Coast wellness lifestyle, the stand up paddleboard (SUP), is well established in Vancouver. And yoga? Well that's a no-brainer.

But it took local SUP pioneer and yoga instructor Kristy Wright Schell to bring the two together and introduce them to Vancouver. And the Westin Bayshore's programming team to take notice and make Kristy's 'Liquid Yoga' part of the hotel's pool lifestyle.

The stunning hotel pool gives participants an opportunity to practice yoga in the open sea air, embracing the quintessential experience of Vancouver's West Coast lifestyle but in the security of a pool as an aquatic yoga studio, rather than the open sea like SUP yoga.

We tried it and we think it's inspired.

On a fair summer day in Vancouver, British Columbia, the locals joke it's like 'British California'. And it seems that somehow, every resident and visitor in town is outdoors or on the water.

This program gives hotel guests – and the general public – a unique way to be part of the local wellness and outdoor culture, even if you're in town, like we were, with a packed business schedule.

Liquid Yoga sessions take place in the morning, while the pool is still quiet. Kristy, who's the Owner/Founder of Just Add Water Yoga Ltd and Standup Paddle Vancouver, discovered made-in-Canada Aquamats (Kristy's on the center mat below). She and the Westin Bayshore team decided on six, so every session is intimate and there is plenty of space around each mat in the pool.

Photos: Above, Westin Bayshore; Top, BestTrip.TV

Unlike yoga on SUP's, Aquamats have squared corners and are stable left to right, but, here's the 'twist', they do tend to rotate.

Getting wet can be intentional… or accidental. Participants either mount pool-side dry, or have the option to swim to their mats, and some of the poses involve options to dip in the water, or even dismount and remount, adding that challenge and direct interaction with water. Kristy says about 1 in the 6 students every session will end up in the drink without meaning to. Luckily the pool is warm!

For Liquid Yoga, Kristy uses a lot of Vinyasa 'flow' - the water environment lends itself quite literally to a fluid practice, where participants need to bridge the gap between effort and surrender to stay balanced on the mat in the water.

As a result, you gain a new awareness of your body in the pose, and new awareness of your yoga practice. Control freaks usually intent on the perfect pose will find they need to let go a little and relax in response to the elasticity of the water. While yoga slackers will need to bring more consciousness to their practice to literally 'stay afloat'.

Even though Kristy keeps to relatively simple poses. A class that done on the floor in a studio would be quite basic takes on a new challenge in the water, requiring you constantly engage tiny core muscles for balance.

But in case you were thinking it all sounds very serious… it's not. Let's face it: we are primed for pools as places to play, and Liquid Yoga brings a playfulness to yoga practice too. We almost wanted to fall in!

It's like taking a 'mini yoga retreat' completely outside a usual yoga environment that reconnects and reinvigorates your yoga practice.

We recommend wearing your bathing suit under layers of yoga or workout wear that will wick water away from you in the open air. Didn't bring workout wear? We love that guests can take advantage of the Run Westin's gear lending program.

Classes fill up, so we recommend advanced booking through the hotel concierge or Kristy's web site. The sessions are open to both hotel guests and the general public.

There are two morning sessions of Liquid Yoga at the Westin Bayshore 6 days a week (except Mondays) from May- September whenever the pool is open. They are considering moving it to the indoor pool once the outdoor pool closes.

Liquid Yoga is a terrific way to enjoy the Westin Bayshore's gorgeous, 'make an entrance' circular pool, with its new South Beach style cabanas and indoor/outdoor terrace restaurant. But it's also an inspired addition to Westin's wellness cuisine and activity programming, with a uniquely Vancouver spirit, enhanced by the Westin Bayshore's incomparable views of Vancouver's harbor, seawall and mountains.

By: BestTrip.TV's Lynn Elmhirst with Ryan McElroy

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Costa Maya is world famous for ancient Mayan ruins, but traditional culture is still alive for visitors looking for authentic experiences.

We met a local shaman who practices the spiritual beliefs of Mexico's ancient, indigenous peoples. On this shore excursion from our Carnival cruise, he shares with us the spiritual and wellness traditions of his ancestors, including a sweat lodge ceremony followed by a dip in sacred waters.

Start your Trip!

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Is health and weight loss at the top of your resolutions this year? Did you also resolve to travel more? 

What if you could marry your two goals?  Travel to a dream destination AND come home healthier?

Foodie BestTrip.TV travel video host Lynn Elmhirst trades in cocktails and cuisine for a juice fast at an extreme wellness, weight loss and fitness retreat in Costa Rica.

Every year, I make, like everyone else, New Year’s Resolutions. This year I wanted to hit the reset button after years of foodie travel and the good life, and an injury that interrupted my workout regime.  A serious wellness vacation.  AND create a fantastic travel video. 

So I did some research, then recruited my friend Nancy to join me on a girlfriend getaway for a two week juice fasting detox/cleanse at a resort in Costa Rica. Not just a massage or two and opting for ‘spa’ items on the menu while everyone around us is chowing down on steaks and margaritas.

We wanted to go ‘all in’, an extreme wellness retreat where we would see and feel significant results.  

Here's our experience at a no-holds-barred juice fasting resort with six hours a day of workouts beginning with a 7:30 am hike… in one of the most beautiful seaside destinations in the world.

CLICK HERE TO WATCH THE VIDEO  and hear about our challenges and our triumphs, AND our final judgment: is an extreme wellness retreat a good travel option?

 

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You would be forgiven for trying to recapture those moments once more at the spots discussed herein. read more