Wellness Travel on a Budget: Make the Most of Any Trip

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By Cora Gold

You need a vacation. Taking time for yourself is essential to your well-being. Many people go on trips to recharge their batteries and reset their energy levels. If you need to relieve stress, a wellness retreat may be calling your name.

Nowadays, wellness travel can quickly add up in costs. How can you cut costs and still have a worthwhile vacation? Here are eight tips for doing wellness travel on a budget.

1. Set a Budget

save money for your piggy bank with Skyscanner

The first step is to actually set a budget. Determine your financial parameters beforehand so you don’t overspend on your wellness travel vacation. Make a spreadsheet breaking down the cost of every accommodation, activity and restaurant. You don’t have to get the correct cost down to the penny—but it helps to have a general idea of your budget.

Your wellness travel budget will also determine how long your vacation will last. Research shows the average cost of a one-week solo vacation is $1,578. You may want to go longer or limit your wellness travel to a weekend. The budget will tell you what you can do.

2. Carefully Pick Travel Partners

Who is coming with you on these trips? Find like-minded people to accompany you because they’ll be more likely to take costs into consideration. Some friends or family members may want to stay in luxury resorts and eat at five-star restaurants. These accommodations are nice, but they don’t fit into a wellness vacation on a budget.

Bringing compatible mates makes life much easier. Planning the trip is smoother when you have someone with similar travel preferences and habits. You’ll share unforgettable experiences and deepen your relationship without breaking the bank. How could you ask for a better trip? 

3. Select Inexpensive Activities

Planning a trip starts with the destination and transportation. Then decide what you’re going to do once you arrive. Most wellness retreats include activities to heal your body and mind—such as yoga, swimming and spa pampering. Staying on a budget means selecting inexpensive activities on your trip.

Keeping costs low is easy if you take advantage of nature. For example, many beaches in the U.S. are free to the public. Some coastlines are in national and state parks that may charge a small fee for admission. The National Park Service has free admission days like Veterans Day and Martin Luther King Jr. Day. The only costs you’ll need to cover are the ones for camping or special tours.

4. Stay Close to Home

Hooping at Rebagliati Park © Tourism Whistler / Mike Crane Photo

Travel options are endless. There’s so much of the world and not enough time to see it. However, from a cost perspective, staying close to home is best for the wellness travel budget.

Staycations help you lower your transportation costs, leaving you more room in the budget for entertainment. If you live in a large city, take advantage of the wellness opportunities around you.

If you don’t have many options for spas or wellness centers, try spending some time in the great outdoors. Fresh air and natural environments have countless benefits for both mental and physical health.

Even visiting a local park can lower your stress levels by 15%, strengthen your heart, boost your immune system and more. Meditating, journaling or exercising in the park is an incredible and free alternative to an expensive wellness excursion.

5. Find International Affordability

greece is excellent for wellness travel budgets

If your heart desires international travel, there are ways to stay within the budget. First, if you live in the U.S., consider a Caribbean vacation. The nearby region has 700 islands and numerous wellness retreats to choose from. If you travel to U.S. territories like Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands, you won’t need a passport to access these locations in paradise.

If you want to visit another continent, there are affordable destinations in Europe, Asia and more. For example, a wellness retreat to Indonesia costs about $47 daily and provides numerous opportunities to relax on the islands and enjoy the culture. Other affordable options outside North America include Thailand, Portugal, Greece and more.

6. Bring Your Food

pack snacks for wellness travel on a budget

When travelling, food can occupy a significant portion of your budget if you’re not careful. Restaurants in popular tourist areas often have higher prices due to demand and location. These businesses serve excellent food, but you can cut costs by bringing your food.

Transporting food is much easier when you have non-perishable items. These foods include granola bars, trail mix, protein bars and more. Eating these snacks will keep your energy up between meals—crucial if your wellness retreat involves hiking, swimming and other active days.

Some accommodations allow you to cook food inside the hotel or house you’re staying in. Take advantage of these appliances and prepare meals inside your lodging. You can mimic restaurant quality without paying a premium price. If you only have a microwave, consider instant meals like cup noodles to save time and money.

7. Travel During the Off-season

wellness retreat guest

When you travel is as important as where you travel. A wellness resort may have higher prices during the summertime because of the optimal weather and higher demand. Conversely, ski resorts will see higher demand during the winter due to the increased snow.

Plan your wellness travel during the off-season to save money. Resorts typically offer lower rates, and you won’t have to endure large crowds. The experience will be more relaxed with shorter lines and quieter environments without compromising your vacation.

Look for the shoulder seasons when scouting for dates. For example, Florida’s peak tourist season lasts from March through August. Planning your trip for February, September, or October still allows for warm weather—but you benefit from shoulder season prices.

8. Use Public Transportation

take the bus for a wellness travel budget

Supply chain disruptions from the last few years have caused price increases, affecting your wellness retreat. If you’re considering a rental car, check the prices before booking a vehicle. In 2022, car rental prices skyrocketed almost 50% compared to 2019. The prices have only decreased slightly, so your best bet may be public transportation.

Travelling to large metropolitan areas provides opportunities to ride buses, metro, light rail and other transit. Public transportation is generally cheaper than renting a car and more time efficient if road congestion is heavy. Plus, you’ll reduce your environmental impact  Research shows public transit reduces your carbon footprint by 45% compared to driving.

Finding Wellness on a Budget

Listen to your body when it says it needs a break. Going on a wellness retreat may be what the doctor orders. Wellness travel is essential for relaxing and giving your body what it needs to unwind and recharge. However, you don’t have to break the bank to achieve it. Use these eight tips for making the most of your wellness travel retreat on a budget.

Cora Gold is a travel and wellness blogger and the Editor-in-Chief of women’s lifestyle magazine, Revivalist. Connect with Cora on LinkedIn and Pinterest.

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