Feeling stressed? Perhaps all you need is a spa day or 2 … maybe even a week. And sometimes Mother Nature has the best idea: a spa treatment in the great outdoors.
That’s what I found on a trip this past week into the remote winter wilds of Montana where hot springs abound, as does the added bonus of being in a state that recently cracked the top 5 in the happiest states index. Maybe being the sixth-least populated state has something to do with Big Sky Country’s “happy” distinction, along with the lack of cellphone coverage, which can’t help but turn a traveler’s attention toward the grand, majestic show all around — the expansive mountain ranges that make up this stretch of the Rocky Mountains, with stories of mountain men and Native American tribes finding reprieve from wind-bitten days in soothing, mineral-rich waters by the base of mountains.
That’s where hot springs come in, lots of them. The western third of Montana is where visitors will find the most accessible, and inviting, geothermal wonders, emerging just below the surface with temperatures anywhere from 85 to 140 degrees. READ MORE
It’s well into January, how are your resolutions faring? Did you make a commitment to be fit this year or to try something new and exhilarating? Or maybe, you wanted to make room for more meditation and tranquility? Whether you’re looking for intense relaxation or extreme adventure, here are our top picks for total renewal in 2014:
Best Fitness Boot Camps
Destination-based boot camps can be the best way to switch up your fitness routine, which you may — or may not — have kept up with so far (no judgment here!). From hiking with picturesque views of Mt. Everest to dancing along the Mayan Riviera, these are far from your ordinary 5 a.m. boot camps.
With Breast Cancer Awareness Month now in full swing, dozens of organizations nationwide are sponsoring events for survivors and supporters to get out there, have fun … and become a little more courageous. What better way than through travel?
It’s important to participate in an annual Race for the Cure — find one here – but why stop there? Adventures can come in simple treks, even a hiking trip near your home.
That’s what Diane Mapes (pictured, left) found. In the weeks before this Seattle-based writer, and blogger of the very fearless (and funny) Double Whammied blog, underwent a double mastectomy in April 2011, she hiked up Tiger Mountain, a small peak just east of Seattle. After surgery, and before chemo, Mapes went to Dungeness Spit, along the Strait of Juan de Fuca (a few hours west of Seattle), and walked all the way to the end and back — 13 miles, in all, that felt pretty good.
“Getting out in nature makes you feel like you’re part of something bigger and that challenges aren’t insurmountable,” says Mapes, speaking from her Seattle home just 2 weeks after undergoing reconstructive surgery. “Travel has been really important to me,” she adds, “even the small trips.”
Beat Cancer, Have an Adventure
Dozens of organizations nationwide promote adventure travel on the road to beating cancer – and both survivors and supporters can participate. Every year, Climb Against the Odds supporters climb the nearly 15,000-foot-high Mt. Shasta in Siskiyou County, CA – sign up for the 2014 climb here. For climbing adventures abroad, check out Climb to Fight Breast Cancer.
Or grab an oar, the International Breast Cancer Paddlers’ Commission sponsors dragon boat teams. Bike up for Tour de Pink, which sponsors rides from coast to coast – next one up is in Southern California, Oct. 18-20. Love to fish? Join Casting for Recovery on a fly-fishing retreat in the great outdoors. Or catch a wave with Boarding for Breast Cancer.
Check out There is Life After Breast Cancer for more travel adventure ideas.
No matter where you are in September — at home or on the road — you can celebrate National Yoga Month all over the US. Thousands of studios across the country are participating in National Yoga Month and offering a free week of yoga. This is a perfect time for newbies who want to see what all the fuss is about or for Vinyasa veterans to try out a new studio. (See which studios in your area are participating at yogahealthfinder.com.)
We caught up with traveling yogi Kelly Newsome, owner of Higher Ground Yoga, a boutique yoga and wellness practice in Washington, DC. Newsome teaches simple self-care strategy and private yoga so that busy professionals can take their yoga — and wellness practices — with them no matter where they go.
Check out our Q&A with Newsome, who shares her tips for practicing yoga on the road.
Traveling Type: How can people take their yoga (beginning or advanced) with them on the road?
Kelly Newsome: My clients travel constantly, especially for work, and their biggest challenge is staying committed to their practice when their schedules change. To combat this, I give them 3 easy ways (“the 3 Cs”) to stay on track:
No. 1, calendar it! Put 5 to 15 minutes of yoga practice in your physical schedule. If possible, practice in the morning before the day kicks in (but a few restorative poses before bed are great, too). You can always add on more time, but you’re more likely to succeed if you shoot for consistency, not duration.
No. 2, create a super-simple sequence. Don’t try to create that amazing Vinyasa flow series you took a couple of weeks ago with your favorite teacher, or worry about having the perfect playlist or even your special yoga clothes. Instead, start with a few rounds of sun salutations to warm up, then add 3 to 5 favorite poses that you simply, slowly open into. Hold them for a few breaths to deepen their effects. Eliminate unnecessary distractions. Just move, and be in your body. Inhale. Exhale.
Finally, carry a travel yoga mat with you. You don’t actually have to have a mat to practice, but it does make postures easier (hotel towels aren’t as easy to use as you might think — I’ve been there). Plus, not only does a simple travel mat keep your feet and hands from slipping, it can also serve as a valuable visual reminder. Roll it out next to your bed when you arrive at your destination, and let it be your cue to start stretching!
What are the benefits of combining yoga with traveling, in your opinion?
First, yoga is a perfect complement to traveling because it grounds you, whereas travel actually shifts the ground right from under you! In yoga, you practice conscious awareness of your feet on the earth, the relationship of your body to space, the minute details of the physical environment (for instance, with a gaze point or “drishti”). When my clients are traveling, they’re speeding through time (whether on a train, airplane, car, etc.) and their heads spin, but yoga helps keep their senses from skyrocketing.
Second, traveling can be tough on your physical body because so much sitting is involved — my clients always have grumpy hips, back and shoulders. But yoga’s perfect for that. Its history even tells us that poses were specifically designed thousands of years ago to help meditating yogis sit comfortably for longer periods of time! Many postures take care of those common problem areas.
Third, yoga is low maintenance and available worldwide. I always remind my clients that they really only need their bodies (and, if possible, their travel mats). They use our private podcasts while traveling, but you can find classes just about everywhere these days. Even if you don’t have a physical teacher nearby, though, instruction is available online, by podcast, phone apps or magazines and books you can toss in your bag.
Where are your favorite places to practice yoga away from home?
I’ll pull out a mat anywhere! Still, most of the time my mat stays in the comfort of my home, near my sanctuary table and the fireplace (yep, I even turn it on in the summer — it’s like India!). I also love going to classes in my old home where I did all of my training: New York City. My all-time favorite practice was in Indonesia, though. I was volunteering at an ashram, teaching kids yoga, and they had this massive, dark grey stone plank that jutted out into the middle of the ocean. I went out one evening with my mat and my camera, and saluted the sunset for hours.
Why is September’s National Yoga Month a good time for beginner (or advanced) yogis?
September is a month that symbolizes new beginnings. Nearly all of my clients, for instance, have children starting the school year. It’s a time of possibility and fresh, crisp energy!
Kelly Newsome owns Higher Ground Yoga, a boutique wellness practice in Washington, DC, for busy women. Her business story has been featured in Bloomberg Law, and the New York Times and Wall Street Journal bestselling book, The $100 Startup, and she was voted as one of the top 3 yoga teachers by the Washington City Paper’s “Best of DC 2013.” Before her wellness work, Kelly was a business attorney and, in between careers, she spent time traveling, eating, consulting, riding elephants and teaching her yoga craft in Cambodia, Indonesia, France, Italy and the United Kingdom.
She’s helped Jennifer Aniston keep her enviable shape. Now Mandy Ingber, yoga teacher to the stars, can help you — she’s just asking for 28 days. In her new book, Yogalosophy, Ingber — whose other celebrity clients have included Helen Hunt, Jennifer Lawrence and Kate Beckinsale — walks readers through a day-by-day journey toward greater health, fitness and overall wellness and renewal.
But what happens if you’ll be traveling over the next 28 days? Few things can put a crimp in a traveler’s fitness-training style quite like a hectic travel schedule, especially over the long Memorial Day weekend. Don’t worry, says Ingber — she’s been there, too.
Recently, Ingber sat down with TravelChannel.com to offer her tips on staying fit while on the road … or in the air. Ever wondered what you can eat (guilt-free) between flights at an airport? Or what exercises you can easily do in your hotel room? Read on for Ingber’s tips.
Is your bike collecting more dust than dirt these days? Now is the perfect time to take it for a spin since it’s National Bike Month. From the best cities for cycling to bike-friendly hotels, here are ways to get your wheels rolling this month.
See a City By Bike
Avid cyclist and adventure traveler Ryan Van Duzer shares with us his top 10 US cities for cycling, from Boulder, CO, to Austin, TX. With 300 days of sunshine and a picturesque mountain backdrop, biking in Boulder is at the top of Van Duzer’s list. You won’t be able to tell if that Rocky Mountain high is from the altitude or the endorphin rush after a ride here. Quirky Austin makes Van Duzer’s list for its unique Bike Zoo, where you can see a pedal-powered 80-foot rattlesnake, and the 6-mile-long Lance Armstrong bikeway, which opened in 2009 and runs through this Texas capital city. (You can see the rest of his picks here.)
Stay at a Bike-Friendly Hotel
Kimpton Hotels is celebrating National Bike Month with its national “Bike Like a Local” program. Travelers staying in Kimpton Hotels in cities like Chicago, San Francisco or New York can take advantage of complimentary bike rentals and bike promotions during May.
If you’re a cycling history buff, pedal back into Alexandria, Virginia’s history with the Civil War Bike Tour package at Monaco Alexandria. This Kimpton Hotel is offering complimentary bikes for guests to explore the Alexandria Civil War Defenses of Washington Bike Trail. Take in the history while getting a workout stopping at historic sites throughout Alexandria like Fort Ward and Alexandria National Cemetery.
At the Hotel Palomar in Phoenix, guests can explore Downtown Phoenix’s must-see spots on the hotel’s complimentary bikes. Guests can also pick up the hotel’s pocket-sized maps of Phoenix, themed for “foodies, artsy types, style lovers and mental flossers.” Each themed map highlights the best spots in the city to eat and drink and what to see and do — all with a bike rack conveniently nearby.
Borrow a Bike for Few Hours
Don’t have a bike? That’s no excuse! Bike-sharing programs are popping up all over the county — from Washington, DC to Long Beach, CA. The much-anticipated bike share program in NYC opened for registration just last month, and had over 5,000 people sign up within 30 hours. On Memorial Day, the NYC bike share program officially opens, making it country’s largest bike share program with over 6,000 bikes and 330 stations. Another popular bike share program is Washington DC’s Capital Bikeshare, which has over 1,800 bikes at over 200 stations across the metropolitan area. Whether you are a tourist or a local, borrowing a bike in these bustling cities helps you avoid traffic frustrations and parking meltdowns … and burn calories while you’re at it.
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Where’s the best place to practice yoga? Paradise. More specifically, Wanderlust O’ahu, the one-of-a kind festival that features yoga, music, surfing and plenty of Hawaiian culture on the fabled North Shore. Typically a summer festival that’s held in mountain resort areas, Wanderlust kicked off its 2013 season by leaving the mainland for its first-ever beach location in the Aloha state.
When I attended my first Wanderlust at Whistler last August, I was immediately hooked on the unique vibe of this festival that combines world-class yogis, outdoor adventure, organic wining and dining and dancing under the stars to crowd-pleasing bands.
But Wanderlust at a more intimate setting on one of Hawaii’s most beautiful beaches? Mindful-living magic.
Away from the crowds of Waikiki, Wanderlust O’ahu was held at Turtle Bay Resort, an 880-acre paradise that sits on the northernmost tip of the North Shore with 5 miles of remote beachfront. Yogis down-dogged by the crystal blue ocean (or on the ocean if they attempted stand-up paddleboard yoga) with palm trees swaying and 15-foot waves breaking nearby. Hawaiian surf legends Gerry Lopez and Rochelle Ballard taught yoga classes and shared their surf-yoga connection during evening speakeasies. Wanderlust-ers got a taste of Hawaiian culture with surf, ukulele and hula lessons. And every day in paradise was topped off with dancing under the stars – with musical acts like Michael Franti and Friends and ALO.
While every moment at Wanderlust O’ahu felt perfect, my favorite moment had to be the spontaneous “trance dance” party led by yoga goddess Shiva Rea and Wanderlust musical mainstay Michael Franti. Picture over a thousand people jumping and dancing to the infectious beats of Michael Franti under the Hawaiian sunshine (in comfy yoga pants, of course). Pure happiness.
See Michael Franti lead the dance party in the festival highlights video. Check out images of Wanderlust O’ahu in our slideshow. And get more highlights of the festival in my Postcard From Wanderlust O’ahu.
Don’t worry, there are still many chances to experience Wanderlust this year. It’s just gearing up for its 2013 summer season, with all the mainland events tickets on sale now: Wanderlust Vermont, Jun 20-23; Wanderlust Colorado, July 3-7; Wanderlust California, July 18-21; and Wanderlust Whistler, August 1-4. Don’t miss out on advanced pricing, which ends March 26. Ticket prices will go up, so now is the time to book your Wanderlust adventure. And the earlier you book, the more likely you’ll get into the popular classes, which fill up quickly.
Where will your wanderlust take you this year? I have a feeling mine will take me back to another Wanderlust festival.
Train for a marathon. Organize your closets. Drink green smoothies. Not putting a smile on your face just yet, is it? What’s great about travel resolutions is that they are so much more fun to keep because they involve traveling, and who doesn’t want to push that to the top of their goals for 2013.
Consider these 5 travel resolutions (we promise, you’ll be a happier person by year’s end):
1. Take Your Vacation Days
Hotwire’s 2012 American Travel Behavior Survey revealed that the majority of Americans will have an average of 9.2 unused paid vacations days leftover, and that’s 6.2 days up from 2011. There’s no reason to not take vacation days that you’ve earned, even if you use them for a staycation to explore places in your city that you haven’t had time to see (probably because you’ve been working too much).
2. Experience First, Share Later
On vacation, do you find yourself lost in capturing a moment versus living in the moment? Maybe you’re fiddling with your iPhone trying to focus on your cappuccino at a café in Italy or trying to tweet from the summit of Pikes Peak and end up missing the sunset. It seems as a culture we’re obsessed with documenting every aspect of our vacation … while it’s happening. Put the phone away. Leave it in the hotel room for a change. Stop and smell the roses … post a photo of them on Facebook later.
3. Go Your Own Way
Everyone’s dream vacation is different. Whether it’s ignoring your parents’ paranoia after deciding to travel to a “dangerous country” or realizing that you might never find someone who will share your dream of hiking a glacier or diving in the Red Sea … follow your own heart when it comes to travel. Maybe take a trip alone this year to cross off a bucket list destination (for some reason, you can’t understand why no one shares your passion to go to Yemen), or maybe just take an afternoon for yourself on your next family vacation to see a sight that only you want to see.
4. Leave Your Comfort Zone in 2012
One of the best things about travel is that it offers you the chance to be someone you’re not at home. Maybe it’s dining like Andrew Zimmern would … you know, a bite of cow placenta here and a taste of turtle testicles there. Perhaps it’s learning to surf, even though you live in the Midwest far from any water, or taking a camping trip in Alaska, even though you’re a bonafide city slicker most of the year.
5. Sign Up for Rewards Programs
Is your excuse why you don’t travel more always money? You’re not alone. But good news, there are now more ways to cash in on travel rewards programs than ever. Our travel rewards guru, Summer Hull aka MommyPoints, is passionate about points because they are what make inexpensive travel possible. Whether it’s a rewards credit card that gives you miles for every dollar you spend or racking up hotel points, take advantage of these offers so you can travel more on your dollar in 2013.
So put down the green smoothie and book that 2013 vacation already.
Photograph by Ali Kaukas
Need another reason to love September? In addition to Indian summer weather, back to school (shopping) and fall weekend getaways, September is National Yoga Month. Celebrate by visiting one of the thousands of studios and organizations all over the country that are offering free yoga classes and events, many of which are outdoors (so you can enjoy the Indian summer while you’re saluting the sun).
Don’t worry if you aren’t a Vinyasa veteran, these events are open to all levels and are the perfect introduction for newbies to experience all the mind and body benefits of yoga, including bringing people together all over the world. READ MORE