In the haze of New Year's sequins and champagne, many of us make commitments to lose that last 5 pounds, give up that food we can't seem to avoid, or unplug from our smart phones. Rather than trying to change your patterns in your day-to-day routine, how about taking a trip that is conducive to making your new years resolution a reality? With five of the most popular lifestyle changes in mind, the editors and members of VirtualTourist listed the "Top 5 Spots to Keep Your New Year's Resolution."
Photo credit: Sedona, Arizona Courtesy of Sedona Tourism and CVB
Photo credit: Sedona, Arizona Courtesy of Flickr
Between emails, daily commutes, and other chores, it can be hard to take time to connect with nature and yourself in your day-to-day life. The picturesque setting of Sedona, Arizona is an ideal spot to get in touch with nature and center yourself. Hikers will enjoy Red Rock State Park and those looking for some local culture can explore the Palatki Ruins, which include cave paintings and a ceremonial site of the Synagua Indians. Sedona is a well-known vortex site famous for its unique and powerful energy, so its the perfect spot to get in touch with yourself and your spirituality. Cathedral Rock is considered a "strong energy spot," as is Airport Mesa. For those who prefer to get spiritual in a more traditional setting, the Chapel of the Holy Cross is a Roman Catholic Church built between two red rocks and on a vortex site. In addition to be an energy spot, it is also an interesting architectural building designed by a student of architect Frank Lloyd Wright.
Photo credit: The Lodge at Rancho La Puerta by VT member Blake Blanchard
Photo credit: The Grounds of Rancho La Puerta by VT member Blake Blanchard
Almost every adult makes some New Years commitment to focus on an aspect of wellness, ranging from getting more sleep, dealing with stress better, eating better, or exercising daily. Instead of taking a weekend in Vegas or spending a week drinking by the pool, what about a trip that forces you to modify your behavior and disrupts your daily routine? Rancho La Puerta is a destination fitness resort, conveniently located only an hour south of San Diego, CA on 3,000 acres at the foot of Mount Kuchumaa in Tecate, Mexico. With morning hikes, calorie-restricted organic food, and a schedule of more than 40 fitness classes and nutrition lectures daily, its impossible to leave the Ranch not feeling healthy and rejuvenated. Casitas lack TVs and Wi-Fi, cell phone use is limited to your own room, and the camaraderie at communal meals makes it feel more like fitness camp than a diet program. One VirtualTourist member went over Thanksgiving break, and in addition to losing 5 pounds over a holiday when most people gain 10, she also managed to quit her 8 can a day Diet Coke habit.
Exercising daily and stressing less are yearly resolutions for many, but how about handling both with one new habit? Yoga has been proven to decrease stress, increase circulation, and prevent injuries. As yoga becomes more popular, so do yoga retreats, giving individuals the opportunity to truly take their practice to the next level while also establishing a pattern of daily practice. Costa Rica has become the spot for the yoga retreat with locations and retreats taking place all over the countryside. For those interested in the Caribbean side, Samasati Nature Retreat borders the Gandoca Manzanillo Wildlife Refuge and offers weekly stays, packages, and even teacher training. A number of retreats take place on the Osa Penninsula, located on the Pacific side of the country toward the border with Panama, which is largely comprised of rainforest. Retreats in this location are ideal for active travelers who want to experience water sports and the Pacific side offers great waves for surfers.
Photo credit: Jake's Hotel in Jamaica, courtesy of their website
With ample outdoor sports and gorgeous water, the Caribbean is the perfect spot to power down that smart phone and truly unplug. On Saint John's in the US Virgin Islands, Caneel Bay provides seven secluded white sand beaches to distract you from your technology, but also helps you unplug: there are no televisions in guest rooms. Jake's Hotel in Jamaica offers four beaches within walking distance, countless boat trips and activities, but also lacks televisions, phones, and Wi-Fi. A few other Caribbean locations with plenty of activities and hotels that allow you to fully unplug include Turks & Caicos, St. Lucia, and Petit Saint Vincent in the Grenadines.
While the concept of voluntourism has been around for a long time, it has become exponentially more popular in the wake of recent natural disasters, like Hurricane Katrina, the earthquake in Haiti, and tsunamis in Southeast Asia. However, there are also countries that desperately need English-speaking volunteers to assist in rural communities. On Idealist.org, alternative spring break programs are available in Haiti, as well as volunteer opportunities for a month in Kenya, India, and Ghana, among other locations. Rather than spend your money and vacation on yourself, you could spend that week truly impacting someone else's life for the better.
With your New Year's Resolution fresh in your mind, there's no better time to plan your next vacation to support, not sabotage, your health and wellness goals (maybe body, mind and spirit?) for 2013. For tips and reviews of over 70,000 destinations, check out VirtualTourist.com.
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