There are many reasons why people travel for leisure, among them to open their minds, to relax and rejuvenate, to explore new places, to eat delicious food, to escape from the everyday, to connect with people and to have fun. Sometimes we travel with one goal in mind – someone focused on rest and relaxation might decide that a resort holiday is just what’s needed, but those looking to learn and do while on holiday might want to consider joining a retreat.
There are retreats for almost all interests: writing, cooking, yoga, photography, running, cycling, painting, bird watching – I’ve even come across a shopping retreat! Next month, I will be heading to Andalusia, Spain, to run a wellness retreat with well-known personal trainer Amanda Thebe. Ours is a very intimate retreat – we never take more than 12 people – and in the years we’ve been doing this, we have witnessed friendships develop and grow. Due to the nature of the retreat, there is a fair amount of physical activity, with optional workouts and energetic activities daily, however since we are focused on living well, we also enjoy wonderful meals together and take the time to explore our surroundings. We like to lead our groups a little bit off the beaten path and seek out experiences that are special or unique to the area. Past participants have told us it’s like summer camp for grownups. It’s where they go to learn something new, move, have fun and also have some independence from their families.
Retreat travel is not for everyone. Anyone who wants complete control over how they spend their holiday time will not enjoy having daily events scheduled for them. It’s also not for those who prefer their own company to the company of others. There is no guarantee that you will be friends with everyone, but a retreater should be open to enjoying group activities and okay with traveling with unfamiliar people. Many couples and groups of friends join retreats but these kinds of trips are especially great for solo travelers looking for a shared experience. At the end of the day, it is like traveling with friends, except they are friends you’ve just met.