6 Solo Wellness Trips to Book in 2021

When you’re ready to travel again, consider one of these trips—including a Sri Lankan yoga retreat and a European spa-cation—to restore your mind, body, and soul.

6 Solo Wellness Trips to Book in 2021

Restore your peace of mind on a pilgrimage to the Kumano Kodo in Japan.

Photo by Stephane Bidouze/Shutterstock

The year-we’d-sooner-forget 2020 was brutal: It messed with our minds and bodies, and dampened our spirits. But 2021, we hope, will bring restoration on all fronts. Maybe you need a solo retreat after months of being trapped at home with young kids. Maybe you’ve been alone, but not by choice—and you’re ready for a group trip with opportunities to reflect. Maybe you just crave trees and quiet, anything that gets you away from the news. Or maybe you need a good detox after months of self-soothing with cocktails and carbs. Whatever your state, wherever you’re coming from, we’ve got you. Here, a few ways to rejuvenate this year.

If you want to be alone, surrounded by nothing but trees

Hike the Kumano Kodo! The Japanese trekking system is one of only two World Heritage Pilgrimage sites. Pick your route (writer Peggy Orenstein tackled the Nakahechi route in 2017), decide whether or not you want to carry your pack (you can book a service to move your gear from guesthouse to guesthouse), and get ready to meet the temples, trees, and kami (spirits) of the Kumano Kodo. Self-guided tours from $1,455.

Float through the Amazon on an introspective journey with ExplorerX.

Float through the Amazon on an introspective journey with ExplorerX.

Photo by Jacob Wise

If you want to work through an existential crisis

Explorer X helps people navigate life’s biggest questions through custom and small group trips, which include one-on-one sessions with a designated travel coach. (Your coach will help you use your travel experiences to deepen your self-understanding, before, during, and after your trip.) To wit: What does it mean to be alone? Consider breaking that down on a trip to the Amazon rain forest in Ecuador—the “most sonically beautiful place on Earth”—with acoustic ecologist Gordon Hempton, known for studying silence. Members of the indigenous Cofan tribe will guide you through their homelands, and Cofan’s chief and shaman will help you break down your fears and explore your connection with the world. From $6,450.

If you want to “take the waters” like a 19th-century royal (but with modern tech)

Swan over to Clinique La Prairie in Switzerland, where cutting-edge medical technology (stem-cell treatments and DNA testing are big here) and holistic care meet. In a tidy green campus on the shores of Lake Geneva, you can spruce up your immune system and plump up your cells through the seven-day “Revitalisation” program, which includes meal plans and activities tailored to your genetic makeup. From $28,000.

2021 doesn’t look too bad from this vantage point, does it?

2021 doesn’t look too bad from this vantage point, does it?

Courtesy of Esalen

If you want to reconnect with yourself or a loved one

Esalen, the famed Big Sur meditation center, will reopen March 1—but you can book its new “Creating Connection Through the Rituals of Esalen” program now. Geared toward people navigating big life changes (who isn’t, these days?), the five-day program aims to help travelers “distill their intentions and reawaken the change agents within.” Bring a partner if you like, and get ready to meditate, soak in Esalen’s mineral springs, and allow the Big Sur coastline to spark a change. From $1,500.

If you want to flush 2020 out of your system

The L’Albir, Spain–based SHA Wellness means business. Its 7-, 14-, or 21-day Detox programs involve a series of consultations, tests, and opaquely named sessions (intravenous liver detox, anyone?) to help flush toxins out of the system, better understand the impact of stress on the body, and help attendees establish new, healthier eating habits. But suffer you won’t: The food is reportedly delicious (artfully plated miso soup with roasted mushrooms), and you can’t beat the beachfront location on Spain’s Costa Brava. From $4,370.


Courtesy of Sen Wellness Sanctuary

If you want nonstop zen

Head to Sri Lanka, open once more to international travelers, for a stay at Sen Wellness Sanctuary, a yoga retreat rooted in Ayurvedic medicine—and rated one of the best in the world. Retreats include twice-daily yoga, meetings with Ayurvedic doctors, gong baths, and fire ceremonies, all of which take place in ecofriendly buildings just steps from Sri Lankan waters. From $1,200.

>> Next: Turn Your Home Into a Wellness Retreat With These Little Luxuries Under $50

Aislyn Greene is the associate director of podacsts at AFAR, where she produces the Unpacked by AFAR podcast and hosts AFAR’s Travel Tales podcast. She lives on a houseboat in Sausalito.
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