Sunday, April 10, 2016

How to Go on a Healing Vacation


A healing vacation is what I call it when I travel, usually solo, with the main purpose being rest, rejuvenation, healthy lifestyle, and as my budget allows, healing (or pampering) treatments of some kind.

Last summer I discovered a holistic-medicine-oriented chiropractor in Huntington Beach, one who's so good his office is crammed with clients from all over the US and some from overseas. I spent three total weeks there last summer, including two weeks in July on a solo trip, getting back treatments every day. Then, I went back last month for the week of Spring Break. After all those trips, I learned a few things about how to pull off the most amazing healing vacation I could.

First, I recommend choosing a vacation spot where you have access to sun, warmth, and some good healing practitioners, or at least a good massage therapist/spa/gym. If you live in sun, warmth, and humidity all the time, you might enjoy a summer stay in the mountains instead, with drier air and cooler temps. And if you're on a tight budget, take off a few days of work and do a "staycation" at your own place. (There's actually more room for creativity than you think just planning a vacation in your own town.)

Second, pack correctly. Not too much, not too little. A few of my basics: comfortable clothes and shoes, essential oils, my journal, vitamins and supplements, teas, and plain instant oatmeal with the necessary seasonings to make it. (I pack Love Grown Instant Oats and/or Quaker Organic Plain Instant Oatmeal, plus small containers of Lakanto, cinnamon, and salt, and then make it with water heated in the coffee maker. Much lighter and healthier than the complimentary breakfasts served in most hotels.)

Try to plan your arrival time so that you have plenty of time to unpack and get situated at your hotel when you arrive, and plan your departure time so that you have plenty of time to get back to the airport, all checked in and ready to fly home. The idea is to avoid creating stress as much as possible. Have your treatment appointments scheduled in advance and spaced out enough that you won't be rushing around last-minute.

Eat well. By "well" I mean healthy and delicious. I always make sure I have one or two small vegan sugar-free snacks in my bag for the airports/flights coming and going. When I arrive in Huntington Beach, I head for the health food stores right away to scope out the goods and plan some snacks and meals that I'll want during my stay. Mother's Market in HB has an awesome juice bar and deli that I'll be hitting at least once a day, plus a vegetarian/vegan restaurant with absolutely delicious offerings. (I found them and several other amazing vegan places with my "Happy Cow" app on my phone. It will locate any vegetarian, vegan, and/or veg-friendly places near you anywhere you are. Highly recommend!)

Another staple for me in Huntington Beach is the hot food bar and the fresh salad bar at Whole Foods. My usual lunch is a big container of salad greens and raw veggies with a splash of olive oil, fresh-squeezed lemon (you need to pack a small knife in your check bag to cut up your lemon, or find lemon wedges you can steal somewhere,) and a little Himalayan salt sprinkled on. I sometimes add a few olives from their olive bar for some decadence.

Side note: I always reserve hotel rooms that have fridges so I can store my deli purchases, leftovers, and probiotics (I buy a very small bottle of probiotics when I arrive, then take as much of it as I can before I leave.)

Plan some daily exercise. When I'm in Huntington Beach, I go in 4 times a day for back treatments. My staple exercise is yoga, between the first and second back treatment, while my oatmeal is soaking in hot water. I sometimes also hit the hotel gym, and if I can fit it in, I'll go walk on the beach a few times during the week. There are also some nice parks to walk in, and there's always the pool at the hotel (although I confess I'm not one for getting my hair wet in pools since I passed the age of 14.)

Journal and reflect. How's life going? What are my next big steps? Am I being authentic to what my real goals in life are? How's my spiritual connection been lately? What changes would I like to make? What am I grateful for? I love pondering all of life's questions, making plans, making lists, thinking about everything and asking myself what areas could use some attention.

Just relax and be. I'm not going to say don't stay connected to the outside world - Lord knows I love my Facebook when I'm on vay-cay with no pressing demands - but I also take time to just relax and soak up the sun, breathe in the fresh air. I've been known to go for an early morning green tea at the Coffee Bean in HB after my first back treatment of the day, and then just sit sipping it in the parking lot in my rental car, leaning my head back against the seat, and watching the morning sun rising up over the palm trees.

The best part about a healing vacation is that when I return home, I feel energized and rested, not worn out from the trip. That's what I call a vacation.


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