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How to Choose Between a Wellness Retreat or Vacation

How many times a week do you think about taking a vacation? But what if I told you what you really needed was a retreat? Wondering what’s the difference? Consulting the Merriam-Webster dictionary, the definition of a retreat is “an act or process of withdrawing especially from what is difficult, dangerous, or disagreeable.” The definition of vacation is a “respite or a time of respite from something.”

As you can see, vacation does provide time off, a “respite,” and one could argue that this is enough for deep relaxation and rest. The difference between the two is that while vacations do allow for a break from the everyday grind, retreats are intentional times off for self reflections and inner inquiry. Often a retreat is structured with soothing and reflective activities, such as a yoga retreat or workshops.

So which one do you think you need?

I am a big fan of taking retreats. There’s so much value in taking quiet time to reflect, recharge, and reconnect. Doing this is especially important in times of transition and before making a big decision. Plus taking retreats is accessible as long as you do your research, no matter your budget.

Below are several different types of retreats. These can be combined to custom fit your retreat to exactly what you want. Much like staycations, the closer you stay to your home for a retreat, the less expensive the experience will be. What’s more is that any of these activities can be planned during your regular vacation so that you don’t have to choose between the two!

Types of Retreats and where to find them.

Silent Retreat. A silent retreat doesn’t have to TOTALLY silent. You can speak in whispers and limit the amount of speaking you do.

Easlen Institute: Big Sur, California

There are many amazing locations and options to discover in the United States, on the west coast sits Esalen. A beautiful coastal property that was founded in 1962 by fellow Stanford graduates who had the vision to create an institute that would not only focus on the wonders that people come to be healed and made whole, but also incorporates social and environmental awareness for living a sustainable and balanced life. Over the years the institute has experienced many notable teachers, from Abraham Maslow to Joan Baez, and Ram Dass.

Day Retreat. Don’t have a lot of time off? Take a day trip somewhere new, visit a local farm, go for a long meditative walk, and get a pedicure or a massage.

Spa Retreat. Whether you go to a local spa or a destination spa, taking care of your body is always a good idea.

Yoga Retreat. Yoga is a way to condition the mind and the body. Adding a physical and meditative component to your retreat helps you to move out the stress from your body and mind.

Kripalu: Stockbridge, Massachusetts

For those of us living in the Eastern United States, the good news is we don’t have to travel half way across the world to relax and unwind through yoga and meditation. In addition to teacher training and yoga for pain management, Kripalu Center for Yoga & Health offers workshops that focus on emotional and psychological healing. This month’s weekend courses include “Yoga for Empaths” and “Life Coaching: Tools for Mindful Living.” For more yoga retreat ideas, you can find HipLatina’s Yoga and Mediation picks here.

Nature Retreat. Being in nature is an immediate way to reconnect and recenter with the most basic elements of life. Take in a deep breath of fresh air, walk barefoot in the grass, hike through the woods, however you connect with nature you will feel instantly better.


Let us know where your next getaway will take you, will it be a silent retreat or vacay in Cabo.