Christmas weighing you down? You need a wellness escape
When you spend six days solid snaffling cheese and chocolate, the results are never pretty.
Add a boatload of Baileys and family politics into the mix, and you meld into one giant, walking hangover.
That post-festive fug is familiar to us all, and it’s hard to shift; even with a Boxing Day ramble (and no, charades doesn’t count as exercise).
But one antidote to the Christmas overload lies in a wellness escape.
Whether you’re practising yoga by the Indian ocean or hiking in the Atlas hills, adventure travel has a knack of balancing things out.
Loosen up those shoulders and look alive; here’s eight great Flash Pack adventures to help you course-correct:
Find your chill in Kerala
Stressheads, take a load off in Kerala – India’s most serene coastal state. A few days on the chilled-out Malabar coastline and all that festive angst will fade away like it never existed.
We’ll start by hitting the tea hills of Munnar, with a rousing hike amid shola forest and sun-dappled grasslands. Keep an eye out for tilgiri tahrs and lion-tailed macaques as we camp out above the cloud forest, before cutting a path to the Keralan backwaters for kayaking and sunset sailing.
The trip reaches its finale with a stay in one of the country’s most luxurious beach resorts, and you can expect a healthy serving of yoga and Ayurvedic spas throughout.
Clear your head in Morocco
Mellow Morocco is the ultimate place to find some space to think. Cut loose from the Christmas babble in the ancient Atlas foothills, with gentle treks and afternoon mint tea on the rooftop of our cosy Berber guesthouse.
Next up, we glamp in the desert with a sunset camel ride before moseying on over to Taghazout Beach, where three days of beach yoga and surfing lessons beckon.
It’s the best kind of wake-up call, with the snake-charmers and street food of Marrakech adding an extra layer of genius.
Shape up the fun way in Mexico
Swimming is one of the best all-body workouts you can get, but forget about slogging it out in your local leisure centre. The emerald lagoons of the Yucatán Peninsula are a far better plan.
Bellyflop gracefully into a one-time’s pirate canal and wallow beneath the hanging vines of Ik Kil cenote; not to mention paddling in the world’s largest underwater cave system at Sac Actun.
If that’s not training enough for you, we’ll also be cycling around the hip coastal town of Tulum, and getting that step count in as we explore the bucket-list pyramids of Uxmal and Chichén Itzá.
Your humble treadmill will never seem the same again.
Give back in Sri Lanka
After all the excess of Christmas, tap your social conscience by helping to release endangered baby turtles into the Indian ocean. Yes, you heard us right.
A visit to the island’s sea turtle conservation project in Kosgoda is a highlight of the trip for most Flashpackers, as we learn all about the turtles and the threats they face from pollution and destruction of nesting areas. After setting the little ones on their way, we toast new beginnings with a sunset beach barbecue.
It’s a magical moment matched only by a sunset hike up Sigiriya Rock Fortress, temple cycling and a wildlife safari in Yala National Park.
Replenish in Vietnam
From spicy noodle street food to countryside trekking and the friendliest people around, Vietnam is non-stop soup for the soul. Start the New Year right with a flavour safari around bustling Hanoi, then break for the hills in spectacular Sapa.
After a few days’ winding down amid the hillside tribes of this remote community, we’ll pop over to Halong Bay for junk boat sailing around ancient islands and limestone karsts (with on-board yoga for those who fancy it).
Then it’s onto Hoi An for a sensational cooking session before we cross the border to Cambodia, and a spiritual finish in the temples of Angkor Wat. It’s all the nourishment you crave.
Shake off the cobwebs in Peru
There’s nothing like the crisp Andean air to sharpen the mind and put things into perspective. Sweat off that Christmas gluttony with a bike ride you’ll never forget, through the ancient Inca sights of Peru’s Sacred Valley.
You’ll also be put through your paces with a 15-kilometre hike to along the old Inca road to Sun Gate at Machu Picchu, with jaw-dropping ruins and the occasional alpaca cheering you along the way.
To round off the trip of a lifetime, we have night-time boating through the Amazonian jungle, and a pisco sour masterclass (one to add to the old CV…)
Re-tap your cultural side in Jordan
Flash Pack’s Jordan adventure doesn’t kick off until March yet it’s worth the wait for the rich cultural tapestry that awaits. If you’re feeling a bit “meh” and uninspired post-Christmas – perhaps your stimulation began and ended with Netflix – then this is your fix.
Still slightly off the tourist radar, Jordan is a hotbed of riveting landscapes and architecture to get those ideas flowing. The ancient rose-red city of Petra alone is enough to fire you up for days, especially when you hike a secret backdoor route to the Nabataean kingdom, and see it lit up in the glow of a thousand candles.
Then there’s the Dana Biosphere Reserve, a vast wilderness spanning four different bio-geological zones that’s home to rare wildlife including the Sand Cat, the Lesser Kestrel and the Spiny-Tailed Lizard. Hiking here is a true delight, with tea stops at Bedouin villages and evening star-gazing from the rooftop of Feynan Eco-Lodge. It can’t fail to move you.
Re-balance in Bali
Brimming with hip veggie cafés and palm-fringed sunshine, Bali has all the ingredients you need to take a step back and reflect. There’s a distinct creative spirit here, especially in the jungle hill town of Ubud (of Eat, Pray, Love fame).
We root in here with an anti-gravity yoga class, a cooking lesson in a local community kitchen and a morning trek though the lush valley ridge-ways. We also stay in Svarga Loka Resort, a unique riverside wellness centre with peaceful swimming pools, a spa and daily classes including martial arts and meditation.
Suitably calmed, we continue onwards with temples, waterfall swimming and a sunrise volcano hike. Not to mention a freeing few days on the tiny coral island of Gili Air, where you can live all your barefoot dreams surrounded by powdery white sands. Bring on the tranquil vibes…
Images: Flash Pack, Shutterstock