Ask a Travel Agent: European Wellness Getaway
Published February 19, 2018 | Updated June 15, 2018
We are looking for a recommendation for a wellness / active getaway in Europe this Summer or Fall. We primarily want to disconnect from work and spend a couple of weeks meeting local people, trying new foods, and seeing the sights by foot (walking and/or hiking rather than a bus tour). I am 54 and he is 57. Would you suggest planning our own vacation or booking with a tour company?
– Meredith C., Toronto, ON
“There are hundreds of different options when planning a European trip, and choosing the one that’s the best fit for you can seem like mission impossible! A good advisor is worth partnering with to make the most of your precious vacation time and help you create an experience of a lifetime.
Whether I would recommend a custom-tailored itinerary or a group tour for a client is done after a detailed qualification process which helps me to understand what your true travel style is, what type of interests you have, what type of properties you like to stay in, how adventurous you are, and what type of limitations or restrictions you have.
People have misconceptions about what tours are like, they imagine a group of 75 people crammed in an old bus for countless hours, on a strict schedule with a tour director that missed her calling as a drill sergeant. You may be surprised to find out that there are a lot of fantastic group tour options that are small group or interest-based. They can give you access to exclusive events, skip you through long lines at popular attractions, and your tour director may be a well-known author, chef, or historian – benefits and experiences that you most likely wouldn’t be able to get on your own without a hefty price tag, if at all.
On the flip side, if you want a completely tailored experience with private excursions, specific hotels and transportation, on your own time schedule, a custom itinerary will be the route you want to go. You can do a multi-city or multi-country option, use different modes of transportation like train, chauffeured driver, rental car, or plane. The sky’s the limit on the different ways to package a custom itinerary, you can include as much or as little as you want. Some people love having every day planned out with excursions or activities, other people like some activity but more free time, and some people just want the basic logistics of transportation and hotels planned for them.
Another fantastic alternative to both options is a river cruise. River cruising is one of the hottest tickets in travel right now and for good reason. They combine active adventure with luxurious accommodations and exceptional culinary experiences, all at an inclusive price.
Ama Waterways debuted their new wellness program earlier last year. Onboard guests have access to a wellness host and can participate in a variety of complimentary classes such as yoga, core strengthening and jogging, attend wellness lectures, or take one of the ships bicycles out for a spin. Ama Waterways has a solid reputation for providing some of the best cuisine on the river, with fresh, locally sourced ingredients along with vegan, gluten-free, and low-sodium options. The excursions included in the cruise fare have different activity levels, so you can pick the one that’s right for you. You can also choose to explore on your own and since river cruises dock right in the heart of a town, you can choose to dine on board or experience a local restaurant. It’s really the best combination of independent travel and a tour.
An expert advisor is your secret weapon to crafting a great vacation and making sure you are matched with the right experience for your travel style. Advisors also have established relationships and access to vendors that may not work with the public or offer options you won’t find online; we can also score you special perks like discounted hotels and airfare, breakfast, complimentary upgrades and more!”
Owner / Preferred Travel Advisor, Live Longitude Travel
“Wellness travel can be a very personal experience and/or a great opportunity to connect with like-minded people to support your journey. Ask yourself: Does the tour provide your ideal adventure? Do the tour dates work for you? Do you enjoy meeting new people? Do you enjoy being on a specific schedule?
If you answered yes, then small group tours, which focus on culture and location, can provide unique opportunities to help you to become a more conscious explorer. Some signature small group tours even embed specialized experiences not often provided to the general public. Would you like a unique tribal visit, after hours museum visits, or special culinary experiences?
Alternatively, private travel itineraries, tailor-made around your idea of wellness, can offer a perfect balance between cultural excursions, exclusive activities, and time to relish in self-care.
Whether you choose small group tours or private experiences, I advise you to work with companies who have created and vetted exceptional wellness travel experiences. Companies who offer authentic, real-life opportunities to engage with the world around you, address your own self-care needs, and work within your schedule.”
Owner/Travel Designer, Travel by Randi
“I recommend seeing the world one step at a time with Butterfield and Robinson Walking Trips. Traversing by foot is the ultimate slow mode of transport—no other activity allows you more flexibility to stop and smell the roses (or wild rosemary), meet the locals and drink in the scenery.
With “slow down to see the world” as their guiding principle, their trips come in Self-Guided, Daytime Guided and 24/7 Guided options, and you can pick and choose itineraries you would like to explore at your pace. There are many options in Europe to choose from, each which will allow you to visit local people in small villages and try new culinary delights direct from the source.
Butterfield & Robinson has been guiding clients since 1966, and I feel having the details of every aspect of a self-guided tour at your fingertips or a guide with you is the way to go. They stay connected as to what lies ahead and will provide surprises along the way. I would highly recommend planning your trip via a travel agency like ours who work with tour companies that provide this level of service and detail.”
Founder & Personal Travel Manager, Gravitate Travel