5 Types of Active Vacations to Try This Year

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In the past, you may have seen the phrases “active travel” or maybe even “wellness travel” and thought to yourself, “That's really not for me.”

And sure, if your idea of the perfect vacation is sipping a fruity drink on the beach, then perhaps an active trip really isn't for you. But if you've assumed that every active tour out there is only for the super fit or really athletic, think again!

As more and more people seek out unique types of trips and different ways to experience the same old destinations, the concept of active travel has evolved. These days, an “active” vacation may indeed include things like cycling and rock climbing and snorkeling and hiking – but these types of trips can be enjoyed by ANYbody.

Here are five types of “active” vacations you can add to your bucket list:

Active vacations

Yoga

Yoga retreats are certainly not a new concept. But yoga retreats for people who aren't professional yogis are becoming more and more popular – and you can find them literally all over the world. These retreats are usually located in beautiful and relaxing destinations (many of them tropical), and often include the opportunity to do lots of other things besides yoga.

Practice yoga on the beach in the morning in Mexico, and then spend the afternoon releasing sea turtles or exploring Mayan ruins. Salute the sun in the jungles of Costa Rica, and then spend the rest of the day horseback riding or hiking. Wake up early for yoga in Thailand, and then spend a couple hours getting a full-body massage.

A yoga retreat no longer means just going someplace to do yoga and nothing else for a week. You can also expect other wellness activities, sightseeing options, and healthy eating. You can even do yoga on a paddle board!

Check out: There are literally TONS of companies offering yoga-centric holidays all around the world. Check out this list by Coastal Living to get some ideas.

Surfing

Rapturecamps Bali
Photo from Rapturecamps

Yoga and surfing often go together when it comes to active holidays – the two are well-suited to be matched together. But if it's a surf-centric vacation you're looking for, you can definitely find those, too.

I've taken surfing lessons a few times throughout my travels, and one thing I always find myself thinking at the end of a two-hour lesson is: “I wish I had more time.” Going to a surfcamp or taking a surfing-focused vacation would be the perfect way to really get the details of surfing down.

The great thing about surfing holidays, too, are that you can usually find them in beautiful seaside cities with great beaches and waves. And, contrary to popular belief, you don't need to know a thing about surfing in order to go on a surf vacation. In fact, most of them are geared towards people who want to learn to surf.

Check out: Rapturecamps. This surf camp company offers surfing vacations in Bali, Nicaragua, and Portugal. They cater to both beginners and more experienced surfers, allowing you to get whatever you want out of your trip. Rapturecamps also offers packages for any budget, whether you're looking for an affordable backpacking trip or a luxury resort experience.

Running

I know what you might be thinking. I don't really love running, either, and kind of can't imagine running every single day of my vacation. BUT, I know I don't speak for every single traveler out there, and the rise in active offerings like running tours proves that there are plenty of people out there who *would* love to run – even on their vacations.

In fact, in quite a few cities, running sightseeing tours are popping up as an alternative to the traditional walking tour. You can see the sights AND get in your daily run!

Check out: Running Treks. This Boston-based company takes things one step further, offering running-centric tours to places like Tuscany and Maine. Each tour includes the option to participate in a local race, be it a marathon or 5K. But the great part is you don't have to participate in all the running if you don't want to – you can also just go to enjoy the rest of the off-the-beaten-path itineraries.

Horseback riding

Horseback riding in the Pyrenees

When I was younger, I was obsessed with horses. So obsessed that I actually volunteered for a couple years at a barn up the road from my house when I was in middle school. I've been horseback riding a few times on my travels (most recently in the Spanish Pyrenees), and dream of one day doing a multi-day horseback riding trip somewhere in the world.

Mongolia would be a pretty epic place for an adventure like this, but after learning recently that you can do some serious horse-trekking in Iceland, too, I think that has to be my top choice. (Fun side fact: Icelandic horses are actually related to the small horses you'll find on the Mongolian steppe!)

Check out: Riding Iceland for a wide variety of tours, or Hestasport if you're a little more experienced and want to try your hand at herding from horseback, too!

Cycling

My boyfriend is really into cycling, and every once in a while he'll send me a link to an epic, multi-day cycling trip that he would love to do. These trips are popping up more and more frequently, due to both the increase in interest in active travel, and the increase in number of great cycling routes and trails all around the world.

I frequently go on half-day bike tours when I find myself in a new city (again, as an alternative to the traditional walking tour(, but I haven't yet given multi-day cycling adventures a try. After seeing how many options there are out there, though (and some in my favorite country in the world!), I think I probably need to reconsider. Whether it's cruising through California wine country, riding around the lakes of Chile, or leisurely biking through the lavender fields of Provence, they create cycling tours for all interests and skill levels these days.

Check out: Trek Tours. Trek is the leader in cycling vacations (or so Elliot tells me), and they offer a wide range of trips throughout Europe and the Americas. Their tours are luxury-oriented, but I don't think I would mind a comfy hotel room after a long day on a bike!

Are there any other types of active tours you'd love to try?

 

 

*Note: This post was written by me, but brought to you by Rapturecamps.

"It's a dangerous business, going out your door. You step onto the road, and, if you don't keep your feet, there's no telling where you might get swept off to." - JRR Tolkien

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51 Comments on “5 Types of Active Vacations to Try This Year

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  1. From 1983 until 2013 I spent time each Summer paddling a canoe on wilderness trips through Northern Ontario, sometimes in beautiful provincial parks and at other times in what is known in Canada as crown land, undeveloped but often maintained regions with marked canoe routes and trails from lake to lake or around rapids or waterfalls.

    I got the urge to do a solo trip after the death of my father in ’82 and did the first of several solo journeys in September, 1983. I fell in love with the concept of using the canoe to escape the city and over time discovered the beauty of Ontario’s Algonquin Provincial Park as well as the regions of Temagami, Chapleau and Killarney, all wonderful wilderness areas.

    One of the best parts of making repeat visits to one area is the relationships built with the locals who contribute to the natural resources by sharing “secrets” or providing shuttle service to or from the canoe routes. I’ve derived almost as much enjoyment from the Swift family who run Algonquin Outfitters or the men who have joined me over the decades in planning the trips and menu as I have from the quite often spectacular beauty of encountering Sunsets, wildlife and waterfowl.

      Sounds like a great experience, David, and I love that you keep going back! I’ve never done a true canoe trip, but I do really love kayaking whenever I get the chance.

    Love these ideas! I especially would love to learn to surf and I know my kids would too. Thanks for ideas for future adventures!

      Any time, Tricia! Surfing is really fun (though also really challenging)! It would be a great family trip, though, I think!

    Great suggestions. I think anything water-related will get you the desired exercise. Just walking around the beach can be rewarding. I particularly like to boogie board and it works out my whole body by the time I’m done.

      Very good point! Water sports are great for being active AND having fun while traveling.

    I love this article! Active travel is really appealing to me and this presents some great ideas! At each category I started thinking about how I might work that in to my coming travels. 🙂
    You might also consider trekking. Trekking the Himalayas in one of my favorite things and doesn’t require as much fitness and many might think. The scenery and relative isolation, combined with a few hours each days of gradual hiking is incredibly peaceful!

      Trekking is another great example! I considered adding it in, but I wanted to focus on some active tours that some people probably don’t even think about!

    I have been dying to try a yoga retreat. I think it would be so much fun! And I absolutely love biking while traveling. Can’t wait for Europe to warm up a bit again so I can be on my bike all the time :)! Thanks for putting these together!

      There are some yoga retreats out there that mesh with other forms of active travel – for example, yoga and surf retreats are becoming popular, too! That would definitely be fun.

    Ohh, I went for a short horseback ride in Iceland! I had a wicked hangover, though, and we experienced bitter cold and icy hail! I need to try again, haha. The Icelandic Horses were super cute and sweet. My horse was certainly patient with me.

    A yoga retreat sounds wonderful. I’ll probably need one after the school year ends! 🙂

      I LOVE Icelandic horses. When I found out last year that you can do multi-day trips with them in the summer, I immediately started planning my next trip to Iceland in my head!

    I had no idea you could do Icelandic horseback riding tours! That would be so fun, though the first time I visit Iceland I think I’m gonna have to do the iconic road trip round the ring road 😉 Plus hiking. That’s my absolute favorite active vacation.

      Yes! I had no idea about the horseback riding tours in Iceland, either, until my second trip there. I did a short 2-hour ride on my first trip to Iceland, but riding those awesome horses for a few days would be awesome! If you do end up doing the Ring Road when you go, you can always do a day ride along the way. 🙂

      Hiking and horseback riding are two of my favorite activities to do. I can only imagine taking a horseback ride in Iceland. I also prefer doing active activities while on vacation. Thanks for sharing.

    I have NEVER tried yoga…think I am going to try it for the first time in Israel next month!

      Really?? I figured you’d be a yoga regular! Definitely give it a try. It’s a very different kind of “workout.”

    As much I enjoy lying on a beach during my travels, being active during my travels is quite fun. I went cross-country skiing in Chamrousse (in the French Alps) during a vacation and I had a blast. I’ve been to numerous cities where you can rent a bike and I like exploring cities by bicycle.

      As I get older, I find myself seeking out more and more active activities when I travel – fun AND sometimes a good workout, too!

    I have always wanted to do yoga on the beach right next to the water! That is now going on my bucket list! Along with lots of horseback riding! Me and my friend just started a food and travel blog so we are trying to find some other travel blogs we can relate to.

      Yoga on the beach certainly does sound nice – and then maybe you could go surfing afterwards! 🙂

    It may not sound much like an “active” vacation, but taking a scuba diving trip is definitely one to add to the list! As relaxing as diving is, I can tell you that you’ll definitely burn some serious calories (mostly through your body regulating it’s own temperature underwater) and you’ll see gorgeous underwater sites and marine life. A lot of experienced divers even plan trips 100% around where they want to dive next!

      I’ve been on plenty of snorkeling trips and can attest that you definitely burn calories in the water! I’m not dive certified, but it’s definitely something I plan to do in the future!

    I am hoping to include a yoga retreat in my travels this year – there are SO many options, and I’ll be checking out the link you provided as well.

    Horseback Riding – I once did a 4 day trip with my aunt in the Canadian Rockies, near Banff – it was incredible (http://horseback.com/)

    I would add Whitewater Rafting to your list – I’ve done several trips with OARS and they are incredible – full of history, geology, hikes, swimming, you name it!

      There are SO many yoga retreats out there! I was trying to find just one to recommend for this post but couldn’t decide!

      Whitewater rafting is also a great suggestion – a multi-day float trip would be tiring, but probably lots of fun, too.

    I’m not really an active traveller. I do like the occasional hike and horseback ride, but I usually don’t plan my holiday around it. I simply stumble upon activities 🙂 I do have future dreams I’d like to make reality one day, such as checking into a yoga retreat for a longer period of time and completing a hike up a mountain. So yeah, maybe I am active I just need to get off my butt and get started!

      I’m usually like you, too, Dominique! I don’t necessarily seek out active vacations, but I usually end up doing a couple of “active” activities. I really want to do a horseback riding tour someday though!

    I love cycling on holidays! I did a 2 week cycling trip through Nicaragua, Costa Rica & Panama with Exodus in Oct 2014 and had an amazing time! My friends and I did a tour in Nashville last April and I rented a bike for an afternoon in Reykjavik this past December. I plan on renting again on my upcoming trip this spring in some of the different cities I will be in! I’ve looked at the Trek tours but they are just a bit out of my price range 😉 Experiencing a city on two wheels is my favourite way to explore!

      I know – I would LOVE to do a Trek tour (and so would Elliot), but that’s something we’d have to save up for! Renting bikes and doing bike tours in new cities is still awesome though!

    I love being active on vacations! I think for me I’d really love to take either a cycling vacation or a yoga one.. not that I do yoga but I like the idea of it 🙂

      Perhaps you would come to love yoga! 🙂 Yoga retreats just sound so relaxing – and we all need that sometimes.

    Love these ideas! My husband is really into cycling and just finished a 1,000 mile bike tour. Not something I could do and I just drove the RV behind him haha!

      Still sounds pretty cool, though! (And congrats to him!!)

    Really wanting to try a yoga-and-surf camp combo! Maybe Rapturecamps will start offering one of those (hint, hint, Rapturecamps!).

      YES! I agree. A yoga/surf combo would be great!

    I “need” to go on a yoga retreat in Costa Rica. At one point I thought the idea of running marathons around the world would be super cool because it’d give me another excuse to travel more…but I stopped running them! Nothing beats a good hike or horseback ride!!

      I have so much respect for people who run marathons around the world – I could never do it, but it’s so cool!

    Being active is a great way to spend a vacation and explore a certain locale – especially going on a cycling tour. A multiday cycling tour would certainly seem an enjoyable activity.

      I agree! I’ve only done day-long bike tours thus far on my travels, but I would certainly consider the right multi-day one.

    It would be great to go on a surfing holiday.
    It’s just that (this might seem funny) I’ve never been surfing before!
    There weren’t many opportunities to learn from where I come from!

    It will have to first starting from learning how to do it, and I hope I get to it someday!
    🙂

      Not funny at all! I grew up in Ohio, and there’s not much surfing there, either! The good thing about most surfing holidays is that most of them are fine for beginners – they’ll give you lessons and everything!

    Cool write-up! It’s great to see people more interested in making their vacations activity based. As an avid outdoors person I know the benefit and enjoyment that I get out of taking breaks like this to reconnect with the sports I love.

    Great post!

    Jim

      Active vacations are definitely becoming more popular! I know I personally could never be happy just sitting on a beach or beside a pool all day – I always want to get out and do stuff!

    Instead of cycling, I really enjoy mountain biking! Would love to visit anywhere with a good mountain range to spend the weekend at!

      Ah, yes, another very active pursuit! I’m too much of a chicken for serious mountain biking, but my boyfriend really likes it!

    I really want to do surfing lessons with my friends it is a excellent idea for hang out and have a different trip

    I think fishing and camping are also a great idea. I do like to try surfing. Thanks for this list. It really helps in planning for a family trip. Good Read!

    My vacation starts today and I’m so exited! I’ve been planning this vacation for months, and I’m leaving Sweden for the US in a few days. Yay! My first time over there…

    That’s really interesting that running sight seeing tours are popping up as an alternative to walking. I bet that’s a pretty fun way to stay active. I think running is a little high impact for me, but I wouldn’t be opposed to the normal walking or photo tour.

      Yup, running tours are totally a thing now! I suppose if you were the type of person who runs every day anyway, it might be cool to combine it with sightseeing!

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