Wellness retreats are, if you can afford them, great. What wellbeing warrior doesn’t like the sound of yoga on the beach at sunrise, or in a candlelit treehouse in the woods at dusk? Mmm, wholesome. But the problem is, they can be really freakin’ expensive.
Conjuring up a more pocket-friendly, DIY wellness break does remove the element where somebody basically makes you get up and do all the lovely healthy things you’ve decided you’re going to do. But, they can also save you a bunch of money.
Most budget travellers are used to picking out the various components that would usually make up a package – scouring SkyScanner for flights, trawling Airbnb for a good place to stay and planning out places to eat and things to see. So why not extend that creative planning to a bit of headspace and ‘me time’? All that’s left for you to do is roll out of bed and start your asanas.
Pick the ideal location – Don’t book yet
Different strokes for different folks, but to get down to some mindful business you’re probably going to want to pick a place to stay that isn’t in the middle of a bustling city. That said, if you go down the wild camping route you might dent your chilled-out vibes from another angle.
Look for hostels specifically catering to yoga bums, and glamping or self-catering accommodation within easy reach of pocket-friendly wellness options. Some ideas to get you started:
The Salty Pelican – Cascais, Portugal
Dorms from £17 per night
For a yoga and surf retreat without the intense price tag that normally comes attached. Nestled between the beach and the mountains, The Salty Pelican is a real smooth operator, ticking the yoga-class-on-the-beach box nicely and throwing in optional stand-up paddleboarding too. Yang yoga in the morning, Yin yoga in the afternoon and plenty of space to unwind, with or without other travellers. Book direct or through HostelWorld.
Caveland – Santorini, Greece
Dorms from £13 per night, Private Caves from £21 Per Night
Just gorgeous. Hang out in cutesy caves at this former winery, where sea-view yoga on the terrace is standard and the pool and gardens allow added space to unwind. You can self-cater in the communal kitchen, but breakfast is included so there’s no need to D.I.Y toooooo much. Take your mat down to the beach for some solo sun-worship or stroll into nearby Karterados in search of a spa. For current availability, as above, book through HostelWorld.
Plan your add-ons
The hostels above come with yoga classes, but cheap venues with wellness built-in aren’t as common as we might like them to be. If you’ve picked out a great Airbnb or sleepy hostel in a picturesque spot, keep your finger on the trigger but don’t rush in and book right away. Now it’s time to figure out what’s around. Line up a top 3-5 options and find out who puts you in reach of the best relaxation tools.
Drop-in classes, budget day spas – whatever you can’t do yourself, it’s time to plan who gets to do it for you. If you’re in need of some inspiration, here’s a little dose, with finds you can replicate through simple searches like ‘drop-in yoga Europe’ and ‘cheap one day spa Cascais’ :
Yoga, Pilates, Meditation Drop-Ins – Corralejo, Fuerteventura
€15 per class
Azulfit are best known for their week-long wellness packages, but they also organise drop-in classes that you can book 24 hours in advance. Yoga on the beach at Corralejo, volcano walks with meditation, pilates and tai chi are just a few of the options available at €15 a go. You can also book a retreat progamme package for €95 that gives you access to all the retreat classes, but allowing you to stay in your own accommodation elsewhere rather than paying to stay with Azulfit. You can find more information on their website, here.
Massage, Balneotherapy & Afternoon Tea – Cascais, Portugal
€70 solo , €130 couple
The equivalent of £62 for a 50-minute full-body massage is pretty good going at a plush hotel spa anyway, without all these added extras thrown in. Access to an indoor seawater jet pool, sauna, turkish bath, jacuzzi and ice fountain are all yours, along with afternoon tea served at the end. If you’ve opted to stay at the nearby Salty Pelican mentioned above, splashing out on this bargain offer while you’re in the area shouldn’t stretch your budget. (For veggie/vegan/gluten-free options, contact the venue in advance to confirm using the contact email on the booking page.)
Find the Cheapest Time to Go
Once you’ve established which location can offer everything you’re after, double check affordable transport options. Whether that’s checking SkyScanner for cheap flights or spotting good deals on the Eurostar, there’s nothing worse than putting together an amazing bargain getaway and then realising it’s going to cost you three times as much as you expected to get there and back.
If you’re a little flexible on dates, your chances of saving a few extra quid for spa days and pilates classes should increase. As always, take a minute to look at public transport options on arrival to – can you get to where you’re going by bus or train from the airport/arrival station, or will you need to fork out for a taxi? Look it up, factor it in.
Put it all together – feel smug
You’ve found your flights, you’ve booked your accommodation, you’ve sent a few enquiries about things to do while you’re there. Ta da! You have built yourself a DIY wellness break, and it should have worked out half the price or less of booking a pre-made package. All that’s left to do is pack up any gear you need and wallow in your sense of achievement.
If you know of any great places to go for wellness experiences around the world that don’t break the bank, please do let me know in the comments below! (Packages too, if they don’t cost the earth!)