With all of our posts on beating the heat and freshening up, it was only a matter of time before we started talking about spas and saunas around here. The truth is, pampering yourself with a massage or a visit to a hot spring doesn’t have to break the bank, and the possible health benefits are numerous.
One tip that kept showing up in our 32 tips from travel bloggers post was “don’t rush and get plenty of rest.” It’s easy to burn yourself out traveling. New, sometimes challenging environments, language barriers, hours spent in transit – all of this can add up to major fatigue. Rest days are critical. Coupling a rest day with a massage or spa visit is the ticket to serious rejuvenation.
- Steam rooms (moist heat) and saunas (dry heat) both cause you to sweat, opening up your pores and cleansing the epidermis (your outer layer of skin). There is no scientific evidence that you will “sweat out” toxins, but you will revitalize your skin.
- Steam rooms and saunas can also help with circulation and they can give your heart a light work out.
- Massages can relieve pain and stiffness and reduce tension while having a relaxing effect.
- Mineral and mud baths can provide beneficial nutrients for your skin.
- Perhaps most important of all, whether it’s relaxing in a hot spring, getting a massage or spending time in a sauna, your stress level will drop.
New Cultural Experiences
Whether it’s a hammam in Morocco, a sauna in Finland or a turkish bath in Turkey, pampering yourself can also be a cultural experience. You’ll often find that it’s not a bunch of tourists in these places, but rather locals who are going about their normal routines.
It doesn’t have to be expensive
We tend to think of a visit to the spa as a luxury affair, but that doesn’t have to be the case. It’s true that in many developed countries, a spa or a massage does not come cheap, but you can often find deals, either directly from the spas themselves or from sites like groupon and living social. Also, even in first world countries, hot springs are typically very affordable and sometimes have no price of admission at all.
In some cases, you might be able to connect with a local who has their own personal facilities. For example, many Finnish houses have their own saunas on site! Want to connect with locals? Try Couchsurfing.
In the developing world, expect to pay considerably less and still receive quality treatment. In Southeast Asia you can easily find hour long massages for under $10. When I was last in Morocco, I had an hour long massage with argan oil at a hammam for $7.
Here are a few articles we’ve been reading recently that may inspire you to have a spa experience of your own.
Michael takes a look at some of the more picturesque as well as historic hot springs in Europe. There are also plenty of enticing photos in this post!
Anja offers some interesting background on saunas and Finland before describing her own personal experience visiting one. Like Anja, however, I think I would also pass on the whole beating myself with birch leaves thing.
Jeremy offers some great insight into what it’s like to visit a Japanese onsen. He also advises us to leave our shyness at the door.
There are lots of others ways to pamper yourself, of course. You don’t have to visit a spa. You can enjoy a leisure or activity, or a sport like golf. Walking around in fresh air will be restorative in almost any setting and many golf courses also have country clubs that provide luxury services.
Have any of your own tips when it comes to pampering yourself? Please let us know in the comments.
Photo credits: Flickr users rdvortex and witchesfallscottages