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Top 13 Fitness & Spa Vacations on a Budget

By Laura Williams

fitness vacationIn today’s health-conscious world, practically every major hotel offers onsite fitness facilities, yoga classes, and even fit packages for vacationers. However, there’s a big difference between choosing to take advantage of a hotel’s fitness services and taking a vacation focused on nothing but fitness.

The great part about taking a fitness vacation is that instead of coming back from a week away feeling lethargic and puffy, you come back feeling svelte, energized, and better than ever. And, because the adventure travel industry is booming, it’s possible to find all-inclusive vacations centered on everything from running, to cycling, to surfing, to yoga.

Is a Fitness Vacation Right for You?

While I believe everyone can and should look into fitness vacations, not everyone is going to fall in love with the concept. Due to the fact that most fitness vacations are packed with preplanned hikes, fitness classes, and bike rides, the spontaneous vacationer might not appreciate the stricter schedule.

Also, while there are fitness vacations for families, parents should think carefully about their family dynamic before signing up the whole gang. You want your vacation to be a pleasant experience for all involved, so if you question whether your sulky teenager or wild five-year-old twins will enjoy cycling from campsite to campsite, maybe you’d be better off finding something a little more flexible.

Generally speaking, there are two “types” of people who will really enjoy a fit trip: Active individuals who love exercising and trying new things, and individuals who are looking for a way to jump start a healthier, more active life, and are ready for the kick-in-the-pants a fitness vacation offers.

Finding the Right Fitness Vacation

Before signing up for a fitness vacation, you should think about where you want to go and what you want to do. There are options out there for practically every fitness personality, so it makes no sense to sign up for a yoga retreat if you don’t enjoy yoga and would rather spend your days hiking. Start your search by deciding where you want to go, then narrow your options by what you want to do, what types of accommodations you want to stay in, and how much you want to spend. Other factors to consider include:

  • Whether you want spa treatments included with your trip
  • Whether you want food and drinks included with your trip
  • How many hours a day you want to spend exercising
  • Whether you want the trip to focus on a single form of exercise, or a mix of activities and classes
  • The expense of flying or driving to the vacation destination, as flights typically aren’t included in vacation package pricing

yoga vacation

Fitness Vacations in the U.S.

If you want to stay close to home, consider one of these fitness vacations located in the U.S. The thing to remember about U.S. trips is that travel t0-and-from the vacation destination is generally less expensive, but the costs of accommodation and amenities might actually be higher than those found at international destinations.

1. New Life Hiking Spa, Killington, Vermont

Located in Killington, Vermont, the New Life Hiking Spa offers all-inclusive vacations ranging from two nights to two weeks. Starting at $239 per night for the hiking spa package, vacationers enjoy a room with a private bath, three gourmet meals each day, instruction in a nationally-renowned hiking program, access to all exercise programs including stretching, chi kung, strength training, water aerobics, yoga, core, Pilates, Zumba, and more, and one massage or facial for every three nights at the resort.

2. Red Mountain Essential Retreat, Ivins, Utah

When you want to enjoy a rustic vacation without roughing it, head to Ivins, Utah to the Red Mountain Resort. The Red Mountain Essential Retreat package starts at just $200 per night and includes a deluxe room, three meals daily, guided morning hikes, unlimited fitness classes, healthy life classes, and access to hotel fitness amenities such as pools, bikes, and strength training equipment.

The Essential Retreat may be a good fit for families, as there’s a little more flexibility when it comes to picking and choosing which programs to participate in. Plus, with an onsite adventure concierge, you can have the fun of picking out additional outdoor adventures, such as mountain biking, rock climbing, kayaking, and horseback riding.

3. Running Away, New York City

Vacationing in one of the world’s greatest cities is never cheap, but if you’ve been dying to take a trip to New York, consider signing up for the Running Away Spring in Manhattan vacation. This all-inclusive trip starts at $1,700 for double-occupancy and includes three nights hotel accommodation at the Excelsior Hotel, all meals, instruction from running experts, support vehicles for transportation, and a Wharton Performance Stretch Clinic. Runners travel by foot across the Brooklyn Bridge, through Central Park, and along the last 10 miles of the New York Marathon route.

4. Backroads Alaska Multisport Tour

If you’re looking for a true Alaskan adventure, sign up for the Backroads Alaska Multisport Tour for six days and five nights of cycling, hiking, kayaking, rafting, and camping. This trip isn’t for the faint of heart – there are no spa services or comfy beds – so vacationers should be ready to rough it.

What the vacation does offer is meals, campsites, bikes, kayaks, and expert leaders to keep you safe and cared for while out in the Alaskan wilderness. Double occupancy rates for the six-day trip start at $2,000.

5. Fitpacking Foothills Trail, South Carolina

Fitpacking offers a number of fitness hiking vacations, all for a reasonable price, but I’m especially fond of the Foothills Trail excursion located in South Carolina. The $1,050 per person rate includes two nights in a hotel, transportation to the trail, meals, permits, fees, and access to two knowledgeable trail guides who travel and camp with you. You are expected to provide your own hiking and camping gear, although Fitpacking can put you in touch with rental companies if you don’t own your own equipment. All in all, the eight-day, seven-night excursion comes out to approximately $150 per day – a steal when you consider the amenities you receive.

6. Momentum River Expeditions, Oregon, Idaho, and Northern California

If you’d rather spend your days on the river than on the trail, check out Momentum River Expeditions. These kayaking and rafting trips located in Idaho and Oregon are all-inclusive, offering three meals a day, including a gourmet, three-course dinner at the end of each day’s work. And the days are spent working – expect to paddle the entire day with fellow adventurers and guide, getting an incredible upper-body and core workout.

When you hit camp, you have to set up your own tent – but when that’s done, you’re rewarded with a gourmet dinner, complete with a well-deserved glass of wine. Rates vary by length and location of the trip, but you can expect to spend roughly $1,900 for a six-day trip.

Fitness Vacations Abroad

If you have the travel-bug and want to immerse yourself in another culture, consider signing up for one of these reasonable and exotic fitness vacations.

7. Trek Travel Mallorca Ride Camp, Mallorca, Spain

Prepare for cycling season with the Trek Travel Mallorca Ride Camp in Mallorca, Spain. Trek Travel provides the carbon-frame bikes, water bottles, luxury accommodations, meals, and support vehicles for the daily guided bike rides. The three-day, four-night camp starts at $899, while the six-day, seven-night camp starts at $1,299. Vacationers can expect to ride about 40 miles each day across the beautiful Spanish terrain, skirting the Mediterranean Sea as they ride over rough terrain and coast past stretches of vineyards.

8. Kalon Escuela de Surf, Costa Rica

If you’re a diehard surfer or have always wanted to learn, there’s no better opportunity to throw yourself into the sport than at The Kalon Surf Week at the Kalon Escuela de Surf in Costa Rica. Starting at $2,190 for a seven-night vacation, the trip includes transportation to and from San Jose, a private room in the mansion with an ensuite bathroom, meals, snacks, and drinks prepared by a private chef, five days of surf coaching (three to four hours each day), surfing video analysis, a one-hour massage, Pilates for surfing class, professional photos and video, sunblock, a rashguard, and your own mobile concierge.

9. Jungle Bay Dominica Fitness Boot Camp, Dominica

Explore the jungle and beaches of Dominica as you get in the best shape of your life. The Jungle Bay Dominica Fitness Boot Camp program includes seven days and six nights jam-packed with fitness experiences

Starting at $1,827 for double occupancy, a week-long vacation includes airport pickup and drop off, a private jungle cottage, all meals and fresh juices, instructor-led hikes and fitness programs, yoga, cooking and drumming classes, three 30-minute spa treatments, snorkeling, kayaking, and more.

10. Sivananda Ashram Yoga Retreat, The Bahamas

The pracrice of yoga is all about connecting with yourself and the world around you, releasing stress, and finding your center. What better place to recenter and de-stress than the beautiful beaches of the Bahamas?

The Sivananda Ashram Yoga Retreats offer daily yoga and meditation classes, as well as beachfront access to activities such as snorkeling, kayaking, and beach hikes. Yoga retreat package rates start at $99 per night for tent space, all the way up to $167 for a a beachfront deluxe room with two double beds and a private bathroom. Rates include two buffet-style meals each day, wireless Internet, and the designated yoga programs.
surf vacation

Build Your Own Vacation

While fitness packages are nice, sometimes available packages don’t deliver exactly what you’re looking for. Consider keeping your eyes out for day-retreats or experiences that you can build into a standard vacation. For instance, if you’re planning a trip to the California Wine Country, look for a fitness day retreat that you can purchase separately from your accommodations.

11. Fitnessmomwinecountry Wellness Weekend, Sonoma, California

The Fitnessmomwinecountry Wellness Weekend is just one example of a day or weekend fitness retreat you can add on to your standard Napa Valley vacation. This wellness weekend takes place in late May and includes a one- or two-day program of food, wine, yoga, hiking, and socializing. The Friday program starts at $50 and the Saturday program at $150 – or, you can enjoy the full weekend for $175.

12. City Running Tours

If you’re traveling to any of the 11 U.S. cities offering City Running Tours, you can sign up for a personalized or group run around the city’s hot spots as the guide shares the history of the region. The nice thing about these runs is you can choose between 5k, 10k, or longer distances, based on your own fitness level and goals.

Group runs start at $25, while personalized runs start at $75. Given the variety of each city’s tours, you could add a different group run to each day of your vacation, enabling you to see the city in ways you wouldn’t see it if touring on your own.

13. “Glamping”

Traditional camping doesn’t appeal to everyone – sleeping on the ground and limited access to plumbing aren’t exactly big draws – which is why “glamping” has become a popular vacation alternative. Glamping is like camping: You stay out in nature, usually surrounded by parks and outdoor activities, but you sleep in tents, huts, or yurts that feature upscale amenities such as beds, bathrooms, electricity, and even access to spa services and private chefs.

When planning a glamping trip, look for glamp sites set up as resorts or affiliated with a nearby hotel so that you can add guided adventure trips and meals to your vacation package. For instance, Blue Sky Ranch in Wanship, Utah offers yurts starting at $99 per night, then you can add a summer or winter adventure trip to your stay. Choose from options including kayaking, horseback riding, snowshoeing, and yoga.

Similarly, River Dance Lodge in Idaho offers all-inclusive glamping packages with food, accommodations, and a host of guided outdoor adventures, such as whitewater rafting, horseback riding, hiking, and more. Rates start at $145 per person, assuming two adults and two children per luxury cabin, or just $79 per person, assuming two adults and two children per glamping tent.

Final Word

When taking time off of work, some people like to just relax by the beach. But, if beach lounging gets boring and you need a little more excitement in your life, it’s time to try a fitness vacation. Look at your vacation time as the opportunity to mark a few things off your bucket list, try something new, take a few classes, and embrace a fitter, healthier you. When it’s time to head back to the office, you’ll feel refreshed, rejuvenated, and ready to start looking for your next active vacation.

Have you ever taken a fitness vacation? What did you do?

Laura Williams
Laura Williams holds a master's degree in exercise and sport science and enjoys breaking up her day by running her dogs, hitting the gym, and watching TV. Having been in charge of her own finances since the early age of 12, she knows how to save and when to spend, and she loves sharing these tips with others. Laura ditched her career as a fitness center manager for the relative freedom of home-based writing and editing work. She stays busy by working on her own website, GirlsGoneSporty, a website designed to help the sporty woman live the sporty life.

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