#MyFirst: Are Wellness Retreats the New Way to Vacation?

Between committing ourselves to attending too many holiday festivities to agreeing to host our slightly high-maintenance relatives, this time of year can be a bit hectic (and that's putting it mildly). With all of the inevitable chaos in store, it's important to find some time to relax and reset-especially with the New Year just around the corner. If you're starting to feel like the best way to escape the busy season is to literally escape town, know that we're right there with you. In fact, this year, we're taking relaxation to a whole new level by replacing our usual vacation plans with a wellness retreat-and we're bringing ourВ Fossil Hybrid Smartwatch along for the adventure to keep track of our fitness progressВ during the getaway.

These organized vacations-which range from surf trips to yoga excursions-have become increasingly popular, but with so many options, it's difficult to know where to start. To give us a better insight into what to expect from one, we reached out to travel blogger extraordinaireВ Kat Tanita from With Love From Kat. Tanita is an expert on travel and even has a free app where she shares her favorite hotels, restaurants, and sites in cities all over the world. Luckily for us, she recently went on her first wellness retreat and is sharing all of the details about her trip-chief among them is her packing list, which includes her favorite Hybrid Smartwatch from Fossil. The customizable notifications setting allowed her to truly disconnect from her everyday life as much as possible.

Not quite sure if a wellness retreat is right for you (or even what a wellness retreat really is for that matter)? Ahead, Kat divulges on her first both in Costa Rica and on a wellness-focused trip, including all of her tips and tricks so you can go in prepared.

On Why You Should Go on a Wellness Retreat:

"I wanted to get away from the hustle and bustle and noise of NYC. In search of solitude, I decided to try something new in a beautiful environment. So, I went on my very first yoga and surf retreat in Costa Rica, which was just what the doctor ordered! Being immersed in such a relaxing, positive, holistic environment for a week is such a treat. It's so rare that we even have time to fit in a workout in our everyday lives, so to be able to go away to experience new things and grow spiritually and physically is amazing! All you have to do is show up; every activity and meal are planned for you."

On Why You Should Choose Costa Rica:

"Costa Rica is one of the most magical places I've ever been to. It was such a special experience going there for my first wellness retreat. I met 30 amazing women. We did yoga and surfed for a week in Montezuma, which is one of the best beaches for surfing in the world! The water is so warm, making it ideal to surf any time of year.

"But the highlight of my trip was ziplining through the jungle. I had never done it before and had always wanted to, but I was too scared in the past. The girls were so supportive, and we all cheered each other on which helped with our fear. It was the most exhilarating thing to be flying through the air in the middle of the jungle! The natural beauty, the water, the animals, and the kind people all make Costa Rica incredibly unique."

On What a Wellness Retreat Schedule Looks Like:

"In the morning, we did yoga as a group on the open deck that overlooked the jungle. Then spent the larger part of the day surfing. As a treat after our long day of being out in the ocean, we drank fresh coconut water, and snacked on pineapple and papaya.

"During the late afternoon, we'd wander into town and enjoy gelato while listening to Bob Marley. Everyone was free to hike, get massages, do reiki healing sessions, or go swimming in their open time. At night, we did another group yoga session together, and I loved that we ate every meal together-it really helped us bond."

On What to Pack:

"My packing essentials forВ this wellnessВ retreat don't derail too much fromВ the usual vacationВ suspects, but here's a list to get you started:В

  • A good book
  • A journal
  • Sunglasses
  • A bathing suit
  • Workout clothes (for yoga, hiking, surfing, etc.)
  • Tennis shoes or hiking shoesВ
  • A watch to wear as an accessory and to keep me up-to-date with everything going on so I don't fall too far behind without sitting in front of my laptop all day.В The Fossil Hybrid Smartwatch sends me text and email notifications, which I love, and it also tracks my steps, sleep, andВ automatically updatesВ time zones-essential when I travel.В В
  • A flashlightВ
  • A sweaterВ
  • A towelВ
  • Sunscreen
  • A first-aid kit (I forgot my first-aid kit and ended up cutting myself on a rock, so it's definitely better to be overprepared and safe than sorry!)
  • Cashmere scarf for the plane
  • Jeans
  • A leather jacket

"And above all else, have an open mind and be prepared."

On When You Know It's Time to Book a Wellness Retreat:

"A wellness retreat is honestly for anyone. Many people go to get healthy, to make friends, and to get away from their lives/routines in their respective cities. I found many of the travelers were single women who needed a break from the constant emails, stimulation, and events back home, and were looking for both an outward and inward growth.

"If you're thinking about planning your own wellness excursion, think about the activities you like and what kind of place you'd want to be in for a week. Maybe it's the desert, the mountains, or the beach. Perhaps you want a more active retreat, so a hiking excursion in the mountains is perfect for you. Do plenty of research beforehand and read reviews on each place to get a sense of what the trip includes.

"I would highly recommend that everyone goes on a wellness retreat because it's such a once-in-a-lifetime experience. You make lasting friendships, try new things, push yourself out of your comfort zone, and grow spiritually, physically, and mentally.

"I was so happy that I did something out of the box. Rather than go to the Hamptons with a group of my girlfriends like I had in the past, I challenged myself to do something new, and it paid off. The entire experience just really impacted me."

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Convinced you need to plan a wellness retreat? Don't forget to buy a Fossil Hybrid Smartwatch so you'll be prepared for your trip.