7 Trip Ideas for Mindful Travel in 2023

Mature woman sitting on mountain amidst tree in forest
Maskot / Getty Images

After a few years where travel was effectively ground to a halt, you might be looking to get more out of your travels in 2023—especially if you’ve been inside staring at a screen for what feels like years. Perhaps you’re looking to disconnect from technology to focus more on your body and mind this year. Whether it’s giving your time to helping others, helping yourself, or simply trying to unwind, here are seven trips you can take to become a more mindful traveler in 2023.

01 of 07

Visit a Dark Sky Preserve

Man Standing Under The Stars At Night
Cavan Images / Getty Images

Depending on where you live in the country, when you look up at the night sky, you may be lucky enough to experience the brilliant beauty of the stars above, but if you live in an area with a lot of light pollution, or perhaps want to be able to see more than just the Big Dipper, you don't have to go far to experience even darker skies — a dark sky preserve is a designated area of land where light pollution is kept to a minimum, allowing for unparalleled views of the night sky. Photographers and those looking to glimpse the Milky Way in all its glory frequently flock to these sites. Seeing the full scope of the night sky and realizing that you are a part of the same universe can provide a grounding perspective on your place in the world. It's also a great place to practice mindfulness in the present moment.

There are over 200 certified dark sky sites in the world, with 66 of those in the U.S. These incredible places allow you to experience views of the galaxy without the interference of city lights, making it the perfect place to experience some of the most awe-inspiring stargazing opportunities you can find outside of an observatory.

Some of the best places in the U.S. to enjoy dark sky preserves include Natural Bridges National Monument in Utah, Big Bend National Park in Texas, Death Valley National Park in California, Cherry Springs State Park in Pennsylvania, and the International Dark Sky Reserve in the remote wilderness of Maine.

To find the closest dark sky preserve to you, check out the International Dark Sky Association's interactive map.

Continue to 2 of 7 below.
02 of 07

Exhale at Yoga Retreat

People Practicing Yoga at Sunset
PaytonVanGorp / Getty Images

Yoga is a great way to practice mindfulness, helping you to stay present and in tune with your body’s needs. Rather than settling on a YouTube video in your living room, a yoga retreat can be an opportunity to combine mindful movement with exploring new and exciting places. Yoga retreats allow for a more immersive experience, as you can work on coping skills and improve physical abilities as you enjoy some of the most beautiful places the U.S. has to offer.

Yoga retreats in the U.S. offer a range of options: you can take a retreat in the mountains of Colorado or practice yoga in the forests of North Carolina. Or perhaps you’d like to try beach yoga on the sunny coast of California or South Carolina. There’s also the opportunity to explore the open deserts of Utah. No matter where you are in the U.S., you’ll find a yoga retreat that suits your interests and schedule.

Sivananda Yoga Ranch, located in upstate New York just 100 miles outside of New York City, offers everything from two- and three-day refreshing meditation retreats to month-long teacher training courses. During the retreat, guests will participate in two daily yoga classes in Hatha and Sivananda styles, one hour of Karma yoga, mantra chanting, silent meditation, and two organic vegetarian meals per day.

Continue to 3 of 7 below.
03 of 07

Go Forest Bathing

Avenue of the Giants - Humboldt Redwoods State Park - CA
Moelyn Photos / Getty Images

Forest bathing, or shinrin-yoku, is a Japanese practice of immersing yourself in nature to promote better physical and mental health. Forest bathing aims to connect with nature, slow down, and increase the qualities of mindfulness—the Japanese government even recognizes it as an official form of therapy. The practice involves simply walking slowly and mindfully, paying attention to the sights, sounds, and smells, and letting the environment touch all five senses.

This practice is becoming increasingly popular in the U.S., and you can find forest bathing sites in many protected forests around the country. One of the more famous spots in the country for forest bathing is Redwoods State Park in California, where you’ll find 100 miles of hiking trails winding through 300-foot redwoods—save the photos for dinner later.

On the other side of the country in Stowe, Vermont, Spruce Peak Lodge offers a 45-minute forest bathing excursion to its various amenities. The lodge encourages doing the walk—through the appropriately named Green Mountain—barefoot so that guests may create a stronger connection with the earth. Afterward, they offer a meditation course to further enhance the relationship with nature.

Continue to 4 of 7 below.
04 of 07

Connect with Animals

Low Angle View Of Horse Against Sky
Pierluigi Palazzi / EyeEm / Getty Images

Working with animals provides an excellent opportunity to practice reconnecting with nature while on vacation.

One way is to volunteer your time to a wildlife rescue. Many local sanctuaries, zoos, and aquariums offer volunteer opportunities so you can spend time in nature and help take care of the planet. The Gulf Coast Wildlife Rescue in Angleton, Texas, is a great example. You can spend the day in their outdoor sanctuary, helping to care for their rescued animals, participating in research studies, or working on trail maintenance. By helping out, you'll grow in appreciation for the interconnectedness of nature and the importance of conservation. You'll be able to spend some quality time with the animals and learn the stories behind each of them. It's an experience that will leave you feeling inspired and further connected with the environment.

If you're seeking a more therapeutic experience, visit Abiquiu, New Mexico, to experience the power of horses with Healing Through Horses. Equine therapy, sometimes in the form of therapeutic horseback riding, involves building a connection with horses to control one's physical and mental well-being.

Healing Through Horses offers a variety of equine-inspired wellness retreats focusing on everything from making peace with oneself to moving past personal barriers holding you back in relationships and career goals. The retreats last between three and 10 days and include personal coaching and plenty of hands-on time with horses to help you become a better version of yourself through reflection and discovery.

Continue to 5 of 7 below.
05 of 07

Help Keep Historic Trails Alive for Future Generations

Woman Hiking
Rebecca Smith / Getty Images

Perhaps you care about ensuring future generations of travelers will be able to experience the same natural beauty that we can take advantage of today. The Appalachian Trail Conservancy offers volunteer opportunities to help maintain and protect the historic Appalachian Trail for future generations to enjoy. Volunteers can help with trail construction, preservation of historical sites, and landscaping. By volunteering and helping to keep such a historic place running, you can learn to appreciate and protect the outdoors and build mindfulness in the present moment.

To get involved with the Appalachian Trail Conservancy, you can join an organized group of volunteers or sign up for an individual volunteer day. The Conservancy regularly runs volunteer days where you can help build and maintain trails, remove invasive plants, and more.

Over on the west coast, you can work with the Catalina Island Conservancy to ensure that one of California’s most beautiful outdoor destinations remains pristine for future generations. Volunteers help with natural habitat restoration, trail maintenance, and invasive species removal. The Conservancy also hosts volunteer days throughout the year that allow you to get hands-on in the great outdoors.

Continue to 6 of 7 below.
06 of 07

Stay Active (and Present) with a Running Retreat

run wild retreats

Courtesy of Run Wild Retreats

If you're an avid runner but find it hard to do without distracting yourself with music or podcasts, you may want to consider trying out a running retreat to help focus on why you're running in the first place.

Run Wild Retreats offers retreats in locations not just around the U.S. but worldwide. You'll go for nature runs during the retreats, free from headphones and streaming media. You'll also learn breathing techniques and practices during the retreat to reduce stress and build a greater connection to nature and yourself.

Rise Run Retreat is a New England-based collective aimed at women of all ages, races, and abilities and encourages confidence building through running. The three- and four-day retreats offer guided runs through historic New England settings, sunrise hikes, restorative yoga, and meals.

Continue to 7 of 7 below.
07 of 07

Book a Stay at a Zen-Inspired Resort

Moonlet bedroom at Ten Thousand Waves

Courtesy of Ten Thousand Waves

If you’d like to experience the calming zen of a Japanese ryokan but don’t want to have to book a flight to Japan, there are plenty of options right near home that offer the next best thing.

The Gaige House + Ryokan in Sonoma, California, features ryokan-inspired zen suites with a modern design that includes platform beds, a Japanese soaking tub, and a private rock garden atrium. Guests will enjoy green tea at check-in and after-dinner sake, as well as an outdoor meditation deck, sun deck, and moon deck.

Ten Thousand Waves in Santa Fe, New Mexico, is quietly nestled in the foothills of the Sangre de Cristo mountains. The star attraction is the hot spring onsen and spa services that embrace the Japanese philosophy of simplicity and harmony, but the resort also features an izakaya serving traditional Japanese cuisine as well as a conventional ryokan for guests that want to spend a few days relaxing.