Imagine those waves lapping onto sandy beaches, sunsets radiating colour across the horizon, soothing music and indulgent dinners. Holidays bring relaxation and that feeling of wellbeing but should we be searching for more? In the smart world in which we live, the meaning of health has changed. It is merging under the umbrella of wellbeing which brings together all aspects of our lifestyle, from calorie counts on menus, cycling tracks and therapies for every possible malaise.
E-medicine and online diagnostics are all playing a part to encourage us to manage our own health. And with ease of access to a wealth of resources online there is an increasing number of us combining a health component with our holidays. From mindfulness, detoxing, diet or de-stress, more and more of us are taking these issues to tackle on holiday in the hope we will return renewed and invigorated.
The media plays its role in influencing us. Every day reveals the latest research and newest statistics on every health topic from cancer-reducing activities, the butter versus margarine debate, anti-ageing treatments and the number of hours to sleep.
Advanced technology and ongoing research have broadened our minds, while a renaissance in traditional and natural practices have renewed our beliefs in wellness therapies and treatments.
You can travel to Bali for a blessing from a High Priestess, a trip to Thailand for sound therapy, treatments with Argan nut oil in Morocco and body screening in the Austrian Alps. There are treatments for most ailments in locations around the globe. Visit China for traditional acupuncture and aesthetic medicine, or travel in other directions for fire meditations, floating therapy in ancient caves or non-invasive facelifts. Health tourism is international!
The numerous cures offered are varied, creative and colourful. Tibetan and crystal singing bowls are prescribed for rebalance and harmony while intuitive horse therapy can help to reconnect you with your inner self. And with so many of us suffering distractions from very direction, from iPhones, emails, texts, Facebook and Twitter, mindfulness retreats are ideal to get back your reality and live in the moment.
Low cost airlines have been instrumental in developing health tourism. They have played a major role in opening up routes and borders to more destinations to allow easier access for health treatments at competitive costs.
This in turn has resulted in a rise in dental tourism, a by-product of health tourism. Need a new tooth, bridge, crown or even better, that Hollywood smile? Dentists in the UK are charging eye-watering prices for dental services. But follow the trend in combining your dental appointments with a city break in Eastern Europe and you may find yourself in pocket as well as culturally enriched. Well-qualified dental consultants using the latest technology at affordable costs are gaining a good reputation in a number of European cities. You will find they have teamed up with local hotels and in locations served by low-cost carriers to make dental care more attractive. Research cities such as Budapest for savings on dental treatments and you could bag yourself the added extra of a city break holiday thrown in at under the UK price.
On screen, films and television are reflecting this surge in personal healthcare. Judi Dench, Maggie Smith and Bill Nighy charismatically conveyed the subject of international health tourism on their jaunt to India seeking a healthier alternative for retirement than England. The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel highlighted the exotic side of a faraway destination at a far cheaper cost. However, it was the culture shock and change of living standards that gave these characters the release of letting go of the past and living for the moment. The popularity of this film led to a reality version, The Real Marigold Hotel, involving eight celebrities aged around 70 looking to retire in India. Their experiences and self-discovery created a popular TV series, contributing to the increasing trend for health and wellness solutions abroad.
Health Tourism is growing. It impacts our lifestyle and the choices we make. Holidays have become experiential so whether it is sound therapies in underground caves or spiritual healing from a High Priestess, holidays are becoming healthier and capitalizing on time away from home to learn and adopt new health ingredients into our life.
Tips on health tourism:
- When selecting a destination and new therapies, be aware of cultural barriers such as language to ensure you understand the procedures fully.
- Dependent on the chosen treatments, it maybe advisable to consult your GP as a precaution.
- Always have travel insurance.
- Do your research by checking online to read feedback from others.
- Check if the practitioners have the right qualifications.
- Contact the facility with any questions you may have before booking.
Jane Wilson is the editor of The Healthcare Holiday, an online resource site specializing in health tourism.