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Summer 2024: Your Guide to Longevity and Wellness Tourism

Updated: Jul 14


When you think of a summer retreat, one of the first memories that may come to mind is the welcoming drink  —  usually a delicate taste of the destination you’re visiting. For some wellness tourism destinations, however, they swap the drinks for welcoming vitamin B12 shots.

Though such practices may sound unusual, there’s nothing wrong with choosing to care for your health in a way that suits you. In fact, wellness tourism has been a part of society since ancient times [1].

The Origins of Wellness Tourism


Before the wellness spas of today, there existed the Asclepieia. These were healing sanctuaries dedicated to Asclepios, the first physician-demigod in Greek mythology. Spread across ancient Greece, the Eastern Mediterranean, and the Roman world, over 300 Asclepieia formed a network of sacred healthcare sanctuaries [2].

Nestled in picturesque locations, often amidst greenery, flowing water, and sometimes natural hot springs, these sites offered solace and healing. They became destinations for those seeking remedy, attracting pilgrims from far and wide in what can be considered the earliest form of wellness tourism [2].

At the Asclepieia, visitors pursued healing through traditional methods infused with faith. These included cathartic experiences, physical exercises, massages, herbal treatments, and periods of fasting. Acting, poetic, and musical performances were also common features within these sanctuaries [2].

Wellness Tourism Today

Today, wellness travel stands as one of the fastest-growing segments within the tourism industry. In 2022 alone, over 800 million wellness trips were recorded globally, with the market’s value soaring to over $850 billion at one point [3] [4]. These journeys cater to individuals seeking relaxation, rejuvenation, and holistic health experiences.

It’s important to distinguish wellness tourism from medical tourism. Medical tourism typically involves seeking treatment for existing conditions, ranging from cancer to hair loss. On the other hand, wellness tourism takes a proactive approach, focusing on maintaining and enhancing one’s current health and well-being before actual ailments take place.

Modern research has shown that wellness tourism can have positive effects on physical fitness, psychological well-being, and overall quality of life [5].

Is Longevity the Future of Wellness Tourism?

Everyone seems to have an opinion about longevity, whether positive or negative, even if they don’t fully grasp its fundamentals. This sentiment rings doubly true in the emerging field of longevity tourism. You’ve probably encountered someone either reveling or scoffing at the idea of going on a longevity retreat. But before diving into the debate, let’s first clarify what longevity is at heart.

Really not unlike the ancient Asclepieia of Greece, longevity focuses on strategies to promote healthier, longer lives. At its core lies the geroscience hypothesis [6]. This hypothesis suggests that by directly addressing the physiological processes of aging, through lifestyle changes and/or medical interventions, it’s possible to prevent or lessen the impact of numerous chronic diseases. It’s an approach that holds promise for improving health outcomes as people age.

So why does longevity tourism provoke such polarized reactions? Thus far, it has been predominantly presented as ultra-premium experiences by renowned hospitality chains, catering to a select elite (with some retreats exceeding the $40,000 mark). These retreats claim to combat cellular aging and are often modeled after or even set in Blue Zones.

What Are Blue Zones and Should You Visit One?


Blue Zones are regions known for their unusually high longevity rates, where people often live significantly longer and healthier lives compared to the global average. These areas, including Okinawa in Japan, Sardinia in Italy, Nicoya in Costa Rica, Ikaria in Greece, and Loma Linda in California, have been subject to extensive research due to the healthy lifestyles of their inhabitants [7].

However, visiting a Blue Zone with the expectation of automatically boosting your longevity may not be a sound strategy  —  for two reasons.

First off, merely being present in these locations does not guarantee the same health outcomes enjoyed by the local residents. Achieving similar longevity requires a daily commitment to staying active physically, socially, and mentally  —  a lifestyle not always accurately portrayed in Blue Zone retreat offerings. That’s because attendees of such retreats often anticipate Instagram-worthy moments and attractions. However, the reality is that Blue Zone inhabitants live a much simpler life, where conversing with neighbors is often considered the main source of entertainment.

Secondly, some Blue Zones have experienced declines in longevity due to factors such as Westernization and overtourism. For instance, Okinawa has been removed from the list of Blue Zones by the original researchers. Thus, even if you intend to fully immerse yourself in the local lifestyle, you might just not find a Blue Zone to be what it used to be anymore.

How to Make This a Summer of Longevity without Visiting a Blue Zone

Alright, so Blue Zones might not be what they once were. But that doesn’t mean we can’t draw inspiration from the lifestyles of their centenarians when planning our wellness retreats this summer.

Below, we’ll outline five strategies for you to consider incorporating into your summer trip planning, drawing inspiration from centenarians and other longevity secrets. Best of all, these tips will help you find the perfect spot for your budget.

1- Surround Yourself with Nature

When someone’s chronically online, you’ll often hear people urging them to “touch grass.” This meme is not just an echo of old wisdom but is also supported by modern research.

Dr. Susan Abookire, Founder of the Nature and Systems Institute, says:

“There is no one pharmaceutical or precision medicine tool that could ever have the broad benefits of a forest.”

As nature prescriptions become increasingly popular, researchers have investigated the impact of nature exposure on longevity. In a study involving 108,630 women, those who lived in areas with abundant green space had a 12% lower mortality rate over an eight-year period. This was particularly true for deaths related to cancer and respiratory diseases [8].

What could be behind these impressive findings? Perhaps improved mental health and stress control. Research comparing the mental health of people who spent time in natural environments versus urban settings has shown physiological differences. Those who spent time in nature had lower levels of salivary cortisol, a stress hormone, and reduced activity in brain regions associated with rumination, or the cycle of negative thoughts [9].

While most studies do not specify which types of natural landscapes are most beneficial, it’s safe to say that choosing a natural setting is a good starting point for planning your longevity retreat. Being in nature will also support all the upcoming strategies we’ll discuss next.

2- Include Friends and Family

Many enjoy the occasional solo trip, but bringing friends or family along can tremendously uplift your well-being.

Speaking of Blue Zones, life there is extremely communal. Whether gardening or enjoying happy hour together, social interaction is maximized, which significantly impacts their longevity.

Two decades of research indicate that higher social integration is associated with a lower risk of physiological dysregulation, including inflammation and metabolic syndrome, overall contributing to longevity [10].

So if you’re thinking of involving family in your retreat, consider going camping, for example. Besides being a social activity, camping offers several health benefits.

The physical demands of camping promote fitness and cardiovascular health. On the mental health front, a survey of nearly 11,000 campers and non-campers found that campers scored significantly higher for flourishing  —  the gold standard of measuring well-being [11].

There are numerous camping spots in nature worldwide. However, Canada ranks as the best country for camping due to its high potential for stargazing, numerous national parks, low pollution, low risk of natural disasters, and beautiful scenery [12].


If you’re seeking a more vibrant trip with friends, a music festival could be an intriguing option.

Contrary to popular sentiment, live music concerts can indeed be beneficial to our health. A study of classical and pop concertgoers aimed to assess stress levels with live music. Participants provided saliva samples before and during the concert, which were analyzed for stress hormones. The results showed significant reductions in stress hormones, indicating that attending a live concert can reduce stress. Interestingly, the genre of music didn’t affect the outcome; the effect could potentially be observed with any live music [13].

So maybe you can consider the Netherlands, where hundreds of music festivals are planned for the rest of the year with various affordable options. Just make sure to have some ear protection so you and your friends can enjoy this unorthodox form of group wellness.


3- Get Moving

Of course, there’s no world where wellness won’t be tied to some sort of physical activity and exercise. When it comes to longevity, exercise stands as a crucial pillar, potentially lowering all-cause mortality by up to 31% [14]. Therefore, it’s essential for any wellness retreat focusing on longevity to incorporate exercise.

However, if you’ve struggled to stay active, consider this summer retreat an opportunity to reassess your relationship with exercise. You might think exercise and then immediately think cardio, push-ups, and squats. But at the end of the day, remember that it’s all about moving your body.

It can be as simple as taking a walk. Perhaps you’d enjoy exploring a hiking trail in the breathtaking landscapes of Croatia. This way, you can immerse yourself in nature while staying active.


If hiking isn’t feasible due to your current fitness level, don’t worry. Studies show that just 10 minutes of brisk walking can increase life expectancy, as indicated by longer telomeres observed in study participants who followed this walking routine [15].

Consider exploring walkable cities as an alternative destination. Recently, Peja in Kosovo was identified as the world’s most walkable city by the Economist [16]. There, you can immerse yourself in leisurely walks, soak in the local culture, and reap the rewards of physical activity.

If possible, incorporate some light strength training during your trip for added benefits. However, if not, remember that the goal is to enjoy the experience without stressing over perfectionism.


4- Seek Healthy Tasty Food

Speaking of unsurprising links to wellness, here comes food. Your dietary choices  —  what you consume, when, and how much  —  play a pivotal role in promoting longevity. Numerous studies have explored the impact of different diets on health outcomes.

Regardless of the specific diet you follow, one effective way to improve your relationship with nutrition is by selecting a destination where healthy food options are abundant and unhealthy choices are scarce.

For instance, consider visiting regions where popular diets have originated. The Mediterranean diet, one of the most extensively studied diets, finds its roots in Greece. Greek cuisine has previously been recognized as the healthiest cuisine worldwide by various wellness and travel outlets [17]. If you choose natural landscapes in Greece, research also reveals you’ll spontaneously gravitate towards healthier food choices during your stay [18].


Another approach involves prioritizing food diversity, which is essential for maintaining a healthy microbiome [19]. In this regard, Laos, another affordable destination for a retreat, stands out. Research from Cornell University reveals that approximately half of the dishes in Laos contain more than 15 ingredients, highlighting the nutritional richness and diversity of its cuisine [20].


5- Embrace New Experiences

Just as our bodies benefit from diverse food, our minds thrive on diverse experiences. While stepping out of a routine may feel uncomfortable initially, embracing new experiences offers a multitude of positive effects on mental health.

Recent research has shown that new and diverse experiences are linked to enhanced happiness, and this is associated with greater synchronization of brain activity [21]. One of the leaders of this exciting research, Assistant Professor Catherine Hartley, states:

“People feel happier when they have more variety in their daily routines  —  when they go to novel places and have a wider array of experiences.”

Participants in the study underwent MRI tests, which showed that those who experienced this effect most strongly exhibited a greater correlation between brain activity in regions associated with processing rewards and positive experiences [21].

Additional research on mice suggests that new experiences can even rewire brain circuits, promoting increased cognitive flexibility and improved mood regulation [22].

What could these new experiences look like for you?

Maybe skydiving. While it may seem dangerous, studies of over 62 million jumps indicate that injuries occur at a rate of just 0.044% [23]. Psychologists suggest that the fear-overcoming nature of skydiving can cultivate mental resilience and self-compassion [24]. Brazil is a great destination with multiple affordable skydiving spots.


If you prefer a different type of adventure, consider an archaeological tour. Insights from the Chartered Institute for Archaeologists suggest that engaging in archaeological activities can provide therapeutic and social benefits, such as meeting new people and being outdoors [25]. Egypt, currently undergoing significant reforms to boost tourism to its historical sites, offers an ideal location for such tours.


The Bottom Line

We’ve explored a myriad of destinations for longevity-focused wellness tourism this summer. Of course, factors like logistics, budget, safety, and personal preference will influence your decision. But here’s the bottom line:

Wellness isn’t one-size-fits-all. The wellness tourism showcased online isn’t the only way to approach it. Wellness tourism is essentially what you make of it. Most of the longevity benefits from wellness travel can be achieved in much simpler settings.

The five strategies we’ve discussed can be pursued anywhere. Even if you’re based in the most bustling metropolitan area, there’s likely a natural park a few hours away where you can invite friends, engage in physical activity, eat healthy food, and enjoy new experiences together.


Alternatively, if DIY wellness trips aren’t your preference but mainstream tours are currently out of reach financially, consider new travel platforms like our partners at

Through our collaboration, we’re democratizing wellness travel by accepting blockchain-based currencies like our RJV token. With this option, investing in your health and longevity has never been easier.

So, whether you’re planning a grand adventure or a simple getaway, remember that the essence of wellness travel lies in your intention to prioritize your health and well-being. Your journey to a healthier, longer life can start with a single step  —  or a single trip.


[1] Zhong, L., Deng, B., Morrison, A. M., Coca-Stefaniak, J. A., & Yang, L. (2021). Medical, Health and Wellness Tourism Research-A Review of the Literature (1970–2020) and Research Agenda. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 18(20), 10875.

[2] Androula Pavli, & Maltezou, H. C. (2024). Asclepieia in ancient Greece: pilgrimage and healing destinations, the forerunner of medical tourism. Le Infezioni in Medicina, 32(1).

[3] BridgetGWI. (2024, March 25). A Decade of Wellness Tourism: First-Ever Compilation of 10+ Years of Market Data. Global Wellness Institute.

[4] Precedence Research. (2023, December 8). Wellness Tourism Market Size to Hit US$ 1,672.6 Bn by 2030.

[5] Liao, C., Zuo, Y., Xu, S., Law, R., & Zhang, M. (2023). Dimensions of the health benefits of wellness tourism: A review. Frontiers in Psychology, 13.

[6] Austad, S. N. (2016). The Geroscience Hypothesis: Is It Possible to Change the Rate of Aging? Springer EBooks, 1–36.

[7] Buettner, D., & Skemp, S. (2016). Blue Zones: Lessons from the World’s Longest Lived. American Journal of Lifestyle Medicine, 10(5), 318–321.

[8] James, P., Hart, J. E., Banay, R. F., & Laden, F. (2016). Exposure to Greenness and Mortality in a Nationwide Prospective Cohort Study of Women. Environmental Health Perspectives, 124(9), 1344–1352.

[9] Song, C., Ikei, H., & Miyazaki, Y. (2016). Physiological Effects of Nature Therapy: A Review of the Research in Japan. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 13(8), 781.

[10] Yang, Y. C., Boen, C., Gerken, K., Li, T., Schorpp, K., & Harris, K. M. (2016). Social relationships and physiological determinants of longevity across the human life span. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 113(3), 578–583.

[11] The Camping and Caravanning Club. (2022, October 20). The Outjoyment Report — The Camping and Caravanning Club.

[12] Perry, C. (2019, December 16). Worldwide Camping Index: The best countries for camping around the… Hipcamp Journal — Stories for Hipcampers and Our Hosts.

[13] Fancourt, D., & Williamon, A. (2016). Attending a concert reduces glucocorticoids, progesterone and the cortisol/DHEA ratio. Public Health, 132, 101–104.

[14] Lee, D. H., Rezende, L. F. M., Joh, H.-K., Keum, N., Ferrari, G., Rey-Lopez, J. P., Rimm, E. B., Tabung, F. K., & Giovannucci, E. L. (2022). Long-Term Leisure-Time Physical Activity Intensity and All-Cause and Cause-Specific Mortality: A Prospective Cohort of US Adults. Circulation, 146(7), 523–534.

[15] Dempsey, P. C., Musicha, C., Rowlands, A. V., Davies, M., Khunti, K., Razieh, C., Timmins, I., Zaccardi, F., Codd, V., Nelson, C. P., Yates, T., & Samani, N. J. (2022). Investigation of a UK biobank cohort reveals causal associations of self-reported walking pace with telomere length. Communications Biology, 5(1).

[16] The Economist. (2024, May 9). The world’s most, and least, walkable cities.

[17] Ajmera, R. (2016, February 10). Travel: The Top 10 Healthiest Cuisines. Healthline.

[18] Langlois, M., & Chandon, P. (2024). Experiencing nature leads to healthier food choices. Communications Psychology, 2(1), 1–8.

[19] McDonald, D., Hyde, E., Debelius, J. W., Morton, J. T., Gonzalez, A., Ackermann, G., Aksenov, A. A., Behsaz, B., Brennan, C., Chen, Y., DeRight Goldasich, L., Dorrestein, P. C., Dunn, R. R., Fahimipour, A. K., Gaffney, J., Gilbert, J. A., Gogul, G., Green, J. L., Hugenholtz, P., & Humphrey, G. (2018). American Gut: an Open Platform for Citizen Science Microbiome Research. MSystems, 3(3).

[20] Sajadmanesh, S., Jafarzadeh, S., Osia, S. A., Rabiee, H. R., Haddadi, H., Mejova, Y., Musolesi, M., De Cristofaro, E., & Stringhini, G. (2017, April 25). Kissing Cuisines: Exploring Worldwide Culinary Habits on the Web.

[21] Heller, A. S., Shi, T. C., Ezie, C. E. C., Reneau, T. R., Baez, L. M., Gibbons, C. J., & Hartley, C. A. (2020). Association between real-world experiential diversity and positive affect relates to hippocampal–striatal functional connectivity. Nature Neuroscience, 23(7), 800–804.

[22] Park, A. J., Harris, A. Z., Martyniuk, K. M., Chang, C.-Y., Abbas, A. I., Lowes, D. C., Kellendonk, C., Gogos, J. A., & Gordon, J. A. (2021). Reset of hippocampal-prefrontal circuitry facilitates learning. Nature, 591(7851), 615–619.

[23] Barthel, C., Halvachizadeh, S., Gamble, J. G., Pape, H.-C., & Rauer, T. (2023). Recreational Skydiving — Really That Dangerous? A Systematic Review. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 20(2), 1254.

[24] Llewellyn E. van Zyl. (2023, July 14). Soaring to New Heights: Skydiving as a Path to Flourishing | Psychology Today.

[25] The Chartered Institute for Archaeologists. (2020). Delivering public benefit from archaeology.


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