Putting comfort and happiness over materialistic opportunities, more of us value experiences in our chosen destinations than doing the same things we do every day at home. Ditching nights in the club for early morning hikes and fancy restaurant dinners for locally-owned street food, here’s where to get your soul fix…

With hotels and resorts the world over implementing more and more wellbeing and fitness into their hospitality offerings, now’s the best time to curate your ideal wellness programme and jet off for mind, body and soul rejuvenation. Whether that’s a laid-back three-day detox at the gorgeous Al Baleed Resort Salalah by Anantara where all your vegan, nutritious meals are prepared alongside light exercise and spa treatments, or a FUEL Weekend at one of the region’s top W Hotels where everything from Barry’s Bootcamp to boxing, spinning and more take place. Faraway retreats in places like Spain, Azerbaijan and Thailand can all cater to every need: from the very extreme 800-caloriea- day itineraries to the more mindful and zen journeys for mental and emotional health, 2019 is the time of wellness travel and if you haven’t already, it’s your turn to get in on it!

Whether you’re looking for cultural immersion or simply to catch a glimpse of local life away from the tourist trail, there are a host of ways you can dig beneath the surface and learn about your host country through first hand experience. One of the most popular and simplest ways of doing this now is through one of the many volunteer programmes out there – pick one, sign up, and start paying your dues whilst plunging straight into the deep end of local life. We’d highly recommend checking out Love Volunteers ( for affordable and life-changing experiences ranging from conservation in the Galapagos Islands to community development in Rwanda and teaching in the West Bank. Moreover, living like a local could also mean signing up to learn a new language whilst abroad, taking a pilgrimage around prominent sites, or opting for a farm stay in rural villages – it’s your itinerary, and there’s so much choose from.

This one is relatively simple. You pick a destination based on its ability to offer you the most intense and meaningful holiday experience. By this we mean a complete culture shock, changing your everyday surroundings from Gulf comforts to a completely different way of life. Destinations such as India or China come to mind, where you’re guaranteed a wholly traditional outlook into the way the native people live. If you want to start off somewhere that’s not too unfamiliar but still gives you a chance to delve deep into a new society, head to one of Morocco’s most enthralling cities: Fez. An imperial city, within its sturdy walls you’ll find the place where old Morocco still exists – in the elaborate architecture, the historic medina and the masses that have made Fez their home. Watch the daily procession of mourners entering the tomb of Fez’s founder Moulay Idriss II; it’s easy to understand why Fez is called the spiritual heart of Morocco.