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Spiritual retreats and outdoor adventure: 'This summer is going to be "the summer of escape"'

After experiencing severe burnout during the pandemic and being diagnosed with PTSD and ADHD, 34-year-old Caitlin Gibson knew she had to make some changes.

'I realized I wasn’t taking good care of myself and was stressed out both personally and professionally," said the former healthcare worker turned wellness blogger. "Self-care and self-love are now a priority."

As Gibson’s priorities changed, so did her summer vacation plans.

"Usually I’m running around doing what the kids want to do — Disney, Universal. But this summer, I’m planning on taking a self-care trip."

On her agenda: a two-week stay in Phoenix, Ariz., with her best friend. "We’re going to relax with some drinks by the pool, get pedicures, talk about life, make dinners together, brainstorm ideas to take over the world and make all of our dreams come true."

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Amid all the chaos the world is facing, this type of trip — as well as spiritual retreats and outdoor and adventure travel — is gaining momentum, said Ben Harrell, US managing director at Booking.com. “This summer is going to be 'the summer of escape.'"

"It’s an escape that we need — physically, emotionally, and mentally," Harrell said. "For some people, an 'escape' means going to a new place for a new kind of experience; for others, it's a place that’s old and familiar."

(Photo: Getty Creative)
(Photo: Getty Creative) (Thomas Barwick via Getty Images)

While Orlando, Fla., Myrtle Beach, S.C., Las Vegas, New York and Ocean City, Md., are among this summer’s most popular destinations, Harrell said the mission is to have a break from the "everyday doldrums."

For 38-year old Kristen Valenti, an 'escape' means staying close to home and keeping things simple.

She and her fiancé (along with their dog), who live in the West Hartford, Connecticut area, recently bought a trailer and are planning on taking a 3-week road trip through New England this summer. "We’re going to head up to Vermont first and spend a week hiking there, followed by Maine, and then New Hampshire."

Others, such as 27-year old musician Alissa Musto, have more elaborate plans. "I'll be spending two weeks in Santa Barbara California and two weeks in Wisconsin Dells before flying to Europe where I'll be spending two weekends in the south of Germany, performing in Waldshut, and exploring nearby Switzerland and Liechtenstein. From there, I plan on going to the Netherlands and Austria (which have been on my bucket list) and then Poland."

Like many travelers, Musto is mixing business with leisure ("bleisure") and is particularly excited about traveling internationally again now that things have opened up.

An airplane takes off from Schiphol Airport in Amsterdam, Netherlands June 16, 2022. REUTERS/Piroschka van de Wouw
An airplane takes off from Schiphol Airport in Amsterdam, Netherlands June 16, 2022. REUTERS/Piroschka van de Wouw (Piroschka Van De Wouw / reuters)

Pauline Frommer, Co-President of frommers.com, concurs. "I think we’re going to see more international travel this summer than perhaps ever before. Just look at the incredible surge of people getting passports."

During a recent House Appropriations subcommittee budget hearing, Secretary of State Antony Blinken said that the demand was unprecedented. The State Department is getting half a million passport applications a week, which is "30 to 40% above last year," Blinken said.

Rome, Paris, London, Athens and even Tokyo, which was closed last summer, top the list of popular international destinations, Harrell said.

"Bucket list travel is huge," said Frommer. “People are saying, ‘This is the summer I’m going to go to India’ or Mexico or take that African safari that they’ve always wanted to do. They’re biting the bullet and going for it.”"

Personal finance journalist Vera Gibbons is a former staff writer for SmartMoney magazine and a former correspondent for Kiplinger's Personal Finance. Vera, who spent over a decade as an on-air financial analyst for MSNBC, currently serves as co-host of the weekly nonpolitical news podcast she founded, NoPo.

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