DIY Forest Bathing for Wellness Travel on a Budget

September 11, 2023   9 Comments »

Have you heard of Forest Bathing? Forest bathing isn’t a bathtub in the forest, or a jump in the lake, or even running nude through the forest – it’s simply a forest walk.

What is Forest Bathing

Mindful forest walks, called Shinrin Yoku, started in Japan (not sure that walking in the forest really has a starting point?) seem to be making its way to our vocabulary and are considered part of wellness travel.

I doubled over in laughter when I recently received this press release in my inbox; it reminded me of just how crazy marketing is. Marketing has a brilliant and equally annoying way of making something out of nothing.

“ Another growing trend, forest bathing, is brilliant in its simplicity: walking through a forest and reaping the benefits of the phytoncides the trees and plants give off. “Phyton” means “plant” in Latin, and “cide” refers to the natural substance that a plant gives off to kill microorganisms. Research in Taiwan has shown that limonene phytoncide promotes sleep, helps fight anxiety, and eases pain. In Japan, a forest bathing experience, called Shinrinyoku, is regarded as being similar to natural aromatherapy. It has now become a recognized relaxation and/or stress management activity.”

Wellness Travel is Complicated

It’s no wonder that in our world of constant reach-ability, where ‘being busy’ is like a Girl Scout badge that most people are brainwashed into wearing proudly, that the idea of Wellness Tourism has popped into our vocabulary.

Wellness tourism is travel for the purpose of promoting health and well-being through physical, psychological, or spiritual activities. Think yoga retreats (like the one I did in Panama), fasts, spa vacations, and probably anything organic. And of course forest bathing.

Most of this type of travel is all about Zen, and it’s also all about money. Spas are not cheap – and neither are yoga retreats. Somehow we have made something that is supposed to be about simplicity – very difficult to attain and afford.

We seem to make everything so complicated and unattainable…even our happiness.

But for me the answers to wellness are pretty simple – they lead back to nature. And I don’t think nature should be expensive.

How to Keep Wellness Travel Simple and Affordable

This is one of my favorite quotes on the simplicity of wellness:

“Wouldn’t it be worthwhile to put aside a little time each day – even just fifteen or thirty minutes – to forget your work and observe closely that flowers are blooming, and the wind is blowing, …After all, this isn’t the kind of place you can come to any time, and it would be a shame to let this experience go by unnoticed.” –Mishio Hoshino talking about Alaska

A wellness vacation doesn’t have to break the bank. On my recent Northern California Road Trip  I realized that one doesn’t need to drop a bunch of bucks to do wellness travel at all. In fact, my favorite way to recharge doesn’t require a reservation or a credit card at all. It just requires some walking shoes and a hat.

simple forest bathing redwoods national park

Tree Travel in California

I’ve walked through many woods and on many hiking trails, but for me, there was something special about the Coastal Redwoods in Northern California. I’m not sure if it was just the sheer size of them that made me feel small or insignificant or if it was the lack of sunlight that made it through the tall giants.

Walking through trails in the Redwoods National Park and along Avenue of the Giants was completely calming. I could only hear the babbling streams and the occasional creaking of a tree in the wind. I just wanted to be still and listen…and that’s what I did. A cool dewy temperature, a little fog, the soft spongy trail carpeted with branches, leaves, and ferns – why spend money at a wellness spa when you can simply come and take a walk in the woods?

As I stood in the middle of the redwoods at dusk and just listened for a while, I thought about how these sounds reminded me of the music they put on at spas when you have a treatment – the calming sounds of a forest. And here I was at the ‘root’ of it all. I didn’t need to pay money to hear pre-recorded sounds while I sat in a sterile environment indoors, I could simply drive here myself to walk and just listen.

sun streaming through tree forest

Take a Walk in California’s Redwoods…It’s Free Forest Bathing!

forest bathing redwoods national park
affordable forest bathing california
Avenue of the Giants Redwoods
forest bathing redwoods national park
wellness travel redwoods national park
Redwood bark wellness
forest bathing redwoods national park
giant redwood trees

Forest Bathing Books

If you want to do more than just walk in the woods and listen to the sounds around you as I did, then maybe you want to look further into meditation and the Japanese version of Forest Bathing. Here are a few books that can help you stay focused and get the most out of your walk in the woods.

Your Guide to Forest Bathing

Experience the Healing Power of Nature

Buy Now
03/24/2024 01:02 pm GMT
My pick
The Nature Fix

Why Nature Makes Us Happier, Healthier, and More Creative

Buy Now
03/07/2024 03:47 pm GMT
Shinrin Yoku: The Japanese Art of Forest Bathing

The Japanese Art of Forest Bathing

Buy Now
03/08/2024 08:17 am GMT
The Secret Therapy of Trees

Harness the Healing Energy of Forest Bathing and Natural Landscapes

Buy Now
03/08/2024 07:47 am GMT

4 Other Forest Bathing Destinations Around the World

Most of my travel is focused on nature; apparently, I’ve been forest bathing all around the world. Trees hold a special place in my heart, in fact, I’ve even planned trips to see specific trees – I call it tree travel. So where else besides the California Redwoods can you go for tree travel?

Great Bear Rainforest

I’ve been lucky enough to visit the Great Bear Rainforest in BC Canada twice, and both times it had a profound impact on me. It spoke to me in ways that surprised me, and I often spoke back to it. It is said that people go to the Great Bear Rainforest to have a conversation with nature; it’s the gateway into Mother Nature’s soul. I highly recommend going to visit the giant 1000-year-old ‘Mother Tree’ affectionately named The Big Cedar near Bella Coola. It might just be the gateway to your happiness.

big cedar tree great bear rainforest
The Big Cedar
giant trees in a forest

Hawaii’s Rainforest and Surprising Pine Trees

You might be surprised to hear that you’ll see much more than palm trees on the Hawaiian Islands. Some of my most memorable forest walks have been on the islands of Hawaii – specifically Lana’i where you’ll find big Norfolk Pine trees that feel completely out of place in Hawaii!

norfolk pines lanai hawaii
This is Hawaii!

Lana’i has some of the largest pine forests in Hawaii – yes, pine forests in tropical paradise! There’s no better way to see them than on foot – where you can slowly take in their majestic beauty, aroma, and texture. While on the Koloiki Trail I loved simply stopping, standing completely still, looking up at the towering pines, and listening.

Discover things to do on Lanai – not your typical Hawaiian Island

The Tiny Trees of the Arctic Tundra

I looked ahead at the forest in front of me astonished. We were going to have to slash our way through the ‘forest’ of Willow trees in order to make it to the viewpoint. I followed along in our guide’s boot steps through the tundra and the willow trees admiring their fall leaves. But at times they were so dense that I was barely able to find my way out of the forest. Never mind that the willow trees were only 3 inches tall!

Everything lives close to the ground on the high arctic tundra of Wrangel Island in order to protect themselves from the wind and cold temperatures. And the higher in the Arctic you go, the shorter plants/trees get.

tundra plants willow
The Willow tree forest on the Arctic Tundra

Go to where Forest Bathing Began and Hike Through Japan’s Kumano Kodo

Trees, Trees, Trees. I hiked the multi-day Kumano Kodo trail underneath the shade of these giant Japanese cedar trees. It was a spectacular challenge as well as an exercise in tranquility, and nature. If you just hike the Kumano Kodo trail you are going to miss out. You have to take the time to stop, sit, and listen to the stillness. You’ll hear the birds, the leaves blowing in the breeze, and the bugs – it will sound like nature’s symphony.

kumano kodo hike trees

I love trees so much that I have a Pinterest Board solely dedicated to tree travel!

Whether you call it Forest Bathing, Tree Travel, a walk in the woods, or Wellness Travel – it’s all the same. Just get out into nature, slow down, and enjoy the peacefulness around you.

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