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Simon Ma on Wellness Tours
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Simon Ma on Wellness Tours
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Simon Ma on Wellness Tours
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8 January 2019

Simon Ma on Wellness Tours

Interview by Lizzie Marton

Travel has the ability to restore our mind-body connection—stepping into the unknown can often bring to the fore possibilities that we can’t see through the fog of our everyday lives. It’s a sentiment shared by Dumbo Feather alumni Pico Iyer who says, “Anybody who travels knows that you’re not really doing so in order to move around—you’re travelling in order to be moved.” Sometimes, when we’re looking for answers and trying to heal ourselves, travel and adventure can be the medicine we need. Here we chat with Simon Ma, brand manager for G Adventures Wellness Tours, about the healing properties of slow travel, and how he incorporates this wisdom into each adventure he curates.

This story originally ran in issue #57 of Dumbo Feather

LIZZIE MARTON: So I’ve been thinking a lot lately about what defines a meaningful trip. And for me it comes down to connection—to people and the environment. I’d love to know what your tips are for travelling more meaningfully, and how to better make these connections when we’re in unfamiliar lands.

SIMON MA: I think one thing that’s really great about G Adventures is that we’re a social enterprise. When you take on a G Tour, like Nepal for example—we all know about the Nepal earthquake about five years ago and that tourism was one of the primary activities that the locals had in order to make a living—there is a giving back that happens. Tragically, this massive earthquake took place and these people were left without a job. When we open the Langtang tour, the tourist dollars will stay within that area for the most part, and that helps them rebuild their lives again. So I think there’s that very tangible and functional aspect for people travelling. But also there’s this idea that when travelling, you’re taking a journey to a destination, but also a destination within. I think there’s a really high demand right now, when it comes to health and wellness, for people to experience a transformation after coming back from a trip. That can be about setting intentions and meditation—not just exploring new destinations but asking, What does that do for my wellbeing as a person.

“Wellness” is a bit of a buzzword right now, and can mean a lot of different things to different people, so I’m curious to know what it means to you in the context of the G Adventures Wellness Tours?

I think for G Adventures, wellness encourages our travellers to slow down a bit which is really important at this time when we’re being bombarded by noise and there is so much information in our daily lives. We’re hoping that the wellness experiences will allow travellers to take their time to savour not only the healthy nourishing food but also the surroundings, and yourself.

We’ve all heard of the idea of needing a holiday from your holiday, and as a counter to that, slow travel seems to be becoming more and more popular. We can feel more connected and present in our experiences when we’re not rushing. Why is this idea of rejuvenating travel so important?

I think because we’re working longer hours and working harder for our dollars—there’s a lot more competition now. And technology plays a huge role in the way we communicate. If you put all those things together, the currency of time becomes scarce and we don’t have time to treat ourselves. When a person works from nine to five in a competitive industry, it’s not uncommon for them to grab something quick for lunch, as opposed to taking the time to think, What is it I’m putting in my body? Our wellness program has three key pillars. One is mindfulness, so there are activities like yoga and meditation and being able to experience authentic local rituals and activities. For example, in Thailand, travellers will be able to learn how to do an authentic Thai massage. And in Bali, there are healing rituals designed to help our travellers have a better understanding of who they are within the world. Then there is our movement pillar which incorporates activities we can do that sit within your lifestyle—maybe you’ve always wanted to try stand up-paddle boarding or do some snorkelling. Lastly, there is nourishment—which is food. We want to make sure that they’re eating healthy food for the entire journey.

This story originally ran in issue #57 of Dumbo Feather

This story originally ran in issue #57 of Dumbo Feather

It’s interesting that you say that, because in this issue of Dumbo Feather we’re also featuring writer Cheryl Strayed, and she talks about when she reached the bottom point in her life, she hiked the Pacific Crest Trail. She describes it as a time of walking back to herself, as well as a process of healing that came with that physical journey. Is the relationship between travel and healing something you’ve considered when creating these trips?

Absolutely. I think with any trip you take, whether it’s at a beach for five days or doing something a lot more historical and cultural like a National Geographic Journeys trip, once you get home there will be a sense of transformation. That’s why people love to travel so much—because it helps give you a better perspective, most of the time, on your own life. In most of our trips there will be an intention-setting ceremony, so people can talk about what it is that they would like to accomplish throughout the trip, and then the idea is that after they come back we want to send them a message and say, “Oh you mentioned that you wanted to do so-and-so on your trip, hopefully you’re still on the trajectory of accomplishing what you set out to do.” Just a gentle reminder that you wanted to change something or you wanted to improve something and that you don’t forget what your goals were.


For the chance to win a G Adventures Wellness tour in Costa Rica, tell us what you think about Dumbo Feather in our annual reader survey here

Designed to recharge the body and nourish the mind, G Adventures’ new Wellness Tours offer the perfect balance of awe-inspiring destinations and must-see highlights with rejuvenating activities, healthy food choices, and slow-paced travel. G Adventures Wellness Travel Style is available to book now, and the first trips will start running on June 9, 2019, Global Wellness Day. For more information, head to gadventures.com.au/wellness

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Lizzie Marton

Lizzie loves all things digital, and gets a buzz out of running our social media channels. She first fell in love with storytelling and journalism when reading Pamela Bone’s columns as a teenager, and hasn’t been able to keep herself from writing ever since. When not absorbed in making Dumbo Feather’s site beautiful, you will most likely find her listening to, talking about and editing podcasts.

This conversation is supported by our friends at G Adventures.

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