FEATUREBy Jennifer Robertson NorrisActive rest
The purpose of personal time off is to reset and catch up on life. Whether you’re looking for relaxation or a recharge, here’s how (and where) to get all the benefits from PTO on your next trip.
There are two types of vacationers: Those who pack a book to look active while they lounge by the pool and those who pack an itinerary to dive into a city as soon as they hit land. But there are ways to get both the physical activity and the mental rest you need and do a full reset during your next vacation. These tips offer the best advice for both approaches.Tip: Just dive in.
Destination: Belize
Set your sites: The picturesque lands that make up Belize are full of places to explore — lush rainforests, Mayan ruins and the longest barrier reef in the Western Hemisphere — or beaches to rest. But the true gem is the Great Blue Hole — an underwater sinkhole 1,000 feet across and 400 feet deep. Scuba divers can take in vertical cliffs of stalagmites and stalactites. Non-scuba divers can snorkel or experience the magical colors from aerial tours. The day-long experience — by speed boat — is sure to offer an experience like no other. If you can afford to do two dive trips, the second largest barrier reef is located off the coast of Ambergris Caye.

Resorts are as diverse as the people you find living in or visiting Belize. Choose your accommodations to your preference. From simple hotel stays, extended rentals or luxury resorts like Coco Beach Resort on Ambergris Caye, there are accommodations and amenities to fit any travel taste. Coco Beach features earthy wood-paneled bungalow casitas and beachfront hotel rooms; pools, spa services, paddle boards and kayaks; and restaurants. Most resorts can assist in setting up travel tours to the Blue Hole or even a sunset cruise during your visit.
Get there: Fly into San Pedro, Belize (BZE), and then take a smaller aircraft (Tropic Air) or speed boat to your nearby island destination. Be sure to book your golf cart (main mode of transportation) to explore.
Time to escape: Between January and May
Tip: Follow the mind, the senses will follow.
Destination: Costa Rica
Set your sites: Recognized as an “easy” exotic destination for Americans to travel to — in both distance, language and currency exchange — Costa Rica is also celebrated as an eco-destination full of lush landscapes, pristine beaches and active attractions. The country is also well-known and well-traveled for hosting a variety of yoga retreats. Probably one of the more intentional self-care vacations, a retreat isn’t solely restful … but that is a standing side effect.

From sites like bookyogaretreats.com and bookretreats.com you can fashion your escape around any other passion or interest, from wellness or food to eco or sound meditation. Pick how many days, what you’re interested in and where you’d like to go and there’s a retreat for you. Accommodations and food are typically included, as are spiritual sessions, sunshine and comradery.
Get there: Fly into Liberia (LIR) for access to retreat destinations along the popular beach and San Jose (SJO) for rainforests and volcano sites. Booking transportation through your specific retreat is best.
Time to escape: Between December and April
Tip: Pack your book and your walking shoes.
Destination: Prince Edward Island
Set your sites: The fishing towns and rural communities of the north shore of Prince Edward Island inspired L.M. Montgomery’s Anne of Green Gables. The breathtaking island, located just north off the coast of Nova Scotia, will inspire your walking meditation — endless red-sand beaches, lighthouses and plentiful seafood. And you can access all of it by foot on the Island Walk, a 435-mile trail that loops around Canada’s smallest province, with marked stops along those sandy beaches, scenic viewpoints and charming towns.

The tour de foot is suited for seasoned hikers as well as novice walkers. The trail of dirt or paved road doesn’t have a grade steeper than 2%, and the entire loop takes around 32 days to complete (when walking 12 to 15 miles per day). Set your starting and stopping point or linger in one spot more than others — you set your own pace. Cycling is an option, too.
Get there: Fly into Charlottetown (YYG) through Quebec City (YQB), the providence’s capital, and book a stay at one of the trail’s participating hotels located along the path. Those hotels and other local tour organizations can help with transportation for you and your luggage.
Time to escape: Mid-May to October
Jennifer Robertson Norris has been the editor of cent$ for 15 years. For the past 25 years, she’s written about finances, the airline industry, pop culture and all things Texas for publications like The Dallas Morning News, Celebrated Living and Lights Magazine.