The June 2019 issue of Travel + Leisure magazine did a deep dive on the topic of Wellness Travel, a fascinating topic in part because it means so many different things to so many different people. Is it focused on meditating and yoga? Pampering and relaxation? A tough-love approach to healthier living?

Well, yes—all of that. And more.

To help us better understand these types of getaways, we asked T+L Special Projects Editor John Wogan to join us on the California Now Podcast. Right out of the gate, podcast host Soterios Johnson asked Wogan to define the category, and he did.

"In one sense, all leisure travel is Wellness Travel," Wogan said, "in that being away from the daily grind and office life is, I think, inherently a healthy thing. In the last couple of years, 'wellness' has really come to mean self-improvement. People now go on a trip with intention, whether it's physically, mentally, emotionally—they want to improve something about themselves. That's how we generally define it, as a chance for reflection and self improvement, and that means different things to different people."

Wherever you fall along this spectrum, Wellness Travel is growing.

"It's become hugely popular and it's still on the rise," Wogan confirmed. "I think because people are working harder today than ever before, we're always connected, we're always checking our email, we're on Slack, people bring their laptops home with them every night. We get a sense that there's this yearning to kind of get away from office life, and to just take a break from the stress and all the anxiety that stems from all of that. So much of modern life is not conducive to good health, so people are looking for some kind of transformation and just want to feel better."

Wogan and Johnson talked about three distinct types of Wellness Travel during this episode: spiritual retreats, embodied by places like the Esalen Institute in Big Sur; luxury spas like the Ojai Valley Inn; and bootcamp-style getaways like The Ranch Malibu

The category transcends resorts, certainly, and continues to defy description. To hear the full interview, and to learn some strategies for planning a Wellness Vacation of your own, listen to the California Now Podcast and check out T+L's California guide