This post was initially published on Hipmunk’s Tailwind blog on November 2nd.
If a stereotypical summer vacation entails relaxing by a pool, then a hot springs vacation could be considered a getaway on steroids. Between the soothing remedy of water and amazing rock formations, what more could a vacationer ask for?
There are amazing hot springs all over the world, from the United States to across the pond in Europe all the way to Japan. There are a couple different tactics for planning the ultimate hot springs getaway, too, from weaving a quick hot spring visit into a longer vacation to planning a route along several hot springs spots.
Either way, it’s essential to know a few basics about hot springs before you dive in.
Hot Springs 101: Knowing the Basics
The first step to making sure any hot springs getaway goes smoothly is to know what to expect. The term “hot springs” can be further divided into “wild spring” and “developed springs” — and not all destinations use the labels the same.
At a wild springs, as the name suggests, the water comes straight from the ground into a pool of sorts, where one can bath. A developed spring, on the other hand, is man-made, with pools and bathhouses built around the spring.
Once you hone in on the type of hot spring, the next key to a successful hot spring adventure is to pack properly. Some of the basics are pretty obvious, including flip flops (perhaps to wear in the water in the wake of slippery surfaces and uneven footing), a towel, and perhaps a bathing suit (although many hot springs allow nudity).
A few additional basics to keep in mind: Remember to remove jewelry, as the aforementioned minerals can ruin some metals. Generally speaking, skip bring goggles and cameras, as it’s rare to be able to see below the surface.
Last but not least, stay safe! Hot springs often live up to that name, and staying in warm water for long periods of time can lead to dehydration. Don’t bath in the hot springs more than three times per day, drink lots of water before, during and after the visit, and give yourself some time to rest afterwards. Finally, be sure to rinse your clothes and towels shortly after use because of the mineral content. You don’t want ruined clothes to ruin your amazing hot springs getaway!
The Blue Lagoon — Reykjavik, Iceland
While there are two very different types of hot springs, one isn’t necessarily better than the other. The natural option may sound superior to many, for instance, but one of the most famous hot springs is actually man-made: The Blue Lagoon in Iceland. The water begins 2,000 metres below the surface, is harnessed for electricity, then makes its way to the surface at a soothing bathing temperature, turning a beautiful blue thanks to silica, algae, and minerals picked up on the way. Folks looking to visit the Blue Lagoon can find plenty of affordable hotels in nearby Reykjavik.
Banff Upper Hot Springs — Banff, Canada
Canada is another amazing hot springs option. The Banff Upper Hot Springs, located in Alberta, are the highest natural springs in the country. Your skin will soak and relax in the sodium, magnesium, bicarbonate, calcium and sulfate present in the water, which is kept between 98ºF and 104ºF. Travelers looking to visit the Banff Upper Hot Springs can find lodging right in the town of Banff.
Ojo Caliente — Santa Fe, New Mexico
There are also lots of options for folks that would rather stay in the states for their hot spring adventure, including Ojo Caliente in Santa Fe. The pools have been a destination at least since their discovery by the Spaniards in the 1500s. The 100,000 gallons of waters are full of lithia, iron, soda and arsenic — and it’s just a quick day trip from downtown Santa Fe.