Nature can be the best medicine. Study after study has shown that it’s simply better for us to be surrounded by wildflowers and trees than by computers and stressed-out coworkers.
Consider a long hiking trip the shot straight into heart: the highest dosage there is. But not everyone wants a prescription whose side effects include sleeping in pop tents, squatting on the ground and shivering through sub-zero nights.
These nine trips—some along well-known routes and others one of a kind—deliver all the benefits of a strong nature immersion with none of the uncomfortable drawbacks. (Disclosure: Several of these companies have hosted me as a writer.)
The Tour du Mont-Blanc
This is about as good as slack-packing gets: a trip around one of the world’s most famous mountains rather than up it. That means challenging, beautiful climbs and descents every day—but never above where the air gets cold or overly thin—and the best of European comforts every night. While there are multiple trails for each leg of the journey, the various routes put guests in a different village in France, Switzerland or Italy each night, where they can stay in three- or four-star hotels, eat and drink in local restaurants, and pack a gourmet picnic for the following day. (I managed to eat cheese three meals a day during my trip.) Because the inns tend to book up well in advance, it’s wise to book through a tour operator.