As much as we love it, international travel can be stressful. Lugging your luggage to and from the airport, hoping said luggage isn't lost in the air travel process, being in a place where you may not speak the language, trying to keep track of your passport — the list goes on and on. Finding some serenity is possible outside of your home country though, especially if you plan a relaxing trip to one of the most peaceful destinations in the world.
There's no question which country takes the crown of "Most Peaceful" — Iceland has topped the Global Peace Index (GPI) for the past seven years. Despite being the home of filming locations for some epic Game of Thrones battles, Iceland is friendly, safe, and full of places to chill. Venture outside hip capital Reykjavik to experience Secret Lagoon, a hot spring just a short bus ride away. It's the oldest swimming pool in Iceland, and the water stays at a consistently toasty 100-104 degrees Fahrenheit year-round. In the winter, you can soak and take in the wonders of the universe by watching the Northern Lights above. Maximum relaxation achieved.
The government of Bhutan is so focused on people’s happiness that they invented the term, Gross National Happiness (GNH). Tucked in the beautiful mountains between India and China, Bhutan is a little hidden Buddhist kingdom. The people are friendly and the architecture is truly inspiring. While there are plenty of opportunities for meditation and musing in Bhutan, you can also push yourself with a more intense self-discovery experience. The Snowman Trek is a several weeks long hike (19-24 days) through the Himalayas, temples, and forests of a unique country. Travelers test their limits on this extreme hike, but it could be just what you need to find satisfaction with yourself.
The friendly Kiwis are known around the world for their cool accents, senses of humor, and being from Middle Earth. Unlike The Lord of the Rings trilogy though, New Zealand is not plagued by trolls, orcs, and long wars. 90 percent of immigrants say that they would recommend New Zealand to friends and family. Of course, with almost 9,000 miles of coast with jagged mountains, golden beaches, and azure water, we're pretty sure there's more than one reason why New Zealand should be on your bucket list. "Calm" is spelled Y-A-C-H-T in New Zealand. Yacht cruises come in whatever form your inner contentment takes: fishing, swimming, scuba diving, or simply basking in warm sunlight and gorgeous vistas.
When it comes to tranquility, being kind to Mother Earth can't hurt. Switzerland is one of the most environmentally sustainable countries in the world and invests heavily in renewable energy and eco-friendly products. If you want to get away from hectic city life, the Swiss countryside has remote Alpine huts for rent. These rustic cabins are located across the region and give you the quiet you need to reflect but still have easy access to skiing and hiking to keep your body as healthy as your mind.
Spirituality is strong in Japan — from Zen gardens to ancient temples to elaborate shrines — the country is a monument to the divine. The city of Kyoto still has all the markings of traditional Japan: cherry trees, mountains, and peaceful gardens. It is also home to more than 2,000 temples and shrines, giving you all the space you need for quiet contemplation.
Peace and happiness go together like chocolate and peanut butter, so Denmark is a natural addition to this list. Year after year, it's named one of the happiest places on earth. With plenty of castles and manor houses, it's easy to create your own fairytale while in Denmark. Whatever stress you bring with you will melt away while you're getting cozy and pampering yourself.