Start planning early
Especially if you are planning your first yoga destination, start your initially research around a year before your planned departure date.
Make vacation-planning fun. It doesn’t need to feel like another chore. Set aside time to do some online research and also make sure to talk to your friends who have taken similar vacations.
Start with a list, which should include:
- Activities that you want to try (aside from practicing yoga).
Be as general or as specific as you like. For ‘destination’, you can write ‘yoga retreat in Europe‘ or even decide on a specific location in Italy. Consider various yoga styles and whether you plan to travel alone or with a friend or partner.
Tip: Use Pinterest boards to save ideas for everything! From destinations to activities and even outfits.
Set a budget
Every project needs a budget, and planning a vacation is no exception. You can use a travel budget sheet to help you keep track. Start with a general budget and then drill down by categories.
You can also save by booking your vacation online or by using your miles to get a cheaper flight. On top of that, you can try alternative means of transportation.
The best part is that you don’t have to lower the expectations. There are ways you can still have an amazing time and not spend a fortune or go in debt.
Tip: If you prefer apps, use Expensify to keep track of your budget.
Look for the most suitable destination
Easter Island or the Maldives sound like amazing destinations for a yoga retreat for couples. But just how far these places are from where you live?
Here is some information:
- It takes 17 hours to fly from New York to Easter Island
- It takes 21 hours to fly from Los Angeles to the Maldives
If you only have less than a week to spend on your yoga vacation, you don’t want to be on a plane for almost two days. A better idea is to look for destinations closer to home. If you live in the US, a yoga retreat for couples in the Caribbean can be a great choice.
Marie-Carmen, travel blogger and photographer at The Orient Excess reminds every traveler of the importance of choosing a suitable vacation destination for couples: “Forget the usual beach holiday, why not consider a country that has always intrigued you? An adventure that will stay with the two of you forever? Pick Thailand for the culture, for the smiles, pick Japan to step in another world, pick Europe for the history, pick what talks to you the most. To both of you. “
Next up on your list is the weather. The Caribbean is a great choice for any vacation. That’s perfect but only if you plan to go there during the winter. You don’t want to be on a tropical island during the hurricane season. On the other hand, the Northern Hemisphere can be quite frosty in winter. Places such as Canada in the Americas, or Sweden in Europe may look amazing under the snow, but they are not good choices for everyone. If you choose an early summer month, Southern Europe is a good idea. You can decide to go on a yoga retreat in Italy or explore the superb coastline of Portugal.
Where budget is a concern, consider a less popular time to travel. Shoulder season travel offers the best value for money in terms of airfare and accommodation.
Tip: Find a destination to match your budget rather than the other way around.
Pay attention to the requirements to enter a country
When traveling internationally, it is extremely important to remember that we need to ensure that we have the right to enter the country we plan to visit. For this, you need a valid passport. So the first thing you need to do before you plan your trip is to check when your passport expires. As a rule of thumb, it should be valid for six more months after your return date.
Secondly, you need to check if you need a visa to enter the country. The regulations change quite a lot and your best bet is to always verify what you find online with the embassy of the country you are visiting.
Tip: Check the visa requirements before you book anything.
Choose a good airline
Deciding on a ‘good’ airline to fly depends a lot on your travel style and how you set your expectations. Yes, all flights can be delayed or canceled, but some airlines excel at this. Likewise, any airline can misplace your luggage, but, again, some airlines seem to never learn to do better.
With that being said, low-cost carriers are an excellent option for budget travelers. On short hauls, they usually include a piece of hand luggage with the ticket, but not much else. Some won’t even include that (we are looking at you, Spirit!). Keep in mind though, that sometimes even commercial airlines won’t include checked luggage on short hauls (yes, KLM, that’s you in Europe!)
For long hauls, airlines still include at least a piece of checked luggage (and at most two) with an economy ticket. Preferred seats typically cost money, though.
Tip: Use these ratings to decide which airlines you should consider.
Book in advance
Book your yoga retreat and airfare at least six months in advance. Generally speaking, for international travel, airfare and accommodation are cheaper four to six months prior to departure.
Learn to take advantage of your credit card and the miles (or points) you may have accrued with your favorite airline. While they won’t pay for a full ticket, you may as well take that free upgrade or additional free piece of luggage, right?
Avoid having to make any changes to the airfare or accommodation later. While changes on accommodation are easier and cheaper to tackle, the story is not the same for airfare. Many cheap tickets may not be changed at all and those that can, carry a change fee on top of any fare difference you need to pay.
Tip: Sign up for fare alerts for the flights you are interested in.
Purchase travel insurance
This is something that many people tend to overlook but make sure to have travel insurance. Why? Because the right kind of insurance can protect you against a lot of things: from delayed flight to lost luggage or stolen goods. Most importantly, it can save you a lot of grief during emergency situations or medical issues.
Tip: Make sure the insurance you choose covers the activities you plan to enjoy (eg. scuba diving)
You really don't need to pack half of your closet for your yoga retreat. But you don't want to go explore a religious site and not have anything proper to wear, either. Pack smart and think layers.
For a yoga and writing retreat on the beach, consider packing a light-weight dress and a pareo or cardigan for the evenings. You may want to leave your high heels at home if you plan to visit Europe, with its old, cobblestone cities. Also, it’s worthwhile to consider packing that ultra-light waterproof jacket no matter where you’re headed.
Ashray and Zara, long-term travelers and bloggers at Backpack ME agree: “[...] make sure you pack light! The less stuff you carry with you, the more flexibility of movement you'll be able to enjoy. Also, get a bag with wheels and don’t strain your body! Your energy should all go towards enjoying your trip ... without having to waste time packing, unpacking, repacking and carrying heavy luggage around!”
Tip: Roll your clothes to maximize the space in your carry on.
Share your travel itinerary with a person you trust
All travelers should know this basic safety advice: share your travel itinerary with at least a person you trust. Like it or not, things do happen and it might be useful and even life-saving if your loved ones know how to find you when necessary.
Revati & Charles, married couple and bloggers at Different Doors explain: “You don't want to bump into anyone you know or be inundated with calls/ texts. By all means, switch off, but only after you've left a detailed itinerary with that one best friend or relative who knows where to contact you, but won't unless it's absolutely critical.“
Tip: Have an ICE (in-case-of-emergency) contact saved in your phone.
Relax and enjoy your yoga vacation!
Take this travel time as an opportunity to relax. Make sure you plan for a balanced mix of activities and down time. You’ll most likely be spending a lot of time on yoga during your trip but be sure that you don’t jam-pack your itinerary that you’ll barely have any time to actually relax. Set aside some free time to lounge around at the beach or perhaps book yourself an indulgent spa day. This way, you won’t need to have another vacation to recover from your trip!
Tip: Include a “free day” in your itinerary which shouldn’t have any activity planned in advance.
Put these yoga vacation planning tips into practice and choose one of the yoga retreats available at BookYogaRetreats.com. You can browse a large variety of ideas and book the one which suits you best.