Each trip’s page will have more specific FAQs for your experience, but here’s a general list of our most frequent queries. Please click the red plus sign or the question itself to expand the answer.
What do I need to know about passports and visas?
Your passport should ALWAYS be valid for at least 6 months after the return date of your trip. For example, if your trip ends of March 1, 2018, your passport should be valid until at least September 1, 2018. You also need at least TWO blank visa pages in your passport. Although some countries have less stringent requirements, its good to use that as a guideline. You can check specifics here at the U.S. State Department.
Every trip on our website will list any specifics regarding your visa and recommended timelines if you must apply beforehand. If you’re curious, you can always check Project Visa, as well.
OK, then what about malaria?
Your specific trip page will list any specific concerns about mosquito-borne illnesses. We request that you work with your physician or travel doctor when making these choices. Please see our blog about this topic for more information.
Any tips on how to stay healthy on tour?
Head over to our blog “How to Stay Healthy While Traveling…Naturally!” to read about some of the tips we employ on our 24/7/365 travels.
What should I bring?! What do I wear!?
Each trip will have its own packing list, due to changes in weather and microclimate patterns. However, here are some things we typically recommend for ALL trips!
- Ear plugs and eye shades to help you sleep better and recover from jet lag more quickly. BJ swears by this! Click here for more of our tips on preventing and dealing with jet lag.
- Good sunscreen. Lauren prefers mineral-based ones like Devita: good for you, good for the environment. How do you know if it’s mineral based? If the active ingredient is either titanium dioxide or zinc oxide—that’s it. They might be a little pricier initially, but a little goes a long way.
- Daypack or camera bag. (If you need a recommendation on a camera, BJ would be happy to help, just email him. We can discuss what type of photography you like, how much you want to spend, and how much you want to lug around.)
- If you do bring your camera, don’t forget extra batteries and/or your charging cord! You may want to think about an extra memory card, too.
- A few packs of travel tissues isn’t a bad idea, to keep on you for public restrooms.
- Wet wipes and/or hand sanitizer. Nothing replaces good ol’ hand-washing, but this will work in a pinch. We are fans of Cleanwell products, as they are alcohol-free, which means they won’t dry your hands out.
- Ladies will want to bring any necessary feminine hygiene products with them.
- Plug adaptor for electronics. Here’s a nice example of a great universal adapter and here’s one with USB ports, as well.
- VERY IMPORTANT! A print out of your RETURN airline ticket itinerary; you’ll need this to enter the airport to get home. You can also have it readily accessibly on your phone (you may want to save it as a photo).
- Photocopy of your passport and your visa, just in case you need them.
- A small travel umbrella, if you wish; can work for rain OR as a parasol
- Small notebook and pen for journaling purposes, if you desire
- Enough of any prescription drugs you need, as well as over-the-counter needs. We recommend Imodium (anti-diarrheal), a probiotic (Lauren is a BIG fan of Jarrodophilus EPS), as well as melatonin and Benadryl for jet lag purposes.
- We will have wifi at all of our hotels, if you want to stay in touch via your smart phone or tablet. Don’t forget your chargers! We recommend setting up Skype, FaceTime, or another wifi-based calling service before leaving home, and familiarizing your loved ones with it before you leave.
How do I figure out my international flight?
Ah ha–that’s the magic question! That’s one of the biggest perks of traveling with us. BJ is an expert at finding the best flights for you, depending on your location, any airline preference or reward mile programs, and any desired layover. He regularly saves our guests hundreds of dollars and countless search hours.
Let's talk "talking"—should I bring my cellphone? Is there wifi?
We’ll put specifics on your trip page, but generally speaking in ALL of our locations, wifi is available in our accommodation and many (if not all) restaurants. We recommend bringing your phone or tablet to stay in touch via wifi. Not only can you email and use social media, but there are plenty of convenient VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) services to call and text, such as WhatsApp, Skype, Viber, and more.
An international phone plan is a very personal decision, based on how much you need or want to stay in touch, and what plans your carrier offers. If you have an unlocked phone, you may be able to get a Sim card in the destination country, but this isn’t always an easy or quick process. If you have questions about this, let’s chat about the specifics of your trip!
What about vaccines?
Each trip website will have specifics about vaccinations. Currently, none of our destination REQUIRE any vaccinations for travel (unless you are coming from a country with a risk of yellow fever).
We must recommend that you work with your physician or your area’s travel health expert to decide what options are best for you for each destination. You can check Passport Health‘s page to locate a clinic near you, although your county’s health department may have a travel department that offers the same vaccinations at a better price.
You can read the CDC’s recommendations here and the Scottish NHS recommendations here.
Do I need Travel Insurance?
Please hop over to RetreaTours.com/Travel-Insurance for more info about what is required for our travels!
I have food allergies or dietary restrictions—can I be accommodated?
When you register for a trip, you’ll be completing a questionnaire that asks about any food allergies. However, if you have questions whole considering a trip, you can always email us.
Generally speaking, though:
- Gluten allergies are manageable is most of our destinations. We ask that you find the appropriate translation at celiactravel.com and print out a card for our destination, especially for times when you may want to eat on your own.
- Pescetarians will do just fine in all of our destinations, and will absolutely adore Lombok, Peru, and Ecuador.
- Vegetarians will find delicious things to eat in all of our destinations, although the variety may not be what it is used to at home. There’s not a lot of faux meat in the international market, so you’ll be enjoying the bounty of local fruits, vegetables, and grains.
- Vegans should fare as well as vegetarians, with one exception: India. Although India is a vegetarian paradise, they are the world’s largest consumer of butter. While in India, many vegans we know adopt what is locally referred to as a “pure veg” diet: no meat, no eggs, but it allows for dairy consumption. (It is worth nothing that some of the reasons for avoiding dairy consumption in the west is slightly mitigated here, as there is less factory farming and antibiotic use in livestock.) However, milk can easily be avoided by not consuming creamy dishes or milk tea.
- Paleo diets are quite manageable in most of our destinations, given that you consume eggs and meat.
For guests with many allergies, you may want to invest in creating a specific allergy care and having it translated here: allergytranslation.com
I don't have food allergies, but I am a picky eater. Am I going to starve?
Nope, no starving on our trips!
If you’re unfamiliar with the local cuisine while traveling, it can appear scary at first (especially due to shows like Bizarre Foods!) However, not only are most local specialities accessible to a wide range of palettes, but “Western” food is available almost everywhere we travel. If you’re tired of local options or are in need of comfort food, there’s rarely a shortage of pasta, pizza, burgers and the such. No judgment from us, either (we put away our fair share of pasta in Bali and sushi in Mexico!)
How much money do I need? And how do I bring it?
- How much money should I bring?
That is entirely up to you and how much shopping you want to do, as well as your love for extras like massages, alcoholic beverages, etc. All of your meals and transportation is covered on most of our trips, so you just have to gauge how much you want to spend on extras. Please check your trip’s “Price & Inclusions” tab to see exactly what is and is not included in your trip cost.
- How do I get the local currency?
You can either exchange cash while in-country or use a local ATM (which we prefer). Better yet, a combination of both! Just make sure you call your bank and credit card company to let them know you’ll be traveling so they don’t put a hold on your card when they see it being used halfway across the world!
- Can I use a credit card?
For large purchases (rugs, furniture, textiles, etc) many shops will take credit card (although they might charge a percentage on top of your credit card company’s international fee). For smaller items, count on using cash only, generally speaking. We’ll give you more tips on your trip’s page.
I would like to extend my trip—can you help with that?
We would LOVE to, and we have some great ideas for you depending on what you want to see and do on your extension. Just let us know and we’ll start planning for you—for free!