Trip at a Glance:
- February 16-28, 2015 (12 days & 12 nights)
- Minimum 7 guests, maximum 12 guests
- Guests are met in New Delhi, India
- We travel to Agra (India), Amritsar (India), Kathmandu (Nepal), and Varanasi (India)
- Daily yoga, meditation, and kirtan with Cheryl Chaffee
- Accompanied by BJ & Lauren from Insight Travels
- $2999 (double occupancy rate)
I Want In!
Send us an email to start the registration process immediately!
Join us on this 12 day & 12 night journey to experience yoga and meditation in sacred spaces across India and Nepal. We’ll visit the timeless Taj Mahal in Agra; take in the breathtaking Golden Temple and spiritual center of the Sikh religion in Amritsar; delve into the compassion of Tibetan Buddhism in Kathmandu; and explore the lifeblood of Hinduism–the Ganges River–in fascinating Varanasi!
Click through the tabs below for a daily itinerary, price, registration, photo album, FAQ & more.
- About Cheryl
- About BJ & Lauren
- Daily Itinerary
- Yoga & Kirtan details
- Price & Registration
- Registration Questions
- Photo Album
- Packing List & Other Important Info
- About our Accommodations
- Travel Insurance
For yoga students at any level, Cheryl Chaffee, ERYT-500, is a versatile teacher who knows how to give clear, concise instructions that cultivate optimal alignment in both body and spirit. Her themed classes set a positive tone and create a supportive, loving environment in which students revel in their own and each other’s accomplishments. She makes an effort to know her students and uses her knowledge of alignment and anatomy to give options that allow classes to flow for all levels, teaching progressively to more challenging poses.
Cheryl is a unique teacher in the way she models that yoga is not just an exercise done on the mat, but a mindfulness practice that can be taken into everyday life. She is currently involved in Seva Yoga projects including fundraising for her local food bank, and teaching free weekly yoga classes to Veterans. Cheryl is also a musician and lover of kirtan, and leads monthly kirtan gatherings with her harmonium.
Cheryl was first certified in TriYoga while concurrently undertaking her yoga studies with Betsey Downing and Jaye Martin in Sarasota, FL, and was certified in Anusara Yoga at the RYT-500 level in 2010. She has studied with highly qualified teachers including Amy Ippoliti, Bill Mahony, Christina Sell, Desiree Rumbaugh, Douglas Brooks, John Friend, Kali Ray, and Todd Norian. She completed Yoga Therapy training with Martin Kirk in Arizona in 2010, and BoomerPlus Yoga Therapy Training with Amy Kraft in 2013. Cheryl is currently immersed in a 9 month Living Ayurveda course with Cate Stillman, to integrate more of the science of Ayurveda into her teaching.
A skilled instructor since 2005, Cheryl enjoys teaching students of all ages and abilities, and always looks for the beauty in students’ poses and hearts. One of Sarasota, FL’s favorite yoga teachers, she is the current owner and director of the Garden of the Heart Yoga Center.
Click here for a sample of Cheryl’s clear, supportive, and heart-driven teaching style; when you click this link you’ll be taken to a YouTube video tutorial, walking you through the steps of a Sun Salutation (Surya Namaskar).
Not only are you going to be under Cheryl’s expert care, but you’ll have two more seasoned travel professionals accompanying you on your trip! BJ & Lauren created Insight Travels in 2010 with one goal in mind: to make world travel accessible, authentic, and astounding. In order to focus fully on this passion, they moved out of the U.S. in early 2013 to reside full-time in Asia. Each day is spent exploring new destinations, strengthening local ties & relationships, and creating memorable, transformative, engaging retreats and tours (aka, RetreaTours™!)
BJ & Lauren take great pride in the trips they offer, as they can personally vouch for every hotel, every restaurant, and every activity that you will experience. They craft each element of the trip with intention, and they understand that it is this careful attention to detail that sets them apart. Fueled by their passion, armed with know-how, and supported by knowledgeable local contacts in all of their destinations, BJ & Lauren set the scene for the vacation of a lifetime.
They provide not only on-the-ground support and guidance during the trip, but they are available to answer any and all questions before the trip begins. From giving advice on the best flights and travel insurance to providing a packing list, FAQ, information about local food, and even a tiny “phrasebook,” BJ & Lauren pride themselves on these ‘nuts & bolts’ of personalized service. In addition, as a guest, you receive free travel consulting services (normally a $200 value) should you choose to extend your travels in Asia; let them help you plan your post-retreat adventure in Singapore, Bangkok, or beyond!
As one of their most ‘frequent fliers’ put it recently, BJ & Lauren make everything easy for you. Once you arrive in your destination country, your trip is all-inclusive—your meals, transportation, lodging, site fees, donations, and tips are all taken care of. The research has been done, the itinerary carefully laid out, the reservations made, the t’s crossed and the i’s dotted. All you have to do is show up and take in all your destination has to show you! So….let’s get going!
This is our intended itinerary, but we always remain open and flexible to the desires and needs of our guests. Plenty of time will be built into your experience to explore on your own, shop, and discover with friends old and new!
February 16th, New Delhi:: Namaskar & Welcome! We will meet you at the airport in New Delhi when your flight arrives (typically at night); we’ll stay near the airport so that you can relax straight away, in anticipation of tomorrow’s journey to the Taj Mahal. Do you remember when you first saw a photograph of the Taj Mahal and pictured yourself there?
February 17th, Agra:: We’ll take the fast train (2 hours) to Agra in the morning (and return to Delhi that evening); you’ll enjoy the scenery along the way, as you get a glimpse into India’s verdant countryside. When we arrive in Agra, we’ll head to the breathtaking Taj Mahal. It is said that a thing of beauty is a joy forever; we will tap into the heart energy that inspired the creation of the most awe-inspiring monument to love on planet earth. Experience your own beauty, grace and nobility as we explore the monument within.
Today is also an important Hindu holiday, Maha Shivaratri. This evening’s yoga and kirtan will be dedicated to Shiva and Shakti. Cheryl will teach about the 5 acts of Shiva, and we can join together in Shiva chants (such as Om Namah Shivaya and others!)
February 18th, Amritsar:: Today we fly to the spiritual center of the Sikh religion, Amritsar. We have found the Golden Temple to be one of the most spiritually electrifying places on the planet, and we will have plenty of opportunity to perform Seva, or selfless service, within the temple. Their kitchen (or langar) serves free meals to 50,000-100,000 people per day, and we can participate in the thoughtful preparation of those nourishing meals. If we wish, we can also contribute by washing the beautiful white marble flooring that surrounds the sacred pool, supporting the feet of pilgrims from all over the globe.
We will focus on yoga practices to open our bodies, minds, and hearts to the possibilities of infinite love. One day we will focus on back bending, to open the heart; one day we will focus on hip openers, to feel grounded in our foundation; and one day we will focus on forward bending, to remember our humility and feel connected to Spirit.
February 19th, Amritsar:: This morning we will continue exploring the Golden Temple, serenaded by the sometimes soothing, sometimes invigorating live kirtan taking place inside the central temple and piped into the surrounding areas.
February 20th, Amritsar:: Being immersed in the kindness of the Sikh religion is always a cherished experienced for our guests. This religion is renowned for its fierce dedication to equality amongst all, with a focus on service to others. If you wish, there are plenty of locals who would love to engage with you and share with you all about the Sikh way of life; however, you can also sit among the cool marble columns and meditate on the reflections in the holy pond. The Golden Temple is a special, special place and everyone seems to find their own favorite way to spend time there. The proximity of our hotel makes it possible for you to visit the temple at all hours, day and night; where will your favorite spot be?
February 21st, Kathmandu:: Today we’ll bid farewell to Amritsar and head to the electric colors of Kathmandu, Nepal (via Delhi). We’ll stay very close to the stupa at Boudhanath, one of the most important pilgrimage sites in Tibetan Buddhism. Our guesthouse is a just a few minute walk from the stunning white stupa, draped in vibrant prayer flags that float with the breeze. All day and into the night pilgrims circle the stupa clockwise, activating a powerful prayer of compassion, Om Mani Padme Hum.
February 22nd, Kathmandu:: There are many beautiful temples with rich histories in this area that we will visit. Swayambhunath is venerated by both Hindus and Buddhists alike, as Buddha is considered the 9th incarnation of Vishnu. This temple is sometimes called the “Monkey temple,” for reasons you’ll soon see! Another special site is Pashupatinath, a complex of temples dedicated to the Hindu god Shiva in his form as Lord of the Animals. A beautiful spiritual site, it’s also a very popular place for early morning workouts, sports games, and relaxation; visiting just after sunrise provides a nice window into daily Kathmandu life (along with a nice view of the valley, including the Boudhanath stupa!)
February 23rd, Kathmandu:: Cultivate self-compassion and open your heart in a destination unparalleled for kindness. We will have the opportunity to visit the Women’s Workshop and the Children’s Home connected with our guesthouse and learn more about a fantastic organization that’s making a true difference in this area. Today we can also visit nearby Patan, one of the 3 ancient royal cities in Kathmandu Valley, featuring some of the finest temples and palaces in all of Nepal. This is also a great place to pick up some fair-trade Nepalese handicrafts and art! Today we can practice our standing poses–standing tall and mighty as the Himalayas surrounding us–so that we may feel tapped into the power within and express it fully through our bodies.
February 24th, Varanasi:: We head out of Nepal today and aim for one of the holiest pilgrimage sites in Hinduism, the city of Varanasi, India. Situated on the banks of the Ganges River, Varanasi is a spiritual hot spot–and you can feel it in the air! While our accommodations in Varanasi are modest, we have the most spectacular views of the river in all of the city, perfect for photography, meditation, or just watching children fly kites. Kite flying looks like a simple task, but just wait until you try it for yourself!
February 25th, Varanasi:: We will tap into the energy of the Ganges with river-inspired yoga—sometimes along the sandy banks of the river itself. Learn to flow and let go. Experience the integrity of your own sacred journey as you shed karma and cleanse the soul metaphorically. (No need to dip in the actual sacred waters themselves…although you certainly can!) The can’t-miss location of our hotel makes it easy to wander around the ghats without the worry of getting turned around or lost. And wander you will, as every square meter of Varanasi has something interesting and novel to offer!
February 26th, Varanasi:: We will experience life along the Ganga, taking sunrise boat trips up and down the ghats (the steps leading down to the river). The ghats along the river teem with life in the early morning, from pilgrims performing their ceremonial pujas to residents performing their daily ablutions, washing clothes and brushing teeth. We’ll also experience Ganga Aarti, a ritual performed along the river that uses fire as an offering and as a way to cleanse karma; it’s quite a moving performance. We can watch it from our own boat or from land—or we can do both on 2 different nights, as it takes place just a few hundred meters from our hotel.
February 27th, Varanasi:: Sarnath is one of the holiest Buddhist sites, as this is where Buddha offered his very first teachings after enlightenment. Just an exciting 45 minute auto rickshaw ride from Varanasi (grab your camera!), we can spend time exploring this revered holy site. How many Bodhi trees will you spot? This morning we’ll perform a hip-opening practice, to prepare us to sit in padmasana (lotus pose) under a bodhi tree just like the Buddha. And if you’re willing to tear yourself away from delicious aromatic Indian food, we’ve sourced a few great organic, vegetarian cafes in Varanasi for lunch and breakfast–who’s up for a salad?
February 28th, Varanasi to New Delhi:: Having experienced the beauty of the Taj Mahal, the profound strength of Amritsar, the compassion of Kathmandu, and the devotion of Varanasi, we head back to our respective corners of the world (via Delhi) to continue the work that we have begun. More than a vacation or get-away, this empowering experience has honed the tools you already possessed for a satisfying, full life. Where will we meet again?
- Daily pranayama and meditation practice each morning (between 30 and 45 minutes). [dropshadowbox align=”right” effect=”raised” width=”250px” height=”” background_color=”#ffffff” border_width=”1″ border_color=”#dddddd” ]Click here for a FREE Restorative Yoga class sequence designed by Cheryl![/dropshadowbox]
- Daily asana practice will be between 1 and 2 hours, depending on the day’s activity schedule. They will be mixed level classes, based on the experience of our guests, and will vary from day to day. Some days we can do back bends, other days hip openers, other days focus on twists, etc. Variety is the spice of life (in Asia)!
- We will also experience and participate in the beauty of kirtan, a traditional call-and-response singing of hymns and prayers of gratitude and devotion. This beautiful tradition is sure to make your heart sing!
“I was first introduced to kirtan through yoga. There was live music at a yoga workshop I attended, and afterward the musicians stayed and led kirtan. I thought it was so strange, so foreign, and so weird how the participants were chanting and swaying and clapping their hands. It made me feel uncomfortable! But there was something about it that was intriguing, uplifting, and inspiring, so I stayed and allowed myself to let go, just a little bit at first, into the vibration and the words and the music. And afterward, I felt so good. I felt like I was polished from the inside out.
“While kirtan is a very traditional practice, and the mantras are ancient, I put them to modern, Western melodies that allow me to connect more fully to the music without feeling like an impostor. In our kirtan sessions together, I will teach you the meanings behind the mantras, explain the Sanskrit words, and teach you the tunes so that you can sing along and receive this wonderful uplifting resonance from within. A good singing voice is not required! Anyone can do kirtan, even if you feel you can’t carry a tune. It’s the practice of repeating the words over and over that matters, that allows the vibration of the words to infuse your spirit.”
The all-inclusive price for this trip is $2999, based on double-occupancy rooms. If you wish to have your own private accommodation, there is an additional $270 single supplement in order to provide you with your own room. If you wish to join in a double-occupancy room but don’t have a roommate, please contact Lauren and we will do our best to match you with a suitable partner who is also looking for a roommate (although we cannot guarantee one!)
All-Inclusive makes it easy for you! Included in your yoga journey is the following: all lodging; all meals; all the water, tea, and coffee your heart desires; all transportation in and between India and Nepal; daily yoga & meditation classes; site entrance fees; all tips and donations. We also provide a dedicated guest phone for international calls home. Guests are responsible for: plane fare to and from India, required travel insurance (we recommend World Nomads), their India visa (will have to send away for it; contact us for details), Nepal visa (available on arrival, $25 USD), any additional beverages (alcohol, specialty beverages), souvenirs, and extra excursions/optional activities.
How do I sign up?
1. Send Lauren an email at [email protected] and tell us that you’re interested! You can also leave a message at 941-363-1065; as we are most likely on Asia time, we will call you back as soon as we possibly can. We’ll also address any questions you may have about the trip. We will send you a contract that you will return with your deposit.
2. Fully reserve your spot by paying the non-refundable deposit of $700 and returning the contract. We love checks (made out to “Insight Travels, LLC” and sent to the address on the contract) and we’re now accepting credit card payments via PayPal. You can find the form below. There is a minimum of 7 guests that must sign up in order for this trip to take place. We will hold your deposit & payments until the minimum number of guests have signed up. If the minimum number of guests have not signed up 3 months prior to the departure date, we’ll give you the option to transfer your reservation to another tour or fully refund your money.
3. Fill out the Registration Questions in the next tab on this page.
4. You’re in! Now you need a plane ticket to India; we’ll help you with details about flights to Indira Gandhi International Airport in New Delhi.
You will need to scroll down within this window to complete the questions. If you have problems scrolling, you can always use your tab button to get to the next box. Please hit “Submit” when you are finished.
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- Will I need a visa? What about a passport?
Yes and yes! Your passport should not expire 6 months before the end of the scheduled trip. That is, if the trip in January 1 – January 15, 2015, your passport should be valid until at least July 15th, 2015.
You will need to apply for your Indian visa before you leave home. After you sign up for the trip, we will send you details about how to do this along with a timeline. Your Nepal visa will be available at the airport for $25 USD; you will also need one passport photo for your visa. You are responsible for your visa costs, although we will help you through the process!
- What vaccines do I need?
We travel in countries where no vaccines are required for entry. However, we encourage guests to work with their own physicians or their local health department’s travel vaccine department about these choices. The CDC’s site (http://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/destinations/traveler/none/india) is also a good thing to check, but know that they tend toward the overly cautious side.
We recommend all people traveling in Asia receive a Hepatitis A vaccine, Typhoid vaccine, and make sure their Tetanus vaccines are up to date.
- Should I take malaria medicine?
When people envision traveling in Asia, they almost certainly imagine a landscape think with vengeful mosquitoes; we’ve found that couldn’t be farther from the truth. We actually often comment to each that we can’t believe how few mosquitoes we encounter on our travels!
While you need to discuss this question with your doctor, we feel that the minimal risk of malaria only warrants a bit of “bite-prevention.” Neither of us take any anti-malarial medication; rather we use common sense approaches to prevent being bitten, including long sleeves/pants at dawn/dusk, mosquito repellant, and mosquito nets at night when necessary. There is no vaccine for dengue fever, which is also transmitted via mosquito bite, so taking the above precautions is important all around.
- How will I get by without knowing the local language?
If English is your first language, you are truly in luck. We are constantly amazed by how much of Asia speaks English—and relatively well, considering it’s usually their 3rd or 4th language!
That said, we always like to provide you with a few words that will go a long way, including the local greetings and words like “Delicious!” and “See you later!” It’s not required, but it always elicits a smile and we think it’s only right to learn at least a few local words. Even saying “Namaskar” can make some locals think that you speak fluent Hindi!
- What about food? I don’t know if I like Indian/Nepali food!
This seems to be a common concern amongst our guests, and certainly within our own families. [Lauren’s mom thinks we don’t eat (HA!) and BJ’s mom thinks we live on nothing but fried tarantulas and intestines, thanks to shows like Andrew Zimmern’s Bizarre Foods. In all fairness, though…we have eaten tarantulas.
We will always give you the scoop on local foods and delicacies; sometimes the dishes often sound exotic (like Aloo Gobi) but are usually quite accessible (Aloo Gobi = “Potatoes and Cauliflower.”) Even if you don’t want to venture into local fare, almost every single restaurant in India has Western food on the menu, everything from pizza to fries to pasta. One of our favorite restaurants in Kathmandu has amazing & authentic Japanese food! So no worries (and no judgment) if you’re craving comfort food—it’s available!
- I have food allergies/intolerances or I’m a vegetarian/vegan—will I be OK?
One of our Registration Questions you’ll answer when you sign up for a trip asks about any food allergies or intolerance you may have. Our answers depend on the areas you’ll be joining us. Gluten is also avoidable in India and Nepal by choosing rice over chapatis and other local breads. Vegetarians should have no problem anywhere on our travels.
The only thing that might be a bump in the road is veganism in India. Although meat is entirely avoidable, India is the world’s largest consumer of butter and it is almost unavoidable in most of their curries, stews, and even breads. Many vegans that I have known to travel through India 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). Milk can be avoided by not consuming creamy dishes or milk tea.
Celiactravel.com has GREAT printable cards in local language to present to restaurants and hotels about your intolerance of gluten. Click here for the Hindi version. If you have multiple dietary needs, it may be worth your while to check out these specialty cards, available in 60 different languages. Let’s talk more about your specific needs—drop us an email and ask!
- Do I have to hang out with the group or can I adventure on my own?
You are more than welcome to participate in all or none of our scheduled group activities. We don’t want you to feel like you are at Travel Boot Camp–this is your vacation after all! That said, we plan our outings carefully in order to make them the most pleasant (best weather, fewest tourists, etc) so some of our activities DO take place around dawn. If that’s not your cup of tea, feel free to snooze away! Just make sure you have the hotel business card to show to taxi drivers (or helpful people on the street) in case you get turned around!
- Do I need travel insurance?
We require that our guests carry travel insurance because it just makes sense. It’s a relatively small expense but affords huge peace of mind!
When choosing a travel insurance policy we require that you are covered for medical expenses including emergency repatriation. We also recommend you take out trip cancellation insurance, as this may cover cancellation penalties in certain circumstances if you have to cancel your trip unexpectedly due to illness, injury or unforeseen circumstances.
We like World Nomads, but ultimately you have to choose the one that is right for you. If you’re 70 years old or older, you’ll have to use a different company; we like Travel Guard. We’ll be asking for confirmation of your travel insurance 60 days before your departure. Please click on the “Travel Insurance” tab on this page to get a quote. We love the services of these companies so much that we became affiliates, so we would ask that if you do choose to purchase these policies, you do it through our links.
- What about money? Can I use credit cards? Will there be ATMs?
Don’t count on using credit cards except for very large purchases (furniture, rugs, etc); most stores will only take local currency.
There will be ATMs at every destination, but some cities have them few and far between. ATM fees can be high (although some banks, like Charles Schwab, refund all foreign ATM fees) so plan to get out a large chunk of money instead of getting a lot of small withdrawals. ATMs are a very convenient way to get local currency, though.
Make sure you alert your bank and credit card companies that you will be traveling abroad so they don’t put a hold on your card when they see it being used overseas!
- Can I smoke? Will other people be smoking?
None of our hotels allow smoking in the room and we don’t allow it during group dinners or other group activities. Yes, that means no smoking during yoga class, even ;) That said, smoking is not uncommon (typically by other foreigners) and should you need to, you’ll be able to find a spot outside to do the deed.
- How many people are going?
A minimum of 7 guests is required to make this trip happen, and we’re only taking up to 12 guests total. We will hold your deposit & payments until the minimum number of guests have signed up. If the minimum number of guests have not signed up 3 months prior to the departure date, we’ll give you the option to transfer your reservation to another tour or fully refund your money.
PACKING LIST & OTHER IMPORTANT INFO
Here are the average (Fahrenheit) lows and highs for our destinations on this trip (keep in mind these are the averages—we won’t know until the trip gets very close if there are any funky weather patterns going on that would cause fluctuations in temperature. To see record lows & highs for the times we’ll be there, you can visit each city’s Wikipedia page.)
Delhi: 50 to 76
Agra: 55 to 85 (we’ll only be there during the day, and it will be warm!!)
Amritsar: 45 to 75
Varanasi: 57 to 82
Kathmandu: 45 to 70 (it WILL be chilly at night!)
As you see, temperatures run the gamut from 45 (just a couple nights) to the mid-80’s, so know that layers are going to be your best friend on this trip! Here is a suggested packing list, clothing first and accessories (including YOGA accessories) second.
Note: the weight limit on our flights overseas will be 44 lbs (20 kg), not the 50 lbs that you may be used to domestically. You can certainly bring a full-sized suitcase, but we can’t guarantee porters everywhere we go, so make sure you can handle your own suitcase. If you prefer to only bring a carry-on, you’re welcome to do that, as well.
Other note: BJ and Lauren live out of their suitcases year round and they swear by packing cubes! Rolling your clothes (instead of folding) and using packing cubes make packing a dream!
Although more and more Indians are adopting Western wear, traditional clothing is very prevalent and modesty is the name of the game. Once we’re in India, there are many shops where you can purchase beautiful and inexpensive clothing to wear for travel and yoga.
Women: Please do not wear clothes that are tight, transparent or show too much skin or underarms. This means no tank tops or halter tops. We also discourage wearing form-fitting “skinny” jeans and shorts/skirts above the knee. Instead, we recommend wear loose fitting clothing such as long skirts, pants, capri-length pants, and blouses or Indian kurtas. This is to not only to show respect for the culture but so that you don’t draw unwanted attention to yourself.
Men: We suggest pants (no shorts) and shirts and no tank tops. While shorts are not verboten, you won’t see any locals wearing them.
> 5+ pairs undergarments; you can always have them washed or wash them in your bathroom
> 3-5 pair light cotton pants or long skirts. You may want to bring leggings (2 or 3 pair) to wear under your long kurtas, tunics, skirts or pants on chilly mornings or evenings (again—it’s all about the layers!) BJ is a fan of nylon pants, as they are lightweight and easy to clean. Fleece pants might be nice, and good to sleep in (remember, the nights are going to be in the mid-40’s in Kathmandu!)
> 4-5 cotton t-shirts, blouses, or long sleeve shirts. You can always have laundry done at the hotels, but bring as many as will make you feel comfortable.
> A light sweater/cardigan for chilly India morning or evenings, and a heavier sweater or medium-weight jacket for Kathmandu mornings (mid-40’s to 50’s). A light-windbreaker might prove useful for early morning boat rides on the Ganges if your sweater/jacket doesn’t protect you from the wind. We may also opt as a group to do some rooftop yoga in Kathmandu overlooking the stupa at Boudha, so a sweater you can wear over your yoga gear might come in handy.
> Bring a few pairs of socks. Light wool (like SmartWool) or tech socks work very well, but whatever socks you have will be just fine. Good for on the plane and when we’ll be doing some walking.
> Sleeping attire
> Comfortable walking shoes. Boots aren’t at all necessary and can be cumbersome when going in/out of monasteries/temples. Sneakers or comfortable slip-ons will suffice.
> A pair of sandals or flip-flops, if you wish. They’ll be convenient for around the hotels, local excursions, and the Golden Temple (when you have to check your footwear at the door). Walking sandals (such as Teva’s or Chaco’s) would also work.
> Sarongs are super handy for so many reasons (men and women). Makes for a good cover-up, eyeshade, pillow, scarf, napkin, tissue, etc. These will be readily available early in our travels.
> A hat with a brim is a pretty good idea for our daytime adventures.
> And, of course, whatever clothes you feel comfortable doing yoga in :)
> Yoga Mat. Because of the unique nature of this RetreaTour™ and the traveling we’ll be doing on airplanes, you will need to bring and carry your own mats. There are plenty of travel mats available on the market if you don’t want to bring a full-size mat (which you are more than welcome to!) Lauren likes these Khataland mats, and if you use this link or the promo code “matt,” you’ll get 5% off. Cheryl can also place an order through her studio for travel mats and pass the discount along to you (for more on this, email [email protected]).
> Any other yoga accessory you think you may need. If you like using a strap, bring one; if you can possibly squeeze a light block and/or blanket into your case, feel free.
> As far as a travel pouch/purse, we love the Pacsafe Pouchsafe 125, 150 or 200 at pacsafe.com, to carry passport, money, etc. This is only if you’re in the market for something new.
> Ear plugs and eye shades to help you sleep better and recover from jet lag more quickly. BJ swears by this!
> Good sunscreen. Lauren prefers mineral-based ones: 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.
> Daypack or camera bag (or, purse, for ladies, if you so choose). (If you need a recommendation on a camera, BJ would be happy to help, just message me. I’d find out 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.
> At least one bandana, as they’ll come in handy for wiping hands, faces, covering heads, etc. Though they’ll loan us a bandana at the Golden Temple, you can wear your own head covering—a nice idea.
> Pillow (inflatable or regular). Not necessary, but the quality of the pillows varies from place to place. We don’t bring pillows but some people may like their own. Only if you have room!
> Toiletries. Not all of our hotels are guaranteed to have shampoo and none will have conditioner, so be sure to bring some of your own if you require it.
> People tend to think they need to bring toilet paper to India—not true! However, bringing a few packs of travel tissues isn’t a bad idea, to keep on you for public restrooms.
> Wet wipes and/or hand sanitizer.
> Ladies will want to bring any necessary feminine hygiene products with them, as they can be scarce in India.
> Plug adaptor for electronics: you’ll need a 2 pin adaptor common across Europe (Read here to learn more about adapters vs converters:http://www.rei.com/learn/expert-advice/world-electricity-guide.html). Here’s an example of a good adapter/converter (the only one you’ll ever need!):http://www.amazon.com/Kensington-33117-International-Travel-Adapter/dp/B0002H4YUI/ref=sr_1_3?s=electronics&ie=UTF8&qid=undefined&sr=1-3&keywords=travel+plug+converter
> VERY IMPORTANT! A print out of your RETURN airline ticket itinerary; you’ll need this to enter the airport to get home.
> Photocopy of your passport and your visa, just in case you need them.
> A small travel umbrella, if you wish; can work for rain (which we’re not expecting) OR as a parasol
> Perhaps a small notebook and pen for journaling purposes
> Mosquito repellent. While we are visiting these areas in dry season and malaria is not endemic to any of these cities, it’s still better to be safe than sorry. Consider repellants based in natural essential oils, such as citronella. Click here to read a blog post by BJ about malaria (and dengue):http://www.retreatours.com/2014/06/the-buzz-malaria-mosquitos-in-south-and-southeast-asia/
> Enough of any prescription drugs you need, as well as over-the-counter needs. We recommend Immodium, a probiotic (Lauren is a BIG fan ofJarrodophilus EPS), as well as melatonin and Benadryl for jet lag purposes (read BJ’s take on jet lag here: http://www.retreatours.com/2014/05/how-to-dramatically-lessen-the-effects-of-jet-lag).
> 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! Also, we will have an extra phone with an India SIM card for quick calls home (although for longer calls 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).
We choose our hotels in India based on a few factors, including location, safety, cleanliness, price, and the good relationships we have with owners, managers, and staff. It’s always nice to be greeted like family and have that warm welcome extend to our guests! We value staying in locally owned establishments which then feed into the local economy, instead of staying at international chain hotels.
We like people to understand where they will be staying during their vacation, as India’s accommodations often vary from those of other countries. India is a special, magical place with its own unique facets and quirks, and staying in Indian hotels is just another way to experience this beautiful country and its culture.
India doesn’t have the broad range of hotels that you may be used to in other countries, particularly in North America & Europe. There are very high-end hotels (like the fabulous Oberoi chain), and there are India’s mid-range hotels (we won’t get into the low budget hotels & hostels!) Of course there are a few hotels here and there that ride an area in-between, but they are often not worth the dramatic increase in price and are very rarely centrally located.
However, India’s mid-range hotels aren’t the equivalent of western mid-range hotels (such as the Hampton Inn, Hyatt Place, Holiday Inn, etc). While they are safe and clean, they very often show their age prematurely and the beds may be firmer than you’re accustomed to. All of the hotels we stay in have Western style toilets (as opposed to squat toilets); in addition, all the hotels do have hot water and wifi, although a little patience might occasionally be needed sometimes for both. Indian hotels love their air conditioning, so no need to worry about that!
Location is crucial for us. We want our guests to feel as if they can explore on their own during their down time, so we find hotels that are close to the action (while still being as quiet and private as possible). On this trip, we have hotels that are just a few hundred meters (if that!) from the main attractions, allowing for easy exploration at your leisure.
One reason we do not list our chosen hotels on our website is because we have spent much time and money discovering these places over the years (BJ has been staying in some of these hotels for 12 years!) We feel that some of them are hidden gems and don’t want to give away our trade secrets!
During these retreats, we will be acting as a small group most of the time and meeting for early morning yoga. It is much more convenient to have the group in one hotel, as you can imagine. However, in a few of our locations, we would have the ability to “upgrade” you to a different hotel at your own cost, and you would be responsible for the cost of transportation back & forth from the group. In some locations, we absolutely do not recommend it, based on the unparalleled location of our chosen hotel.
Finally, we like to make these small group trips affordable for a broad swath of interested travelers. If you decide that you’d rather not attend the yoga retreat but instead experience India in luxury on your own, we can certainly help you design your own custom, private tour of Indian high-end resorts and boutique hotels, using all of our resources, knowledge, and connections. However, we do believe a lot of the experience is lost if you only travel this way throughout India.
Thanks for reading—we hope to see you soon!
We’re big proponents of Travel Insurance. We believe it instills a sense of security and assurance that sets a positive tone for the entire trip, and this is part of the reason that we require it for all Insight Travels & RetreaTours™ trips. We’ve done much research and found that we prefer World Nomads for our guests age 69 and younger (click here to learn more about World Nomads). For our guests 70 and older, we prefer Travel Guard (click here to learn more about Travel Guard). We believe in each of these companies so strongly that we’ve aligned ourselves with them as affiliates. If you choose to purchase policies through these companies, we ask that you please use these links so that we may continue to grow our relationship with them.
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Here are some bonus downloads from Cheryl & Garden of the Heart!
Krishna Das sings the Hanuman Chalisa
Hanuman Chalisa Lyric Download
Click here to download a PDF of the lyrics to the Hanuman Chalisa, a perfect way to celebrate Hanuman’s birthday!