So you've decided you want to go on a retreat, adventure or wellbeing escape, but where do you start?
Good question! Especially when these days the market seems to be saturated and even as a retreat host who offers retreats and adventures, I even felt overwhelmed with all the choices, options and variations out there!
As I sit here looking for a retreat myself, it reminded me how many there are out there... and sometimes there's just too much choice, especially if you are looking for your first retreat.
Which is what inspired me to write this! So hopefully you will find this useful.
So, the key to this is asking yourself some questions 'before' you start that Google search and get swamped in all the choices out there.
Here's a summary of the questions I'd ask and what's cover in this Blog:
the Activities (or 'activeness')
'Location' / Destination
The Duration (how long for) & 'when'
Size of the group / accommodation style (and budget!)
...plus a bit more about the difference between a retreat and an adventure, if thats of interest to you?
Photo by Alexander Lorz @alexanderlorz // Morocco
Even if you know the destination and what type of retreat or experience you are after, it can still be a bit of a mind-field out there. Also when I started out in this business a 'Surf & Yoga Retreat' was quite unique and now everyone seems to be doing them.
Searching for a surf and yoga retreat myself recently, I get it!
So 'take a breath' ...and let me share some of my simple tips and questions to ask yourself to help you choose the right experience for you!
Fuerteventura Adventure by Dreamsea
Lets start with the 'big question'...
1. The 'Why'?
After all it is the reason that drove you here...
Firstly there are lots of different types of retreats and experiences out there, from relaxing weekends away with some yoga and nice food, to adventures with multiple activities and things more specific that you might be looking for, like 'detox' or 'surfing'. So ask yourself what is it you want out of this?
Are you looking for a break to relax, unwind and have some time for yourself (read a book, swim and take in the scenery, local walks, or culture)? - More about 'Yoga Retreat' at the end...
Or... are you after something more adventurous and an experience, to try something new, explore somewhere you have not been before and maybe a more 'active' retreat? A get away to really 'switch off', immersing yourself in a 'sense of adventure', to meet new people and explore - More about the 'Adventure Retreats vs Yoga Retreat and other types of experiences' at the end...
In short, if the first option sounds like you, then maybe it's a Yoga Retreat with not much else on the schedule and somewhere close to the things you want to do, I.e. ocean to pool for swimming, or an area with walks, good restaurants, local culture. If the second one sounds more appealing and what you are after, then it's likely you'll be looking for a combined retreat like a 'Surf & Yoga' or 'Yoga & Foraging', or 'SUP & Yoga Retreat' that involves other activities.
So this then leads us nicely onto the next point...
2. The activities ( or 'activeness'?)
Are you someone thats like to be 'active' on holiday, or want do you want to try new and different things. Or you might just want to 'stop' and do as little as possible... this is important when choosing a retreat.
Some retreats offer a mix of activities, like Surf and Yoga (both activeness and and mindfulness - the perfect combo!) and they also offer you the choice to do 'what you want' out of all the activities on offer. For example, our 'SUP, Surf & Yoga Retreat' this June, was a 'flexible' retreat offering you the opportunity to do it all, mix and match or do simply as little as you want and just enjoy being looked after and the good food!
You might want to go hiking, foraging, swim with dolphins, do loads of yoga, horse riding, or have time to enjoy some relaxing activities like a spa and massage treatments. Or maybe you are looking for a fitness retreat to kick start some goals you are working on.
So what is important to you (...this is part of your 'why'?)
Is there an activity that inspired this idea?
Do you want to try/learn something new or develop an existing hobby i.e. learn to surf, or improve your surfing technique?
Do you want to try/do more than one thing i.e. surf and yoga, hiking and foraging, cooking and yoga?
*TIP 1*: It's all good a well heading off on a fitness retreat to improve your fitness, but I recommend building your fitness/strength/stamina a little, before you go, so your not just exhausted by day 2!
*TIP 2*: Ask questions before you go, the retreat hosts are always more than happy to talk through their retreat/experience and by chatting to someone you might find it's not quite what you were after, or find out more about the retreat and 'getting to know your host' is not a bad thing either... you'll be spending a good amount of time with them! These conversations often leave you feeling confident and inspired about your choice.
The above will already be helping you narrow down choices and options and here's a few more to help...
3. 'Location' / Destination
Whether you have a destination/location in mind already or just browsing to see where or whats on offer, here's some questions to help make this decision
Are you looking for a UK Retreat or Abroad?
Did you have a destination in mind which inspired this trip i.e. have you always wanted to go to Bali?
What sort of weather are you expecting or wanting, warm weather or a cooler climate?
If abroad, how far are you willing to travel, i,e. Portugal and Morocco are more accessible and under 4hr flights from uk, but Sri Lanka, Bali and Costa Rica adds travel days (not just hours! But that's part of the adventure too)
Do you want to be in a location close to local attractions, cities/towns, or the airport, or off the beaten track to immerse yourself?
Do you want to be by the sea, or some water, or inland (where do you visualise yourself on this dream escape)?
Check out the costs of flights (which are not included in retreats and experiences), as well as the cost of things in that location (to build a budget!)
Most retreats are all inclusive (or at least half board) so wherever you are, it is likely you'll be catered for and the retreat hosts will pick destinations that suits the type of retreat and offering they are providing (i.e. if half board, there will be plenty of options locally to to eat, with choice). So in most cases you'll have what you need and won't need to worry about this side of things. Again to be sure... "ask" retreat hosts if you have any questions.
*TIP 1*: Do your research before you commit, I.e. check flights, where you flight in and out of. As well as that onward journey because dependant on where the retreat is, you might still have another 5hr travel once you land in some destinations like Santa Teresa in Costs Rica (hence why most trips in these locations are usually 10 days for destinations like these). As well as what the weather/temperature is like that time of year.
*TIP 2*: Check if the equipment provided or if you have to bring your own? Most yoga retreats now encourage you to bring your own yoga mat and surf retreats offer some basic boards (beginners boards) but you might not have much of a selection otherwise, so look into whether you want or need to bring your own equipment.
*TIP 3: If travelling abroad, check the climate at that time of year, especially if you are wanting to escape from the uk to warmer climates, there are also rainy seasons and cooler months in these destinations and equally it may be too hot! It's very hot in Morocco in July and a time to avoid travelling to somewhere like that... and might be the reason why the flights or trip are cheaper!
*TIP 4: If travelling abroad, check your passport expiry date!!
Then as we have touched on already... there's the length of you stay.
Photo 1. Morocco Adventure by Filipe Neto @filipe_neto // Photo 2. Sri lanka Adventure //photo 3. Cornwall Retreats
4. The Duration (how long for) & 'when'
By now, you've worked out your 'why', your 'type' of retreat or adventure and destination and now this next question has either worked itself out (based on the above), or maybe you hadn't thought about how long you want to go away for or how much annual leave you have? Which could then change your decision and either 'open up' or 'limit' your choices.
How much time have you got and do you want to escape for?
Do you want to arrive a few days before/after to settle in or relax/explore afterwards?
Does your travel option dictate a few things i.e. flights, connecting travel (trains, drive to airport, transfer length, etc)?
"Tip 1" - Check the start date and 'day' because some retreats might start mid week. Also long weekends are great, because it includes weekends and less annual leave to take)? Which is why we offer 5 day/4 night retreats and adventures over the weekends, a nice long trip but you only need to take 2-3 days off!
Lastly one other very important factor, which is sometimes a 'key' factor for some... the 'food'.
Morocco Longboard Adventure
5. The Food
Whether it is a dietary requirements or just the food you love, this can be a big deciding factor in choosing your retreat. As well as, whether you want your retreat to be fully catered for. Or do you want to have the time and opportunity to explore the local restaurants, cafes and culture?
Some retreats might also offer a different type's of food to the local cuisine or a mixture. so do check this out, if it is important to you. For me... I like the surprise but usually you know whether its vegetarian or not and all will cater these days for all dietary requirmrnets.
You will also find most retreats are vegetarian or vegan based and if you are a meat eater, do not be put off, you'll learn a few things from there private chefs on these retreats, who will inspire your tastes buds with their creative and delicious meals they provide.
6. Size of the group / accommodation style (and budget!)
This for me is very important! I am not looking for a ' surf camp' or large groups, for me it changes the whole experience, but I appreciate that for some, this is part of the fun!
You will pay a little more for smaller groups but you will find the more luxury retreats and experiences will have smaller groups of around 8-10, rather than 20 odd people or more (and get lost in the crowd)!
Also the age group might be a factor for you too. You'll find the bigger the group (and 'Surf and Yoga Camps) will be cheaper - which is great if you have to watch the budget. However you won't necessarily get that much time with the hosts, yoga teachers, etc and the accommodation will probably be more shared and dorm-like rooms (sharing with 3+). Watch those cheaper experiences as they often advertise the base cost and then you are left to organise things like your own transfer, or add on the surfing and yoga or experience and by the time you add it all up, it'll probably end up costing you more in time and money!
Do you want to be in a big or small group?
What type of accommodation are you after, Private room or Shared?
Are you wanting an all inclusive luxury retreat or a budget surf camp style of experience?
Are you travelling solo, or with a friend/s or partner?
Are you willing to pay that little bit more for the luxury of your own space and a smaller group to connect with and get to know the teachers and hosts?
Think thats most things covered but feel free, as a 'retreat host' and 'business owner' (offering many different styles of retreats and adventures), to get in touch and "ask" us some questions, if there is something I've not covered above.
Or check out our other Journal/Blog posts that'll give you insights into our retreats like our 'Women & Water Retreat' (September and June) and 'Sri Lanka Adventures', and many many more; Fuerteventura, 'Devon Yoga & Foraging'... and get inspired by our 'past retreats' and destinations we've been too that often come back due to popular demand!
Keeping reading if you would like to know more about what a Yoga Retreats and Adventures is like and and what to expect. As well as a typical schedule looks like on a surf & yoga retreat... there's a lot of yoga, so don't be put off by the fact it includes surfing (if thats not for you), because the whole experience and the destinations we go to (uk and abroad) offer so much, that you'll easily fill that time in other ways while others are surfing!
You could be topping up your tan, exploring the area, finding other activities in the area (which we'll help you to arrange)... or reading that book you still haven't gotten round to by the pool enjoying that well earn't rest you deserve.
Morocco Longboard Adventure
Yoga Retreat 'vs' Adventure Retreat?
There are loads of different types of Yoga Retreats out there from style, whats included and activities. Here's more useful questions to ask yourself if looking for a yoga retreat (if yoga is your focus):
Do you have a particular type of yoga style you enjoy (Vinyasa, Yin, Kundalini), or are you flexible?
Do you want a more physically challenging or mindful/mediative practice and experience, or open to both?
Is there a something specific you'd like to learn about in yoga or mindfulness in general?
*TIP 1*: Recommendations are always my first 'go to' and often people you might attend the same class with or even your teacher would be a good place to start - as you have something in common.
*TIP 2*: Research the yoga teacher, because even if you know your yoga and style you like, because this is your time and your money and there's nothing worse than day 2 realising that you don't connect to the yoga style or teacher. Check their social media, types of classes (attend their classes online, or in person if you can!), and other events/retreats they do. A great way to get to know them and build and relationship.
*TIP 3*: Check the schedule, for how much yoga and the timings, because some yoga retreats start their day early! So if you don't want to start your day at 6.30am, check out the sample schedule or ask the host/company before hand.
Are you someone thats like to be active on a holiday, or want to try new and different things. You might also just want to 'stop' and actually do as little as possible... this is important when choosing a retreat.
Retreats will allow you to do as much or as little as you want.
We offer both Retreats and Adventures and they are named accordingly, for example, if you take our 'Sri Lanka Adventure', we offer surfing twice a day for 7 days plus yoga, and an optional excursion on your day off and if this is too many activities and you want more of a relaxing holiday with time to chill and do your own thing, then and adventure might not be what you are looking for.
Adventure Retreats and other types of experiences
We separate these out, because there's more activities and it is more of an adventure! Either, to an exciting destination, for a longer duration, or more than one activities and a little more active. However the schedule is always flexible and activities optional, So you may not want 2 surfing sessions a day and just the morning session, which is absolutely fine... enjoy more time to chill or even explore in the afternoon.
The schedule and options are there for you to enjoy as much as what you want or as little as you feel like.
Most people come away feeling energised and inspired, after an adventure! Maybe having found a new hobby, or just enjoy having the time to spend on a favourite hobby or activity (which they would otherwise not have the time to dedicate this amount of time to). While meeting some great news friends and like minded people along the way!
See example schedule below...
Cornwall Surf & Yoga Retreats
Here's a typical schedule on our Cornwall Surf & Yoga Retreats:
7.30/8am (1hr) - Morning Yoga
9am - Breakfast
10.30 (2hrs) - Surfing
1pm - Lunch
2pm - 6pm (3hrs) - FREE TIME / Massages
6pm (1hr 30m) - Evening Yin/Restorative Yoga
7.30/8pm - Dinner
Our schedule is flexi's with you and we are your walking schedules, so you do not need to check the time, remember where to be and when as we will guide your day for you, while you sit back and relax.
On an Adventure Retreat, there will probably be 2 surfing sessions or a surf in the morning and another activity like a SUP Adventure in the afternoon and 1 yoga session a day (but we do sometimes have 2 yoga sessions on a couple of those days, or a yoga Breathwork or sound bath experience or another evening ...but go with your flow and what you guys feel like!).
Morocco Longboard Adventure // Sri Lanka Adventure // SUP, surf & Yoga Cornwall Retreat
So I hope you have found that useful and thanks for reading!
If you are interested in joining us on a retreat or adventures this year, we have our 4 night 'Women & Water Surf & Yoga Retreat' in September and a 7 night 'Portgual surf & Yoga Adventure' left this year. Then our newly launched 7 night 'Morocco Longboarding & Yoga Adventure' in April 2024.
We welcome you to get in touch and chat to us, even if there isn't something on the calendar atm, we also offer 'bespoke Retreats' for individuals, couple and groups (tailored for you!), as well as online and day retreats that pop up here and there!
So ask... you never know.
Enjoy checking out out 'past retreats' and travel Journal (blog) for inspiration!!
Big Love Amanda & Joe xxx
(your friendly fun hosts!)