Frequently Asked Questions
Air travel releases carbon into the earth’s atmosphere. What can be done to make air travel to your retreats more sustainable?
This issue is so important to us! It is also more complicated than one might at first believe. For example, we recently learned that the effects of industrial agriculture and factory farms create more CO2 than all travel (ground, air, sea) combined. So, a person’s diet plays a huge role. We believe in making these types of life changes. When possible, it is good to take advantage of carbon offset programs linked to air travel.
I do/do not have a lot of yoga experience. Will I fit in?
Whether you are very experienced or not experienced with yoga, this is your opportunity to treat yourself by enjoying the warm company of others interested in fitness, yoga and writing. Jade teaches classes that challenge the beginning students to feel deeper and challenge the advanced students to open further into their practice. Your needs will absolutely be taken care of. Your days at the retreat are dedicated toward cultivating your inner wellness.
I do/do not have a lot of experience as a writer. Is this retreat for me?
We all know the benefits of having time and space devoted to your craft without distraction. On top of that, Stephen will offer one-on-one guidance. He has many years of experience and is committed to empowering fellow writers.
Through daily critique, readings, and time in a richly inspiring environment, you will grow your creative life into a new expression of clarity and purpose. Don’t forget also the benefit of being in the company of a variety of readers and writers from around the world.
For those new to writing, this retreat offers a supportive environment. Trust that if your application is approved, you have been invited to give it your all. Get excited. Then come as you truly are. When you find yourself in a beautiful location in marvelous company, you will grow more confident that you are able to accomplish far more than you had previously thought possible.
Creative writing is the primary focus of the retreat, but we have had participants come (and who intend to come again on other retreats with us at different locations in the future) who did only a little writing, but loved the writing that they did do. Invite yourself to see the retreat as a healthy, purposeful break from your business schedule.
Is everything included in the price?
Everything for the retreat (tuition, journal, reading materials, yoga, one-on-one meetings, ground transportation to/from airport, room and board) is included in the price.
Your flight is not included. Prices fluctuate, but in general it is best to book early, and you may want to start searching for affordable flights soon after you make your first payment. It is good also to sign up for frequent flier points or miles, since you will accrue a great deal of points traveling abroad and back.
When do I receive the journal for the retreat?
The retreat journal, generously sponsored by Exaclair, will be given to you when you arrive at the retreat center.
What can I expect to learn?
Rest assured that the time and focus spent in an encouraging atmosphere will pay off unforgettably. The program coordinators and your peers will provide support and encouragement so that you achieve your goals. You can expect to have an unforgettable time, and you can expect to gather a lot of practical strategies so that you consistently develop your skills and offer what you have to the world, personally and through your writing.
Do I need to speak Italian/Spanish/Indonesian?
No, but it will come in handy while traveling. You do not need to be fluent in anything but English for the retreat. And if English is your second/third language, no worries.
Is there an age limit?
Applicants must be at least eighteen. Many participants will be around the age of retirement. We encourage all age ranges to apply.
Can I bring my friend or spouse?
The rooms are double-occupancy. If you would like to bring your spouse or friend to the retreat, make sure you also specify that you would prefer he/she to be your roommate. In the event that you are more familiar with writing than your friend, be assured the coordinator and your peers can get them up to speed, and the lovely environment will do the rest to inspire them.
Should I attend if I don’t feel comfortable traveling alone?
The majority of our participants choose to travel alone, leaving behind their daily routine to experience a true retreat with personal significance. It gives us great joy to see how quickly group members form new and deep friendships.
How much writing experience do I need to have?
It is not required that you have a list of publications or professional writing experience. Participants should have a familiarity and interest in writing in one or several forms. You should know basically where you are and where you’d like to be after participating in the retreat.
What range of skill level can I expect from my peers?
Expect the course participants to display a diverse range of skill level and expertise, from beginners to university professors, traditionally-published, self-published, and everything in between.
Yes, the rooms are doubles. Program participants are screened, so do not be excessively concerned about who you will share the room with. If you and a friend or spouse are both taking the retreat, please specify in your application and during payment that you prefer to stay in the same room. If you have any special needs regarding rooming, please let us know. Single rooms are also available for a fee.
What about weekend travel and time off?
It is a retreat, so you can think of the entire duration as time off. If you would like to take a break to take a day trip, that option is available, and it is up to you to coordinate it (getting a rental car, etc). You may want to get together as a group coordinate weekend plans to see whether other participants would like to take a day trip also.
Should I rent a car?
If you would like, though it is not necessary. If you would prefer not to rent a car, the program coordinator can provide transportation in the event of an emergency or if you would like to a nearby village to pick up something such as snacks or batteries for your camera (don’t forget to bring a camera!). We can recommend a rental car service if you would like.
When should my flight arrive?
The retreat begins the afternoon of the date specified. For example, for a May 10-18 retreat, the retreat will begin during the afternoon/evening of May 10. Arrival times will vary, and so the first day’s activities are light. You will be met at the airport (which exact airport depends on the retreat, of course) at noon or in the early afternoon by a driver with a sign reading the name of the retreat center. You will receive specific information at least a couple of weeks in advance of the retreat.
Some participants choose to arrive early and spend some time on their own independently exploring the area. If you’d like to do this, you’ll simply need to make your own way to the specified airport in time to be picked up. Most participants will schedule their flight to arrive at in the morning on the first day of the retreat. For example, if the retreat at Casa della Pace begins on June 11, you will want to arrive at the Rome airport (FCO) around eleven-thirty on June 11. When you have your arrival information, please send it to the retreat coordinator.
How on earth should I pack for this trip?
Pack for all kinds of weather and expect to be astounded by natural beauty no matter what the weather is doing.
Here are a few suggestions for items you may need:
- Comfortable clothes and shoes for daily activities such as hiking, running, jogging, lounging, yoga
- More formal clothes for dinners. Dinners are casual, but it is nice to have a venue for sporting your new Italian shoes.
- Prescription and/or allergy medicines, if any (put these in your carry-on luggage)
- Copy of your birth certificate (in the unlikely event you lose your passport)
- Extra contact lens solution (if applicable)
- A pair of sneakers or hiking/walking shoes
- Books (poolside/beach reading) and a reading light (for nighttime reading under the stars, if you desire)
- Maybe an umbrella (just in case)
- Swimsuit and towel
- Hat, sunglasses, and sunscreen
- Warm clothing in case of cool weather/rain
Household electric current in Italy is 220 volts, so any item that uses other voltage can be used only with a converter. Hair driers and other appliances that use a lot of electrical power are discouraged. (Outlets and electric current in Mexico are the same as in the U.S.) You do not need to bring a yoga mat unless you would prefer to. The retreat center is well equipped with yoga mats, pads, blocks and bolsters.
It is my first time traveling to this country. What should keep in mind?
If you are traveling alone, use care. Avoid unfamiliar areas alone at night. It is always best to travel with a friend or at least let someone know where you are going if you decide to go off on your own.
Note: It is hard to find organic tampons and/or tampons with applicators in any of the countries in which we hold retreats. So, it is good to bring more than enough of your own.
Be careful at ATM machines. Always cover the keypad when you enter your pin.
It is smart to change some of your money right away when you arrive and always carry a bit of extra cash because sometimes you will not be near any credit card machines or ATMs .
How much money will I need?
This depends on the currency of the country and on the exchange rate between your home country. All your meals as well as travel to and from the airport are covered in the retreat cost. So, you will only need enough money for souvenirs and extra traveling you plan apart from the retreat.*
*Special Note for Italy: In Italy you will have weekends free and if you choose to travel you will need money for a hotel or hostel, and all your meals during your travel (not to mention the one-of-a-kind leather jacket and shoes you might find in Florence).
If you do not choose to travel on the weekends then you will need significantly less money. Your meals are still included in the price of the retreat and the retreat center is still your home (Stephen and Jade will remain at the retreat center on weekends).
Hostels in Italy often cost between 35 and 60 Euros and hotels are usually a bit more. A meal in Florence, Assisi, Rome or Venice can cost between 7 and 20 Euros depending on your taste.
We keep a bit of cash safe and separate (at the hotel) just in case we need it for future expenses. Many people also keep a copy of their passport and a copy of their insurance card for the same reason. It couldn’t hurt to do this.
When taking a taxi always decide on a price with the driver before hand. Some Italian taxis take credit cards but plan on paying cash.
Temples and Duomos
Proper attire is usually required for all sacred places. In Italy you must cover your shoulders and knees before entering a Duomo. If you do not have something to cover up with they provide a scratchy piece of paper to use (so it is best to bring a shawl).
In Bali someone will dress you at the entrance with a proper sarong to wear in the temple. Some temples in Bali are not open to tourists at all. Keep a look out for signs saying “No Entry.”
Preparations before you go
Bank and credit cards: Make sure to inform your bank and credit cards the exact dates you will be leaving and returning home so they can allow your cards to be operable in the country/s you will be traveling to. This is very important.
Cell phone: Let your cell phone company know the dates of your trip as well. If your company offers global coverage then you might consider turning this on for the duration of your trip. We find it quite useful to have a phone in case of emergency and a phone with GPS is especially nice if you plan on renting a car or navigating curvy Italian streets.
Sunscreen: Organic and/or ocean-safe sunscreen is hard to find in all the countries in which we hold retreats. Sunscreen above SPF 15 is also hard to find. I suggest bringing plenty of your own from home.
Aloe Vera: This can be very hard to find in Italy. Although aloe vera grows in Bali and Tobago each country sells a different kind of aloe vera and it may not be what you are used to. If you have fair skin or tend to sunburn I suggest bringing your own.
Come prepared for sun, rain, swimming pools, semi-formal dinners, walks in the forest and casual yoga wear.
Global climate change is making the weather very unpredictable. Italy can be both cold and quite hot in the same week. Bali, Tobago and Mexico are experiencing far more rain than ever before.
However, the sun still shines brightly on most days in all of these countries so bring your favorite floppy hat, too.
How would your life be different if you had come along last year?
Have another Question? Contact us.