True Nature Travels Blog

When we think of ideal yoga destinations, natural beauty and a positive environment instantly come to the mind. Amorgos is a beautiful island located in the easternmost part of the Cycladic area in Greece. Known as a top yoga retreat destination worldwide, Amorgos is truly an oasis of peace, beauty and serenity. Whilst it is a magical gem tucked away from the hustle and bustle, Amorgos island is no stranger to visitors. And even though tourist from all over the world choose the island as their dream vacation spot, it is not overly populated by people, offering just the right balance between busy and quiet. The energy here is pure and calming, empowering and cleansing. It is no wonder that many yoga groups travel here every year for their retreats.

Amorgos offers plenty of beautiful beaches, including the famous Agia Anna known for being the location of the Luc Besson movie, The Big Blue. The island also goes by this name as reference from the movie, but also because wherever you go, you will set your sight on the deep blue water of the Aegean Sea. Swimming here is a healing experience every time. Some of the must-see beaches are Aegiali Bay, Mourous beach, Agia Anna and Kalotirisia.

Beach Aegiali

And if you are seeking some grounding and quiet time, the mountains of the island welcome visitors to a truly unique hiking experience. With no dangerous wildlife (although you might see some friendly goats, donkeys and lizards), the hiking trails here welcome walking enthusiasts to enjoy some serene moments and become one with the nature. The air is fresh out there and the walking paths vary in difficulty, meaning that there is opportunity for anybody to take on the experience. Wherever you may find yourself during your walking journey, the views of the sea and the little villages around is one we can call picture perfect.

Hozoviotissa

By far one of the must-see places in Amorgos is Monastery of Hozoviotissa. Built in the 15th Century, the monastery is located 300m above sea level. Walking up the 300 steps that take
you to the Monastery, the journey up is a unique experience. On one side, you will see the crystal-clear Aegean Sea and on the other side, high stone cliffs, which the Monastery is built in. This is the second built church in Greece and it has great historical and religious significance for the country. As you reach the top and come face to face with the monument itself, you can find a quiet spot, overlooking the sea, a place ideal for meditation and moments of stillness. Another important place to visit is the old water oracle, which is now known as the Monastery St George Valsamitis. Back in the days, people used to ask the oracle for advice with their problems and dilemmas, and the answer was determined by the colour of the water. Now days, this is no longer practiced, but you can still see the water stream and visiting the small monastery is a great experience in itself.

The villages of the island are traditional, offering a cultural experience for everybody visiting. With narrow alleyways and whitewashed houses dressed in pink bougainvillea, each village offers great tavernas with Greek traditional food and heart warming hospitality. Some of the most popular are Chora (the capital of the island), Tholaria, Langagda, Aegiali and Katapola.

The island is also home to Elysia Yoga Convention, held at the famous yoga retreat location, where we offer all of our Amorgos Island Retreats. Offering 6 beautiful indoor shalas, one open rooftop and sea views from every room, the hotel is a mix of luxury, comfort and stunning Cycladic architecture, perfect for dreamy holiday photos. The convention is a yearly event happening end of March until beginning of April every year, bringing together toga teachers from all over the world and wellness enthusiasts.

Amorgos Yoga

Amorgos is beautiful to visit anytime of the year, depending on what you prefer. For a summery sunny experience, starting from May until beginning of October is a great time. Winter is beautiful here too, providing visitors with a quiet dreamy platform, ideal for meditation, self-discovery, artistic inspiration and relaxation.

Ready to head to Amorgos Island? View our upcoming Greece Retreats here.

Yoga Amorgos

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Miriam Indries is a published author, yoga and meditation teacher, passionate about holistic healing. She is also a qualified Ayurveda Practitioner and NLP coach. A keen traveller, wondering soul and student of life, Miriam is the creator of Self-Elevation.com, online platform empowering others to find their greatness.

True Nature Travels Blog

This wonderful world is filled with countless places to see and things to do. Amongst this, it is home to many different cultures. Open your world to different traditions, cultures and customs in search of your spiritual significance. Now is the best time to undertake your spiritual journey. You’ll quickly reap the benefits of finding inner peace, a deeper knowledge of yourself and the world around you. The following eight places are amongst the most spiritual destinations in the world.

8 Spiritual Destinations

Borobudur, Indonesia

This is the world’s largest Buddhist temple, located in Central Java. Borobudur features over 2000 relief panels and 500 Buddha statues. You can go on a pilgrimage journey, and symbolically enact the act of worship, by hiring a guide. This is also a great way to learn about the spiritual history of the temple. Symbolically, ascend your way to the top of three tiers. Start at Kāmadhātu, known as the world of desire- represented by the pyramidal base. Move into Rupadhatu, the world of forms, symbolised by the circular platforms above the base of the shrine. Reach the peak of your spiritual journey at Arupadhatu, which is the world of formlessness. Visit during the full moon in May or June to observe Vesak, to celebrate when Gautama Buddha became the Buddha Shakyamuni. 

Bodh Gaya, India

Bodh Gaya is located in Bihar, east India. This religious site is a pilgrimage site for both Hindus and Buddhists. The significance of Mahabodhi Temple is the Bodhi tree. This is where Gautama Buddha obtained enlightenment. Visit at 5:30 am for meditation then make your way to the Archaeological Museum. If you have time, there are also philosophy, meditation and Buddhism courses available at some monasteries, further enlightening your spiritual journey.

Kyoto, Japan

Kyoto in the Kansai region of Japan is one of the most spiritual locations in the world. It is home to over 1600 Buddhist temples and 400 Shinto shrines. With so many temples and shrines. It can be hard to choose just one. 

Most popular is the Golden Pavilion (Kinkakuji), appropriately named as the temple is completely covered in gold leaf. With peaceful Japanese gardens and a beautiful view over Kyoto, the Silver Pavilion (Ginkakuji) is equally a must-see on your spiritual travels. Ryōan-ji, known for its famous rock garden, is a wondrous zen temple from the Rinzai branch of Zen Buddhism. The Kiyomizu-dera pure water temple provides a different, yet still peaceful, experience. A UNESCO world heritage site, the temple places focus on relationships and love. You can’t miss drinking from the Otowa waterfall. With three different streams, each is said to represent either love, success and longevity. However, you can only drink from one. So choose wisely!

Macchu Picchu, Peru

Macchu Picchu is an incredibly popular tourist destination in the Cusco region. The Incan Citadel is very well preserved and sits over 2000m above sea level. It is believed to be built for the Inca emperor Pachacuti. The Inca Trail is not for the faint-hearted. At 82 km to Macchu Picchu, this will take four days minimum to complete. Essential to your spiritual pilgrimage is the ritualistic stone, Intihuatana, located at the peak of Macchu Picchu. Along your way up the Inca Trail, you can’t miss the Temple of the Sun, best viewed during the summer solstice at sunrise.

Yoga Retreat Peru

Assisi, Italy

Assisi is a great destination for a Catholic pilgrimage. This town in the Umbria region of central Italy is the birthplace of seven Catholic Saints. You don’t want to miss the Basilica of San Francesco d’Assisi, the Basilica of Santa Chiara and the Basilica of Santa Maria degli Angeli.

Angkor Wat, Cambodia

Located in Siem Reap, Angkor Wat was originally built as a Hindu Temple to celebrate the God Vishnu. It is now regarded as a Buddhist temple and a sister to Borobudur. The temple was built by Khmer King Suryavarman II as his temple and mausoleum. The complex is surrounded by a moat and outer wall. Start by admiring three rectangular galleries then make your way to the series of five towers in the centre of the temple.

8 Spiritual Destinations

Adam’s Peak, Sri Lanka

Central Sri Lanka is home to Adam’s Peak. This is a holy site for Buddhists, Hindus, Muslims and Christians alike. You’ll find the Sacred Footprint rock formation at the base of the mountain. It will take 2-4 hours to reach the summit. Scale the mountain from December to May, when heavy rain will not hinder the climb. Bear in mind April is the pilgrimage season, so it will be very busy.

Sandunovksi Baths, Moscow

The Sandunovski Baths are breath-taking. The bathhouses are lined with white columns, gold crown moulding and historic flair. Find them in the heart of Moscow. As well as the eight bathhouses, you’ll find steam rooms, a Jacuzzi, beauty salons and a spa centre. This is the perfect place to relax and find your inner peace. You can book a tour to learn about the baths’ history and traditions.

 

About the Author

Auckland-based writer Harper Reid has a strong passion for writing and travelling, and often reflects on how these have changed her life tremendously. She has produced content for numerous blogs and sites, including Tairawhiti Gisborne. Check out more of her work on Tumblr.

True Nature Travels Blog

First, I planned a trip to Colombia. Then, a dear friend set her wedding date in California. A few days later, my dad broke his hip in Texas. I live in Florida, so now, I have three big trips planned in the next 2½ months.

Here are three questions I plan to take with me in my hip pocket to help me use my energy wisely, make the best decisions I can, and travel with purpose this summer.

sumer travel
What’s Meaningful Now?

Meaningful experiences can be elusive. It’s no wonder we want to travel on big adventures to far away places! Maybe we’ll get some meaningful luminosity into our veins that we can bring home to light our world.

All the meaning we experience in life, we create ourselves, out of our own minds. The world itself remains inherently neutral. That’s why “What’s meaningful now?” is such an important question!

My first meditation teacher, Sarah Powers, taught “What’s meaningful now?” as a way of staying with the heart and taking responsibility for ourselves.

The question calls up present moment guidance for making decisions and prevents us from sleepwalking through life. It taps us into creativity and frees us from ideas about what we should do or be. It helps us take advantage of opportunities and prevents regret.

This summer, ask, “What’s meaningful now?” and follow the thread.

summer travel

What’s Really Going On?

Life can be dramatic, emotional, confusing.

“What’s really going on?” takes us below the surface with curiosity about what we’re not seeing. It asks us to stretch beyond our assumptions, into wider realizations about the world and deeper understandings of ourselves.

“What’s really going on?” teaches us to reflect things as they are. It illuminates causes and context, so everything stands in its true shape, free from the light our preferences may cast.

I regularly use “What’s really going on?” for insight into anger. It always uncovers a more vulnerable feeling underneath, like fear, hurt, fatigue, or embarrassment. Then, I can honor that feeling instead of being driven around by my anger.

If your travels take you into situations, places, or cultures that are new to you, this question will help you get out of your head, pay attention, and engage more deeply.

You will be tempted by this question to analyze or tell a story about what’s happening. Don’t try to figure anything out! Feel into your body, and make more subtle observations. Maintain kindness.

adventure travel

How can I help?

If we’re not careful, a big vacation, a travel adventure, or an international retreat can end up being all about me, me, me! “How can I help?” provides an antidote to becoming self-absorbed and spurs us to connect with others.

When you’re traveling, “How can I help?” defers authority to local wisdom and makes you a good guest. Asked with humility, this question can pierce through awkward circumstances of inequality and shift you into listening and respect.

This question also makes us aware of our gifts and our agency. It points us to what we can do in this world of overwhelm.

“How can I help?” is an evolutionary question that leapfrogs ego’s desires and complaints to reconnect us with generosity and abundance. An attitude of “How can I help?” makes the world safer for everyone to explore, take risks, and grow.

Are you picturing yourself planting trees or feeding the homeless? Great! Also know that helping can look like taking a step back and giving space to others. It can look like patience. Or a smile.

Practice these questions. Put them in your pocket this summer, and take them with you… to the beach, as you step off the plane, while sipping your morning tea, to plan your next adventure.

Let the questions be touchstones – a way to take refuge in wisdom. Some days, they’ll reveal great insights. Other days, you’ll get silence in return. That’s ok! “I don’t know,” is always a valid response! Let yourself experience “don’t know” mind. Become better acquainted with uncertainty.

Notice how the ritual of being with these questions develops. Keep them with you until they’ve served their purpose, then let them go, and begin your next practice on life’s journey.

summer travel

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Delana Thompson helps spiritually-inclined entrepreneurs express their hearts and expand their influence with authentic copywriting, project management,delana thompson and professional delivery of their online content. Her clients include teachers and practitioners of meditation, yoga, ayurveda, shamanic healing, astrology, and fine art. When she’s not writing marketing emails or designing landing pages, you’ll find Delana salsa dancing, practicing meditation, planning a trip, listening to a podcast, speaking Spanish, or missing all her faraway friends. Visit Delana on LinkedIn to learn more about her business.

True Nature Travels Blog

Latin American Playlist

The First Time I Heard Spanish

Her happy voice caught my ear as I passed by the house. She was laughing and sweetly teasing her children from her chair on the porch. I had no idea what she was saying, but in her natural speaking voice, she practically sang the most vibrant, expressive string of words I’d ever heard. In that moment, I realized I should have studied Spanish in high school, not French.

After that first trip to Honduras, I knew speaking Spanish would somehow become part of my life path.

Learning the Music of Spanish

Latin American Playlist
Dancing salsa with my love in Cali, Colombia.

Over the years, I studied Spanish in fits and spurts, but in the last 7 years, or so, I’ve really picked it up. It helped to move to Colombia for a year and half, and it helps that my partner is Mexican. It also helps that I dance salsa… because the salsa tradition delivers Spanish with high-quality music I love to hear.

Once you develop an ear for it, you may notice how beautifully Spanish lends itself to music. Spanish words are full of vowels, so they sing exquisitely, with airy, mantra-like ohs, ees, ehs, and ahs.

Listening to the Music

When I first started listening to music in Spanish, I could barely understand anything. Then one day, something clicked. Now, if I have my headphones in, I can understand almost every lyric I hear… just like in English! Point being: If you’re learning Spanish, keep listening to the music! It will come!

For those of you still training your ear, I know it’s easy to fall for songs with great melodies and rhythms only to discover later that they’re full of crude lyrics. That’s why I’ve compiled a playlist of popular latin songs, with lyrics in Spanish, that are not only safe for mixed company*, but also inspire the spirit and heal the soul.

Latin Music Culture

In the “Levanta el Espíritu” playlist you’ll find some of the great classic artists like Celia Cruz and Oscar de León, as well as modern stars Marc Anthony and Daddy Yankee. I’ve included latin dance styles like salsa, merengue, bolero, cumbia, pacifico, tropical, and bachata, as well as folk, rock, rap, hip hop, and pop.

All of the music has something uplifting going on in the lyrics, and some of it is downright profound. Jorge Drexler sings poetically about interconnectedness and non-duality. Celia Cruz reveals her deep bodhisattva nature. Residente rocks out on the power in the shadow side of life. All that mixes in with great latin music anthems that call us to dance to overcome our suffering, celebrate the beauty of life, and pay homage to our roots.

Latin American Playlist
Cerro de las Tres Cruces, Cali, Colombia

Get Ready for Your Next Trip

Hearing music in Spanish will help you learn vocabulary and turns of phrase. Singing along will teach your mouth the awkward acrobatics of inflection and pronunciation. Grooving to the beat feels like taking a mini-vacation to Latin America!

I hope you hear some of these songs on your next trip (or remember them from the last one). I hope you find a new artist you love. (psst… Orishas! Herencia de Timbiquí! Maná! ChocQuibTown!) Most of all, I hope the world of latin music, culture, and Spanish language opens a little wider for you. Happy listening!

 

Also find the playlist here.

La Vida (Respira el Momento) by Calle 13 is about opening to the vastness of life. The words “sexo, orgasmo” appear briefly in that context.

 

About the Author

Delana Thompson helps spiritually-inclined entrepreneurs express their hearts and expand their influence with authentic copywriting, project management,delana thompson and professional delivery of their online content. Her clients include teachers and practitioners of meditation, yoga, ayurveda, shamanic healing, astrology, and fine art. When she’s not writing marketing emails or designing landing pages, you’ll find Delana salsa dancing, practicing meditation, planning a trip, listening to a podcast, speaking Spanish, or missing all her faraway friends. Visit Delana on LinkedIn to learn more about her business.

True Nature Travels Blog

yoga journey indiaFebruary 2019 had many astrologically auspicious dates to dip in the holy river Ganges. In fact millions of people from different spiritual paths joined together for Ardh Kumbh Mela a great display of collective consciousness to bathe in the sacred river. Maa Ganga is the essence of ancient wisdom and she offers more than just a glimpse beyond theory and plunges us into pure awareness. Some friends back home said, oh no it’s so dirty and maybe there are bodies in it, but to the faithful, the Ganges is a wellspring of life energy. The epitome of mind over matter.

On this my fourth pilgrimage to India, I finally dipped in the Ganges River – again and again and again. This act of devotion and faith helped peel away the vestiges of doubt and hesitation that had me half living the path of yoga. One foot in and one foot out is no longer an option.

yoga journey indiaThe art of living yoga did not come from more hours of study or time on the yoga mat, it was the interaction with others that guided me to experience true living yoga. Yoga is a noun and a verb. The practice of Yoga is doing what it takes for your particular nervous system and nature, to remember and live knowing that you are pure consciousness, pure awareness, Divine light; connected to all beings everywhere always. Yoga is a way of being, a way of living.

Living yoga comes again and again through experience. In India people pay more attention to the feeling or energy that you are emitting rather than the words your mind is expressing. Classroom time in India is not what a westerner would call organized or even remotely logical. Think of the students back in the time of the Vedas who would live with their teachers for years before the teaching began. Once the wavelength between teacher and student matches, then the teachings are given.

yoga journey indiaThe way things work in India is beyond comprehension. The magic of connection presents itself in ways you could never imagine yet it does indeed present itself because it is always already here, waiting for us to take off our blinders, filters and preconceived notions. Physical eyes may be WIDE open taking in all the mind-blowing sights, yet until the layers of our learned behaviors drop away and our heart softens, one sweet Indian smile after another, it is then that the soul connection is revealed. It is then that we can relax into the flow of life to which we are intimately connected.

Beyond (and then including) the litter and pollution, the honking horns and the dirt, the cow shi# and the slums – the beauty of India is indescribable. The heart and soul of India welcomes you home to your true nature. Living from the spiritual viewpoint that God/Cosmic Consciousness is in everyone, the people of India share more than you can imagine they will ever have to share. They smile when we might typically decide to give up or at least stay in bed. They face the day with kindness and caring. Maybe it’s karma yoga, maybe it’s Bhakti yoga. Either way, it is the strongest experience of yoga, union, that I can recommend.

How do we yoke ourselves to that Universal energy/cosmic consciousness?

Travel! To be immersed in a culture that sees God/Cosmic Consciousness in everyone and everything, invites you to soften, play your part and to yoga journey indiafollow your heart. The 8 Limbs of Yoga give us an outline as to how to live in alignment and with cosmic consciousness and Ayurveda provides the science of balancing universal elements.

With the help of Ayurveda, I was able to return to my natural state and utilize the tools of Yoga and Ayurveda to remain balanced and offer neutrality to others as a space of healing and love.

My initial plan was to spend two months on the beaches of Goa enjoying Ecstatic dance, the sun on my skin and the salty love of mamma ocean. Yet the behind the scenes notion was also to let India guide me, to bring me back to life…and she did. At PDI Goa, I launched into two weeks of Panchakarma, an intensive Ayurveda cleansing and rejuvenation method for body, mind, emotions and all layers (koshas) of yourself. One thing led to the next and I found myself with a suitcase full of beach clothes in the foothills of the Himalayas.

yoga journey indiaAt the PDI Ayurveda Health Center near Rishikesh, my new home away from home, I was welcomed as student, patient, family, friend and colleague. Eating three garden fresh, warm cooked meals at the same time every day along with continued Ayurveda studies first with a group from Argentina and then a second group from Holland allowed me to see the mirror of life while sharing my love of yoga through teaching daily asana sessions saturated with dharma talks. Here I discovered what life can feel like, how it’s possible to live in rhythm with nature, connected to our bodies and the land. I got to experience being in union with cosmic consciousness.

My intention for coming to India was to feel alive again. Mission accomplished.

yoga journey indiaThere is no word for privacy in any Indian language. In India, unlike in America, there is no notion of boundaries. Noise and horns assault our overloaded ears and dogs and cows line the streets disarming us, uplifting us, making our ordered lives seem absurd. Yet for this small town farm girl, I found a peaceful community with a garden and a discovered a new way to love. It is an honor to be part of this human family and my aim is to be a positive ripple of this connection as I travel out into the world.

This quest to experience cosmic consciousness outside of filters, karma and impressions is the theme of my True Nature Greece Retreat in September, Isvara Pranidhana. If we can dedicate our lives to serving the God/Cosmic consciousness that dwells within ourselves and all other beings, human and non-human alike, we will move beyond all feelings of separateness. We can experience heaven on earth.

“Imagine all the people living life in peace. You may say I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one. I hope someday you’ll join us, and the world will be as one.” -John Lennon

 

yoga journey india

 

 

Join Heidi and True Nature in Amorgos, Greece
The Gift Greek Island Luxury Retreat
September 7 – 13, 2019

 

 

Heidi Dietrich
Dharma & Grace Yoga

As a yogini and an artist, Heidi inspires us to explore yoga as an applied lifestyle, making art with our lives and relaxing into our Divine Self. Through the dance of balancing the body, mind, and spirit she guides us toward harmonizing our inner truth with our actions and experiences.

Heidi’s gentle and restorative approach to the yoga practice incorporates energy work, flower essences, mantra, yantra painting, gemology and astrology as well as Yoga Nidra.

Heidi received her 200-hour Yoga Teacher Training certification from the Marianne Wells Yoga School in Costa Rica in 2009. She also has 108 hours of training in the heart-oriented method of Anusara. In 2013, she completed her 500-hour Yoga Teacher Training with Brenna Geehan and Jean Mazzei of SriYoga in San Francisco.

Heidi is the founder of Dharma & Grace Yoga Retreats and Charlevoix Yoga.

 

 

True Nature Travels Blog

Gift of Travel

As my inbox fills up with promotional emails and the list of people I want to get presents for grows and grows, I find myself thinking about the meaning of a gift. What gifts have I given and received over the past year? Which ones meant the most to me and why?Gift of Travel

After some soul searching, I now define a gift as simply something that brings joy. A gift can be an object, but it can also be an experience or memory.  In my time, I have discovered the best gifts I can give myself and others are always travel related.

Traveling takes time, planning, and often some expenses, but always gives back so much more. It allows you to get out of your normal routine, go see something new or discover the completely unknown.  Whether it is an afternoon hike in the well-trodden woods near home or a week in a new and exciting part of the world, I find that travel continues to give gifts long after the journey is over. It creates a wealth of experiences to pull from and the confidence to go forth and learn new things about ourselves and others. Memories are created with new and old friends as you explore together.

Throughout the ebbs and flows of days, months, and years, I recall the little joyous moments I had while out exploring and feel renewed. In this renewal, I try to share that joy with others. Sometimes it is in sharing the funny little joke a hostess at a sheep farm told me, and other times it is opening my home and kitchen to fellow travelers as others have done for me.

I try to keep these thoughts in mind as I work through my list of presents and people for the holiday season. What can I give to the important people in my life that will bring them joy?

Here are 3 travel gift ideas:

  • Give the gift of a Yoga Retreat to rejuvenate the body and soul.
  • The gift of airfare. Here are some of the best airline gift cards.
  • A gift of adventure! These top picks hit the perfect excursion or activity for everyone on your list.

True Nature Travels Blog

Travel Tips blog1

The world is full of so many amazing adventures and exciting places just asking to be explored. Long-term travel is a very different experience to shorter breaks and therefore requires a little more planning, but you can’t let that put you off! Here are six stress-free tips for planning long-term travel.

Decide what your trip is about

It can be very overwhelming to plan such a long trip and easy to lose sight of exactly what you want to do. For example, are you backpacking, or interrailing? Are you going to work as you travel, and move on as you feel, or do you want a little more structure and to plan everything before you go? Consider whether you want to tick off tourist places, or visit destinations a little more off the beaten path. When you answer these questions your planning will be a little easier, as you will have a focus.  

Do your research

Whenever you travel, research is important to know where to go and what to see, but with long-term travel, there is even more to research. Not only the places and activities but also tips from bloggers and travel writers about how to make the most of travelling long term, the insurance you need, and any other medical information. The more you know, the better prepared you can be and the less stress you will have.

Practice packing

The more prepared you are when it comes to packing, the less stressful it will be. Make sure you write a list of everything you need and check it several times. 1Cover’s Secret Traveller blog recommends having copies of all of your documents, just in case; whether you take hard photocopies or scan them and save them as PDFs, it’s always better to have backups.

Reuse clothes

Unlike a short trip, you don’t have the luxury of being able to pack an outfit for every day, so you need to be a little more strategic. Choose things that you can layer up, dress up or down and wear with a variety of other things. Lightweight items that can be hand washed and dried easily as needed will also serve you well while you travel.

Travel Tips blog 3

Consider your budget

Long-term travel isn’t cheap and you’ll need to start saving in plenty of time. Make sure you budget enough to cover your accommodation, food, and travel as well as activities, excursions, gifts, and emergencies. This will require a long of planning, as you’ll need to make sure you have enough money when you go and that it will last the whole trip.

Get excited!

As soon as a trip becomes more stressful than exciting, you might as well not go. Although planning can be difficult at times, it’s important to also focus on the fun you are going to have, and the things you are excited to do. As much as planning is important, it is also useful to have some flexibility in your plans as this will help reduce your stress levels.

So, what are you waiting for? Get planning that epic long-term trip you have been thinking about for years! There is no time like the present and you won’t regret it – but be warned, it can be very addictive!

What are your top tips for stress-free travel planning? 

About the Author

Samantha Wilkins has been a travel junkie for five years now. She has been to South America, Australia and is currently completing her Southeast Asia trip. She’ll be back home in Cambridge in Spring of next year to complete her Master’s Degree in Asian and Middle Eastern Studies.

True Nature Travels Blog

Some people fear the unknown; I chase it. Bungee jumping over waterfalls; zip lining through the rainforest; climbing barefoot in the mountains of Peru… adventure is my True Nature and it’s something I’ve pursued with eagerness and joy since I was a young girl.

Most of my adventures tend to be outward facing. I’m frequently pursuing the kind of adventures that will make my heart beat faster and cause my parents to shake their heads and wonder how they ended up with such a free spirit for a daughter. However, my recent trip to India brought with it a different kind of adventure.

My two weeks in India appear fairly tame at first glance. I spent a lot of time visiting different retreat centers and exploring potential partners for True Nature Travels. My excursions consisted of trips to ashrams and gorging myself on naan and mango; hardly the type of activities that lead to an adrenaline rush. And yet, if there’s one thing I have learned from a life of travel, it’s that adventure is often found where you least expect it.

India is known for being what many travelers have coined a “sensory overload.” Between the constant onslaught of horns, the overwhelming aroma of curry, and the endless rainbow of vibrant textiles, it’s easy to lose yourself in the infinite stimuli of India.

But beneath all that is a layer of peace and stillness that beckons to those seeking a deeper adventure. Only, it’s not an adventure in the typical sense. It’s an adventure of Self.

There is a rich history of spirituality in India. Yogis, Sufis, Muslims, Christians, and Hindus alike have dominated the Indian religious scene at one point or another and it has caused a spiritual playing field to be born in India that pulses with the energy left behind by thousands of mystics and gurus. For those who are open to it, India is a country ripe with transformative power.

I have visited India two times now, and both trips have been dominated by an inner exploration I did not expect and was hardly ready for. Both visits have led me down paths full of spiritual questioning and self-exploration. In India, I explored a different sort of unknown. Not the unknown I was used to, namely, some thrilling question mark beyond the river bend. But rather, an inner unknown; an unexplored piece of my own Self.

Enter India as an adventurer and you’ll be amazed by the journeys you may embark on.

Keep the spirit of curiosity, the open mind, and the thrill at the unknown that characterize an adventurer and you’ll quickly learn that spiritual seeker and adventurer are more synonymous than you may have once thought. Approach India with an open heart and a receptive mind and before you know it, you’ll be on an adventure unlike any you could have ever dreamed of.

About the Author

Sarah DittmoreSarah Dittmore, the Director of Operations at True Nature Travels, is always seeking a new adventure. When she’s not barefoot hiking in the mountains of Peru, kayaking around an island off the coast of Italy, or camping in a rainforest in Costa Rica, Sarah writes about her adventures on her travel blog, Autobiography of an Adventurer. Join her as she travels the world and documents the wild and wonderful things she discovers along the way at www.autobiographyofanadventurer.com.

True Nature Travels Blog

I always considered myself an independent person. But as the youngest child growing up in a 95% white suburb of California, my understanding of what “independence” meant was about as deep as my understanding of “diversity”. In other words, it was very limited.

My class schedule was dictated by the pressure of college applications. Which after-school clubs I joined was slave to the limited ability of my parents to be everywhere at once. The Saturday cartoons I watched were up to my older siblings, who easily wrestled the remote from me week after week. Even the clothing I wore and the slang I used was due to the friends I hung out with.

I thought of myself as independent, but my very identity was dependent on the hometown I inhabited for the first eighteen years of my life, as well as the family and friends that populated those years. I was about as independent as a golden retriever puppy.

I guess there was some part of me that was aware of this; some part of me that longed to break out of the suburban box I’d lived in my entire life. Which, on some level, is probably part of what drove me to defer my college acceptance for a year and fly to Africa after graduation. I spent the next five months traveling and volunteering in South Africa, Ethiopia, Turkey, Thailand, and India.

It was somewhere around month two, living alone in a small village in Ethiopia when I started to discover my own independence.

At first glance, my newfound independence was apparent. No one knew where I was spending the afternoon or telling me what time to be home, or even how to get from one place to the next. One day, I decided I wanted to visit the city. Only, I didn’t speak the language and had no internet connection. So, I walked to the bus station and started asking every bus that drove by “Addis? Addis?” Eventually, I caught a ride to Addis Ababa.

When traveling solo, you are forced to rely on yourself. You are forced to make your own decisions and, surrounded by unfamiliar places, people, and languages, the only thing you can count on is your ability to figure out where you need to be, what you need to do, and how to make it happen.

But the kind of independence you find solo traveling goes beyond learning how to cook pasta in a hostel kitchen when the only available appliance is a frying pan. When traveling solo, you discover an independence not only in how you live but in how you define yourself.

One night in Ethiopia I lay in bed for hours, just staring at the ceiling. My loneliness was crushing, and I felt I may lose the ability to speak if I didn’t find someone to talk to soon. For eighteen years I had lived in a solid, unchanging community, surrounded by friends and family who claimed to know me better than I knew myself. Now, suddenly, I was a solo traveler. No one knew me. When I walked into a room, no one had any expectations regarding who I was or what I brought to the table. I was a stranger; in their eyes, I could be anyone. And for the first time in my life, I had to decide who I wanted to be.

It was there, in that unfamiliar territory with no one to tell me who I was or wasn’t, that I discovered the independence to finally be me.

About the Author

Author_Sarah Dittmore

Sarah Dittmore, the Director of Operations at True Nature Travels, is always seeking a new adventure. When she’s not barefoot hiking in the mountains of Peru, kayaking around an island off the coast of Italy, or camping in a rainforest in Costa Rica, Sarah writes about her adventures on her travel blog, Autobiography of an Adventurer. Join her as she travels the world and documents the wild and wonderful things she discovers along the way at www.autobiographyofanadventurer.com.

True Nature Travels Blog

Many people find themselves travelling over the summer. If you are one of the many who will be on a plane, in a car, train, bus (you get the idea!)…take a look at some of my favourite stretches to help you navigate your travels with ease.

Since I wasn’t able to rent out a private jet to take these photos, my friend Heather (@catchingheather) over at Tribe Fitness (@tribe_fitness) helped me out! 

Safe travels!

Seated Cow/Cat
These two poses will help to bring movement into your spine as well as stretch through the chest and shoulders.

  • Sit up tall, with your back away from the seat, and with your feet on the floor.
  • Place your hands on your thighs.
  • As you inhale, draw your hands closer to your hips, pull your chest forward, draw your shoulder blades together, and look up.
  • As you exhale, slide your hands closer to your knees, round through your back, draw your chin to your chest, and look towards your belly button.

Repeat for 5 cycles of breath.

 

Seated Twist
Twists are naturally detoxifying and feel so good to do after sitting for awhile.

  • Sit up tall, with your back away from the seat, and with your feet on the floor.
  • Take your left hand to your right thigh.
  • Place your right hand on the seat and close to your right hip.
  • Inhale and grow taller through your spine (think of your head reaching up closer towards the sky) and exhale to take a twist to the right. 
  • Be sure to keep your sitting bones evenly rooted into your seat; your hips should remain level, with your body moving/twisting around your spine.
  • You can take your gaze over your right shoulder.

Hold for 5 cycles of breath.

Switch to the other side, with your right hand on your left thigh, left hand on the seat, and twist to the left.
Hold for an equal amount of time on this side.

 

Seated Figure Four/Eye of the Needle
This pose is a great way to stretch out the hips, which are often sore from sitting and travelling, in general.

  • This pose requires a bit more space. If you’re not sitting next to someone you know on the airplane, maybe wait until your neighbour gets up to use the washroom!
  • Come closer to the edge of your set. Sit up tall, with your back away from the seat, and with your feet on the floor. 
  • Lift your right leg up away from the floor.
  • Externally rotate your right thigh bone at the hip (think of playing hackeysack and as your knee moves away from your midline, the inner part of your foot turns up towards the sky).
  • Place your right foot onto your left thigh. You can take a hold of your ankle and help get it to your thigh (no worries!).
  • This could be all the stretch you need. If so, hold here and breathe.
  • If you need more, take your right hand to your right thigh or shin and gently press down, or start to bring your chest towards your thighs, which will deepen the stretch.

Hold for 5 cycles of breath.

Switch to the other side with your left foot coming to your right thigh.
Hold for an equal amount of time on this side.

 

Forward Fold
This posture will help the spine to decompress from all the sitting. It also acts as an inversion, which brings the head below the heart.

  • Do not do this pose if you have low blood pressure.
  • Stand with your feet inner hip distance apart; stack your hips over your ankles and knees.
  • Bend your knees and fold over your legs.
  • Your fingers can come to the floor or you can bend your elbows and bring opposite hands to them.
  • It might feel good to gently sway from side to side.

Hold for 5 cycles of breath.

 

Written by: Christine Noonan 

Join Christine Noonan this Summer for The Ultimate Amalfi Experience to Discover, Explore, and Renew from June 23-30.

Learn more about all the retreats True Nature has to offer at our Calendar: http://truenaturetravels.com/retreat-calendar/