True Nature Travels Blog

Airline - Covid-19

During this time where your travel plans may have been impacted by COVID-19, you may wonder what are your options when canceling or rescheduling a flight and what are the next steps.

Whether you have purchased a flight with airline miles, a debit or credit card, or rewards here are some tips that you will hopefully find helpful.

The Golden Tip: During this time, the airlines want you to continue to travel. They have instituted policies, many of which you will find below. Know that there is also some flexibility. For example, if your retreat was postponed until July 2021 and the airline is only offering the option a credit through 2020, let them know your situation and that you are requesting an extension to travel next year. Whatever your story is, know that it is very common right now and the airlines want to do their best to help you.

Scenario 1: You booked your flight with airline miles

If you used airline miles to purchase a flight, go directly to the airline you booked with for flight cancellation information.
Many U.S. airlines are offering reimbursements, no-fee cancellations, or credit-earning opportunities for flights canceled due to COVID-19. You can read official statements and other information from the following U.S. airlines, below, including any elite status extensions.

Delta Airlines

Flight change and cancellation policies

If you wish to cancel your flight, you can do so through May 2020 and receive a flight eCredit for use through May 31, 2022. This includes customers who:

  • Canceled a flight for March, April or May of 2020
  • Already have eCredits from a flight canceled in March, April or May 2020
    You also have the option of rebooking your flight with a waived change fee up to one year from the date of purchase. To qualify, the ticket must have been purchased between March 1, 2020, and May 31, 2020. Additional information can be found on Delta’s coronavirus travel updates page.

Delta Medallion® Program

Delta Medallion Members’ 2020 status is extended through 2021. This means whatever elite status you earned with Delta this year will extend through January 31, 2022, or the end of Delta’s Medallion year. Medallion Qualification Miles (MQMs) will also extend into 2021.

You can expect an extension of six months to a year for all other Delta programs and credit card-specific benefits. More detailed information can be found here.

“We are continuously monitoring how coronavirus impacts travel and will make additional adjustments to support our customers’ needs as the pandemic evolves,” said Sandeep Dube, senior vice president, customer engagement and loyalty, in a statement.

Airline - Covid-19

American Airlines

Flight change and cancellation policies

You’ll receive a waived ticket change fee when rebooking American Airlines flights that were:

  • Originally purchased prior to March 1, 2020, for flights departing through May 31, 2020
  • Booked between March 1, 2020, and April, 30, 2020

You can also cancel flights that meet the above requirements for no additional charge and then rebook with a waived change fee at a later date. More information on American Airlines’ policies can be found here.

AAdvantage® program

American Airlines released a statement late last week confirming miles scheduled to expire between April 2, 2020, and June 30, 2020, will receive an extension.

“Miles that were set to expire during this time will now expire on July 1, if there is no additional activity in your account during that time period,” said American Airlines in a statement. “You may have previously received an email advising that your miles would expire soon. We’re taking action to protect the rewards you’ve earned in this time of uncertainty and reduced travel opportunities.”

Additionally, American Airlines has stated elite status will be extended through January 31, 2022, including those set to expire January 31, 2021. AAdvantage members should see these changes reflected in their accounts by May 15, 2020.

The airline also announced lowered elite qualification requirements for 2020, which you can view, here.

United Airlines

Flight change and cancellation policies

Flight change fees are waived for tickets that are issued by April 30, 2020. You’ll have 12 months to rebook the ticket free of charge.

If you cancel a United flight, you’ll be awarded an electronic travel certificate for use within the next 24 months from issue date. For more information, you can read United’s guide to canceling and rebooking flights.

United MileagePlus® program

MileagePlus® members will receive an extension of their elite status through the end of the 2021 program year (January 31, 2022).

United also stated its lowering Premier qualification thresholds for 2021 status levels by 50 percent and offering membership and subscription benefits for an additional six months. You can read more details, here.

Airline - Covid-19

Southwest Airlines

Flight change and cancellation policies

Southwest Airlines has a long-standing policy that allows you to cancel or change flights without a fee. In light of current events, the airline has made modifications to its policy.

“If your plans change or if you decide to postpone your travel, the funds used to pay for your flight can be applied to future travel as long as you cancel your reservation at least 10 minutes prior to the scheduled departure,” said Ryan Green, SVP and chief marketing officer, in a statement.

Upon cancellation, you’ll receive travel funds, or credits, valid for one year. Travel funds issued between March 1, 2020, and May 31, 2020, are valid through June 30, 2021. Additional information can be found on Southwest’s official coronavirus travel information page.

If you’d rather rebook, flights scheduled between now and April 30, 2020, can be changed to a date at least 60 days from the original departure date and won’t incur a fare difference charge.

Southwest Rapid Rewards® program

A-List and A-List Preferred Members whose status expires December 31, 2020, will receive an automatic extension of their status through December 31, 2021, including members with elite statuses earned through a Southwest promotion. If you’re currently enrolled in a Southwest promotion to earn elite status and have yet to reach the flight requirements, you’ll now have until October 30, 2020, to do so.

Additionally, those who earned a Companion Pass with an expiration date of December 31, 2020, will get an extension through June 30, 2021. Learn more, here.

Alaska Airlines

Flight change and cancellation policies

You’ll receive flight credit certificates toward future Alaska Airlines flights purchased:

  • On or before February 26, 2020, for travel through May 31, 2020
  • Between February 27, 2020, and April 30, 2020, for travel through February 28, 2021

Flight credits must be used by February 28, 2021. In both instances, you can also cancel your flight for no fee and receive either a credit certificate or funds deposited into your online account.

Saver fares aren’t eligible for trip rescheduling, but you can still cancel.

Links to additional coronavirus travel information from Alaska Airlines can be found here.

Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan™

Whichever Mileage Plan status you currently hold with Alaska Airlines will be extended through December 31, 2021.
In regard to companion certificates, those expiring in 2020 are now extended until December 31, 2020, for travel up until November 26, 2021. You can read more, here.

Jet Blue

Flight change and cancellation policies

As of April 7, 2020, JetBlue is waiving flight change and cancellation fees for travel dates up until May 31, 2020. Flights can be:

  • Rebooked for travel through January 4, 2021
  • Canceled in exchange for JetBlue Travel Bank Credit (expires 18 months from the date issued)

You can read more information on JetBlue’s travel alerts page.

Airline - Covid-19

Didn’t see your airline?

Here are a few additional U.S. airlines that have commented on ticket changes and cancellations:

Scenario 2: You booked your flight with a debit or credit card

You’ll have the best luck reaching out to the airline — rather than your issuer — to cancel and collect reimbursement for a flight booked with your credit card.

“Airlines are offering very generous refund and fee waiver policies related to COVID-19,” says Ted Rossman, industry analyst at Bankrate. For nonrefundable tickets, “Customers should know that they probably won’t get the actual money back — instead, the airline will hold it and apply it towards future travel.”

Delta Air Lines, as noted above, is offering eCredit equal to the value of your original ticket for future use with the airline.

“Look for an expiration date on those funds,” Rossman says. “And know that you might have to pay a fare difference if your eventual ticket cost is higher than what you already paid. Still, this is a very good deal.”

It’s important to note that for refundable tickets (such as tickets purchased with trip cancellation coverage), you’ll be refunded in U.S. dollars, rather than flight credits.

Trip cancellation and interruption benefits

Typically, travel credit cards offer trip cancellation protection, but it likely won’t cover broader coronavirus concerns.

“Credit card trip cancellation protection typically doesn’t allow you to cancel just because you’re afraid you might get sick,” Rossman says.

For example, American Express’ trip cancellation and interruption FAQs sheet for COVID-19 states, “Fear of traveling due to sickness, epidemic, or pandemic (such as the Coronavirus) is not a Covered Loss under your American Express Trip Cancellation and Interruption Insurance benefit.”

You may, though, be able to submit a claim if you fall under one of the traditionally covered situations, like accidental injury or harsh weather. American Express’ list of approved situations conveniently includes “quarantine imposed by a physician for health reasons.”

Trip cancellation policies for an issuer can vary based on the exact card you own, so make sure to sign in to your online account for benefits information on your specific card.

Airline - Covid-19

Scenario 3: You booked your flight with credit card rewards

It’s not ideal, but whether or not your credit card rewards are refunded can vary based on your issuer’s guidelines and the COVID-19 cancellation policy of your airline.

Chase, for example, is offering the option to submit a trip cancellation request for flights booked through Chase Ultimate Rewards® and trips paid for using rewards earned by an eligible Chase card. You must first confirm that your airline has waived trip cancellation fees.

“If you booked with points or miles, you should get those back (not a dollar equivalent, but the actual points or miles),” Rossman says — and most likely with a waived redepositing fee.

If you transferred your rewards to book a flight

In many instances, you cannot undo a rewards transfer from your credit card to an airline partner. If you booked your flight in this manner, reach out to your airline, rather than your issuer, for reimbursement information.

Is your flight a few months down the road? Consider this

“If your flight is scheduled for early summer or later on in the year, there’s no reason to cancel or pay a change fee,” says Rossman.

“A lot of people are confused about what to do with trips in May, June, etc.,” Rossman says. “I recommend waiting for now. We can hope things will improve quickly, and maybe you’ll be able to travel as planned after all. But if not, then the fee waivers will likely be extended, or maybe the flight itself will be canceled.”

Source
Updated 5.4.20

Airline - Covid-19

True Nature Travels Blog

solo travel tips

Solo traveling is a challenge everyone should try at least once in their lives. What it does is test how comfortable you are with yourself. So, it may or may not be for you. But, wouldn’t it be something worth exploring?

Isn’t it lonely to travel by yourself? Is it safe? Tons of questions arise whenever someone is challenged to fly by themselves, which hampers them from exploring the world alone. Since you are alone pretty much when you go solo, others think it can be lonely. But, if you look around, the world is huge and full of interesting people and destinations. When you are on your own, you tend to step outside your comfort zone and reach out to people around you. Thus, allowing you to meet new people and friends along the way. Mingling with the locals opens your eyes to understand and appreciate their culture. The question of safety depends on your destination and how vulnerable you are to danger.

Here are some travel solo tips to make the most out of your adventure.

Plan ahead of time

People might ask, does it not remove the adventure or fun when you plan too much? Remember, you are traveling solo, which is an adventure by itself. Planning involves research of your destination, where to stay, what to eat, how to go from one place to another, and
another interesting subject that’s unique to the place. With knowledge, you gain more confidence shuffling around alone.

Respect the culture in the country you are traveling to

The last thing you want is to do something that might offend a local and get caught up in a situation. The do and don’t in the community or country you are traveling to. Familiarizing yourself with the currency (and exchange rate), mode of transportation, and cultural norms. Such as in Bhutan and North Korea, where you cannot travel by yourself without a tour guide.

solo travel tips

Don’t jam-pack your schedule

Before booking any tours or reserving tickets ahead of time, check the distance of your destinations. You wouldn’t want to waste your time on the road all the time to visit all the places in your recommendation. Make it simple and choose destinations that speak to you. After all, traveling is all about making fun and new discoveries, and not counting the most number of locations or destinations you have visited.

Don’t run out of cash

Before splurging all your money, consider the number of days you have left to travel around. Save the shopping for the last day when you have scoured the place for good finds.

Get a local sim

Whether you are calling your hotel or taxi, getting a local sim will save you tons of headaches. Aside from this, it will ensure that you have access to the internet, where you can find pretty much everything.

Download apps that can help you while traveling

  • Some apps that can do wonders to your travel, solo or not are the following:
  • Google Map – download an offline version of the vicinity you are traveling to.
  • Currency – an app that instantly converts the money to four different currencies of your choice.
  • Rome2rio is an app that will help you navigate from one place to the next.
  • Google translate – familiarizing, let alone, memorizing the language of the country you are visiting is a hassle. Save some of the words or phrases you will regularly need to communicate freely with the locals.

solo travel tips

Don’t be the target

Especially when traveling to a foreign country, you can easily be a target for a pickpocket or thief. Here are some quick ways to blend in casually with the locals:

  • Walk like you know where you are headed. Instead of taking out your smartphone or going through a physical map, use a headset. While on foot, you can still hear the instruction of Waze or Google Maps.
  • Wear a fake wedding band. Especially for women, this can be an excellent way to escape any unwanted advancement from a male. And, if by chance, a thief approached you, hand over the ring which they can do away without too much cost.
  • Avoid wearing flashy jewelry or outfit. You don’t want to attract attention and be the next target of thieves.
  • Don’t get intoxicated. Drinking too much is a big No-No when you are alone in a foreign place. Drink moderately.
  • Use sling bags or belt bags where you can put your purse. As much as possible, don’t bring all your cash all at once and spread them in different pouches.

Travel must-haves

One important thing about traveling solo is to pack light. These are travel essentials that be present in your bag.

  • Passport holder/organizer. It is easier to have your essential documents in one place to make it easier to locate. Photocopy your relevant documents and keep them in your bag for emergency reasons.
  • Travel pillow/blanket. Make use of convertible items, which can be a pillow or blanket at the same time. Blankets are bulky and heavy, using a convertible one will save you space.
  • First aid kit. It is always better prepared than sorry. Packed some medicine like antacid, analgesic and for diarrhea, as additional back up.
  • Universal adapter. When traveling to a new country, make sure to bring an adapter so your chargers will work.
  • Powerbank. Enough said.

Where to stay

Admittedly, flying solo can be expensive when booking accommodations. However, this should not restrict you from checking in a place that makes you comfortable and safe. Hostels are great money-savers and allow you to network with various travelers. On the other hand, hotels and Airbnb accommodations are fantastic alternatives for the private, relaxed, and secure environment. Regardless of where you stay, the best option is to find a place that is near the airport or near the city center that’ll allow you to move conveniently.

Final Word

Traveling solo is an opportunity to exercise your freedom to do whatever pleases you. With nobody to hamper or dictate your schedule, you have everything under your control. Let loose and break free. Traveling allows you to discover new things, gain a fresh perspective, and appreciate life. Doing it yourself will challenge your limit and belief. In a lot of ways, it can change your life. Thus, solo traveling does make you alone but never lonely.

solo traveling tips

About the Author

Since the age of 16, Tim, a writer at SMK Blog, has enjoyed Traveling and enjoy the world. Although he loves seeing new attractions, he enjoys reading and exploring new things.

True Nature Travels Blog

gift of travel

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.

To share the gift of travel, we are offering $100 off all of our Wellness Retreats through December 15th! This coupon can be combined with Early Bird Discounts for up to $400 off! Enter coupon code GRATITUDE100 in the “Admin Only” field at checkout.

Give yourself the gift of wellness, travel, AND savings this year!

2020 – 2021 Retreat Calendar

Black Friday Travel Sale, Cyber Monday Travel Sale

True Nature Travels Blog

Wellness Trip 1

Nowadays, people resort to going on vacation solely to run away from the hard-working and tedious lives they are leading. However, many tend to return from holiday feeling even more drained. Organizing and going on a wellness trip where you can enliven all your senses, have long and relaxing spa days, meditate, and do yoga will enable you to find a greater purpose beyond tourism. While there are many resorts and wellness destinations around the globe for you to choose from, you still need some basic guidance on how to organize the best international wellness trip. Here is a guide that will get you fully covered.

 

Set a clear ‘relaxing’ objective

You can’t start browsing through various destinations before you figure out what relaxation and mindful wellness trip means for you. You need to have a clear and steady objective of what you want off your trip. For many, it’s the serenity of the ambient, while other factors like comfortable accommodation, beautiful scenery, and fitness amenities are vital. You may want solely to hold or organize spa retreats and offer quality spa treatments and dietary detoxes, so take a notebook and write down your ideas. Once you have everything sorted out, you can search for an international location.

Wellness Trip 2

Look for a lucrative destination

There is an abundance of gorgeous and peaceful wellness retreats around the globe that simply allure an individual to stay there forever. When you need to organize a wellness trip on your own, you need to be careful with your choice. Start your search by narrowing down the places that can fit within your budget. Envisioning impossible outcomes will only make you disappointed. Consider going somewhere touristy, but don’t opt for renowned retreats but many somewhere off the beaten path. Also, go off the popular seasons when there is less crowd. Chances are that you will get the most of your trip and more.


Coordinate trip wisely

Now for some technical matters. Firstly, if you are travelling by car either solo or with a buddy or two, you should find out how to drive internationally. This means that you must check the maps, roads, read the regulations, learn some foreign rules, get the necessary papers, check the rental possibilities if necessary, and others. Next, you have to schedule the sessions, provide suitable accommodation, confirm and reconfirm the timings, and of course, coordinate meals and make sure that dietary are taken care of.

Wellness Trip 3


Deal with the logistic upfront

Organizing an international wellness trip requires patience and diligence, but above all meticulous logistics. Besides transportation, transfer, meals, and food, you need to organize productive wellness activities that will enable you and the whole group to make the most out of your healthy travels. Whether you set your heart out to the beach, mountain, or a place within the rainforest, if you don’t clearly set the timing of the sessions, length, and find the right yoga teachers and trainers, you will be in for more stress. Therefore, in order not to get busy with the organization on your trip, deal with important matters upfront so that you can utterly unwind in your wellness trip.


Seek for physical tranquillity and activity

Going to a distant place where the sheer environment can help you improve your health and wellbeing is the key to an international wellness trip. Sometimes even if the surrounding can make you feel re-energized and uplifted, it may not be enough. Find a place where you can get active and have the ability to relax as well. Have some other activity in mind besides doing yoga and meditating. Think hiking, swimming, or stargazing. Organize some extra curriculum activities like writing, drawing and art sessions, learn how to play an instrument or how to cook some special international dish.

Wellness Trip 4


Have a light agenda and short sessions

You don’t want to do yoga for 5 hours in the morning and then sit and meditate for another five. No, you must set light and mindful agenda so that everyone can get the most out of their stay. If you are in a different timezone, pay attention to the jet lag that someone might be experiencing. Let your yoga or other spa sessions last up to 2 hours each or 45min of some other demanding workout. Have a short break where you would chat, drink green tea and meditate. In the afternoon, you can do other activities, roam around, and in the evening gather up to share experiences.

You aim should be to make this international wellness trip as restful and rejuvenating as possible. By following the above-mentioned guidelines you will certainly accomplish that and have a mindful and regenerating experience.

 

About the Author

Morgan Elliot

Morgan Rose Elliott is an aromatherapist, yoga instructor, animal lover, and a happily married mother of two. She enjoys reading biographies and writing poems, sunny days on the beach and any shape and form of vanilla. Crazy about the ’80s, her favorite band is Duran Duran and she is obsessed with Netflix original Stranger things.

https://twitter.com/MorganRoseElli1

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.