May 24, 2023

Choosing The Right Retreat Location and Environment

Choosing The Right Retreat Location and Environment

On this episode of A Whole Lotta Shift, we explore the world of planning and attending retreats and the importance of an impactful experience, because location matters! We delve into the importance of obtaining necessary information when traveling abroad, ensuring attendees feel safe and secure, and the impact that surroundings can have on personal growth and development. We discuss the importance of understanding one's readiness for certain activities and the need to create boundaries for moments of seclusion and relaxation. Join us as we discuss the key factors to consider when planning a retreat, from location and accommodations to safety and amenities.


About the Host:

Jen is a Dream Catalyst and Business Mentor saving hustling female solopreneurs from the chains of corporate America. Her passion lies in helping women through their self-awakening so they can finally break free, turn their side hustle into the business of their dreams, and live a life full of time, location and financial freedom.

Jen is a California girl at heart, now living out her dream in the Midwest, traveling, coaching female solopreneurs and sharing her own story of triumph and empowerment across speaking platforms. When she's not traveling, she enjoys spending time with her college-aged son and her rescued Pit Bull.

After 20 years of various project manager and corporate trainer roles, while juggling a wide array of side gigs, she has mastered the ability to help women see what they cannot see, believe they are meant for more, and take aligned action to make it happen. With an MBA in Change Management and a Health and Life Coach Certification from the Health Coach Institute, Jen is an expert at creating both the business process changes and the personal habit changes needed to finally Break UP with corporate and go all-in on your side hustle or long-standing passion project.

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Jen Ingram:

Welcome to a whole lot of shift Podcast, the podcast for multi passionate women with an entrepreneurial spirit, where we provide inspiration, motivation, and education to help you shift away from all the shoulds and supposed to choose to what's truly possible for you in your business and your life. All on your own terms. You ready, girl? Let's make shift happen. Hello, and welcome to another episode of a whole lot of shift. I'm so excited. You're here today, this will be episode three in our mini series on retreats. So if you recall from last episode, today, we're going to be talking about location, location, location, and why location, Bucky matters when you're doing a retreat. So we're gonna really kind of dive into the significance of retreat locations, and how they can really help shape your whole retreat experience. So if you've ever wondered why it feels like maybe some retreats just leave you with a really, really lasting impact. And then other retreats, you just kind of fell a little bit short? Well, a lot of times, that's because the physical environment can really play a crucial role on your whole retreat experience. So we're going to kind of explore why retreat, locations matter, and how they can really help enhance your opportunities for personal growth, personal development, while you are at the retreat. So let's first talk about the impact of surroundings on your role retreat experience. We know that research has shown that our surroundings can really have a significant influence on our overall mental and emotional well being. So when you think about it, when it comes to retreats, of course, it's no different, the physical environment can really make a difference. It's no different than when you go to a spa. And you are surrounded by things that give you a mental image, right? Maybe there is something in the background that's playing ocean sounds, or there's birds, or maybe there is, you know, pictures of trees or elements of a forest or mountains or ocean, whatever it is some sort of natural scenery that allows for you to kind of have that imagery in your mind. But on a retreat, you want to be able to experience that in real time, right? That's kind of what you're there to do. And those natural elements, the greenery, the forestry, the mountains, the oceans, whatever the case may be, it really does help reduce your stress level, promote a certain calmness about you allow for true relaxation. And it allows you to be more open to the experience that you're encountering on the retreat, right? After all, you're there probably for some sort of transformational experience. That's what makes retreats so powerful. So when we're thinking about this, here's some things that you might want to consider when you're trying to choose a retreat location. So first of all, obviously, I've already said natural surroundings, retreating to some sort of nature, like a forest or a mountainside or any sort of sacred place, it can really just provide that opportunity for that self reflection that you're there to get. It really allows you to disconnect from the busyness of your everyday life, and then reconnect to self and nature on a much deeper level. If you'll recall last episode, I also talked about the fact that one of the things I love the most about retreats is having the opportunity to just kind of show up and you don't leave my everyday life at the door and whatever decisions I'm needing to make in my everyday life. I don't have to make for the next few days. Right. It's also why I talked a lot in last episode a lot about food and why Food Matters on the retreat. Because if you think about it, oftentimes and especially as women, I mean, we just kind of get in this case of decision fatigue I mean, we're constantly making decisions in our everyday busy life nonstop. And showing up at a retreat and being able to just kind of stop and leave the busyness of everyday life at the door is really important. And so you want the scenery and things to really kind of be set up to allow for you to obtain that experience, right? It's why it's why you would go way to a retreat versus say, go next door to your neighbor, right? Because you're still well, pretty much in the same environment. So when you think about this, we want to think about those places that are going to allow us to reconnect with nature, reconnect with ourselves. So maybe you want to really think about it, you know, what is it that you love? Are you are you somebody who thrives in the summertime and just wants your toes in the sand and hearing the waves crashing? And that salt in the air? Or are you somebody who wants to be high up in the mountains with just lush greenery all around you and an on a hike and moving your body and feeling the ground underneath your feet? And that whole experience and being able to take in some incredible views? You know? What is it that makes you feel good, like your very best self? Right? These are some of the things to be thinking about. Now, also, and I kind of led on to this in the last time as well. Privacy, seclusion, those things kind of matter to write. So obviously, there's other people at this retreat. So again, you want to kind of know some things about yourself and what you enjoy. And what makes you feel like you're at your very best, and being able to recognize what that is and create those boundaries for yourself. So you might need a private room so that you can go back and go back into some form of seclusion after a day of heavy coaching sessions. Or maybe maybe there wasn't heavy coaching session, maybe you guys just went out and explored the environment around you. And you come back and you're tired, and you still just want you know, some of those moments alone. Is that the way that you operate? And do you want to take that into consideration when you're making your retreat accommodations? That's really important. The overall facilities and amenities matter, right, like, what's the goal of the retreat? Again, is this is this sort of sports and adventure retreat? You know, if you're going to be going mountain biking, you know, is there a place for gear that easily accommodates that? Is there? Or is it my experience, one of the things that was really nice, obviously, in North Carolina, we were at a beach house, we were right on the beach. But one of the things that made it show nice, was right in the backyard, there was a couple of outdoor showers that you had the opportunity to enjoy. And since we were there in April, it was actually pretty chilly, a few days of the retreat, there was also a hot tub. So even if we felt like maybe we didn't get to enjoy the ocean water at all times, we still had other opportunities to be outdoors, gather, being water, connecting with each other, connecting with self, those things are so important. So thinking about what do the amenities look like? And I think I also even mentioned last episode, access to bathrooms, because it's important, but you know, it can range in so many ways. Are you there on a wellness retreat? And will you be doing a daily yoga ritual? Is there plenty of space and opportunity that's going to really allow for a really amazing experience? That's really important. Are there accommodations for that? These are some of the things to be thinking about. Now, obviously, as I'm talking about the different types of retreats, there are some retreats that are way more rural or remote, really kind of outside of of any city maybe, you know, maybe you are completely disconnected. Maybe you're not near Wi Fi and maybe that's exactly what you need to really offer yourself kind of an escape from all noise and the chaos of your everyday life?

Jen Ingram:

Does it provide an opportunity for you to really be uninterrupted? Right? Or are you still having the opportunity to bring your everyday life along with you. Because you really don't want that you won't be able to fully show up for the full retreat experience. If you're kind of bringing your, your everyday busyness along with you, right. Now, for some of you, however, maybe your retreat for you is something more urban, maybe it is something that's in the middle of a city, because you want to reconnect to some cultural opportunities, right? Maybe you want to be in the vibrant city, and explore some cultural landmarks and have some really diverse experiences that you don't normally get to do. Sometimes you need some of that, to provide a little bit more inspiration. I think this is one of the reasons why I really, really enjoy the retreat that I go on every year and Qs. Because in some ways, I kind of get both of those, right? I mean, obviously que este, you're basically on an island. So you can walk everywhere, which is really nice. And yes, obviously, you're, you're on the beach, there's trees everywhere, there's just so many things to explore. But also, there is so much culture and history in Key West, it's really, it's really kind of magical. So being able to walk around and get those experiences as well, is really nice, I enjoy that we can, we can usually go back to our lodging space. And usually we have some type of outdoor space, maybe there's a pool, or a patio, what have you. And you can really kind of get into that space. And usually that's where we'll do our workouts, maybe we do a quick circuit session in the morning, or maybe we do yoga outside by the pool, what have you, we kind of get that privacy and seclusion that we're wanting, and the opportunity of feeling like we are away. And then in the evenings when we're wanting to go out and explore the culture and all that the island has to offer, we still get that experience as well. And I really, really enjoy being able to do both in one setting. So it's just a little for them to consider because sometimes, sometimes those experiences can also create a lot of inspiration and creativity and new ideas. Maybe you're there to help spark something alive within your business, you feel like you've just been kind of doing the same old thing for quite a while getting out and having that opportunity to do both, and reconnect with self and have a little bit of seclusion. But then also getting out and exploring other cultures. And seeing all that a place like Key West has to offer can really kind of help spark something new within you as well. So that's something else to consider. Also, anything that has a cultural or spiritual significance can really, really make an impact. When I think about this, I think about one place that I'm going to coming up this year is Sedona, Arizona, and you think about just the healing vibes that you get from a place like Sedona, and just some of those more sacred sites and destinations and maybe they have, you know, a really unique energy about them. That can really just kind of spark a whole sense of awe and self awareness, like in heightened self awareness while you're there, right. Being in the middle of something that feels like it's bigger than ourselves something greater than us that can really have a profound impact. So is that the vibe that you're going for? Are you feeling like you are just overstimulated with people and and all the things and you can never seem to put your phone down or completely disconnect from any computer and you and you do want that opportunity to just go out in venture out into some place that house just this energy about it. That is Sacred and healing, and really allows you to reconnect with yourself and something that's bigger than us. That can really have a big impact in the spiritual journey, if that's what you're there for, right? Now, something else to consider is, are you looking for something that maybe allows for what traditions, rituals, maybe you want to go and completely immerse yourself in the middle of a community you've never explored before. And you really want to learn the way of life of somebody different and your retreat experience is actually immersing immersing yourself 100% into that community and cultural experience. And maybe you're there because you want to connect with people and culture different than your own. It really depends on what it is that you're seeking. This is, again, why I say it's important to not only do your research on the retreat, but understand the retreat host and understand what they are looking for their guests to receive out of the retreat. This can really, this can really changed from host to host and retreat to retreat. So it's, it's important to think about those things. Now, there's also just some practical things you want to think about. Okay, so let's just talk about practicality. One of the things that you might want to think about is, is the retreat location near an airport, is it within driving distance from the airport, the the retreat I went to in North Carolina, it was about a two hour drive from the airport. So I needed to plan for that I needed to plan to rent a car that obviously goes into a bit of a bigger budget. For me, when I'm considering the cost of the retreat, if I now know that I need to rent a car, I also mature retreat last September in Colorado. And that was also a couple hours from the airport. Now, for that it was a couple of hours outside of the Denver Airport. And given the setup of the Denver suburbs, it is a bit easier, I would say to find transportation from the Denver out airport to any one of those surrounding areas around Denver, that's going to be a lot easier than something like Outer Banks, North Carolina, where you're truly kind of diving out to an island. So just maybe something to consider location to the nearest airport, or maybe its location to another big city. That might be something to consider. Does it allow you know, does it allow for you to create the experiences that you're wanting? I know when I was in that retreat in Colorado, for example, while it was it was in a town that was pretty populated, we were actually kind of at the top of the mountain if you will, which was freaking incredible. Okay, the views were amazing. And I have to say thank goodness, again, why Food Matters. We had a private chef, we had everything that we needed right there at the house. And so even though it was a little bit of a drive to get into town, we really didn't want for anything, we didn't necessarily have a need to go into town. If we really wanted to. Enough folks had shown up with vehicles of their own in which we could, we just didn't really need to, there were areas to hike near where we were. Now we did go on a hike one day. And then we want to say a few of us took our cars and then we we drove further into town so that we could reach some of the hiking trails that we wanted to experience.

Jen Ingram:

But again, that's just something to consider. The other thing that you might want to consider, as I'm talking about airports, and I'm talking about really kind of going out, something that you might want to consider is is that where you're at? In other words, let me put it from this perspective. If you're a retreat host who are your attendees are your attendees, moms who are finally for once in their life putting themselves first And maybe this is their first trip really leaving the house and leaving the kids behind. Something like a retreat really far away that they have to fly to, might not be something that they're ready for, they might feel a lot better and be more inclined to attend, if they feel like it's within driving distance of their family, even if maybe that driving distance is five or six hours, maybe for them, that's okay. They still feel like, hey, if for any reason, I did need to go back home, I am within driving distance. And I feel good about that. I don't have to hop on a plane, try to find a plane and an airline ticket out of wherever I am just in case of an emergency. That might be something that is holding very, very near and dear to their heart that they just aren't quite ready to experience yet. So that's something to consider. Who are the attendees that you're wanting to join you? Where are they at in their journey is doing something like going completely off grid with no Wi Fi or whatever else and taking hikes it you know, in these mountains, where you may or may not have cell service? Is that something that they're ready for? Even if you're just saying, Hey, we're not going to be too far out, you can still get cell service, you know, on the hiking trails that we're going to do in these mountains. Are your attendees, those who are ready, willing and able to go on those hikes, you want to make sure that you're attracting the participants who are wanting to do these things. So something to consider is while one of the amazing things about retreats that I always love, is it the majority of the retreat hosts that I have attended retreats with have some sort of surprise plan, or some sort of event in which they kind of want to keep it under wraps to kind of create and build excitement around the experience. Right? Like you're excited to get there and figure out what is this big surprise. Awesome. Think about your attendees. Is that surprise going to be something that they're going to be able to do? Is this something that you have already gone out and scouted out and said, and again, I'm going to use a hike as an example. But there's a million examples I could get but have you already gone in scouted out that hike and said, Okay, this is an easy to moderate hike. And I think that yes, all my participants should be able to do this. Or, Hey, I heard this is a really awesome hike. And there's really amazing views at the end, I've never done it. It says it's moderate level on my little hiking app. And I'm going to take a chance that we can do it that has the potential for some risks, and that might be something that you want to consider. Again, I'm just throwing that out there. I'm using hiking as an example. There's a million different examples. In my retreat in Key West, they said that we were going to be going on a boat. I haven't been on a boat since I was 18 years old, right out of high school and the initial i What it was was I went out to Catalina Island and I don't know if for those of you who have ever had that experience you leave off of Long Beach and it can be some pretty rough waters to get out there to Catalina Island in so the first time that I went on our way out when we were taking the ferry. It was a very rough ride. And I did get seasick and it was not a pleasant experience. And on the way back, I was perfectly fine. I had taken some Dramamine within plenty of time. I actually think that was one of my downfalls on the way out there. I didn't take the Dramamine until I was like on the boat, which was too late and I hadn't eaten anything. I only drink coffee, and I think that was also really bad. So anyways, on the way back, it was a much more pleasant experience I had eaten I had taken Dramamine, I was perfectly fine. However, the traumatic experience of being seasick for two hours while you're trying to get to that island was the only thing that kept popping in my head as I was standing in Key West and hearing from the retreat host that we were going to be going on a boat to watch the sunset way out in the middle of the ocean. And while that sounds incredible and amazing and by the way, it fucking was. I was a bit worried to say the least I packed like Dramamine ginger chews all the things I was very cautious about. Let me make sure that I am well hydrated. oh the other thing I suffer from migraines. I just forgot the name of them. migraines that they are, I can't believe that. But anyways, I suffer from migraines that causes extreme vertigo. And I don't actually know that I'm having the migraine, I don't have pain with these migraines, but they cause extreme vertigo. So as you can imagine, if you tell me something like a boat ride, that's not exactly at the top of my list. And so I had all these thoughts in my head. And I was really, really glad that the retreat host did not save that as her surprise, because I wouldn't have been prepared, I truly had to mentally and physically prepare myself, I had to make sure I had my medication on me, and that I had taken it. And and I did bring jam Amin along, you know, there was all these things that I had to do, I did a guided meditation before we left to go on that boat ride, because I knew I wanted to be in the most calm state and really tell myself that that bad experience I had had before didn't have to be the same experience over again, right. But that took some effort. And had it been a complete surprise, I don't know that the experience would have gone as great as it did. And I don't know that it would have been as impactful. So something like that, you're going to want to think about what is it that you're trying to create for your participant in your attendees. And, you know, maybe you send them a survey before before the retreat so that you can understand those things. So yeah, these are these are just some of the things to consider who's attending are they going to be okay with going to whatever location you're going to, is the location that you're going to does it allow them to both disconnect from their everyday busy life, but also still make them feel the safety and security that they need? Just some things to kind of think about, obviously, again, safety, you know, you want to be aware of weather, local conditions, you know, if you're planning a hike is there, when you're up in the mountains, in particular, weather can change hour by hour, minute by minute, especially at the kind of altitudes I'm referring to in Colorado, the weather, the weather at the bottom of the mountain can be one thing, you start getting to the top of that hike, and that is a completely different story. So you know, you just, you want to be aware, you want to make sure that you're taking all those safety precautions. The other thing to think about is, are is there

Jen Ingram:

all the accommodations that you need to create the experience that you're wanting to create. So for example, at the retreat that I went to in North Carolina, the host originally had planned for us a burning somewhat of a burning ritual, where we were gonna, we were gonna burn some things. And she found out once we were already there that that entire city has like a permanent burn band, like they do not allow like campfires on the beach, they don't allow you to, you know, have big fire pits, nothing like that. And whilst obviously, the retreat leader is someone who is really, really good at just pivoting, going with the flow, figuring things out, in fact, Jen, she actually kind of prefers things to be that way. It all worked out in her favor, and and she was able to create something else for us that I think was still extremely impactful. But that might be something to think about. If you're thinking in your mind, hey, I want to go out on a giant piece of land, where we can just experience like a prairie and maybe some wooded areas that allow us to just explore all the amazing freakin creatures that come on to the land and what all of that means and what those sunrises and sunsets get to look like when you are on some of those flatter prairie views or in the valley somewhere, right? And you're wanting to experience all of that and you're like all and then we're going to do a bonfire. Where are you in the middle of a burn van? Because it's been a really dry season. Is there a drought? Is that not something you're going to be allowed? I mean, these kinds of things you want to be thinking about when you're going to pick the location? Is there some type of experience that you're trying to create that the location you've chosen may not be able to accommodate? So just flip the bid think about? Okay. I think I have covered locations like pretty well. I guess I didn't go in depth about locations abroad. I have done that as well. So many Things to think about when we're talking about exploring locations abroad. Obviously, one thing, fairly important. Safety matters. If you're going to another country, respect the other country, right? You want to be respectful. You also want to be smart about some things is this is a country where you know that at times, there can be turmoil, games, violent, whatever the case, okay? You want to make sure that you're providing a sense of safety for your guests. And as a guest, you want to be asking lots of questions about accommodations, I'm thinking in the top of my head, I went to a retreat in Mexico, and the resort that we were staying at was actually a good hour, hour and a half from the airport. And the way, the way that it works, when you get out of the airport, all the different taxi services, as they're saying, your walk out are like fighting for your business, basically. I mean, you are just bum barded, with everybody asking you, you know, where are you going? How much money do you have, you know, just, and it's truly a bargaining opportunity to there. There isn't there isn't a set price. So you really, if you've got guests, or if you are a guest, if you've never experienced something like that, this is something you might want to think about. The other thing that I I had to really think about, I was on my way to that retreat, but I had been in Austin, Texas, like the week before that retreat, and there was this little part of me that felt like, okay, holy crap, I'm in Texas, how much further would it be for me to just drive down? Why am I going to drive all the way back home, only to then catch a flight down to Mexico. But then as I got to thinking about that, I thought, okay, hold on. Single white female blond hair, blue eyes crossing the Texas border into Mexico to drive for several hours alone, to find this resort in which I've never been to, might not be the smartest idea. So I chose to take the airport, the host that I was working with, she had given the some recommendations of some transportation companies that she worked with in the past that she knew that they were not only safe, but they were extremely helpful, very nice, very clean. And they would get there. And it was nice, because I walked off the plane, there was somebody standing there with my name on a card, they immediately took my bags for me, they got me to my location, my flight had been delayed. And so I ended up getting there, like in the middle of the night, it was very, very late. And when we got into the van, they were just incredibly accommodating, they asked if I wanted to pillow if I was tired, they kind of dimmed all the lights, they turned on, like some really relaxing, soothing music. And they were like, if you want to just go ahead and sleep, it's going to be about an hour and a half before we get there. And you're welcome to do that. And it was, it was very, very comforting to know that that piece of the puzzle was figured out for me, I didn't have to get off the plane and suddenly bargain in the middle of the night and airport I'm not extremely familiar with with 30 Different taxi services trying to come at me and get me to use their service. So I have to say having that accommodation prepared for me, was really nice. And when I think about retreats that that I may want to host abroad. That's something to think about because another popular retreat location that I've been planning on and that for another year, I believe that I'm going on is Jamaica, but similar scenario, right? You want to you want to take some safety precautions into consideration how am I getting from the airport to the resort is this is this figured out for me? What do I need to do? Again, these are questions you want to ask you want to really understand your location. You want to understand what what are all the things they that you need, are there additional immunizations that you need are, you know, all of these things your retreat host hopefully, is helping you identify and as a retreat host, you definitely want to make sure that you've gone through all of these things, and also sharing just other information. So for example, there are some countries that if your passport is anywhere near expiring, and when I say near like six months, they will not let you go, they will not let you in and that might be something that you want to research. There's just so many pieces to the puzzle. And so, as a guest you want to make sure that you're getting all the information that you possibly can and or as a HOST, you want to make sure that you're trying to answer all these questions for your guests as well? Yeah. So abroad can be, can be really tricky in 20, the end of 2024? I think it is, there's a retreat that I've been looking at that is in New Zealand. Again, this is a location with a very, very long travel time. So I'm going to need to budget and accommodate for that as well. In other words, I'm probably going to want to plan, you know that I arrive a couple days early, I may need to tack on a couple days worth of travel to the end. I mean, no different than you would do if you were going on a cruise or whatever. Right. But these are just things to be thinking about, where are you going? What are their conditions, like, what timezone Are you in? Do they can Oh, the Senate? Can your cell phone service provider provide you service there? This can be important. Wi Fi? If you do need Wi Fi accommodations? Do you want to travel with some sort of device where you can you can create that for yourself? What are you allowed to take in and out of the country? What are you allowed to pack for? What are you not allowed to pack for? Are you gonna want to make sure that if you are creating experiences for your guests, and there's going to be things from that local community that they're going to want to take home? Are they allowed to take certain things home? Make sure that you you understand all of that, yes, traveling abroad is a whole other experience. And you want to make sure that you've covered all those bases. So I think that about covers it on locations. Why locations matter? Again, I hope that I've provided some more questions and answers for you to think about whether you're looking at attending a retreat, or hosting a retreat. I hope that you found this information helpful. And we are going to continue this mini series on retreat so that I so I hope that you will stay tuned as we continue to dive into all things retreats because they are quite an amazing experience. And I strongly encourage anybody to go out and experience of retreat at some point in time at some point in their life. So I really hope this information is helpful. And until next time, keep making shift happen.