Travel is one of the best ways to learn about a new culture while learning more about yourself. Mystic or spiritual travel is defined by Women’s Health as a modern approach to seeking a deeper knowledge of oneself and the surrounding world. Although, it’s important to remember that the concept of ‘spiritual’ holds a different meaning for each individual. We’re talking about taking a journey somewhere in the world with the purpose of finding your inner light. People seek this out in different ways, for example, participating in the Camino de Santiago Pilgrimage walk, experiencing energizing vortexes in Sedona, or stepping into an Ayahuasca retreat

Mystic travel takes the form of many different activities that might help an individual look inward to their purpose in order to apply it to the outside world. Anyone can participate in this kind of travel as some venture far and wide to explore a new way of thinking or living. We spoke with a few individuals to better understand the concept of spiritual travel and learn how to prepare for it.

Do your research

Before embarking on a big adventure to explore your inner self, do your research. You don’t want to just show up to a mystic travel retreat and not know what you’re putting your mind and body through. We spoke with one reader who traveled to the holy land of Rishikesh, India for a 28-day yoga retreat and teacher training. Lianne Young, a sex and relationships expert, shared her experience with us and suggests checking reviews, being in good health, and having an open mind before embarking on this type of journey.

“Check the reviews of the company or retreat first, and I mean really do your research,” said Lianne Young. “I would also check the small print and have the company confirm in writing exactly what is included.” 

Definitely read the fine print if you’ll be traveling a few thousand miles and investing a sum of money into a spiritual retreat. Young informed us that her all-inclusive yoga retreat in India cost a total of $1,200. We also spoke with reader Gary Brown who shared his experience of traveling to Costa Rica for an Ayahuasca retreat with the purpose of self-exploration. His best advice: Do your research. 

mystic travel, spiritual travel
Getty/Wade Davis

“Going to another country alone can be intimidating,” said Brown. “Research is my best advice. Look for a medically approved instructor or at least some medical presence at the facility.”

Gather all the information you can about where you’re going, what you’ll be doing, and who will be leading you on your spiritual travel adventure. Keep in mind that you can research all you want, but expect the unexpected. 

“If you choose a retreat in a country that is not Westernized, then expect the unexpected,” said Young. “I would definitely make sure you ask the history of your Yogi or instructor as well.” 

Go with an open mind, but take necessary precautions

After doing your research and finding a mystic travel experience that’s right for you, open your mind to all the positive and negative experiences you might encounter. Remember that you’ll be in a foreign place, surrounded by people you’ve never met, and doing something that might be physically or mentally challenging. It’s okay to be nervous! Just keep your heart open to the experience and be confident enough in yourself to handle adversity.

“You’ll meet others from all walks of life and you might not get along with everyone,” said Young. “Go with the flow and surround yourself with the ones who compliment you.”

Of course, you’ll want to make sure your body is physically ready for whatever spiritual adventure is coming your way. In some cases, a medical exam, physical training, or detox may be necessary before the journey. For an Ayahuasca retreat, Brown suggests following the dietary requirements prior to departure. That may mean no alcohol, no dairy, no meat, or no sugar in the weeks leading up to the experience. This varies across the board

Young routinely practiced yoga before her retreat to India. Even with that background, it was still an enduring 28 day period. 

“Healthwise, I recommend making sure you are in great health before taking the challenge of a month-long yoga retreat (or any retreat) as it is physically and mentally one of the most challenging things you will ever do,” said Young. “Take your own medical kit with you. It’s great to be holistic, but be covered for your own benefit. Also, get travel insurance.” 

Travel insurance is very important under the circumstances of traveling for a physical retreat. You never know what may happen, and in the event something does, you’ll be covered. 

mystic travel
Getty/Frederic Soltan

Keep a journal

Take a personal diary with you to record how you’re feeling before, during, and after the spiritual adventure. Pour your heart and soul onto the pages. This will help you reflect on your progress and thoughts throughout the journey. You may read back on it one day and discover more about yourself than you did at that moment! Brown was motivated to attend an Ayahuasca retreat in order to explore what to do with the next phase of his life. He learned that the experience is different for everyone.  

“My experience was mild with some hallucinations and some healing [physically], but nothing life-changing happened to me,” said Brown. “I had a shoulder issue when I arrived at the retreat. The shaman wanted to address this first during the opening ceremony. It was addressed; the pain ceased and mobility was restored. That was amazing.”

 

Be respectful

As with any type of travel to a foreign place, be respectful of the surrounding environment. It’s going to be different, and it might take some getting used to, but being in a contrasting setting may lead you to be more appreciative of what you have at home. At least, that’s how it was for Young.  

“Could I get used to life in India? No way. But I can tell you now that I appreciate every luxury I have in my life with a little more respect,” said Young. 

As we touched on before, some mystic travel experiences may require you to be stripped of all vices that surround your day-to-day life. For instance, a meditation retreat in a South Korean temple is an isolating experience that’s meant to bring you into the present. It may exclude alcohol, caffeine, or internet access. Understand that this is part of the process in order to immerse yourself in the culture. 

“The yoga retreat I went on was one of the toughest challenges I ever set for myself. For starters, the food was all vegetarian, no coffee, no sugar, and no television. These are just a few of the changes,” Young explained. 

With that being said, mystic travel isn’t for everyone. But it does provide the opportunity to explore a new way of thinking or living. Everyone’s experience is different, but accepting the challenge in the first place is already a big step forward in your journey of self-discovery.