An Inside Look Into Remote Year’s 1-week Retreats
By Catalina Todd, 12. Nov. 2021
When was the last time you disconnected from the chaos of daily life and spent 1 week doing something just for you?
Whether you are dreaming of a break from the routine, hoping to experience personal growth, or looking to join our global community, Remote Year retreats provide a balanced blend of wellness experiences, relaxation, and opportunities for adventure. Participants make memories and form connections that last long after they have returned home from our 1-week retreats.
So what exactly is a Remote Year retreat, and what makes these experiences so special? To help answer this question, we sat down with Tyler, our Global Experience Director and the Program Leader of our recent Vida retreat in Costa Rica.
Tell us about what life is like on the Vida retreat.
On our Vida retreat, we’re staying in a beautiful remote property perched on top of a hill with incredible views of the ocean. In addition to its beauty, this retreat location has great energy. The property is surrounded by mango trees, star fruit trees, and avocado trees which provide food for many of the amazing farm-to-table meals prepared by Vanessa (the retreat chef) and her family. Housekeeping is also a family run operation, and the bartender, Diego, is a Remote Year favorite. Especially when he delivers his fresh, healthy smoothies to the poolside via skateboard.
Day to day, we enjoy a thoughtful balance and great mix of activities. There is yoga, meditation, introspective workshops, down time, and a day excursion. Retreat participants are able to make the most out of their week, but also have the time to unwind, relax, and connect with new friends.
As a program leader, you spend a lot of time getting to know everyone on the retreat, learning about their backgrounds, hearing their stories-can you tell us some of the reasons participants have decided to join our retreats?
It’s been fascinating to meet so many people on our retreats who come from different backgrounds and in totally different stages of their life journey. Ultimately, they’re all here for different reasons. Some of our program participants have been wanting to join a 4-month or 12-month Remote Year program, and the retreat experience was a perfect introduction. Others have already attended one of our programs and wanted to reconnect with the Remote Year community. There are many people who just need to disconnect from life back at home. Others simply said “I’m treating myself!” We’ve even had a couple who decided to get married during the retreat to turn the experience into their honeymoon!
Can you tell us a little bit about what participants are looking to gain from their retreat experience?
I think a lot of retreat participants aren’t completely sure of what they are looking to experience on a retreat. Our program participants come for many different reasons, and what they are looking to experience often overlaps with the reason they’ve joined a retreat. I’ve seen program participants looking for clarity on their life path, reflection time, opportunities to leave their comfort zone and experience new places. Some are exploring the possibility of moving to another country, looking to make connections, or completely disconnect from work.
Many times, what program participants think they are looking to take away from the program is much different than what they end up leaving with. For example, a program participant coming for no reason in particular ends up leaving with new friends, a deeper understanding of themself, and a newly found love for yoga.
We often hear that people aren’t quite sure what to expect on a retreat, yet are pleasantly surprised by their experience. Do you have any insights into how expectations are different from the experience?
This is a fun question. Being told you’ll be a part of a community for a week doesn’t resonate the same as actually making a connection and then walking away with a new perspective on life. Reading that you’ll be eating farm-to-table meals is not the same as physically smelling, tasting, and sharing that meal with new friends. Seeing pictures of a beautiful destination will never do justice to feeling the fresh wind in your hair or the sound of monkeys howling in the background.
It’s difficult to set the proper expectations for that aha! moment you experience during a workshop, or a moment when emotions fully take over and tears start flowing down your face because you’re so full of joy. It’s always best to go into any experience with an open mind and an open heart, and be ready for anything.
Retreat experience below the tree
How do you think the community aspect of our retreats enhances the overall experience?
The community is everything! Experiences like chanting meditations around a campfire, conversing with others during a family style meal, or having the support of strangers as you get vulnerable during a workshop can’t be achieved alone. These are moments when you realize the importance of community during our retreats-this is where the magic happens.
As famously written by Christopher McCandless -- happiness is only real when shared. I’ve seen so many program participants leave our retreats feeling refreshed, revitalized, and genuinely happy. This is only possible because of the community they shared the experience with.
What do you think are some of the best highlights of our retreats?
Retreat highlights tend to center around the moments program participants get to step outside their comfort zone. This typically happens during workshops where they go deep, get vulnerable, and share a special moment with someone they just met.
Memorable moments also happen when we do adventurous activities, or for some individuals these highlights occur in quieter moments when people get to connect, chat about life, listen to music, and play games. For other retreat participants, a program highlight could be the serenity they experience after a yoga session, group meditation, or transformational sound healing experience.
Can you tell us a little bit about what to expect from retreat workshops?
It’s important to note that all of our workshops and activities are optional. We never put pressure on retreat participants to attend everything.
Our retreat workshops are currently themed around reconnecting, rejuvenating, and renewing. The workshops we put together allow each person to connect on a deeper level with the other retreat participants. It’s not just surface level small talk, we get to know each other’s stories. Some Remotes feel compelled to open up and say things they never thought they would admit to a stranger -- and that’s beautiful and the beginning of a healing journey for that individual.
Our workshops allow program participants to look inward, as well as to zoom out and think about the big picture of their life. There is time to reflect and think about what areas of life they can improve, as well as celebrate what is going well. We help create clarity on what’s important--how to authentically relate to others and really challenge one’s perspective and outlook on life. Workshops are the perfect space to step outside of your comfort zone in a safe and contained environment.
As a program leader, what do you love about our retreats?
I love to see people from different walks of life come together and become family in such a short period of time. The loving vibe doesn’t end when the week is over. People still keep in contact after the retreat, send WhatsApp and Slack updates to each other, meet up in their hometowns, have Zoom reunions, and join other Remote Year programs together. There are even groups of people that are attending all of our retreats-one person has even joined us for four 1-week and 1-month programs, and is already eyeing a retreat later this year! The amount of continued support and love for each other is really incredible to observe and to be a part of.
The impact we have on program participants' lives is significant -- and that is exactly why I continue to do this work! It’s interesting to see how we’re all so different and yet are going through similar challenges in our lives. That revelation creates a beautiful and unified experience for everyone.
I love that our retreats are not just yoga retreats or rigidly structured experiences. They’re not just adventure trips, cultural tours or personal growth seminars. They’re also not just a week hanging out by the beach, drinking and relaxing. Our retreats are a little bit of everything so you can check all the boxes and leave the week feeling fulfilled, recharged and relaxed.
Your journey awaits, relax, renew, and recharge on one of our upcoming retreats.
Catalina Todd is a Content Manager at Remote Year and the travel blogger behind Miss Adventures Abroad. She’s spent 3 years living in Italy and Spain, and has traveled while working remotely to Lisbon, Athens, Lima, and Medellin with Remote Year.