As soon as you take your people out of the country, that is a higher risk factor. You have to be really diligent about everything.
– Sheri Rosenthal
Darla: Hello and welcome to today’s episode of Retreat and Grow Rich, the Podcast. I am here with Dr Sheri Rosenthal. Hi Sheri.
Sheri: Hey Darla. I’m so excited to be here. Yay.
Darla: I am too. I have a feeling that our listeners are going to be super excited about this episode in particular, because we’ve never been together on a call.
Sheri: I know…
Darla: …and we both have such passion for retreat and retreat leaders, I think people are just gonna love this conversation.
Sheri: I agree.
Darla: Thank you so much and I’m just going to tell people a little bit about you.
Darla: So guys, Dr Sheri is a business coach and international retreat leader and author. She is a former foot surgeon and she left behind her successful practice, a surgical residency program, which she personally designed and directed… and a couple of husbands to find her life calling. She spent eight years traveling, meditating and studying ancient traditions of spiritual evolution, as well as studying and working with and for Don Miguel Ruiz which I know our people will find that super cool. If you have not read The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz, I highly recommend it. We give it out sometimes actually, at retreats.
Today Sheri is known as one of the most sought after retreat strategists for coaches, speakers and authors, and is the owner of ‘Journeys of the Spirit Travel’, a boutique agency specializing in the planning and management of group travel since 2003. Through her wanderlust entrepreneur community and her signature course, the retreat blueprint program, she has taught thousands of facilitators how to design exceptional retreats that allow them to stand out in their niche. She loves teaching clients how to plan, fill and profit from transformational destination retreats that change lives in a huge way while adding serious income to their bottom line. I know anyone who’s listening is very into that.
Sheri: Of course.
Darla: …and I’m really excited to talk today, especially about international retreats and how to create exceptional international retreats. I often talk to people out of international retreats when they’re starting because, usually that’s what we envision… is like this glamorous life of traveling the globe and bringing people with us, which is awesome and possible and Sheri’s gonna tell us exactly how, today… and… you know, not everybody is ready to take a group across the globe.
Sheri: This is true.
Darla: Yeah. So we’ll, we’ll dive into that. And… so, if you’re someone who’s gotten that vision to, you know, take people to Bali or Costa Rica or whatever, we’re gonna get down and dirty about that today. But first Sheri, I just want to talk a little about you and why you love retreats?
Sheri: Well, as, as you mentioned when you are giving my little bio there, I studied with Don Miguel Ruiz for eight years and ran his business for two of those years and so, that was my beginning for retreats, and I fell in love with them, mainly because the first one was the first step of a major change in my life. And I feel so in love with the format and structure that I don’t know, I became a retreat junkie and I was just addicted. So, not only did I go to every one of Don Muguel retreats, but then when I started teaching The Four Agreements in 2003, I ran about five international retreats a year and plus my apprenticeship group which was a weekend retreat and I did that monthly. And then I started my travel agency in 2003 and I started it for my own legal benefits, but then everyone started asking me, can you run my retreat? And then that’s how we got into a planning and managing other retreat leaders, retreats.
Darla: And that was back in 2003?
Sheri: Yeah. Long time ago now.
Darla: Yeah. I mean, I’m just like so impressed with five international retreats per year and then of course, the little weekend retreat too. I mean, that’s a lot. That’s a lot of people that you’ve coached and held space for and watched transform.
Sheri: I know, I know. I told you I became a retreat junkie. I’m not kidding. I’m telling the truth.
Darla: Yeah, that’s awesome. Well, I’m guessing a lot of our listeners relate to that, like going on retreat can open up this whole other world of… For me, the addiction is the conversations about truth.
Darla: And that those aren’t happening everywhere and I am imagining people listening, have been in a space like that and said, how can I do this with my life?
Sheri: Absolutely. The chance to get really intimate on a retreat is what makes them so lovely. That’s the magic.
Darla: Yes. Awesome. So we met when we were sponsoring an event and we had booths across from each other.
Darla: And neither of us was talking about retreats in our work. We were kind of finding our footing and, what is this about in this new coaching world, and I’m sure you remember I sprained my ankle.
Sheri: Oh yes. I remember.
Darla: Ice packs and in a wheelchair and, all of these people coming up and wanting to heal me, you know, inappropriately without consents, lot of healers. But that’s how I discovered you were a foot doctor.
Darla: Which was highly convenient.
Sheri: Exactly. It’s always great to hurt yourself when you’ve got a podiatrist in the booth right across the way.
Sheri: I know.
Darla: So from there, how did you decide to help other people lead retreats? I relate, I left the corporate world and then I start coaching and I’m thinking, oh, leave behind all of that corporate business stuff and start being a coach but then, well, maybe I can marry these worlds. So, what was your journey to where you are now?
Sheri: Well, what happened was during the time I was studying with Don Miguel, he urged me to start teaching The Four Agreements and start coaching it. So, actually, I’d been coaching for years since 2003 but then what happened was, after about 10 years, didn’t want to teach The Four Agreements anymore. Not, not specifically.
I mean, it’s behind everything we do, my whole team are all Four Agreements people, they are my spiritual family, but I wanted to do something that was more uniquely me, instead of teaching someone else’s work. So, I was in that… when we met, I was in that in-between space and I hadn’t come up with the idea of actually teaching retreat leaders how to do amazing international retreats and it was strange that I hadn’t seen what was obvious right in front of my face because I had been managing and planning retreat since 2003 for people, literally hundreds and hundreds of them.
Sheri: But I never thought to teach them until I started taking some coaching programs and I observed that coaches don’t really know how to do retreats properly. And then I thought to myself, that’s my sweet spot because it involves everything I love. I can do the mindset of The Four Agreements, I can teach everything I know about retreat planning and I can even use my medical advice here and there when needed. So yeah, it was great.
Darla: You never know.
Sheri: Exactly. And along the way, of course, personally, it was that inner evolution of going from, you know, going into the career that my family wanted me to go in.
Sheri: And then discovering really what is in my heart, what, what’s my purpose and passion and finding a way to take all that I am, so this point and put it in all that I do, so I really expressed that purposefully. That was the outer and more of the inner journey that brought me here.
Darla: What was it like for you? I know for me, I became an engineer because I was good at math and science and you should be an engineer, and I knew I wanted to make enough money to get out of my hometown and like, create a different life for myself than what I saw. And so, leaving that was terrifying for me. I had so much inner resistance to that decision. What was it like to leave being a surgeon?
Sheri: Well, it was definitely challenging. I tried three times actually to leave. Two times I got sucked back. And the last, the third was the charm, but it was, it was really challenging. Sometimes it was family issues and money issues and then finally I said I’m done. And part of what pushed that last time was that I had paid off all of my medical school loans I had… really reach what I felt was a pinnacle in my career and that I had a fabulous practice… I was beloved in my area, I was running the residency program and teaching surgery. I always have loved teaching so that was great.
I was president of the podiatry association in St. Pete and so I had done everything that I wanted to do and I was truly done, like done. And it didn’t matter. I mean my parents were really upset. My mother thought I was going to become a bag lady and I said to her, really, mom, after all these years of raising me, you would think better of yourself that your daughter’s not going to become a bag lady, but you know, it’s a nice Jewish mother, what is she supposed to say?
Darla: Exactly. So, you were teaching surgery, so now you’re teaching in a different way. And I love that you said, this really brought all of the parts of me together. And I feel that’s why so many people are drawn to leading retreats because it’s the perfect kind of container to use a lot of different gifts that you’ve picked up in different careers, or certifications, or your own life journey. You never know in a retreat when you’re going to need that story from that one time, for me back in corporate or that one training, that one technique that you’ve never used since, but now it’s just perfect. How have you seen that for yourself?
Sheri: Absolutely. I mean all of these things come together perfectly in a retreat and that’s what makes it magical. Even down to simple things. Like I was running a retreat in Oaxaca and on the first day, a gal across the street, to go to a little tienda… And she wasn’t paying attention. Her foot went in a hole. She twisted her ankle and she came back and I looked at it and I said: ‘It’s fractured and we need to go to the hospital’. And so the, the little place we were staying at took us to the hospital, which was just a block away. And it was just awesome that the orthopedist there spoke English perfectly.
Sheri: And I said, she has a Lisfranc fracture, I believe. And he says, that’s so rare. I think she just sprayed it. And I said, what would you do me a favor and take an x-ray? And he’d comes back and he goes you’re right, It’s a Lisfranc fracture. And he put her in a cast. So, like the craziest things come out.
Darla: Do you attract a lot of foot injuries? I’m kidding.
Sheri: Noo. I think the people were just going to have an injury for whatever reason, and I happen to be there that go through that process more effortlessly.
Darla: That’s awesome.
Sheri: I don’t know. And of course many different sides of it. The Four Agreements work always comes into play, you know, whenever they is a problem child on a retreat, I feel like that background has made me a really great facilitator and I can handle any situation I’m put in. Also just from being a surgeon all those years, I haven’t really come across a situation yet where I blanked out or, or it didn’t have clarity as to what to do, like when an emergency happens, something snaps in me and I’m ultra-focused.
Darla: Yeah, that’s awesome. So Sheri, I’m going to get your advice on international retreats in a minute, but what’s been your favorite retreat that you’ve personally hosted? I’ve known it’s hard to choose.
Sheri: Oh God…Darla, I’m such a… you know, it’s called wanderlust entrepreneur for a reason and it’s really hard for me to hone down on one place.
Darla: They are all the favorite, right? It’s like the latest one is always, the favorite for me, I think.
Sheri: I have to say though, one of the most magical journeys I took a group on and because of that I went there a couple of times was Bhutan.
Darla: Hmm. I’ve never been. I hear it’s magical
Sheri: Yeah. A lot of people don’t go and just a really small country for those of you that don’t know where it is. It’s to the east of Nepal, up against the Himalayas with a little piece of India in between the two countries, and up to the 70’s, you couldn’t even travel there. It was totally… no one was allowed in the country and they’ve slowly been opening it more and more.
It’s a Tantric Buddhist country and before Buddhism came in, they had the tradition of bon, which is a shamanic tradition, but they’ve merged the two together and the people are fantastic. The country is based on gross national happiness, not product and they are very passionate about it. And it’s just the combination of the beauty, the raw beauty of the place and the heart of the people that made that journey so special for me to run it again after the first time.
Darla: That’s awesome. That is a great kind of opening into the idea of international retreats. So, you know, as I said earlier, often I talk people out of international retreats. Not really, because their soul is the guide there, you know, it’s really…
Sheri: Of course.
Darla: but setting people up for success and learning verses I’ve never done this before, let me just, you know, go across the globe. For some people that is there perfect step, and for some people, there is some stages before that.
Darla: But when you’re talking about international retreats and you’re describing the country and the beauty and the culture and you know, even having this whole different context for life and the reason for being, it’s so magical. So, talk a little bit about international retreats just in general of like, choosing a location and what that location and the culture and the land can provide.
Sheri: Absolutely. So, here’s the thing, Darla. I agree with you 100% and for most people, their first move is not to do an international retreat because there are so many, aspects, once you take somebody, once you take a group international, it can be overwhelming for people. So for a lot of folks, it’s best to do something in their own country or locally.
They just get the hang and they work out their process, you know, how their retreats gonna layout and, and they get the feel of it and get the whole vibe down and then they can think more about doing it internationally so…I think that’s actually a really wise suggestion. But of course, if somebody feels in their heart that their first trip has to be international, then that’s great. I mean, we can train them to do a really great international retreat. So, that’s not a problem.
As far as location goes, I have a very particular point of view about choosing location. I feel like we should never choose a location based on where we want to go per se. A retreat needs to go where the subject matter needs it to go. So, for example, the Bhutan trip that I shared with you, the name of that was finding the Buddha nature within, and so at the time I was still teaching The Four Agreements and what I was doing was taking the alignment between The Four Agreements and Buddhism and bringing it together on this trip. And so each place we visited has very specific mythology that aligned with… the journey of transformation I was taking people on during that trip.
It was specifically from point A to point B during this retreat, which was 10 days long. So, it was a long trip and it was quite a process of evolution. Each day the activities of that we did at the places we visited help teach the message and the lesson. In other words, for me, a retreat is not a workshop in a pretty place, where there’s alignment. Alignment is key. So, the theme of the retreat, what you’re teaching, where the location is and the activities that are available to be done, the experiential part of the retreat, all align.
If you don’t have that, for example, I’ll just give an example. So you could do a writing retreat on a beach, right? And it would be restful and lovely. There’d be nothing wrong, nothing wrong with doing that. However, let’s say you did a creative literary retreat in Edinburgh, Scotland, which is the UNESCO place for literature. I mean that’s where Harry Potter was written. All famous authors, so many famous authors were there and they have all different haunts and hotels and it is literary heaven. So, if you did a retreat there, instead of staying in a beautiful, small little Boutiquey hotel where you had the whole hotel to yourself practically, you could be in the busy city, but also have that nice quiet writing time of be inspired by all the famous authors that came before you.
For me, doing a retreat like that has a lot of alignment, and then if you looked on the internet and someone was searching for a literary, you know, creative writing retreat and they saw a retreat that was on the beach versus going to Edinburgh where you’d been and you’d write an amazing thing, and the activities, and how it’s inspiring it is what, which one do you think would sell out?
Sheri: You know.
Darla: I’m ready to write. Let’s go.
Sheri: Yeah, exactly. So in my brain, that’s how my brain works. You could tell me something and I’ll come up with a location where a mythology matches what it is that you’re teaching. So another example of that is, one of Don Miguel Ruiz’s favorite places to do his retreats, were Teotihuacan, outside of Mexico City. So, this particular ruin has the huge pyramid of the moon and the sun, but it also has this name street that goes down the center called the avenue of the dead with multiple plazas. And, so each day we go through a couple of plazas and do a process in each plaza. And because the mythology of the avenue of the dead is that you’re going through the two-headed snake, and as you’re going down the avenue of the dead, it’s digesting everything that no longer serves you in your life. And then we finish on the last day at the pyramid of the sun where you’re light merging with light, you know who you really are, and so…
Darla: I’ve been there, but it was with a group that was… at a wedding. We did not have that experience.
Sheri: No, I’m sure you didn’t. But you…
Darla: There might’ve been Tequila.
Sheri: Yes. Well, sometimes there is Tequila at night with our groups, sometimes, but the thing is when you bring in the energy and purpose of the sacred sites, amazing things happen, and I have seen huge ceremonies on the top of the pyramid of the sun where people who are watching actually left their body and, and pass down on the floor, like just getting caught up in the whole energy… and there’s a way we go up the pyramid that activates the energy that’s there. And so these are the kinds of things where instead of teaching in a room, you’re actually taking your people out on the land. And so that’s how it worked in Bhutan. That’s how it worked in Teotihuacan. And it doesn’t work out for every format obviously, but the more you can get your people out and having an experience of something, takes them out of their head and puts them more in their heart.
It could be as simple as tying in an activity that normally you wouldn’t think to tie in, but then you find a way to tie it in. Like, let’s say you were doing a retreat, even a business retreat, let’s say Hawaii and you wanted to swim with the dolphins… Well, you could swim with the dolphins in the afternoon and that makes a lesser value of the retreat because it’s not thought that you’re teaching during that time. You know you’re teaching in the morning and then you’re going to swim with the dolphins in the afternoon, versus, now saying, we’re going to swim with the dolphins and have a powerful ceremony calling them in and allowing the energy of the dolphins to help us let go of anything that’s stopping us from moving forward in our businesses and feel those things dissolving away in the waters.
Now, what happens is to swim with the dolphins, not only it was fun because, of course, swimming with the dolphins is, but now there’s purpose and meaning, and it’s teaching making more value. Now, someone perceiving that on a trip sales page is gonna look at that and say, wow, that’s really powerful. So instead of seeing a half-day of value, now they see a full day of value.
Darla: Yeah. I love that. I love that.
Sheri: So, hopefully, that gives a few examples…
Darla: Oh yes, and I talk a lot about context, right? Like creating the context versus teaching content.
Darla: What I’m hearing is using the experience and the location to create a context where we’re viewing through a different lens.
Darla: Where everything is significant and giving us information versus we’re just doing things.
Sheri: Exactly, Darla. Exactly.
Darla: Sheri, I remember the first time, I always do in my high-level program retreat, something experiential, even if they’re domestic, like in the city, whatever.
Sheri: Yes, of course.
Darla: So, I had done all these different things like we did a tree climbing activity where you’re in harnesses and it was really intense actually, you know, all about breaking through your limits and then I took people to Minneapolis, which incidentally is the next retreat I’m doing is back in Minneapolis, which is, I grew up in Minnesota.
Darla: And so I wanted to take people on the water because I love the lakes in Minnesota and we went…and we did stand up paddleboard yoga. And I had no purpose to it. I just I wanted to go on the water. I love it. I just, I didn’t have any other purpose. I was so nervous because I’m like, they’re going to be looking at their watch and going, we’re supposed to be working on our business, you know, I can’t believe we’re going to go do this thing. So, I was just… it was the first time I hadn’t consciously created a purpose, they’re just like, we’re just going to go do
Sheri: I can think of a purpose, but go ahead. I wanna hear what you did.
Darla: Well, it ended up being incredibly magical. Some of it was, and I didn’t, I really didn’t give, here’s what to look for anything but we connected. There was a woman on the retreat who ended up, her whole business became around, animal medicine…
Darla: …as a result of this retreat. But we had a heron that followed us and she was talking about the intent of the heron. And then, I mean, it was just a really magical experience. that I was unable to control, you know, I just didn’t have a sense of it. It was a huge breakthrough for me and not having to work so much.
Sheri: I love that. I love that.
Sheri: Yeah, but even for example, even yoga on a paddle board could be an exercise in really understanding balance.
Sheri: And balance within our body and balance within our lives and, can open up a very interesting discussion because…
Darla: I could have been. I had never done it. So I didn’t really even know.
Sheri: I haven’t either. But this is how my brain works.
Darla: I was really sure we were all gonna fall in, but actually nobody fell, which was pretty amazing.
Sheri: It is. I love it. I love it. But yes, that, but that’s the magic of doing something experiential and, yeah, amazing things happen as a result.
Darla: When you are working with your clients on having exceptional retreats, and maybe we should have a talk about this for a minute, about what makes a retreat exceptional, and I think people are probably even getting a sense of it already.
I have a huge passion, if someone takes a chance to go on retreat, like say they Google and they find a retreat and they’re gonna go, that they have the most transformational experience possible, that it doesn’t just become like, ‘Oh, I’m… I…, you know, I wrote in my journal and meditated, but there was no real transformation’. So how… What makes a retreat exceptional to you?
Sheri: Well, what makes a retreat exceptional is number one, the alignment, which we already spoke about. So that’s really important. What makes it exceptional is the ability of the facilitator to not take anyone personally and be out of judgment, and totally present for those people to be the perfect mirror for them.
Darla: Mhm, yes.
Sheri: So that is really critical.
Darla: The Four Agreements.
Sheri: Well, I have to stick that in there. C-mon Darla. So, alignment and then facilitating, right, and then for me, one of the other aspects is the actual layout of the retreat.
Sheri: So that there’s a blend of like lounging, and learning, and resting, and getting riotous… you could say. For example, I think about our live events and pretty much like with teaching from the stage and we start at nine and we go all day and maybe do something at night. Even though we do like ceremonies in the middle of it, is pretty heavy stuff but for me a retreat, like one of the main elements is that balance that you create and some people are better than others if you… creating that. It’s time to learn, time to relax, time to integrate, time to socialize, you know, time for activities. There needs to be like that perfect, and I’m always striving for that because you know, inevitably things happen on retreats and your best intentions go sideways, but especially when you’re international.
I think an important element is that structure and balance. So yes, you have the alignment, you have the ability of the facilitator to be a perfect mirror, and then you have, um, the actual layout of the retreat, and so those three things together come to make something really unique that isn’t anything else.
Darla: That’s awesome. I love it. I especially love your reference to the mirror, and being able to see everything as the perfect mirror and not take it personally. I think we’ll circle back to the problem child.
Sheri: There is one on every trip, honey.
Darla: When someone’s thinking about hosting an international retreat, what guidance would you give them to know if they’re ready?
Sheri: Well, a few different things. I think when you’re running an international retreat, we have to start thinking more deeply about legalities and insurance, and legal forms and all of that. We have to be very vigilant in our understanding that you are responsible for those people. Which means you can be sued for anything that happens, any error or omission that occurs.
This is less so when you’re doing a retreat in your own country. So, if you’re from France and you do it in France, it’s like not as intense as if you’re from France and you are now going to Bhutan, because as soon as you take your people out of the country, that is a higher risk factor. You have to be really diligent about everything. The education of your client on, do they need medications, do they need visas? What is the political situation? Have you researched that?
Have you also researched on like the Center for Disease Control’s website and do you know, what is happening in that country politically, medically. You are fully responsible for that. As romantic as it is to do retreat internationally, believe me, I just came back from Morocco, so I’m all for it, but I’m also all for dotting all your i’s and crossing your t’s. Our legal forms are six pages long. I don’t mess around because I wanna protect myself.
Sheri: So that’s the heavy duty – end of it. There’s the romantic – end of it, but then there’s the real practical – end of it where you wanna make sure you have your insurance, and you wanna make sure you have your legal forms, and you wanna make sure everything is set in your trip.
Also, for me there’s like two different kinds of structures for international retreats. One, they could be more like a retreat where they’re in one location and more where they become like a journey and the location changes, and in that case you need an operator in that country. So that’s, for example, what my travel agency does.
We just had a gal who did a spiritual journey to Ireland, but she was going to multiple sites. What is she gonna do? Try to figure that out herself and contact like all different transport companies. You need an operator, locally, that’s gonna have take care of that. That’s what my travel agency does. We have connections worldwide and we use our operators in the different countries.
Darla: My first international retreat was Italy and I was so grateful that I hired someone to do all of that, and in particular the transportation. It just feels easy, but it’s quite pricey, in Europe in particular.
Darla: Transportation is a high expense. It feels romantic to go to all of these places, adding a good thousand dollars every time you go somewhere new and that’s just the start of it. So yeah, I was so grateful that I had all of that and I didn’t have to think twice.
Sheri: Exactly, Darla and that’s the thing. Obviously pricing is really important and doing it correctly, and so you need to take all of those things into consideration.
Darla: I’m imagining your agency has negotiating power with pricing, kind of the inside scoop there.
Sheri: Yeah, and I think most good travel agencies do that. Absolutely.
Darla: We were talking a little bit about the kind of things that can go wrong and, you listed a list of things and said, I’ve had this happen for people, so I think that is something for people to consider. Thankfully they worked with you and they were protected… What I want to talk about next is filling an international retreat and the screening process because you know, one of the things that I love is a screening process. So, not just anybody can come ‘cause if you’re not aware of who is coming on your retreat, and you’re taking them to these places where we need to follow certain behavior patterns to stay safe and you’re digging people who are kind of a wild card. How do you think about that, like who actually gets to come?
Sheri: Well, you know, we do the best we can and of course, in part of our legal forms, I have a form that’s a psychological form that I have people fill out and I know they don’t like it, but I really don’t care. I need to know if they’re on any antipsychotic medicines or they have any conditions and if they lie and if something happens, they signed the form and then you can’t really sue me for something that you never informed me about.
However the thing is, Darla, I wanna make something really clear. Just because you interviewed somebody doesn’t mean you know what’s gonna happen, and I’ll explain. On one of Don Miguel’s trips, one of my really good friends who also loved his books, wanted to come on the journey, and she came, and she went into severe reaction like rebellion. Some people when you’re doing really hardcore process work can rebel… And we were in Cusco, Peru… and we told everyone, please at night do not get into a taxi unless it’s a specific one that the hotel or restaurant calls for you, that we know it’s real.
She got mad at something that happened in the conversation at dinner in the restaurant, and she walked back to the hotel and part way back, she thought to herself, maybe I shouldn’t be walking alone in the street, and she hailed a cab going by, the cab went around the corner, two men got in the back seat, beat her up, raped her, and took her credit cards and she was left with one of the three men, and then she begged him to let her go and somehow or another he did. She got into another cab who took pity on her, drove her to the hotel, the hotel front desk person paid for her taxi and she came in, and I had a fly home with her, back to St. Pete, and because I was a physician in the town, I got her seen her right away and we put her on medication for every binaural disease. We put her on AIDs protocol, just in case…
Sheri: You know, so this is someone I knew for years, Darla. You don’t know what people are gonna do, and you can do your best, I think it’s wise in saying, yes, you should interview people. I talked to everyone who comes on the trip on the phone and I let my intuition guide me. Still, I’m of that mind that you usually have one problem child on your trip, even if they’re not that much of a problem, but they are a little more difficult to deal with for some reason and… It could be the most darling person.
Sheri: It’s really very challenging. So, that’s why it’s important to be a really good facilitator and hone your skills for that because you’re dealing with humans.
Darla: You don’t know what might trigger us.
Sheri: Of course not. I’ve freaked out on Don Miguel’s trips in multiple ways. Where I got a little crazy. How can I judge someone else when I myself have been known to like cry and get crazy, and all kinds of things, and especially when you’re doing process work that happens. Maybe not as much when you’re doing like a business retreat or like a creative writing retreat but yeah, you can have people still cry and break down and get emotional, and you don’t know what people are gonna do. So that’s why forearmed is forewarned, and if you have in your head that these things can happen and then think to yourself: ’Okay, how would I handle these things, it’s not coming from fear, it’s just saying, okay, now I know, these things can happen and this is what I would do’. Now, I can put it out of my head and have a blast. That’s my feeling.
Darla: Do you steer people if it’s their first international, to kind of staying in one place versus doing the journey or does it depend on how much they’ve led domestically because I’m almost imagining my brain is making like stages, right? Like work out the kinks. So, I… early on, I had a lot of problem child situations, because I needed to learn how to be with that. Right?
Darla: So, any unhealed trigger is going to get pushed and I learned that. So it’s like work that out to where you’re no longer an invitation for that wound.
Sheri: Exactly, Darla. That’s why I said before that a facilitator should be a clean mirror. You can’t judge your people. It’s about being absolutely neutral and just being present for them.
Darla: Yeah, so if someone says, I wanna take people on a journey and go to all these different sites where, you know, history happened, like… how do you approach that? If they’ve never done any leading before?
Sheri: Well, it depends if the person has been to that location, like you know, we’ve had a gal who been to Prague many times and she really wanted to run her retreat there. She was very familiar with it. It felt like home to her. In a case like that… and you’ve been to all the sites, you know the area, you know the people. It’s like, very natural to you. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with, you know, doing something like that. It really depends on the person and where they’re coming from.
If they’re not a traveler like some people never really travel. Well, if you haven’t traveled at all, then yes, it’s better to go to a place. So if you want to go to Tuscany, go to Anegro, Therismo, stay in one place, let us get you transport, you are safe, your group is safe, you go here. Maybe you have one or two little side tours that we arrange and take care of. You don’t have to deal with it. You don’t have to pack and unpack. You are in one place. Easy, peasy and amazing. So, like that situation might be what you wanna do before.
Darla: I totally like it.
Darla: Let’s go.
Sheri: Exactly. So, that’s something you might want to do more than, you know, go to Bhutan the first time and you don’t even know what you are…, you don’t know anything, and of course, educating yourself about the country, the religion, their traditions, how people act, you know, what are their cultural things that you need to do, and know about, so you don’t make a fool of yourself how to dress. All of those things that are important.
Darla: Yeah, and letting your clients know that as well.
Sheri: Yes. Yes, absolutely, because for example, in Morocco I told everybody no cleavage, you know, if you can three quarter sleeves, longer pants below the knees and you know, just be more conservative. It’s a Muslim country. Don’t insult people.
Darla: Oh, so as of this recording, this is really perfect timing for me cause I’m going as an attendee on an international retreat next week. I’m going to the south of France and I know we’re going to, you know, where Mary Magdalene lived and thought… as well as the lavender fields… What do I wear, Sheri? Well, I received was comfortable shoes and swimwear.
Sheri: Yes. I have actually want The Black Madonna trip, which is really beautiful and you know, goes down from Paris to… what’s that town where the gypsies are aware of Sarah…they have a little temple…
Darla: I’ll probably know after my retreat.
Sheri: Layers are always the best thing when you travel and broken in shoes and…
Darla: I’m picturing that I need like floral prints or something. I’m thinking… well, that’s not me but…
Sheri: No, and for me like when, especially when I used to teach The Four Agreements and we did a lot of ceremonies, I would always tell people you’re going to be sitting on the floor somewhere in a church, in a temple, in a ruin…
Sheri: So make sure you have those travel pants that wash really easily, and some of them you can zip off and they turn into shorts, and actually that kind of clothing is the best kind of clothing. It packs small and light, and I would say bring as little luggage as possible.
Darla: Yes. Awesome. Thank you.
Sheri: You’re welcome.
Darla: These are the things to think about when you’re going out of the country and you know, whether you are the one who’s communicating that or you have someone on your team who’s putting together a little packet for your people, it can save a lot of time, energy, space.
I don’t do a ton of international retreats. I’ve done Italy a couple of times, then Mexico a couple times, but I’m very thorough about the communication. Right? We’re going to pick you up here. This is going to happen. You know, you need money, you don’t need money, you know, US dollars are fine. Get some foreign currency like… all the details… because you don’t know if someone’s traveled before or, you know, what their experiences are, when the last time they’ve been… If you’ve already looked it all up for yourself, communicate that.
Sheri: Absolutely. In our core scoop we have this page where lists everything they should have in their little medical kit.
Darla: Mm, yes. That’s awesome.
Sheri: So, and what vaccines they should have ahead of time.
Sheri: All of that information and it’s, it’s really helpful for people. Absolutely. I agree.
Darla: So Sheri, I could ask you questions all day.
Sheri: I know.
Darla: For people who wanna learn more and then Iet me to ask you like your top tip for making money, but I know you don’t have a download about this so, you know, they can learn more from you.
Darla: We wanna send people over to www.wanderlustentrepreneur.com
Sheri: Well, I’m going to give you a link, Darla…
Sheri: …that you can give to the community and put on your website, that’s gonna take them to a really great download that they can have and learn more, and then if they want more information after that, they’re certainly welcome to explore that.
Darla: We’ll put the link in the show notes for Sheri’s special gift for us, which is the inside scoop there.
Sheri: Yes, because you know what, I forgot. I actually did this. I have a great… on my website, on the products page, there’s this 25 page document, which is the hottest, my top 5 hot steaming hot destinations to go internationally, which we sell for $47 but we’re going to give it to your peeps for free.
Darla: I knew it that there was a link.
Sheri: What was that link? So yes, they have… that’s what they wanna get. So if they’re thinking about international, they really love it…
Darla: That’s exciting.
Sheri: …and all different ideas and stuff and I’ll get it for you also, Darla.
Darla: Thank you so much.
Darla: So if someone is considering an international retreat, obviously they should check out these five hottest destinations and get your team to help and support them in the planning, and really, you know, not just any travel agency has that eye toward what it is to create these experiences. The way you and your team have brought together all your background, experience and passion for travel and retreats really is unique in the market.
Sheri: Yes, Darla, he runs my travel agency literally travels around the world with his son every summer, and he goes and he checks out places worldwide, and the thing is, is that because our agency specializes in retreats, we don’t overbook people with activities or do things that normal travel agencies do. And also, they can run their trip through my company if they’re worried about seller of travel laws.
Sheri: In that case, we are collecting the money for the…
Darla: Yeah, this is really important. I meant to ask you about that. So what that is, I can’t buy all the hotel rooms and then resell them to my people. That’s illegal.
Sheri: Well, it’s packaging travel, Darla. So, it’s the rooms and the food, and the activity. It becomes a travel package. That’s where it gets sticky. So, for example, you know, when we do live events, we’re selling the event, but people pay their own room and food. So it becomes separate. In a retreat we tend to put everything together and make it all inclusive, which is one of the best parts of it. However, then we run into seller of travel law.
When we collect the money as a travel agency, then what we do is we pay the retreat leader their net as an independent contractor. So they’re our tour leader. And then also they become under our insurance, which is another really great thing. So there’s a whole bunch of things involved with that but seller of travel was present worldwide and it’s very severe in five states in the US and it’s horrible in Ontario, Canada. So, no Canadian in Ontario should be running a retreat on their own, they will be shut down. So that’s not good. And in the US it’s Iowa, Hawaii, California, Washington, Florida. I don’t know if I said that twice, but anyways, this is fine with them, and it doesn’t matter if your company is located there in matters if you’re selling to somebody in that state then you’re under those teller of travel laws.
Darla: Yeah. So they can find out more about that through your agency.
Sheri: Yeah, absolutely. Well, we post a lot of information on the website. There’s an article in our blog about it and we’re always talking about it in our community group.
Darla: The agency… if someone said, like, listening to this and they’re like, okay, I know I want to go to Morocco. I know I wanna hire you. I need that level of support. Who should they email or where do they go?
Sheri: They can just go to journeysofthespirit.com and from the drop down it says, uh, journeys of the spirit or send me a pm or whatever, I’ll get you the right place. They can, you know, when they come to journeys of the spirit, there’s a pop up there, they can put it in there and say, look, I want to know more about this.
Darla: Tell them that you heard Sheri on the podcast just so I know that people are listening and want this. That would be super helpful.
Sheri: Yes, of course, Darla. That way I can let you know what’s what.
Darla: Yeah. Beautiful. Any parting words?
Sheri: No, other than to say if you have retreats in your heart, you must fulfill that desire, because it’s such… I can’t imagine my life without retreats.
Darla: It’s worth it. We were kind of in the, in the realm of heavy topics which are worth it to learn about…
Sheri: Oh my God. Even with… with everything I said, I would not not have retreats in my business and anyone who does them pretty much feels the same way. I mean, it’s a love affair with that intimacy and transformation that just can’t be found anywhere else, Darla, and that’s all I have to say about it honey.
Darla: Awesome. Thank you so much Sheri. Thank you for your generosity. It’s great to share space with you in this way and I’m just really excited for people who heard this interview.
Sheri: Yay. Me Too. Thank you so much for inviting me to. I feel honored and blessed and I hope I serve the community and that they really enjoy the information.
Darla: Have an amazing day, everyone. We’ll see you in the next episode.
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