Travel Visas For Yogis

Amazing retreat booked. Check.
Cute yoga outfits packed. Check.
Flights scheduled. Check.

Travel visa. Huh? Um, what’s that?

The last thing on your mind when you’re seriously stoked to jaunt off to an incredible, exotic yoga getaway is a travel visa. With all the excitement and positive energy that’s pulsing through your mind in anticipation of your trip of a lifetime, the rules and regulations of international travel is probably far down on your list of concerns.

Day dreaming about yourself oceanside and blissed out in savasana can be a stark deterrent to the to-do list that is necessary for some types of travel. But getting yourself properly prepared will save you a lot of headaches and help you avoid any potential snags when you arrive at your far off destination. Do yourself a favor and get your travel ducks in a row ahead of time.

You’re probably wondering in what countries and for what kinds of situations would my travel warrant a visa? Is this something I should do before I leave, or is it possible to obtain a tourist visa upon arrival? What types of documentation do I need to provide, and why isn’t my current passport enough?

If you’re an American citizen and traveling within the U.S., the answer is obvious – you can travel freely anywhere in the United States with your driver’s license or passport. It’s always best to carry at least two forms of picture identification with you, and as an added precaution always be sure to take a photo of your ID and store securing in an email folder or Cloud storage system.

But what about us adventuresome types who are heading to yoga retreats in foreign destinations where it’s required to have an entry visa? Do I need to worry about a visa ahead of time, or can I just show up, ready to rock my international yoga game?

Well, it all really depends on where you’re headed.

Research, research, research!

Knowledge is power, and planning ahead will save you from possibly being denied entry to the country you’re visiting because you didn’t get your visa ahead of time. Check out the U.S. Passports & International Travel website for the latest up-to-date information on everything you need to know about visiting a foreign country as a U.S. citizen. It’s good to bear in mind that your requirements for foreign travel are dependant on your country of origin. For example, a U.S. passport can gain you access to certain places that a British passport cannot, and vice versa.

A quick glance at the visa requirements for two very popular yoga retreat destinations, India and Thailand, highlights the importance of doing your travel visa homework before you hop on a plane.

Take India, for instance. You will find that upon entry, you are required to have your travel visa sorted at least four days in advance of your arrival. There are other considerations for you to be aware of as well, including your length of stay (travel visas are dependant upon this), vaccination requirements, and the number of blank pages that must be available in your current passport. Another layer of preparation is being ready to provide proof of your vaccination shots if asked when you arrive to the country. For example, Indian law requires a yellow fever vaccination before entering certain areas of the country. According to the CDC, this shot must be given at least 10 days prior to your arrival.

See what we mean? Preparation is essential!

Alternatively, the tourist visa requirements of Thailand are totally different from those required to enter India. You can visit Thailand for up to 30 days without having to worry about obtaining a travel visa in advance, and your U.S. passport only needs to be valid for at least 6 months from date of entry.

But, what if you plan to delve into a meditation retreat that lasts longer than a week, and you plan to sight-see and island hop for longer than 30 days? You’ll need to arrange for a visa ahead of time, or take the appropriate steps to extend your visa upon arrival. Forgetting or neglecting to do this can result in heavy fines or being banned from the country. Also worth noting; be prepared to show proof of onward travel when visiting Thailand. It is not uncommon for Thai officials to ask for proof that you intend to move on after your stay.

Your international yoga retreat will leave an indelible mark on your journey as a yogi. For every dedicated practitioner, I highly recommend partaking in the spirit altering adventure of a yoga retreat far from home at least once. The experience enriches you, and emboldens your practice in a way that can only be experienced by taking a leap into the unknown.

Practicing yoga amidst a culture and navigating customs that are foreign from your own helps to weave our global yoga community together, and builds a stronger alliance across landscapes and languages. Just look before you leap, and make the necessary travel visa arrangements to ensure your trip memorable and stress-free.

Ready to book an adventure?

Yovada has amazing retreat and teacher training offerings throughout the world, browse them here.

Leah Van Der Kooy
Leah Van Der Kooy

As a writer, yoga teacher and world-traveler, I have been lucky to live in some of the most incredible places on earth. Along the way, my curiosity about new cultures and the connectedness that happens when I step outside my comfort zone, have unveiled a depth of experience in my life that remains unmatched by anything other than travel. I travel, therefore, I am. Currently based in The Hague in The Netherlands, my recent projects include hosting a travel series for CNN.com and writing for a handful of travel based publications. I can usually be found contemplating my next fresh story idea or on my yoga mat. More likely than not, good food and a delicious cup of tea is involved. Follow me at offthemaindrag.com and on Twitter @leahvanderkooy

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