When staying at ashrams and monasteries in India and throughout Asia the cost of accommodation is usually free, however, the participation in daily chores is generally expected. The chores may be anything from simple sweeping to removing scorpions from dark corners. These places require the visitor to fully become a part of the community there, which often means removing all connection to friends and family back home while there by eliminating communication of every sort. Be sure to check the rules prior to entering an ashram for a significant period of time.
Food and Water
The last thing you want to do when going away for the weekend is be sick for the following week. When traveling it is quite common to pick up a food or water born illness. Try to use only filtered or bottled water, avoid vegetables and street food, and stick to restaurants that tend to see a lot of locals. When traveling in a strange country eating strange foods and the chance to drink unfiltered water is quite common, as are certain ailments. Medicines to counter these travel illnesses are recommended such as antibiotics and diarrhea medicine.
Communication can sometimes become a tricky issue for the spiritual traveler. It is often the case that in order for someone to fully dedicate themselves during meditation or a spiritual retreat that they must remove all connections to their home and daily lives. This may mean holding all phone calls or emails. In some places such as ashrams you are sworn to stay away from the phone or internet while there.
When the spiritual traveler does need to communicate with friends and family back home from a foreign country, they do have plenty of options. While the postcard is slowly fading into memory, the internet has become the cheapest and easiest way to communicate with friends and family back home. Cyber cafes are everywhere, especially in third world countries where the local population cannot afford internet service. Rates are usually less than $1 per hour, often considerably less. Online voice services such as Skype are downloaded at many net cafes and set up with headsets for foreigners to make international calls rather cheaply. While satellite phones are nice to have, they are expensive. Call centers in most third world countries, often inside or near cyber cafes, are relatively cheap, although the connections aren’t always crystal clear.
In tropical areas found in the Americas, Africa, and Southeast Asia protection/vaccinations for malaria and yellow fever may be necessary. To combat malaria there are several things you can do. Malaria tablets such as doxycycline or mefloquine are recommended to prevent the sickness, although you need to check which pill works in which part of the world as some mosquitoes are resistant to some medicines. The best protection against malaria though is basic protection against mosquitoes such as bug spray (best with DEET), mosquito nets, wearing long sleeves, mosquito coils, and the countless other remedies. Always consult with your doctor before entering a strange country.