Expectations and Rules
Our Go and Write! philosophy is that kindness, respect, and a positive attitude take you far in just about every situation. We do our best to create the conditions for everyone to have a great experience, but travel and group dynamics can be tricky, so if you tend to get grumpy when things aren’t going perfectly, if you are uncomfortable with boundaries and the idea that we insist on a deliberate balance of quiet and social time, or if you struggle to respect our roles as retreat leaders, our retreats are not for you.
On any Go and Write! retreat, you assume certain obligations and responsibilities to Go and Write! and to your fellow retreat participants, including, but not limited to, the following:
– We often choose accommodations and visit sites with historic character, and many of these offer fewer chain hotel-style amenities, so be prepared to accept such things as slow—or no—Wi-Fi, weak—or no—air conditioning, carrying or rolling your own luggage over uneven pavement, hauling it up and down stairs, etc. Rooms and beds overseas and in historic accommodations are also often different than what we’re used to in North America; we do our best to select suitable accommodations, and you must be prepared to accept these differences and limitations, including the fact that it’s quite likely your room will be different than someone else’s.
– The retreat might involve brisk walking tours, climbing stairs, getting on and off transportation, and, perhaps, standing and walking for hours indoors and outdoors, in all weather (the latter is rare and we do our best to avoid these situations, but it can happen). We also can’t guarantee the places we visit will be accessible, and there may be street noise outside our hotels.
– You are strongly encouraged to bring only one suitcase due to luggage restrictions on coaches. You are responsible for managing your own luggage.
– If you need help, you must bring an able companion who can be entirely responsible for providing the assistance, as we cannot do this for you.
– We plan our writing retreats to enable you to have some time with the group and a reasonable amount of independent time. Be prepared and able to navigate towns and cities on your own.
– Go and Write! retreats are not a good fit for you if:
* You find it hard to be alone and quiet with your own thoughts
* You struggle to understand and respect boundaries
* You feel you have nothing to learn and are compelled to set yourself up as an expert advice-giver to others on the retreat, or you struggle to respect our balanced itinerary and our roles as retreat leaders
* You require a lot of social time and attention from others
– The idea of a retreat is to get away from the pressures of daily life and remove distractions, and Go and Write! retreats are not like other traditional travel tours. The focus of our retreats is on writing, and this is much appreciated by the majority of our participants. While we schedule several group events, readings, and many opportunities to socialize during our retreats (sometimes even with music and song), we regularly emphasize the importance of respecting others’ need for space, quiet, and alone time, even in our venues’ common areas. This encouragement—to recognize and respect boundaries, even as we get to know each other better and develop bonds—is deliberate on our part and for the good of the group. We may remind the group of this need to respect boundaries more than once during the retreat.
– Finding time as well as physical and mental space to write is something many writers struggle with in our daily lives. Participants trust us to help them find this time and space on our retreats and to avoid unnecessary distractions, and we appreciate that and take our role as the group leaders seriously. It can be challenging for those who don’t struggle with writing at home to understand the balance we set regarding together and alone time, but our experience has taught us what works best to help writers get the most out of a retreat. The delicate balance of introspection plus social time is easily upset by really talkative people, those who can’t help but dominate every social situation or conversation, or those who find alone-time boring and feel compelled to create additional group gatherings or activities.
– We are lifelong learners, ourselves, and most writers who join us do so in that spirit. Occasionally, though, some writers have struggled to respect our roles as retreat leaders and felt compelled to set themselves up as educators and organizers for other participants, or worse, to actively undermine our efforts. While you may be an outstanding writer, educator, and organizer in your own right back home, please check your ego and resist the compulsion to challenge our processes and roles while on our retreats or to create your own programming to share with other participants. Please recognize that we have learned a great deal over the years about what works for the majority of writers on our retreats, and what works for you may not be compatible with what’s best for others and the group as a whole. If you think respecting our programming as well as the space and alone time we have built into it may be a struggle for you, our retreats are not for you.
– No smoking or vaping is allowed on the coach, in the accommodations, or where other tour members are present.
– While we do our very best to help everyone on our retreats have a great trip, it sometimes happens that someone can misbehave or do things that are incompatible with the safety, comfort, or convenience of other members of the tour. In those circumstances, we have the exclusive right and discretion to expel someone from a tour at any time, without refund.
– We encourage practicing high health and safety standards. All participants are responsible to research the implications of COVID-19 and other public health risks, including rules around vaccinations and boosters, on travel restrictions at home and abroad before and at the time of travel. Ensure you have everything you need so you aren’t turned away from establishments or airports. All participants agree to follow safety precautions and health directives set by guides, by Go and Write!, and/or by local officials within the hosting country or by airport and airline officials. Examples may include maintaining proper physical distance, the use of face masks that cover your nose and mouth, regular temperature checks, proper hand-washing / sanitizing, quarantining if you are showing symptoms of COVID-19 or other contagious illness, and/or being seen by a health professional at your own expense as a condition of continuing on with the tour. The possible precautions and directives required are not limited to the examples included here.
– Ensure you have all of the documents you need, including proof of vaccination, identification, and any required testing, and that you renew your passport if it is due to expire within 6 months of the travel date. Be aware that some airports require a government-issued photo I.D., in addition to your passport. Also, please note that each country, state, province, venue, and airport has its own set of expectations—some of which might even change in the days leading up to our retreat—and it is your responsibility to ensure that you meet all of those requirements.
Refunds, trip insurance, and other information
Life can throw curveballs at us. For that reason, we HIGHLY recommend that all participants get travel insurance as soon as they register for a Go and Write! retreat, and check to see how the insurers handle COVID-19 and other public health risks. We recommend not only trip medical insurance but trip cancellation / interruption / baggage etc. insurance as well. We’ve had situations where people have not purchased trip insurance and have had an unexpected medical condition crop up, or a family member has experienced a sudden illness, and they’ve been unable to travel. A proper insurance policy, purchased at the right time, might have allowed them to recoup a great deal—if not all—of their investment. All participants are responsible for researching and making arrangements for their own insurance.
Your non-refundable portion of your deposit is 100% non-refundable. If you cancel up to 6 months before the start of a retreat for any reason, any other payments you’ve made to us are returned to you, less the non-refundable deposit and payment processing fees. If you cancel from 4-6 months before the start of a retreat, we will return 75% of any fees paid less your non-refundable deposit and payment processing fees. If you cancel within 4 months before the start of a retreat, any fees paid cannot be returned. If the retreat needs to be postponed, we will make every attempt to reschedule. We can only offer refunds if our providers also refund monies to us.
Due to contractual obligations with our suppliers, we cannot make exceptions to the cancellation policy, regardless of the reason.
While we present our information in good faith, sometimes things happen that are beyond our control. Circumstances may force us to change certain aspects of the tour; in such a case, we’ll do our best to offer a comparable alternative.