Boston yogi and retreat leader Tim Kelleher loves everything about Cuba, but it’s Japan that has been calling his name for quite some time. “The cultural norms of Japan are truly so unique to Japan,” said Kelleher, cofounder (with Emily Tevald) of Boston Yoga Union. The 42-year-old Hyde Park, N.Y., native takes regular trips to Cuba, where he conducts yoga and cultural retreats that run the gamut from a visit to an organic farm to salsa dancing lessons. This spring he will oversee yoga retreats in Cuba and Morocco. Kelleher lives in Jamaica Plain with his husband, Josh Reed, a marketing executive with Canton-based Goodbaby International, and their son, Colin, 5, daughter, Parker, 1, and cat Priscilla. We caught up with Kelleher to talk about all things travel.
Favorite vacation destination? Cuba. Aside from the beaches and the warmth of the Cuban sun, the warmth of the Cuban people makes this my favorite spot to travel to each winter. My first time visiting Cuba was four years ago, when I led a yoga retreat there and instantly fell in love with the music, the art, and the culture. Now every year I can’t wait to go back to Cuba and bring a new group of students to experience the Cuban culture through the lens of the yoga practice.
Favorite food or drink while vacationing? Wherever I travel, it is the local street food vendors who provide me with the most vivid, authentic dining experiences. When I’m in Cuba, the heirloom fresh fruit is the perfect thing to eat between salsa lessons.
Where would you like to travel to but haven’t? I would like to travel to Japan. What I love most about travel is being immersed in different cultures — it changes my perspective on the world. The cultural norms of Japan are truly so unique to Japan. I would love to get lost in Tokyo. I love fashion and good clothes, and Japanese designers are my favorite, so a good solid shopping spree would definitely be on the agenda.
One item you can’t leave home without when traveling? Noise-canceling headphones. Getting rest while away, especially when traveling abroad, can be super tricky, and noise-canceling headphones mean I can always achieve some peace and quiet.
Aisle or window? Window. It’s easier to set up shop and makes an uncomfortable setup a bit more bearable. The extra few inches of headroom the window seat provides is key.
Favorite childhood travel memory? Every year driving over the Sagamore Bridge to our summer place in Chatham on Cape Cod, my parents would tell us to look at the trees, pointing out how the pine trees on Cape Cod were different than they were at home. This is so simple, but somehow, it always felt magical, and marked the start of another amazing family vacation at the beach.
Guilty pleasure when traveling? Staying out until dawn dancing with the locals.
Best travel tip? Don’t overplan. Leave room for surprises, get lost, and be spontaneous.