You've made your plans, and it’s nearly time to board the plane for your great yoga escape. You might be wondering what you should bring along for the adventure.
When it comes to packing, some people make the mistake of thinking they can buy what they need when they arrive. You may not have time or transportation to get to a place that stocks the items in question. While your retreat package includes many amenities, chances are you'll want a few of your own things. If you know you use something every day, your best bet is to bring it with you.
What you need
1. Passport, travel documents, and money
You’ll need to be able to identify yourself wherever you go. Have your passport and any other necessary travel documentation with you.
I’d also recommend keeping a copy of your passport stowed in a bag separate from your actual passport. That way, if something happens to your passport, you’ll at least have all your information.
When it comes to cash, each destination is going to be different in terms of exchange rates, access to ATMs, etc.. This is something we can talk about well in advance of the trip so that you can formulate a plan about how you'd like to handle getting cash.
One of the best aspects of heading into a retreat is being able to take time to reflect. Bring a journal so you can write down the highlights of your adventure and do the inner work that retreating allows you to do.
3. An excellent book
It’s always nice to have something to pass the time in the airport, and you’ll likely have downtime during your retreat. Bring a good book with you. We have a few favorites titles if you're craving something yoga-related.
There's no rule about what you can and can't read when you are on a retreat. Maybe you'll catch up on that popular fiction you haven't had time to enjoy. Find something you'll enjoy and savor the time you have to curl up with a good book.
3. Yoga mat and props
I never leave home without my mat, and you’ll want it for your retreat. If you have a few mats to choose from, pick one that serves its purpose without a lot of extra bulk. Your suitcase real estate is precious.
Check to see if your retreat center has an adequate supply of props. If so, save yourself some space. Otherwise, bring your favorite block or a strap with you.
4. Clothing for excursions
You'll presumably be spending a lot of time on your mat, but you won't be doing asanas 24/7. You’ll also be seeing the sights. What you wear to walk around a market may not be the same thing you’d wear on a hike through the jungle. Knowing the excursion options in advance will help you decide which items to bring and how many.
Learn to pack strategically. Lots of yoga clothing is versatile these days. Can you find shirts to wear on the excursions that you can also wear on your mat? Also, try to choose items that match readily with other pieces of your travel wardrobe. It's so much easier to be able to mix and match instead of trying to find a way to wear those pants that only go with one shirt.
Footwear also varies based on excursions. If you're hiking or zip lining, you’ll want some sturdy closed-toed shoes. Sandals or flip-flops will be good for the beach. Thank goodness we don't need to wear fancy shoes for yoga!
Where there are shoes, there must also be socks. Don’t forget to bring a few pairs with you. They don’t take up much space, but they can make all the difference in your comfort level. Similarly, extra underwear can get you through even the direst laundry situations. You may be able to get away with re-wearing some items, but your delicates are not among those items.
A good swimsuit is easily forgotten in the hustle and bustle of packing and it'll be sorely missed if you're going to be near the water.
A note on culture
Be mindful of the local customs in the locations in which you are staying. Modesty is valued in many places, so what goes within the retreat center may not be acceptable when visiting a temple. If you have any questions about that sort of thing, we’re here to help.
A word on weather
We know about the general climate and weather forecast, but weather is still a force of nature. It’s way easier to anticipate change than to be caught off guard.
You may be heading to a warm area, but there are a variety of reasons to throw some layers into your bag. They can protect you from the sun or insects, and they can keep you cozy on a cool night. Layers will also give you the opportunity to make some of your items more culturally appropriate.
In some locations, a downpour can come out of nowhere. A poncho or rain jacket can save the day.
Always pack an extra set of clothing in your carry-on luggage. We send all the good juju to our baggage in the hopes that it arrives with us at the airport, but there’s a chance that something could go amiss. The extra set of clothes in your carry on means you’ll have something to wear while you wait for your luggage to arrive.
5. Yoga clothing
Your retreat itinerary will likely involve 1-2 yoga classes per day. You’ll need to the proper attire in adequate quantities. Unless otherwise advised, assume that there will not be laundry facilities available during your retreat. (Besides, who wants to do laundry when they could be going on a jungle adventure or relaxing in a blue zone?)
Consider how much you tend to sweat when you practice, and think about what your clothes are made of. For example, if you don’t sweat too heavily, you can re-wear some items. Some yoga clothing dries quickly and wicks moisture away from the body, meaning that it can hold up to multiple uses.
6. Reusable tote
I can’t tell you how often I’ve forgotten this one, and I always regret it. Most of us would like to have a small bag to carry our essentials or haul some of our shopping. Besides using plastic shopping bags is no longer acceptable in many places, thank god! If you don’t bring a tote, you could end up trying to juggle your items with all those extra hands you don't have. No fun!
My favorite reusable totes collapse to a small size for easy packing. Some will even fold down to pocket-size. It's worthwhile to have one of these in your life whether you're on a yoga retreat or not.
Many of us have particular brands that we favor, and these may not always be available at the retreat location. Be sure to put liquids into 3 fl. oz. (or smaller) containers if you plan on putting them in your carry on. If you hate the thought of spending an arm and a leg on travel-sized toiletries, invest in some small reusable bottles. The environment and your wallet will thank you.
Sunscreen is an absolute must. Avoid sunscreens that contain oxybenzone and octinoxate if you plan on taking a dip in the ocean. Both of these chemicals have been known to harm sea life and damage coral reefs.
You’ll also want insect repellant. I like using TerraShield to naturally deter bugs.
Hair ties are another commonly forgotten item. Toss a few extra in your bag. It's not uncommon for them to break or be consumed by the stealthy hair tie gremlin when you're in transit.
8. Reusable water bottle
Many of our retreats take special care to minimize their environmental impact. You may be able to save yourself a few bucks (and the environment!) by having a reusable water bottle to fill up before heading on excursions.
9. Travel first aid kit
It never hurts to be prepared for minor cuts, scrapes, and maladies. A well-stocked travel first aid kit will help you stay in top condition during your stay. Check out our detailed post on what to include in your kit.
Along with those first aid supplies, you'll want to be sure that you have all your prescription medications as well.
Sometimes at MBR, we like to get a little closer to the Equator than you might be used to. This is why sun protection is a must. Of course you'll need the aforementioned sunscreen, but some sunglasses and/ or a hat wouldn't hurt either.
Most retreat centers offer towels for bathing, but not all of them offer beach towels. A quick-drying travel towel or a small yoga towel are worth considering.
All of our retreats come with delicious meal options, and we hope you'll consider yourself well fed when you're with us. That being said, there may be times when you wish you had something to munch on. Maybe it’s while you’re sitting in the airport. Perhaps you’ve just scaled a mountain and would love a protein bar. Plan accordingly by packing a few lightweight healthy snacks.
13. Electronics and chargers
We're big advocates of unplugging as much as possible on your retreat, but you may still wish to bring your phone, camera, or e-reading device. Keep these strictly for relaxing and documenting your retreat experience.
Depending on where you are, you may need a wall adapter to keep your electronics charged and ready to go.
14. Positive vibes
The first 13 packing suggestions were all about your physical comfort, but we also need to show up with the right mindset. Your retreat is your time to set your work aside and focus on taking care of you. You'll have opportunities to refresh and relax while experiencing a new culture.
Part of the adventure that comes with traveling is the fact that things don't always go according to plan. Whatever happens, know that you are exactly where you need to be in the moment. With an open mind and an adventurous spirit, the world is open for you. Embrace it!
Put it all together
All that's left is finding a way to make all this fit! Make mindful choices about what you bring with you and enjoy the anticipation of the trip that's in front of you. The part where you're packing your suitcase is really the toughest. After you arrive at your destination, you'll be in good hands.