You’re doing it! You’ve found and booked your dream yoga retreat and you’re waiting excitedly to head off and immerse yourself in a wonderful experience.

Firstly — AMAZING! Take a moment to breathe deep and focus your awareness on what’s to come.

Because whether you’ve chosen an adventurous retreat or a laid back getaway with lots of wellness elements, it’s going to be a journey you’ll never forget.

But… what should you pack and take with you?

If you’ve never been on a retreat before you might be unsure of what you do (and don’t) need. So read on to learn all you need in order to craft your own perfect yoga retreat packing list.

Where To Book Your Yoga Retreat? 

If you’re looking to book your yoga retreat, you want to browse and compare various retreats and know that they are all legit.

Breathing Travel recommends two reliable and trustworthy websites:

  1. BookYogaRetreats, the world’s largest yoga site to book any retreat from beginners to yoga teacher trainings in every destination imaginable.
  2. Book Retreats, where you can compare handpicked retreats and book instantly and they also have great customer support.

Things to keep in mind when going overseas on a yoga retreat

When you’re deciding what to pack for a yoga retreat, the first thing to think about is where you’re going.

If you’re crossing country borders, make sure that:

  • Your passport is valid, with at least 6 months after your return date
  • You’ve got the appropriate visa, or know that you can fill out a visa-on-arrival card on the plane
  • Your credit or debit card(s) will work in your destination (you might need to inform your bank before you go or get a pre-paid travel card)
  • Your travel insurance will cover you for cancellations, theft, and medical expenses in your destination country, I recommend checking out SafetyWing travel insurance to get covered

And if your retreat is taking place in a country that speaks a different language, it’s useful to learn a few simple phrases in case you need to communicate.

Just knowing how to say ‘hello’ and ‘thank you’ can help you feel confident when you arrive.

What bag to take on a yoga retreat

Top of any yoga retreat packing list is your bag or luggage: should you take a big backpack, a wheelie suitcase, or a weekend bag?

The duration and location of your retreat are the main deciding factors when it comes to choosing your luggage.

Always aim to pack light — you’re probably going to bring more stuff than you need, so choose a bag that will fit the minimum, rather than going overboard.

If you’re going away for just a few days, take a weekender bag, such as this one or small backpack, I like this one for shorter trips, which holds 20-30 liter.

For a week or longer, a regular wheelie suitcase should be fine; or if you know you’ll be carrying your bag on rough terrain, opt for a large backpack.

Depending on where you'll be heading, an anti-theft backpack might be worth considering.

Remember that yoga retreats almost always offer washing facilities, so you don’t need to bring all your clothes.

Yoga clothes (and other clothes) to take on retreat

Yoga clothes are a must, of course — but you’ll need to pack yoga retreat outfits for more than just asana practice.

Remember that what to pack for a weekend retreat is different from what you’ll need for a longer break; but either way, include:

  • Clothes for yoga practice – leggings or loose/stretchy trousers, a sports bra (for women), and a yoga top that won’t fall over your head if you go upside-down
  • A warm sweater to put on at the end of practice – you might get cold during Savasana or meditation, even if the weather is warm
  • A simple, easy-to-pack outfit for dinners or excursions – something that makes you feel a bit fancier
  • Options that are appropriate for local customs – for example, in some places like India or Bali, it would be inappropriate to go out with shoulders or legs exposed; and if you’ll be visiting temples, make sure you check guidelines to make sure you’ve got the clothes to dress respectfully

And be sure to take the climate and weather forecast into account, too.

If you’re deciding what to pack for a yoga retreat in Bali, you’ll probably want to include sandals and an emergency raincoat.

Whereas if you’re packing for a yoga retreat in Iceland (yes, there are actually retreats held there!), you’ll want to need bulkier warm clothes and solid shoes if you go out adventuring, which I highly recommend! 

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About your shoes

When you’re on the mat, you won’t need shoes. But you’ll need something on your feet for excursions and activities outside of the yoga studio.

Are you going hiking on your retreat? Will you spend most of the time on the beach? Or will you be strolling around a city?

Put appropriate footwear on your yoga retreat checklist.

Should you take yoga props?

Many retreats will provide all the props like yoga mats, blocks, straps, bolsters, etc., which you need for your practice.

But before you go, check what is and isn’t available at the retreat venue.

It might be that the retreat does provide mats and blocks, but not straps — in which case you could bring one along, especially if you’re used to using it in your practice. 

A therapy ball or foam roller could relieve tension after your daily practice.

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Consider your toiletries

Toiletries and any medication you take should be on your retreat packing list.

But when it comes to toiletries, think carefully about what to bring, and leave behind any products containing harsh chemicals.

Many retreats take an environmentally conscious approach to living in the world, and those in remote locations might not be hooked up to mains drainage.

Opt for natural, eco-friendly products that won’t do any harm if they end up in the earth, the sea, or a river. They’ll be better for your body as well!

Personal items to pack for a retreat

Although we definitely recommend keeping your packing as minimal as you can, it’s important to include a few personal items that will help you make the most of the experience.

For example, you might want to bring the following:

  • A journal and pen – to record your journey and remind you of everything you experienced and learnt
  • A camera – to make the most of unique photo opportunities
  • A self-cleaning water bottle – it’s important to stay hydrated on a yoga retreat, so bring a lightweight bottle that will keep your water fresh and cold and this way you also don't have to buy one-time plastic bottles which helps the environment
  • Snacks – protein bars, dried fruit and nuts are always good to have in your bag for those moments when you need a little boost
  • Things that make you feel good – crystals, affirmation cards, or notes from loved ones could help you stay grounded and steady
  • A book – because there will be quiet moments to catch up on your chapters

Going on a specialist retreat or training?

If you’re going on a specialist retreat or training you might need a few specific items to support you.

For example, if you’re going away for a yoga teacher training course, you’ll need to bring relevant course materials (think books!) and study aids.

Usually, a yoga teacher training packing list will be provided.

Refer to that and add anything you think you’ll need to study, like revision cards and highlighter pens.

If you’re unsure what to bring to a silent retreat, imagine yourself there. What will you want to have by your side? A journal is a must, and you may want to bring photos or reminders from home to help you feel connected to your loved ones; because silence can get tough.

A packing list for a meditation retreat will depend on the kind of meditation you’ll be practising.

For example, if you’re going on a silent Vipassana retreat, you’ll need Vipassana clothing — comfortable and warm, and some centers ask that you wear light colors.

If in doubt, always contact your retreat provider and ask. They’ll be happy to help.

retreat packing list

The Example Packing List: What to pack for a week-long yoga retreat

You’re nearly ready to build your own yoga retreat packing list, taking into account the location, duration, and type of retreat you’re going on.

Here’s an example list to work from. It’s based on a week-long yoga retreat in a warm climate.

Add and remove anything you do or don’t need, and you’ll be all set.

what to pack for a yoga retreat
  • 3-4 x yoga practice outfits
  • 1 x evening/excursion outfit
  • 2 x day outfits (for example, interchangeable shorts/skirt and tops)
  • 2 x warm sweaters (1 for Savasana/meditation, 1 for evenings)
  • A scarf, shawl, or loose top to cover up (for temple visits, etc.)
  • Lightweight rain jacket (ideally one that folds up into a little bag)
  • Swimwear
  • Quick-drying travel towel
  • Underwear and pyjamas, or preferred sleepwear
  • Sandals
  • Hiking shoes, or shoes you can walk in well for a few hours at least
  • Sunglasses
  • Any yoga props you need (mat, blocks, strap)
  • Reusable water bottle
  • Your favourite snacks in small cartons or packets
  • Eco-friendly toiletries (soap, shampoo, sunscreen, moisturizer, SPF lip balm, toothbrush and paste)
  • An inspiring, uplifting book (or your kindle)
  • Passport, credit/debit card, phone, camera (and all necessary chargers)
  • A plug socket adaptor

What NOT to pack for a retreat

There are a few common items that you’ll probably regret bringing — because you won’t need them, and they take up precious space and weight in your bag.

They include:

  • Make-up – you may want to bring some light make-up if you don’t feel comfortable without it, but no one will be judging you on your put-togetherness on retreat. And don’t forget that yoga plus hot weather will equal… sweat! Take the opportunity to give your skin a break and go natural
  • Curling irons, straighteners — again, just not needed (you might want to take a hairdryer tho, especially when not going to a tropical climate where your hair dries quick)
  • High heels and/or super tight clothing, because it’ll be hot, and you’ll probably be spending time outdoors and in nature

So, in short…

Keep it light and natural. When you add something to your retreat packing list, ask yourself twice if you really need it.

You’ll feel more free and at ease on your yoga retreat with less weight and more simplicity.

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