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While everybody would like to indulge on a regular vacation, time taken off for a wellness holiday to restore the body and soul calls for a different packing list altogether.

And while we might say we travel to relax, let’s be honest – most of our regular vacations are so jam packed with activities that we end up needing another vacation the minute we’re home!

That vacation you always seem to need at the end of your typical vacations to relax and unwind?

That’s a wellness break.

Though don’t fall into the trap of thinking that wellness just means sitting at the spa; there are a wide range of holiday types that are considered a health getaway today. Here’s a basic packing list for each of them.

Things to Pack for a Wellness Vacation

Wellness Retreat

Massage RF

A ‘wellness vacation’ is simply a vacation where the goal is to restore your body and mind. This could range from a spa getaway, to a meditation retreat, though can also include active travel adventures, like walking holidays.

A ‘wellness retreat’ is one of the types of wellness vacations you can take; this is where you set yourself up at a beautiful retreat which offers a schedule of activities to improve your physical, psychological, or spiritual health and well-being.

A wellness retreat like those highlighted on Vacayou, will offer you both education and relaxation – you’re there to understand healthy living, and can take classes like yoga, nutrition, spirituality, cooking, exercise. It’s ‘well-structured leisure’ where you benefit from the knowledge of expert teachers.

Many wellness retreats also include therapeutic and relaxing treatments like massage and Ayurvedic treatments in their program, as well as options for counselling if you decide this can benefit you.

Every wellness retreat will be different and offer a different program to serve specific health needs, though the basic principle of each is that you’ll return home feeling better than when you got there, and gain knowledge about your inner self.

What to Pack for a Wellness Retreat

Female Traveler packing suitcase bag luggage list RF

So, what do you pack for a retreat where the purpose is slowing down, relaxing, and unwinding in solitude? You should cater your packing to your program, however the essentials will include:

Comfortable clothes: You don’t need not make a fashion statement when you’re at a wellness retreat. The point is that everyone is there to focus on themselves, so instead aim to only at wearing clothes for the occasion.

Basic T-shirts, cotton trousers and simple dresses which will calm and relax you is all you’ll need. Remember that you’re not there to impress anybody.

Comfortable footwear: Best to pack a pair of easy to slip on sandals or flip flops in order to make walking from one session to another easy. Pack a pair of sneakers as well if you intend to go jogging or explore the surroundings.

Sunscreen: This is vital, especially if your retreat is located in a tropical zone. Put on ample sunscreen every time you venture out for a session or the pool or beach.

Healthy snacks: Most retreats will actually provide a food program for you, though having healthy snack options in hand will eliminate the need of eating junk food. Dried fruit, nuts and granola bars could be ideal to carry.

Coconut oil: This may be a healthy staple for cooking, but it has multipurpose properties which makes it a vital addition to your packing list. You can use it as a make-up remover, moisturizer, lubricant and to treat sunburn and itchy skin. Buy small individual packets from your health food outlet to keep the mess to a minimum after use.

Medication: The medical staff at the retreat will require a complete list of your prescriptions. So carry all your medicines as being away from home may make it difficult to get more or a replacement.

Spa Getaway

Turkish spa bubbles woman RF

If you’re planning a spa vacation and aren’t sure what to carry, here is a complete packing list of what to consider taking with you.

Clothing

You won’t need too much clothing for a spa getaway, though for chilly days and early morning walks make sure you pack some layered clothing as well as the swimwear you plan on packing.

When it comes to swimwear, we recommend packing two different bathing suits, which means you can wear one while the other is drying (for women, a one piece will make you feel more comfortable).

Workout classes are often included in a spa getaway, in which case you’ll need to bring appropriate clothing with you too. You’ll also need lounge wear for when you’re not at the spa, and comfy clothes for your downtime.

Dinner is usually pretty casual, so don’t worry about packing anything fancy unless the resort specifies a dress code or encourages dressier evenings. Some spas will even provide signature evening wear.

Don’t be shocked though if you go down to dinner and find many people in their robes, so it’s always best to ask your retreat directly what the dress code is for dinner (retreats provide the robe)!.

Footwear

Slippers spa RF

For workouts and fitness classes take a good pair of either aerobic, running or cross-training shoes. You’ll also need a pair of sandals or flip flops for walking around the spa facilities.

Do make sure you wear flip flops around the spa facilities, and even in the public showers, as opposed to bare feet. Bacteria thrives in wet, high traffic areas, and picking it up on direct skin contact means you risk infection.

We recommend taking your own flip flops and slippers even if the retreat provides them for you – it’s much more hygienic for keeping germs at bay.

Gear You’ll Need

Canvas bag: Bring a small canvas bag to carry your personal items when you are going to the spa from the room. This looks so much organised then having to carry it awkwardly.

Water bottle: You’ll be surprised how thirsty you can become after a session at the spa. Instead of ruining the environment by drinking from one paper cup to another, carry your personal stainless steel water bottle to stay hydrated at all times.

Essential oils: A calming aroma can do wonders back in the room to help you find a quick way to dreamland. Bring your own travel candle or essential oils for an aromatherapy session whenever you want.

Yoga Mat: Some resorts offer their own but they are usually used and worn by the constant use of other guests. Carrying your own lightweight yoga mat can bring a feeling of comfort. Include a good mat carrier made of antimicrobial material to make transit between two yoga venues smooth.

Small towel: Pack a small towel to avoid losing ground just because you are dripping with sweat after an active session. The small towel will make a perfect sweat rag.

Meditation Retreat

Yoga RF

A meditation retreat offers much needed respite from the day to day stresses which tend to weigh one down completely. The point is to return full of energy and zest.

In order to keep your mind focused on your task ahead of you, it’s important to pack mindfully, including the following in your luggage:

Zafu or meditation pillow: While most retreats provide ample comforts for seating, having your own favorite can come in very handy. It can also double up as a comfortable neck support on the plane.

Notepad: Days spent in a meditation retreat will drastically change your attitude towards life. A journal or notebook, where you can pen down your private thoughts, will make good reading once you return back home.

Shawl or light blanket: When you are meditating in the cool of the day, a silk shawl or blanket will be an asset.

Energy snacks: Protein rich snacks like nuts and dry fruit can provide a much needed boost during the initial draining days of meditation. So pack enough quantity and keep it close at hand during a session.

Lightweight clothing: Clothes which are suitable both for sitting and walking are preferred. Utilize compression cubes to make the most of your space and added layered clothing instead of bulky sweaters.

Toiletries: Pack eco-friendly products to safeguard the environment. By being mindful of nature, it can help you to completely detox and reverse the way of harmful living.

An open mind: Regardless of your destination, the most important thing is to arrive with a positive attitude. You  can forget everything on a list and show up with nothing, but coming with an open mind you are well on your way to receive all the benefits of retreat.

Walking Holidays

Water hike woman RF

For many people, walking holidays are their wellness vacation of choice, and active adventures / fitness orientated travel has really started trending within the wellness space.

There are many retreats throughout the world that include hikes through mountain trails or long walks over different terrain, and not only is physical activity good for your physical health, it’s also good for your soul.

Fitness travel boosts our zest for life, it improves our self awareness, and feeds our soul. It’s a great way to recharge, refresh, and leave stress and anxiety behind.

Clothing

Clothes you should pack for a walking holiday will vary depending on the climate of the destination you’ve chosen – i.e jungle wear will be complete different than if you’re trekking across the desert. So make sure you properly research to pack climate appropriate clothing.

Keep in mind though that in most destinations you’ll be hot during the day from the exercise, and probably very cold at night, so it’s important to back for both warm and cold conditions.

If you’re trekking somewhere cold, pack layers, using long sleeve clothing as a base, and thermal underwear (along with accessories like gloves, beanies, and scarves). If you’re hiking somewhere warm, light flowing clothes with breathable fabrics are ideal.

Convertible pants may not be super fashionable, but are a great idea for most walks as they allow you to adjust the way you wear them to the specific climate. They’re incredibly practical!

And as you’ll be sweating and moving around a lot, we highly recommend moisture wicking underwear (a technical fabric that moves moisture away from the body and the fabric itself) – bonus if the fabric has odor killing technology like Knix.

Footwear

Walking waterfall shoes RF

You’ll obviously need comfortable walking shoes, and the technical scale of footwear will once again depend on the type of vacation, ie whether you can get away with very simple running shoes, or if you’ll need proper hiking boots.

The most important thing about your footwear though is that it has to be broken in. It’s absolutely essential that you have worn the shoes before your trip, otherwise you’ll end up battling blisters and broken skin.

If you need to buy shoes specifically for this vacation, buy them well in advance, and wear them extensively before hand, even if it’s just wearing them around the house.

Pack several pairs of synthetic or light wool socks with liners. Don’t use cotton socks as they often cause blisters, and make sure that your socks are long enough to come above the height of your shoes (i.e many hiking boots will come up above your ankles).

Other Gear and Equipment

Daypack: A small comfortable daypack to store some snacks and your water bottle when on a hike.

Hydration pack: This is only recommended for serious hikers who plan to be out for the day and cover long distances. A good hydration pack can provide as much as 150 ounces of water, when on your back, without having to sip from the bottle.

Polar heart rate monitor: These come in various models and can monitor the heart rate and the calories burnt while exercising.

Binoculars: If you feel like doing a bit of birdwatching.

The packing list for a wellness traveler may seem intimidating at first, but in reality the few focused items are curated to safeguard your overall health and well-being, and fit easily in your carry bag at the same time.

Going for a wellness holiday is not the average vacation, but by packing wisely and being equipped with whatever you may need, you’re well set to embark on an adventure full of health and happiness!

Megan is an Australian Journalist and award-winning travel writer who has been blogging since 2007. Her husband Mike is the American naturalist and wildlife photographer behind Waking Up Wild; an online magazine dedicated to opening your eyes to the wonders of the wild & natural world.

Having visited 50+ countries across all seven continents, Megan’s travels focus on cultural immersion, authentic discovery and incredible journeys. She has a strong passion for ecotourism, and aims to promote responsible travel experiences.

    

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