First Retreat? Here's a No Nonsense List of What To Bring From A Reformed Over-packer

With the commercial airlines trying to squeeze every dime out of you these days I thought it would be helpful to give you a run down of my no-nonsense list of what to bring on a trip with us.

We will always send out a list of specifics to bring prior to each trip, like scuba gear or hiking boots, but I thought it would be nice to have these things all in one place.

So here goes…

Oh! Before I forget a lot of places we visit offer laundry services where they send it out and get it back to you the next day. This is very handy especially if you get in a bind or are planning to make the retreat a part of a larger trip. However this list will be not taking that into consideration, so theoretically you could pack less.


  • Swim suit(s) - 1 or 2 of these will do, but I know people who bring a different one for every day.

  • Casual daytime attire (shorts, t-shirts, tanks – the lighter the better!) - while I do see the use in these I find that I can save myself a lot of space here. By bringing items that can double as yoga/athletic wear (aka. athleisure) you can save a lot of space.

  • Yoga/athletic clothing - see above, and remember if it’s good enough for a yoga class it’s good enough for us!

  • Sneakers for workouts + thongs/sandals/flip flops - 20% sneakers, 70% of the time thongs, 5% none! Shoes are a huge space eater!
    (optional: water shoes, occasionally we go to beaches that could have hot sand or rocky shores. Your tootsies may thank you!)

  • Evening/dinner attire (in the event you want to dress up in the evenings, completely optional!)

  • Underwear/socks - Your mother always told you to have a spare pair handy, right?

  • Jacket or sweatshirt (it may get unexpectedly rainy here and there, probably not cold, think water resistant here and lightweight)

  • Sleepwear (light & comfy especially in shared lodgings)

  • Hat (protect your head from the sun!)


  • Bug spray. So much bug spray. - Nat actually wrote that. However there are a lot of options out there now like this one from Badger that are much more compact and make it through security much easier than sprays. Also, some people have had success with bracelets like these. Regardless, all tropical climates come with things that like to bite. Some of us more than others, right Nat?

  • Sunglasses - I typically donate a pair to the ocean on every trip, so maybe leave the designer ones behind. On the plus side most of the places we travel have a robust blackmarket for sunglass sales!

  • Sunscreen - Highly recommended, but use your best judgement when packing.

  • Toiletries (toothbrush, toothpaste, shampoo/conditioner, Q-tips, deodorant, hairbrush, cleansers, chapstick, washcloth, etc.) the resort will have the essentials, but bring anything you can’t be without!
    ***Be sure to check with us before you go regarding hairdryers, again this can be a space eater. Some resorts have them and still others have no power to use them anyway.

  • Personal medications

  • Flashlight/headlamp/batteries (for reading in your room and getting around the resort at night) - again this will depend on the resort. Typically we will let you know if one is necessary. Sometimes we do excursions that require walking at night, etc. and the headlamps, while looking silly, do come in handy.

  • Books/magazines - some places have libraries or left behind books, but you’ll need one for the plane if you are a reader.

  • Camera - unless you’re a photographer I’d say your phone will do here.

  • You are welcome to bring your own yoga mat, however the retreat center has mats for us to use during the sessions.

  • Chargers for all your electronics


  • Passport

  • Photocopy of passport and ID

  • Airline tickets (paper copy just in case)

  • Credit card/debit card - don’t forget to call them to let them know you will be traveling BEFORE you get there.

  • Emergency phone numbers: We will provide our numbers prior to the retreat

  • Luggage tags & locks

  • Cash - Since food and transportation is paid for as part of your package and/or activity add-ons, you don’t need to carry much cash with you. There are ATMs in town when we visit if you’d like to shop for souvenirs or anything else.

Unless service charge is included, we do recommend planning to leave a cash tip of $100 per guest for the resort staff at the end of the retreat if you feel the service was good, so please plan accordingly.

Ideally you can fit all of this in a carry on like the one I have from Nomatic or some other and save money on the checked bag fees and time at the airport too!

If you have any questions feel free to drop me a line at