How to Travel with a Yoga Mat
"If you practice yoga once a week, you will change your mind. If you practice yoga twice a week, you will change your body. If you practice yoga daily, you will change your life."
Whether you're a traveling nomad like me or a yogi looking to continue practice on an extended vacation, learning how to travel with a yoga mat is a necessary skill for a consistent practice. Let's be real... long flights, new environments, stressful travels... these are the perfect conditions for a "I need yoga right this minute" meltdown.
One of my favorite parts of carrying a yoga mat and practice around the world is how simple it is to stop, drop, and yoga. In the middle of the airport, in the tiniest of hotel rooms, or even on a bus aisle, you can throw out your mat and have yourself a badass yoga practice. Anywhere. Anytime.
However, you gotta have a mat!
I get asked about my advice on traveling with a mat all of the time. My biggest piece of advice for travelers, and honestly all of my students, is to choose a mat unique to your needs. Everyone is different and we are blessed to be living in a day and age with plenty of yoga mat choices.
I personally chose a normal mat (non-travel) that I knew would be super durable. I like to take my practice on my hiking trails and in exotic environments, so I wanted something that would put up with a rocky landscape. It is super thick, heavy, and not the easiest to travel with. However, I never regret bringing it along. I travel with a Jade Yoga Mat.
Jade Yoga Mats
Jade Yoga mats are eco-friendly and are made with natural rubber, so you won't find any of the synthetic crap in their mats. One of my favorite things about the company is their commitment to the environment. They have partnered with an organization called Trees for the Future and plant a tree every time a yoga mat is purchased. So, you can feel good about spending some nice money on a beautiful mat.
I use the harmony mat, which is their standard mat. It is perfect for a non-slip practice and is sturdy enough to handle me tossing it around and getting it super dirty. The downside of this mat... it is about 5-6 lbs depending on the length you choose. It doesn't fit well in a suitcase, so I always carry it on to flights (read more about this below).
Jade has also produced a few travel versions of their famous mats. The travel mat is a lighter weight mat that rolls up and only weights just over 3 lbs. It is a tiny bit thicker than traditional travel mats, so it is perfect for a light mat that still provides a decent level of support. However, if support is not your biggest concern and you are looking for a mat that can fold up really small, the voyager mat is perfect for you! It only weights 1.5 pounds and can fit in most backpacks! Pretty much, a miracle mat.
Other Travel Mats
Manduka is another famous yoga mat brand that has incredible quality mats, but prices to match. Their travel mat is called the eKO Lite mat and is also made of natural, durable material. It still weighs a decent amount though. about 3.5 lbs. They also have a smaller, foldable mat called the Ultra Lite which is similar to the voyager and only weights 2.2 lbs.
Lululemon also has a travel mat version, called the (un) mat, for those who are a big fan of the brand. I personally find their mats to be too slippery for my personal preference, but I have friends who love their stuff.
If you are looking for a budget friendly option, Gaiam has a great variety of mats and I used their stuff for years before committing to an expensive mat. Their foldable travel mat is a great option and weighs about 1 lb! Plus, it is about half the cost of the name brand versions.
Traveling with the Mat
If you are wanting to carry a normal or heavy duty mat, I would suggest not attempting to shove it into your suitcase. Firstly, they are usually pretty heavy and you don't want to be worried about travel weight restrictions. Secondly, they can take up a lot of space.
I simply bring mine with me as a carry-on. You can choose to use a yoga mat bag, but I just use a simple strap. I find that there is no question about what it is when I pass through security and I have never had a problem carrying it on board with me, domestically and internationally.
Of course, if you are using a foldable travel mat, you can easily pack it in your suitcase or carry-on bag. They are light and hardly take up any extra space. It really just depends on your yoga mat and travel needs.
I personally love carrying mine on with me because I can enjoy some deep stretches before or between flights. This is especially handy on long international travel days. I don't care about getting funny looks at the airport. My body is 10x happier at my final destination if I have practiced yoga.
It really is up to the individual yoga student and what your travel plans are. It doesn't have to be hard! Plus, if you really don't want to travel with a mat, you don't have to. I find that most studios around the world will let you rent them on site and some hotels will have one or two in their gym. Up to you if you want to risk the chance.
Do you travel with your mat? What kind of mat do you have and do you have any travel tips? Comment below and share your advice!
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