Combing the internet looking for the perfect yoga festival or retreat is the easy part. Harder is figuring out how to pack for early morning hikes, post-breakfast Vinyasa flows and 3pm pool parties. Depending on your location, the amount of layers required might change, but the general formula for packing remains the same. This year I drove up to Wanderlust Squaw Valley with co-pilot and Stretch*d Founder Vanessa Chu, who as a former yoga teacher and current time-strapped founder of a New York stretch studio knows how to pack a perfectly edited yoga carry-on. Together, Chu and myself, a veteran of Wanderlust Tahoe and yoga festival fangirl, put our heads together to come up with the ultimate yoga festival packing list.
Before you pack anything else, make sure you’ve stuffed a mineral sunscreen into every bag headed to the festival: luggage, backpack, purse. The more the merrier, and in a variety of sizes. Natural sunscreens with high SPF like Coola are an easy pick with bonus points for smelling like the tropics. Chu says she likes Colorescience’s travel-sized Sunforgettable Total Protection Brush-on Shield in SPF 50, that she says takes her from, “sweaty yogi to poolside presentable even on a minimalist yoga weekend.”
Nike Frees are meant for the road or the treadmill - not a dusty, gravelly or muddy mountain. And if you’re used to sitting behind a desk all day, having ankle protection to stabilize joints can mean the difference between having a full weekend of outdoor adventure and having to watch from the sidelines. For a well made, comfortable option that won’t break the bank, Hi-Tec’s Altitude VI boots are an easy go-to. Chu also recommends, “Bombas socks because they are super comfortable and supportive and they don’t slide down, which matters when you’re trekking up a mountain.”
Keep your bathing suit (and a towel) in your backpack at all times - you don’t know when your group of yogis is going to want to ditch afternoon Vinyasa for a dip in the pool (especially if you’re going somewhere warm). Guarantee you’re prepared for any water sports or poolside margaritas that might arise by packing one chic, poolside appropriate suit like the flattering one pieces at Andie plus a stand up paddle-friendly one that is built for movement like the new Malia Manuel collaboration collection at lululemon.
Luxe facial spray
You will be hot and covered in a thin layer of dirt mixed with sunscreen and sweat for the duration of your time outdoors. Do yourself a favor by taking a moment every few hours to spritz your face and exposed limbs with a cooling and luxurious-smelling facial spray. For something summery and natural, Kat Rudu Dewy Botanical Flower Mist has a chamomile rose cantaloupe scent and is made with witch hazel to chase away bacteria from all of that dirt.
Yes, it’s a yoga festival, but you’re going to want to take a break from spandex by the end of the day. Mix it up with wellness-vibing separates like gorgeous and flowy linen tops and pants or dresses by a sustainable brand like Rough Linen. Or for lounging in your cabin, gear from Spiritual Gangster is one of the comfiest yogic options.
Post-shower, when you toss on your linen separates for evenings of healthy, family-style meals and kombucha or cocktails, having a pair of easy-to-toss on and comfortable slides feels like such a luxury. San Francisco’s Birdies makes the perfect apres-yoga slipper-shoe in a multitude of jewel tones and textures, from citrine to blush.
It is not possible to over-hydrate at a yoga festival. Many don’t even have bottled water as an option and instead have fill stations scattered around festival grounds. Having a full water bottle will ensure you’re feeling great all day. Bkr makes a variety of sizes, with cheeky details, so you won’t confuse your bottle with your neighbors or forget it after an extra zen meditation session. Even better than a standard bottle is Bkr’s new water bottle with their new water balm snapped onto the cap.
It’s likely you’ll be under the sun’s rays for a solid portion of your days, so sunglasses are key for protecting eyes and being able to soak in the scenery. But an active-outdoor trip is not the time to splurge on designer shades. Instead try fashion-forward but affordable options from sustainability minded brands like Sunski or Diff. Chu says that “even if you lose them, you know they’ll at least go to another yogi and you’re not out hundreds of dollars.”
Chu recommends that if you forget all else, remember to, “think survival mode-light. Pack strategically for what you need for the day: you’re going to go from class to poolside to grassy picnic to live music without going back to your home base.” And if you’re making any new purchases, to, “try to buy mission-driven, you are going to a yoga weekend after all!”