Can I start by saying that on every single one of my trips for the last 15 years I have travelled with a yoga mat.
In fact, I can’t believe it’s actually taken me this long to write an article about how and why I do this, as well as my tips about the best sorts of yoga mats for travel and my top 5 recommended ones.
But that’s life.
It’s a weird and wonderful thing, because somehow it’s taken me until 2020, the year when, ironically I can’t travel that much, to get around to writing an article about travelling with a yoga mat.
And the even weirder thing is that I have no pictures of me travelling with a yoga mat – despite the fact that it’s permanently clipped to my backpack!
I guess when I’m showcasing destinations and concentrating on pictures of landscapes and locals, tI just don’t think to stop and take photos of my actual luggage and bag.
Which means that unfortunately, in this article, I can’t show you any pictures of my actual travel mat yoga style, because (quite simply) I don’t have any!
And because I can’t travel (as the UK is right now in lockdown 2.0) to grab some snaps, I haven’t been able to take any as the idea for this article formulated my head either!
So sorry for the lack of personal images folks!
But regardless of the fact I haven’t done much this year, the point still remains that whenever I do travel, I travel with a yoga mat and I wanted to share all my top tips around this with you.
So here goes…
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Why Travel With a Yoga Mat?
So the first question is why travel with a yoga mat?
And the answer to this is quite simple really – to keep fit, flexible and active when you travel!
Especially if you’re travelling for a long period of time, such as on a long backpacking trip, keeping fit and active on the road, as part of a regular routine, can be difficult.
And we all know how crucial a regular active routine is to both our physical as well as mental health.
Maintaining this when you are travelling and away from your usual routine, comforts, friends and family, is perhaps even more important for keeping your body and mind balanced.
But without regular access to a gym, pool or classes, as is if often the case when you’re travelling remotely or skipping swiftly between destinations, it’s very easy to let healthy patterns in our lives slip.
When there’s no routine, no sense of what day it is, and few commitments beyond sightseeing and having a good time, it’s very easy to let wholesome behaviours slide when you travel and, as we all know, that’s not a great thing.
Of course, if you’re going away for a couple of weeks, it’s ok to have a break form your exercise routine, but much beyond this stretch of time and your body and mind do begin to suffer from a lack of routine and exercise.
Not eating and being as healthy as perhaps you would be at home is also a common problem when on the road and can also lead you to put on weight as well as feel lethargic and low.
Which is why exercising is even more important when you travel!
And a key way to be able to exercise is to start travelling with a yoga mat.
Of course, if you’re a regular yoga practitioner, this is likely to be a no-brainer – like me you’d rarely consider going anywhere without your mat because you know the huge benefits this practice can bring you.
But even if you’re not hugely into yoga, travelling with a mat can be great if you want to enjoy some home workouts, stretches and strengthening routines wherever you are.
That’s because you can simply lay your yoga mat out and no matter whether you’re camping, on a hostel rooftop, in a guesthouse room or out in nature, a yoga mat gives you the flexibility to exercise and keep your body flexible, strong and healthy no matter where you are.
And a flexible and strong body is also likely to equal a flexible and strong mind too – arguably even more important in the tough conditions travel life can bring!
How to Carry a Yoga Mat When Travelling
So now that we’ve established why you should travel with a yoga mat (!) and hopefully I’ve convinced you it’s a good idea, it’s time to talk about how to carry your yoga mat with you’re travelling.
If you’re adventuring around the world for a long time with a backpack on your back, as I often am, then I suggest you look for a backpack with straps on the outside that normally are designed to carry walking poles or a tent.
Usually, these elastic or compressible straps hold articles vertically along the height of your backpack from the top to the bottom of it.
You can therefore easily roll up your yoga mat and keep it on the outside of your backpack using these fastenings, meaning it doesn’t take up precious space inside your backpack but sits nicely and tightly alongside your stuff.
Keeping your yoga mat clean when it’s on the outside of your backpack however can be difficult when travelling.
This is especially ture if you’re checking this luggage into the hold on flights or buses.
In this case, I highly advise getting a yoga mat bag or case to protect your mat on the outside of your backpack.
Choose a light and thin bag that can hold your mat rolled tightly so that it fits within the walking pole or tent straps on the outside of your backpack.
Also try to limit any grips, clips or fastenings on the yoga mat bag or case that might get caught when your bag is in transit.
Otherwise, if you’re travelling with a suitcase or small carry on, I would advise getting a yoga mat that is thin and which can easily fold into a neat square so that you can lay it on top of your belongings within a suitcase.
For this purpose especially, I’d recommend you purchase a specific travel yoga mat, which is the next topic I’m going to cover.
Many yoga travel mats come with their own carry bag or pouch can be great for folding your yoga mat into and then putting inside your luggage too.
Things To Look For in Travel Yoga Mats
Travel yoga mats are, unsurprisingly, mats specifically designed for travelling yogis!
What this usually means is that they are thinner and lighter than regular mats and they can easily be folded or rolled up to take up little weight and space in your bag.
As opposed to regular yoga mats, which might be made of thicker rubber, foam, cork or vinyl, travel yoga mats are almost always made of thin rubber, usually exceeding a thickness of no more than 2mm.
Weight vs Comfort
Sometimes travel yoga mats are as thin as 1mm, which makes them even easier to fold and lighter to carry.
Because of course, when it comes to travel keeping the weight and size of your yoga mat down is key.
However, these thinner mats do come with some disadvantages, namely that they offer less padding.
If you suffer with knee issues, or want to enjoy a lot of floor exercises, then a slightly thicker travel yoga mat may suit you better as it will offer more protection and comfort.
But inevitably, with this added thickness you’ll also incur a greater weight, so you need to balance your priorities here and decide what is best for you.
Cleaning Your Mat
Travel yoga mats should also be easy to clean, as they are likely to get dirtier than your regular yoga mat and also you won’t necessarily have all the items to hand that you use at home to clean your yoga mat.
Taking a small spray bottle of white vinegar and water (in a 3 parts water to 1 part vinegar ratio) with you when you travel is a great way to keep your travel yoga mat clean.
Just be careful when choosing your product – ensure it is labelled as easy to clean with these vinegar and water components.
You also want a travel yoga mat that is quick to dry – either from cleaning or after a particularly sweaty workout session!
This is because being on the move means you’re likely to have both less space and time to dry your yoga mat once it is damp.
And finally, I would consider the material of your travel yoga mat.
Foam mats can be lighter but often don’t provide as good grip.
Rubber mats tend to weigh a bit more, but this can be offset by choosing a thinner mat.
Rubber mats tend to provide better grip too – very important for those down dogs or balancing postures!
I also like to think about the environmental impact caused by the material of my travel yoga mat.
There are many eco-friendly products on the market now and these are usually made from rubber sourced sustainably.
Try to get a travel yoga mat that is free from synthetic dyes and is toxin-free too.
You may also want to check if your mat can be recycled or is biodegradable because we really all do need to consider the impact our behaviours are having on the planet more and more.
5 Best Travel Yoga Mats
And now we’ve talked about what to consider when it comes to buying a travel yoga mat, it’s time to give you my recommendations!
Here are my top 5 travel yoga mats that I think are the best products around if you want to stay stretchy and strong whilst on the road.
If you’re looking to shop local and are based in the UK, the great travel yoga mats from Yogamatters are a brilliant option.
This independent company offers a huge range of yoga mats and props, many of which boast great eco-credentials including their eco travel yoga mats.
Made from environmentally-friendly materials, including sustainably harvested natural rubber, these mats are recyclable and biodegradable and free from toxic chemicals and dyes.
Super-light and ultra-thin, this is actually the travel yoga mat I have and I couldn’t be happier with its great grip properties and how easy it is to keep clean, even when on the road.
It comes in a great range of colours and costs just £35.00, making it a great option for those who want a light and easily compactable, eco-friendly mat.
If you are looking for a thicker yoga mat, because you need a bit more padding and comfort however, then the Uong travel yoga mat is hard to beat.
At 6mm thick it offers brilliant double padding protection for knees and is also an excellent length for us tallies too at 183cm long.
It’s marked line design helps a lot with alignment – especially useful if you are new to yoga.
Fully recyclable and made from high-grade TPE (Thermoplastic Elastomers), which is a type of soft rubber, this mat gets great ratings when it comes to its non-slip and easy to clean credentials.
The carry case makes this yoga travel mat easy to transport and it comes with a 1 year warranty, backed by the fact it’s made from anti-tear material.
A great travel yoga mat for those seeking a bit more comfort.
If you’re looking to stand out with your yoga mat, or want a pretty designed mat to inspire your practice, then one of the best travel yoga mats out there are those from Gaiam.
With over 15 beautiful designs, in a huge range of colours, these mats are actually reversible and offer excellent non-slip protection.
They are thicker too, at 6mm, which means they weigh a little more at just under 1.5 kg, but are free from many nasty toxins, which many other pattern mats include.
A great travel yoga mat for those who want to brighten up their practice whilst on the road.
Another beautifully patterned travel yoga mat, Pido offers less colour designs than the Gaiam range, but they are much thinner and therefore lighter, meaning if weight and compactness are greater concerns when it comes to choosing your travel yoga mat, these are a great option to go for.
Just 1.6mm thick (just slightly more than the Yogamatters version and available in the US), these nevertheless weigh in at 1.2 kg.
Non-slip, with a suede surface and rubber backside, these might not be the easiest to clean (without a machine) but they do look good!
They are non-slip (the suede definitely helps) and they come with a 1 year warranty.
Lines on the designs help with alignment (similar to the Uong mat), but this one is much easier to pack and even comes with a small pouch bag, which the mat fits into and which you can wear round your wrist or use to pakc the mat away easily.
And finally, the last on my list of the best travel yoga mats is the popular favourite from Manduka.
Coming in a huge range of colours and designs, this mat is made from non-Amazon harvested, natural tree rubber.
Free from PVC, toxic plasticizers and harmful dyes, this mat is super light and compressible.
Weighing less than 1kg, it’s on par with the Yogamatters mat in terms of keeping the weight down, and offers excellent grip protection, as well as the ability to condense down into just about any bag.
It’s biodegradable and its tightly woven, closed-cell surface means it stops bacteria developing akayou can probably get away with having to clean the mat less often!
There’s a few mats in the Manduka range, but the eKO SuperLite is the lightest and best travel version to opt for!
Taking Care When Travelling with a Yoga Mat
We’ve talked about how to clean your travel yoga mat and making sure you do this regularly is key to extending the life of your mat as well as keeping things hygienic.
It’s also important you air out and dry your mat properly to avoid any unpleasant odours or stickiness on the mat.
I would also advise rolling out your mat, or unfolding it, as much as possible.
It’s not great to keep even travel yoga mats compressed into the same shape a lot, without rolling them out and when travelling this can happen all too easily.
Ensuring you unfurl your mat therefore, as this will also help you prolong its life and ensure it doesn’t start curling at the edges or wearing out along any fold lines.
Keeping yoga mats out of the sun will also stop them fading and wearing thin, particularly if they are cork or rubber, which are materials that can dry out in harsh direct sunlight.
PIN IT TO PINTEREST!
So there you have it, my full guide to travelling with a yoga mat.
I hope I’ve covered everything you need to know about adventuring with this health and exercise item and hopefully I’ve convinced you that even if you’re packing light, this is an item, I wouldn’t leave at home.
Any questions about how travelling with a yoga mat I haven’t covered?
Please pop them into the comments below and I’ll get back to you…