Globetrotters and busy bees know how stressful traveling can be, and it’s only getting more stressful as the years go by. There are so many things to arrange before we travel such as transportation to and from the airport, a dog sitter, and most importantly, luggage. With an agenda like this, it’s no wonder mindful travelers feel compelled to bring their yoga mats with them for the ride. What better place to practice mindfulness and meditation than in an airport?
But the question remains: Are we allowed to bring our yoga mat on the plane with us? If so, do we have to take it as a carry on?
In this article, we will be discussing how to travel with a yoga mat in tow.
TSA Guidelines for Traveling with a Yoga Mat
First thing’s first—what does the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) have to say about bringing your mat on a plane? According to the TSA, travelers boarding an airplane may bring a yoga mat with them as either a carry-on item or packed away in their checked luggage.
In other words, the TSA agents working the security checkpoint shouldn’t give you a hard time for having a yoga mat in your suitcase. However, it’s important to remember that TSA isn’t the only hoop you have to jump through when it comes to your plane’s baggage policy. You’ll also have to make sure that it’s okay with your airline as well. Most airlines won’t have a problem with it as long as you are abiding by their checked baggage and carry-on luggage weight restrictions.
How do I pack my yoga mat as a carry on?
If you are considering bringing your yoga mat as a carry on, there are a few things you have to consider. It’s generally acceptable to carry on your yoga mat as long as it is no larger than the maximum carry-on dimensions allowed by the airline.
Most U.S.-based airlines require your carry on item to be no more than 22” wide. Once your yoga mat is rolled up and ready to go, it will have to be 22” or less in order to board most flights. However, the average yoga mat is usually between 24”-27”, which means your mat might be too large to take aboard with you as a carry on-item.
Luckily, there is an alternative for globe-trotting yogis who own thin and/or flexible yoga mats. A thinner mat can be folded easier, therefore making it compact enough to fit inside your carry on bag. If you do choose to go this route, be prepared for the mat to take up most of the space in your carry on luggage bag. You might have to pack more of your belongings in a checked bag, but at least you can get your yoga mat on the plane with you.
How do I pack my yoga mat in my checked luggage?
The other option you have if you’re taking your yoga mat with you on the plane is to pack it in a checked bag. This is a good option if your rolled-up yoga mat is too tall to meet the carry on item dimension restrictions and too thick to be folded up into your carry on bag.
To successfully pack your yoga mat into a large checked luggage bag, you’ll want to make sure that your checked bag is big enough to fit your rolled up yoga mat diagonally across the bag. You can do this by measuring your suitcase and seeing if the length and width of the internal compartment are suitable for your mat.
Furthermore, it’s important to note that all airlines have checked luggage weight restrictions. Most yoga mats are not very heavy, but keep in mind that you will also have to factor in any additional items that you will be cramming in your luggage to avoid having to pay extra fees for overweight bags.
The best yoga mats to travel with
There is a whole market out there that targets travelers with smaller, travel-specific items. Some of these items are unnecessary, but some of them can actually be useful if you are trying to save space. A travel yoga mat is one of those things. Travel yoga mats are worth investing in if you are:
- Someone who travels frequently.
- An avid yogi.
If you have been on your fair share of flights trying to frantically stuff your standard yoga mat into one of your bags, carry on or checked, you could probably benefit from a travel yoga mat. After all, our self-care routines are important and most of us want to maintain them even when we are away from home. Travel yoga mats are ultra thin, lightweight, and designed to not take up too much room. The material used to make a travel yoga mat tends to be much more flexible than that of a traditional mat, making it the perfect flight companion.
That being said, take note that the thinner a mat is, the less reliable it becomes, so it’s important to shop for a travel yoga mat that is still made with quality. When shopping for a travel yoga mat, be sure that it is:
- Good grip.
- Durable material that can withstand folding.
- Easy to clean.
- Non slip.
Here’s a list of some of the best travel yoga mats on the market currently:
- Manduka eKO Superlite Travel Yoga Mat: For $45, you can enjoy a travel yoga mat by one of the most noteworthy yoga brands in the game. Manduka’s travel yoga mat weighs only 2.2. pounds and is extremely flexible while still being non slip.
- Gaiam Foldable Yoga Mat: You can’t really beat Gaiam’s $13.59 travel yoga mat if you are on a budget. This yoga mat is not only compact, but it also holds its end of the bargain as far as grip goes. It’s definitely not a bad option for costing under $20.
- JadeYoga Travel Yoga Mat: This travel mat is designed by one of the most popular yoga brands out there. For $42.95, you can own a travel yoga mat that is 3 mm thick and comes in two different lengths to accommodate those on the taller end.
- The Reversible (Un) Mat by Lululemon: Anyone who does yoga knows that Lululemon isn’t exactly the cheapest option when it comes to yoga mats or even yoga attire, but if you are a Lululemon fanatic, you’ll love their reversible (Un) Mat. This purchase will make you feel like you have two super thin yoga mats for the price of one.
Tips for traveling with a yoga mat
If you’ve already got your boarding pass and travel itinerary ready to go, here are some tips for traveling with a yoga mat in tow:
- Unroll or unfold your yoga mat as soon as you arrive at your destination: Doing this will give your mat some time to breathe and release the wrinkles it acquired from the trip before you break it out and do some asanas.
- Don’t be afraid to add some extra cushion to your yoga mat: Once you arrive at your hotel or wherever you are staying, you might notice that your travel yoga mat doesn’t give you the same amount of support that your traditional mat gives you. Perhaps the floors are too hard and you are unable to get into your poses comfortably. If this is the case, consider putting a towel or a blanket underneath your travel yoga mat to provide you with some extra padding.
- Bring your yoga mat cleaner: You never know what is on the floor of the place that you are staying. Even when you’re away on vacay, you should still try to stick to your regular yoga mat cleaning routine. Try to bring a small, travel size yoga mat cleaner with you on your trip to keep your mat clean and germ free.
Taking a yoga mat with you when you travel is one surefire way to make sure that you are sticking to your yoga and or/meditation routine even when you are out exploring the world. Be proud of yourself for taking the initiative to keep your mind and body healthy while you are on the go.
Remember that every airline has their own carry-on and checked baggage policy, so it’s important that you review these before you arrive for your flight.