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What to Pack–or Not–for a Wellness Retreat

Feb 23 2023
6 min read
Woman packing her suitcase on the floor.

From comfy clothes to supportive shoes, here's our list of key items for your wellness getaway—plus what to leave behind at home.

You’ve booked your wellness experience, and it’s not far off. It’s time to think about what you’ll pack because this is much more than a standard vacation. From the moment you arrive, its purpose is wellness—and that mindset kicks in as the packing begins.

Your stylish side won’t be getting a workout on this retreat. This is all about tending to mind, body, spirit, and you. For this experience, what you don’t take may be as important as what you do take. It’s a way of confirming your intention and getting off to a smooth start.

When guests plan for their Canyon Ranch wellness experience, we recommend this basic list:

What To Pack

  • The right shoes. Pack the broken-in ones that fit and feel the best and provide support, like your favorite hiking boots and shoes for fitness classes. And nothing fancy, even at mealtime.

  • Comfortable clothes. Take your favorite casuals for exploring and relaxing. Include athleisure items that remind your body and mind that it’s time for exercise. Bring just enough, so you always have something fresh to wear.

  • Bring layers for the season & weather. Get the 10-day forecast, checking both the lows and highs. Layering is important, and don’t forget your rain gear.

  • Swimsuit. Even if you don't think you'll need it, bring a swimsuit and flip-flops, just in case the mood strikes. From Watsu® pools at Canyon Ranch Tucson to the cold dip pool at Canyon Ranch Lenox, each resort property has unique aquatic environments to explore.

  • Sports undergarments. You’ll be active, which means you’ll perspire. Moisture-wicking underwear and a good sports bra are important. Bring extras to stay fresh and clean.

  • Extra socks. Bring more than one pair of socks and items that might get wet, dirty, muddy, or need replacing.

  • Reusable water bottle. You may receive one at check-in, and refillable water bottles are available at each destination.

  • Sun-ready. Be sure to take a sunhat, sunglasses, lip balm, sunscreen, and your preferred moisturizer. Whether you’re in the Arizona desert, the Berkshires woods, or on a Bay Area mountain trail, the sun can still find you. If you plan on being outdoors for hours, consider clothes with SPF protection.

  • Medications. Make sure you have what you need for your whole stay. Prescription meds are one thing you can’t pick up at resort shops.

  • Glasses. Don’t forget any reading or prescription glasses, contact lenses, and solution.

  • Personal journal. Take this chance to reflect on what you do, feel, and think during this meaningful time. Those memories and reflections can keep you inspired along your journey.

And we recommend this list for Ranch guests, too:

What Not to Pack

  • Invisible baggage. You know what that means. Try to leave ancient history and lingering feelings behind. Not as easy as it sounds, you say? No problem. Your wellness retreat is a perfect time to address that. Away from your usual patterns and people, you can discover a new perspective to help untangle the past. Behavioral, spiritual, and mind-body experts are masters of identifying emotional boulders and helping clear the way forward. As that obstacle gets unstuck, you can more easily manage the everyday bumps and gravel on life’s journey.

  • A to-do list. A wellness retreat should take off the pressure. It’s your chance to shift the focus from doing to being. Let yourself discover who you are and how you feel when you set aside the to-dos. A to-be list could include: Be open. Be mindful. Be content.

  • Anything uncomfortable. Tight clothes, shoes that pinch, and underthings that constrict are not on trend for your wellness getaway. You’ll want to focus on yourself, not blisters or annoying straps. Don’t take anything you’ll be dying to take off by the end of the day.

  • All that glam. You don’t need red-carpet clothes, makeup, or bling to shine at our retreat. You’ll be relaxed, energized, and feeling great – which is when you look your best. Think casual, cool, and natural.

  • Pre-set expectations. If you actually know every detail in advance, you’d give up the joy of surprise. The Pilates class at your retreat will not be identical to the one at home; let each experience stand on its own. Someone might recommend a hike, not your usual thing – and it could be the highlight of your stay. The best thing you ever do may be something you haven’t yet done.

  • Daily armor. We all wear it. It’s how we prepare for the ups and downs of daily living. It may sometimes serve you well – but you won’t need it on your retreat. You’ll be in a safe space where you can open your mind and heart without defenses or pretenses. You’ll be accepted, supported, and appreciated for who you are.

  • Munchies. Sure, guests can sneak in junk food, but why? Healthy cooking has been raised to an art form. Chefs and nutritionists collaborate on delicious cuisine featuring seasonal, regional dishes, and it’s enough to satisfy any appetite. Chances are, you’ll take home skills and tips you’ll put to work in your own kitchen.

What you take and don’t take will be part of your wellness retreat, although not its essence. Embrace the experience with the best intentions, a beginner’s mind, and an open heart. What matters more than anything is what you take home with you. May yours be a vision for wellness that lasts a lifetime.