Wish I could say that I'm an enthusiastic yoga practitioner. Instead, I could best be described as "the reluctant stretcher". Here's my mantra: I do yoga as often as I can get myself to do it. The practice keeps my body flexible and pain-free. I also like how I feel AFTER doing yoga. With that admission, I'll also say I try to attend a class at least once a week and have a mini-session at home every other day. But what does this mean if I'm traveling? For most of our travelers, a ten day trip away from home without their regular exercise regimen is no problem. But since Heather and I are gone for weeks -- even months -- at a time, I've had to figure out how to get in some stretching while leading tours and scouting. I tried those little socks and gloves with sticky pads on them. Ick. I've tried doing yoga without a mat, just on carpet in hotels. I can't do it. I need the sticky!!! I also tried out two other offerings of items touted as "travel" yoga mats. Neither was sticky and both took up more room in my luggage than I'm willing to sacrifice to the need for stretching. Enter the Jade Yoga Voyager. This thing is fantastic. It's made from real rubber, not petroleum. Rubber is renewable. I like that. The Voyager is exactly what you want in a travel mat: thin, flexible, foldable and (hooray!) sticky. If you want to stretch, do yoga, or have a way to be on the ground surface without touching it (the thought has crossed my mind to roll it out right there in the airport and take a nap on it) then this is the mat for you. I'll warn you: it's not very squishy. But what you give up in squish is worth the weight and bulk you save when it comes time to put it in your suitcase. Need to rest weight on your knees? Grab a nearby pillow or handknit sweater for extra cushioning. Now that you've got a great exercise mat, your only challenge will be moving the furniture around in your hotel room so you have sufficient free space to put it to use!
Pack-It Specter™ Compression Cube Set, Eagle Creek
I can't say enough good things about these contraptions. I'm a big fan of packing cubes. They really do help you stay organized during travel. But these Eagle Creek compression cubes take organization to the next level. They take your rolled, organized clothes and make them even smaller. Here's my approach for minimalist packing: a few things, well chosen, well organized, and interchangeable in a suitcase as small as you can stand. Now I've learned there's more you can do! Fill compression packing cube with rolled shirts, leggings and whatnot. Zip closed. Then, zip the additional, outer zipper to compress items further. Despite shrinking the clothes down into a smaller space, the cubes don't cause an increase in wrinkles. That's some kind of crazy travel gear magic. Two drawbacks to mention, which resulted in my removing a half skein from their perfect 5 skein score. First, the Eagle Creek compression cubes only come in a medium and small size. I'd love to see a larger one. Jeans, jackets and sweaters deserve equal access to compression. Second, the cubes do result in a dense, heavy hunk of clothes. So while your rolling suitcase or backpack can remain small, it will be heavy. I think the trade off is worth it. But especially for one-bag travelers, it might make your load harder to move around and/or hoist onto your back. Pack up a test run and see how you do. Aside from those small setbacks, these cubes are a traveler's new best friend. Here's a video, if you'd like to see how it works: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c1xWcL2iFUg