Travel. Fitness. Two words that usually don’t end up in the same sentence. Travel, while exciting and eye-opening, can be quite sedentary and it’s hard to know how to stay in shape while traveling.
Fitness is great for the body, mind, and can even enhance your travel experience, but often becomes the last item on the priority list while traveling. So the question becomes how do you stay in shape while traveling?
Have no fear. While there is no magic potion (coffee is the closest thing we’ve got!) to do the hard work for you, I’ll arm you with 9 tips for staying fit while traveling.
But first for your convenience, here is a summary of my 9 travel workout tips so you can quickly skim them, then read more about each tip below!
How To Stay In Shape While Traveling
- Hydrate, Hydrate, Hydrate…Oh Yeah, Hydrate!
- Cook Yourself & Try The Local Cuisine
- Do What You Can
- Join Local Activities
- Travel With Fellow Fitness Buffs
- Plan Ahead
- Intermittent Fasting
- Have Fun!
1. Hydrate, Hydrate, Hydrate…Oh Yeah, Hydrate!
The human body primarily is made up of water (60% to be exact!) and you should be drinking approximately one gallon every day. While traveling, it becomes even more important especially if you are in a warm climate where it is easy to become dehydrated.
For example, in Thailand, I would grab at least 3 giant waters from 7-Eleven before heading out to explore. I would challenge myself to finish one of the bottles every 3 hours.
While drinking this much water may involve more bathroom trips that may end up being costly, (Europe, I’m looking at you…) being properly hydrated is a top secret on how to stay in shape while on vacation because it regulates appetite, helps with weight loss, and improves one’s mood. Water makes sure we are living our best life!
2. Cook Yourself & Try The Local Cuisine
It’s no secret. Diet plays a big (80%) part in staying fit while traveling. That’s why I always tell travelers to cook if they can. This way they know exactly what their food is made with and what is going into their bodies.
When you eat out at a restaurant, especially while traveling, you never know what sauces or oils are being used to make your food. You could potentially have an unknown allergic reaction to an ingredient the restaurant is using to make your food.
With all of this being said though, I highly recommend trying the local cuisine. A big part of traveling is being open-minded to new experiences and I believe that one cannot truly know a foreign land without trying the local food.
The winning combination is to cook when you can, limit eating out, and try the local cuisine.
Walk to get coffee. Walk to the museum. Walk to the bridge. Walk everywhere! Walking is a fantastic way to stay in shape while traveling.
I would say aim for at least 10,000 steps a day, but I usually clock in around 20,000 steps per day when exploring! Not only is it a great way to stay fit during holidays, but you also get to see so much more of the city.
To me, it’s all about the little details. The street signs, street art, fashion, people, etc.
I find you miss that when you are not on the ground, pounding the pavement. I’ve never understood how people take those double-decker buses around town and only see the highlights. I’ve always thought to myself, “They’re missing so much!” Who knows? Maybe they walk around after!
4. Do What You Can
10 minutes before leaving for the airport? Squats! Waiting around checking into the hostel? Burpees! Taking the train? Plank in the aisle! You get the point…
Traveling is full of small periods of downtime, which is plenty of time to get a quick workout in! While it may not be the “ideal” workout in a gym with weights, it’s something and over time small workouts turn into big gains.
My advice for athletic nomads is to have a quick 15-minute bodyweight travel workout ready to go on your phone that can be pulled up at any moment’s notice. This way, when you are waiting around with your travel partner, you can challenge each other to a pushup contest!
5. Join Local Activities
Just like local food, to get a full cultural experience, it’s important to join in on local culture. In some destinations, this includes dance. In many Caribbean and South American countries, dance plays a big role in society. Whether it be the Tango, Salsa, or Rhumba, these dances are all great ways of working out on the road.
Another part of local culture is sports. Be on the lookout for pickup games like soccer or basketball that are played in many parts of the world. It’s a big win-win for your travel workout. You get a sweat going and meet locals! Sign me up!
6. Travel With Fellow Fitness Buffs
It is often said that you are the average of the 5 people you most associate with and this statement holds true on the road.
While I often travel solo, whenever I travel with friends or in a group, I find I workout less or more depending on the group. It’s definitely harder to stay in shape while in a bigger travel group, but not impossible.
Be sure to choose wisely who you travel with if you plan on staying fit during your trip. Who you travel with plays a big role in the activities you participate in and the overall vibe of the trip!
7. Plan Ahead
If you don’t remember anything else from this article, remember this one sentence: PLAN AHEAD OR PLAN TO FAIL!
While it may be a little extreme, it’s important to plan your travel workout in advance and do some research on gyms, workout parks, healthy restaurants, grocery stores, etc. The more planning, the better. This way you can be totally prepared and ready to go once you get to your destination.
For example, I do Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu so I am always looking up gyms I can go and train at ahead of time. I am able to contact the gyms and see if I can come to their classes. This way when I arrive, all I have to do is put my bags down and go train!
8. Intermittent Fasting
Whether you are a fan or not of intermittent fasting, you cannot deny that it is extremely useful for traveling. (If you are wondering what intermittent fasting is, the simplest definition is an eating pattern that cycles between periods of eating and fasting).
Not only does it save you some money, but it also gives you less to plan for and is good for your body! I’ve used it extensively. I swear by it! I love to fast on my travel days. This way I do not have to haul around food in addition to my bags. It’s a great tool among many to stay in shape while traveling.
9. Have Fun!
While every travel fitness blogger is throwing a million tips at you to stay fit while on the road, they often forget to remind readers to have fun!
For many people, traveling is about breaking the routine, doing things they normally wouldn’t do in places they never imagined going, so enjoy yourself! The majority of these tips are suggestions for your physical health, but mental health is important too!
Smile, get some sun, make a snow angel, talk to strangers, stay up late, drink tequila…Who cares! Moderation is key. Stick to that, enjoy yourself, and have fun!
Do you know any more tips on how to stay in shape while traveling? Feel free to comment below! Alternatively, check out how you can lose weight without even doing any exercise here.
Suggested next reading: Backpacker Culture: The Good, The Bad, & The Ugly