Top 10 Tips to Stay In Shape While Traveling

Reading Time: 5 minutes
When youre at home,it may be easy for you to stick to an exercise routine. Whether thats mixing up cardio with a few gym sessions or going to your favorite yoga studio, you probably have a specific plan for each day.

It can bemuch harder to stick to a routine when youre on the road. Your location keeps changing and chances are youre jumping from one time zone to another, so youll need to get a bit creative.

The best solution is to have a workout plan which is short and efficient which you can do anywhere, whether youre exploring a new city or enjoying a beach vacation.

Girls running on the beach Mark J. Sebastian |
Girls running on the beach – Mark J. Sebastian |

High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT)

HIIT is one of the best ways to exercise when youre on the road. It involves alternating short, intense bursts of exercise with low-intensity exercise or breaks, and you can do it almost anywhere.

For instance, you could do a fast sprint for 30 seconds, followed by walking for 60 seconds, repeating this process for 15 to 30 minutes. If you feel like pushing yourself, you can jump up stairs and then jog down them, or run up a hill and then walk down to recover.

Make Your Own Equipment

If youre used to exercising with weights but dont have access to a gym, you can always make your own equipment. Your backpack offers great versatility as you can fill it with things and make it as heavy as you like. Water bottles are also a good option, and you can always make use of furniture to do side-planks and other exercises.

Use Your Own Bodyweight

Bodyweight exercises can offer the same intensity as using weights. Youll be working various muscles in your body at the same time, so these exercises can often feel harder than machine exercises in the gym.

There are loads of options when it comes to doing bodyweight exercises, such as burpees, squats, push-ups, planks, and lunges. Youre sure to find lots of inspiration by searching for more online, and the best part is you can do them anywhere.

Pack an Exercise Band or Yoga Mat

Theyre light to carry and offer a visual cue to do some exercise. Its always best to have a few exercises prepared before you start your workout, as the less planning you have to do, the more motivated youll feel to actually get your workout done.

Find Drop-in Gyms

Depending on where you are in the world, you might be able to find drop-in gyms or ones that offer short memberships. Some people simply cant handle the idea of not going to the gym for a long period of time, so its worth researching this before you set off.

Many CrossFit gyms tend to offer short memberships, so if youre used to doing that at home, check out whether theres a local CrossFit center in your next travel destination.

Photo by Gregor Stoermchen
Photo by Gregor Stoermchen

Go for a Run

This is one of the easiest ways to keep your fitness levels up when youre on the road. You could run on the road, join a local running group so to get to know good routes, or run on the beach barefoot to give your calf muscles an extra workout. You can also use some HIIT to mix it up a bit.

Other Types of Cardio

If running really isnt for you or youre in an area where it simply isn’t possible – say, if youre trekking through the Amazon – then there are of course other types of cardio. HIIT will increase your heartbeat and work your cardiovascular system as well as your muscles, and will help speed up your metabolism and promote fat-burning.

Other ideas include doing sets of jumping jacks or using furniture or steps to do a series of step-ups.

Try a New Sport

Traveling to new and exciting destinations can open up a whole new world of food, culture, and sport. If youre in Bali, why not try your hand at surfing? Its one of the best workouts you can get, and on top of that youll be having fun.

Depending on whether youre in a summer or winter destination and how adventurous youre feeling, you could try hiking, skiing, snowboarding, swimming, boxing, yoga, tennis, horse riding or mountain biking. Its all about being healthy and living in the moment.

Victory Park Cainscross Rugby | Flickr/Zen-Whisk
Victory Park Cainscross Rugby | Flickr/Zen-Whisk

Warming Up and Stretching

Warming up is essential to help avoid injuries, but it doesnt have to be a separate part of your workout. Instead, you can start with your planned activity but at a lower intensity. If youre going for a run, you can start walking for 2 to 5 minutes. Or if youre doing squats, start at a slower pace and not going down so low.

Stretching is a key tool for youre well-being and is incredibly useful on long haul flights too. As well as having powerful stress-busting abilities, doing some stretches every day can help loosen tight muscles, help you relax, increase blood flow, and release endorphins to provide a sense of tranquility.

Photo by Flickr/Pierce-Martin
Photo by Flickr/Pierce-Martin

Any Exercise Counts

Dont be put off by the idea that you dont have enough time. When youre on the road, every minute counts, so you dont necessarily need to do a full workout at once. If you have some free time in the morning you could do 10 minutes and then slot in another 15 minutes in the afternoon.

Even if at home you hit the gym the gym for a full hour, not being flexible when youre on a long trip can put you off doing any exercise at all. Its fine if you manage a few sets of abs in the morning and then a few squats in the afternoon. It all counts towards staying healthy and keeping fit.

Final Thoughts

It can be hard to stick to an exercise regime during long-term travel, but its important to keep doing your workouts even if you dont have enough time to hit the gym. You can prepare beforehand by making a list of do-anywhere exercises, and pack an exercise band or yoga mat so you can workout wherever you like.

About The Author

Cal Bailey blogs at Mountain Leon – a travel blog he started after two years backpacking around the world. If you want to learn more about life on the road or useful travel tips, you can read his latest post about choosing the right sleeping bag.