It’s tough to stay in shape while you travel. New environments, different time zones, and tempting cuisine make it tough to mind your health. This is largely due to the bad habits that form while traveling, whether consuming too much alcohol, relaxing a bit too much, or eating far too many sweets.
People ask us how we stay in shape when we travel, and the truth is we make a conscious effort to live a healthy life. We love active holidays as they are more exciting than the leisure kind. We’ve made a habit of picking up hobbies we can enjoy on the road and partake in active holidays such as snowboarding, surfing, yoga, or hiking.
The truth is it can become fairly easy to integrate a good diet and workout habits into your adventures worldwide. Here are the strategies and tips we use when we travel to feel vibrant and healthy!
How to Stay in Shape While Traveling
This is a no-brainer, and I’m sure you’ve heard it before. Drink lots of water. We love our Stanley Quencher Travel Tumbler and IceFlow Flipstraw Water Bottle. Not only do they ensure we have a cold drink, but they help reduce plastic waste. We absolutely love traveling with Stanley products, as it can be difficult to find properly insulated gear like this while on the road.
Proper hydration comes with a slew of health benefits to help combat the negative effects of travel. Some travel-related benefits include better coping with jet lag and a stronger immune system.
While you drink plenty of water, staying away from sugary fruit drinks and sodas while traveling is also a good idea. When presented with an option, always choose water or sparkling water if you like carbonation. When we are in places where the water is questionable, we stock up on large 5L jugs and refill our water from there. Or there is the option to travel a water filter.
Maintain a healthy diet
A good diet is the first step toward staying in shape. Nearly 80% of weight relies on diet and 20% on physical activity. However, when you’re traveling, it can be tough to maintain a consistent diet – we know! If you are staying in hotels, chances are you won’t have a kitchen to cook your own food, and if you find yourself in places with amazing cuisines, you’re going to want to eat out as you should!
The most important thing is to fuel your body with the right foods it needs. You are what you eat! We make it a habit to eat nutritious foods whenever possible. Seek out menu items with lots of fruits and vegetables and avoid meat and carbs.
Use the hotel gym
If there’s a gym where we stay, we try to use it daily. Most chain hotels always have a gym that is open 24 hours, and many small boutique hotels are opting for a fitness center now. We even had a safari lodge with one! When we book Airbnbs, we note the apartments with fitness centers or parks nearby and prefer them in our choice.
Get a Chromecast
If you need some motivation, consider packing a Chromecast to stream workout videos. Many workout videos do not require a lot of space, time, or equipment. Youtube is a great place to find tons of free videos!
For quick HIIT workouts, try POPSUGAR Fitness. If you’re in the mood for yoga, try Yoga With Adrienne. There’s just about everything you could want on the platform these days with some wonderful content creators.
One word of warning, some chain hotels use private networks that don’t work with a Chromecast; however, many hotels are installing smart TVs these days.
Learn To Love Calisthenics
Exercises done with your body weight can be tremendous for your health, and some would argue it is all you need for a good fitness strategy. A good combination of exercises is an excellent way to improve your fitness.
The great thing about calisthenics is they can be done just about anywhere with minimal space needed. A fun way to stay motivated and add variety to your workout is Fitdeck cards.
These are some great exercises you can do anywhere:
- Wall Sits
- Jumping jacks
- Mountain Climbers
Base your travels around an activity
Active holidays are never boring, and they’re good for your health. They’re also a great time to learn a new life skill like sailing, mountain biking, or skiing. A holiday around a sport can prove to be amazing for your mental and physical health.
We base almost all of our winter travels around snowboarding and spend lots of time hiking in the summer. Other good active holidays include surfing, yoga, mountaineering, and cycling trips. If you’re involved in adventures, we strongly recommend you have travel insurance for the unexpected.
Stay out of the cities
Cities are great for sightseeing, history, culture, dining, and art. That being said, we like to get out of the city when we travel. This not only gives us a chance to experience rural life, but usually, it involves long walks, day hikes through mountain scenery, and generally more activity.
Please don’t get us wrong, cities are great for walking around, but it’s also easy to become inactive in them too. The same could be said for resort stays!
Walk around the cities you do visit
When you find yourself in the city, skip the taxis, buses, and metros and walk to your destination – it’s the best way to explore a new place. If you’re on holiday, take a walk aimlessly for a while until you stumble across something new.
We’ve found some of our favorite neighborhoods and spots by getting lost in a new city, and I often walk more than 5 miles in a day without even realizing it. The experience also feels far more authentic and almost always leads to interactions with the locals.
Book Accommodation with A kitchen
The easiest way to moderate your diet is to prepare your own food. There’s no way to know exactly what ingredients are in your food unless you are the one preparing the meal. When we travel, we prefer to stay in an Airbnb or full apartment, so we have our own kitchen.
Head to the local market and purchase fresh produce to cook later. If you’re in a foreign country, it doesn’t mean you won’t get to eat like a local because you’ll still use the local products.
Moderate your drinking
It goes without saying that alcohol isn’t exactly a diet drink. I’ve known travelers that easily put on 15 pounds on a trip worldwide because of their drinking habits. When you are traveling, it’s easy to meet people and share a drink at the bar. We’d even say it’s a vital part of traveling and recommend everyone have social drinks out. It would be sacrilege to travel through France or Italy without drinking the wine!
However, consider going out and limiting yourself to one drink at the bar or allocating one night a week to be your bar night. If you find yourself putting on weight from drinking, try skipping the beer and wine and drinking more light cocktails like vodka & soda.
Eat out to try the food
Eating the local food is another very important part of travel. It would also be sacrilege to go to Naples and not eat pizza, Thailand and not eat pad thai, or Morocco and not try tagine. Eating local cuisines is essential but do so in moderation.
Like drinking, try to pick certain days to eat out, or only have one meal a day out and consider getting healthier restaurant options. Eat out to try the food, but don’t make eating out part of your daily life. Or travel to places where the local food is healthy, like the Mediterranean, Nordic regions, or Japan.
Book places with free breakfast
The one thing I hate is waking up with no food in the fridge – and most of the time, I have no fridge when I travel. I like to eat a nice, complete, and healthy breakfast, but that’s hard when you’re in a new place and have to venture out for breakfast without knowing where to start. When you finally do find the food, you’ll ravage it since you’ve now worked up an appetite to find it.
I give booking preference to hotels that offer free breakfast, so I don’t let my stomach sit empty for too long in the morning. I want to jump-start my metabolism, and breakfast is the best way to do that. Some people also travel with a travel blender which is a great idea if you have room in your suitcase and love smoothies.
Opt for the stairs
Actual stairs trump the elevator or escalator. If you have no heavy luggage, there is no excuse not to take them while staying fit. Whenever we’re in the airport, we opt for the stairs and don’t follow the herd to the escalator. And we always love climbing up all the stars we can when we travel, something that’s easy to do when you’re on the Amalfi Coast (photo above).
Drink tea or coffee
It’s been said that drinking coffee can reduce Type 2 diabetes and colon cancer risk and improve cognitive function. Some studies have also shown that drinking coffee works against brain diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s. To top it off, coffee and tea drinkers are less prone to obesity.
Tea contains antioxidants that help protect the body from negative health effects. Green Tea is a good caffeine substitute for coffee, while ginger tea and peppermint tea help fight motion sickness and soothe your stomach. Both tea and coffee aid your digestive system and help keep you regular, if you know what I mean.
I guess I’m trying to say pick your poison and become a tea or coffee drinker (or both). We love both! Just be careful of adding too much milk and sugar, which can really make coffee and tea high in calories.
Stock up on protein bars and healthy snacks
When you travel, it can be difficult to coordinate every meal. Traveling on a budget is even harder as eating out is usually not a cheap endeavor in places like Europe and North America. We like to travel with protein bars always on hand to keep ourselves from getting hangry come lunchtime. Trust me – you won’t ever regret having protein bars in your daypack, and you can pick that up at any grocery store.
My favorite protein bars are RXBARs because they are made with minimal ingredients and not many chemicals I can’t pronounce. I also love dried mangos (who doesn’t). They are a great sweet snack! Buying in bulk will save you money but add weight to your backpack.
Wear A Smart Watch
Smartwatches bring a wealth of features that help monitor your health. They’re a subtle reminder to continue your exercise. Since we live in the mountains, they are a staple of our wardrobe.
I love that they can monitor my sleeping patterns – which is great in new time zones. With that data, I can set healthy bedtimes and wake-up alarms. On top of that, it can track my run, swim, hike, or bike. Some smartwatches can even send an SOS when a crash or fall is detected.
Head to the park or beach
It doesn’t matter where you are in the world. There is almost always a park, beach, or public place to get active outside. We love parks when we travel as many around the world, whether it be in Europe, North America, or Asia, feature fitness equipment like pull-up bars or even bikes.
If there is no fitness equipment, you have room to walk, run, jump, and practice calisthenics. Not to mention there are many health benefits tied to being outside or in nature. When we are somewhere coastal, we always opt for a nice long swim. Usually, 30 minutes or more of swimming can increase your heart rate. The best part about swimming is it’s a great low-impact workout without strain on the knees and other joints.
Invest in travel-friendly workout gear
While airlines may not appreciate 10 lb dumbbells in your luggage, a few workout accessories are great to travel with. We like to travel with resistance bands, especially on shorter work trips.
If you are into swimming, then bring your goggles. Obviously, packing all those things would be a bit much, but consider packing whatever you need to get a good workout.
Don’t forget your shoes!
I thought I packed well on a trip to Europe a few years ago. I packed flip-flops, dress shoes, and hiking shoes. The one thing I didn’t bring that I wish I had? Running shoes. I thought I would spend a lot of time hiking and could run in hiking boots. Just one day of running in those, and my feet were killing me.
Don’t neglect to bring real running shoes when you travel. A good trail running shoe is much better for runs around the city and is plenty functional for hikes in the mountains. Our favorite trail running shoes are Salomon Speedcross, but they’re only good for soft surfaces.
Get the appropriate amount of sleep
You may not have a strict schedule when traveling, so it may be tempting to stay up late and cut yourself short on sleep. Streaming services like Netflix could make it easy to stay up binge-watching when really your body would be thanking you if you got a full night’s sleep.
You probably know this, but getting seven to eight hours of sleep per night is recommended to keep your body properly energized. Aim for this amount of sleep when you travel – it will make your days in a new place more fun. Fitbits can help with keeping a good sleep schedule!
Plan For Your Trip
- Protect Your Trip: We don’t travel without travel insurance, nor should you. You never know what can happen while traveling, so it’s best to be prepared. HeyMondo provides excellent short-term and long-term travel insurance plans.
- Find Cheap Flights: Sign up for Going (formerly Scotts Cheap Flights) to get notified when prices get low.
- Book a Rental Car: We use Discover Car to book all our rental cars! You can also read our top tips for renting a car abroad here.
- Travel Adapter: Make sure you find a good adapter to keep your personal electronics charged. Otherwise, you may be paying for a cheap one once you land. Purchase one here.
- Travel Backpack: We like the Nomatic Travel Backpack for our travels. Check the price here.
- Our Favorite Travel Shoes: Our answer to this question is always ALLBIRDS! Check them out on their site!
- Get a Travel Credit Card: We travel worldwide for free because we have leveraged our spending into points. See why you should get a travel credit card and how you can do the same with our favorite travel credit cards.