20 Easy Ways to Stay in Shape While Traveling

It’s tough to stay in shape while traveling the world.  You’re in new environments, different time zones, and lack access to the comforts of home. There is often no kitchen or gym at your instant disposal while abroad. 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.

It’s easy to fall into a bad habit while traveling whether that’s consuming nutritionally poor food or too much alcohol. If there is one tip I can give it’s to consider diet as your first line of defense.

Then you have active holidays that can be more exciting than the leisure kind. Both Cameron and I strive to maintain a healthy and enjoyable lifestyle. So we’ve made a habit of picking up hobbies we can take on the road and partake in active holidays such as snowboard, surf, yoga, or hiking.

I love life and hope to enjoy it when I am old and grey, but that means staying healthy now in my twenties. The truth is it can become fairly easy to integrate a good diet and workout habits into your adventures around the world. Here are the strategies and tips we use when we travel to feel vibrant and healthy!

How to Stay in Shape While Traveling

Maintain a healthy diet

Tongabezi Lodge Food

I believe that having a good diet is the first step towards staying in shape. Doctors say that almost 80% of weight loss relies on diet and 20% on physical activity. However, when you’re traveling it can be really hard 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. The most important thing is to fuel your body with the right foods it needs. You are what you eat! We make it habit to eat nutritious foods whenever possible. Seek out menu items with lots of fruits and vegetables and less meat and carbs.

Drink water

Best Travel Water Bottles

This is a no-brainer and I’m sure you’ve heard it before. Drink lots of water. There are so many health benefits of consuming plenty of water. Some travel related benefits include better ability to cope with jet-lag and a better immune system. It’s also a good idea to stay away from sugary fruit drinks and sodas when you travel (and at home).

When presented an option always choose water or soda water if you like carbonation. We typically drink out of the taps when we travel and travel with a few water bottles so we don’t waste plastic or money.

When we are in places where the water is questionable we stock up on huge jugs and refill our water from there. My favorite water bottle to have is the Lifestraw Go since it filters out 99% of bacteria.

Use the hotel gym

how to stay in shape when traveling

If there’s a gym where we are staying we make the effort to use it every day. Most chain hotels always have a gym that is open 24 hours and many small boutique hotels are opting for a fitness center now too. We even had a safari lodge with one! When we book Airbnb’s we make note of the apartments with fitness centers or parks nearby and give preference to them in our choice.

Get a Chromecast

how to stay in shape when traveling

I usually need someone telling me what to do to enjoy the full effects of a workout. So, when I travel and there’s a television I pop our Chromecast in and stream workout videos right from YouTube. Good workout videos on YouTube are generally 30-60 minutes and don’t require a lot of space. My go-to channel is POPSUGAR Fitness, but there are plenty out there for whatever kind of workout you are after. If I need some motivation, but don’t have access to a TV I’ll browse Pinterest for good at home workouts and follow those.

One word of warning, some chain hotels use private networks that don’t work with a Chromecast; however, an increasing amount of hotels are installing smart TVs these days.

Have backup exercise workouts

Ambong Ambong Where to Stay Langkawi Yoga

There are a few backup exercise workouts that I can always do when I’m bored, waiting at the airport, or just want some quick activity. These workouts don’t need much room or equipment and only require a few minutes. They’re all based on calisthenics and using your body weight.

A few go-to’s are:

  • Squats
  • Running in Place
  • Jumping jacks
  • Mountain Climbers
  • Lunges
  • Burpees
  • Plank
  • Push Up
  • Situps

I also really like Fitdeck card for new exercises.

Base your travels around an activity

resort of canadian rockies

Active holidays are never boring, get you in shape, and are fun for everyone. We just got back from a huge snowboard trip and never set foot in the gym, however, we were getting active on a mountain every day for five-seven hours. Sometimes hiking along the mountain in thick snow at a high altitude, talk about a workout.

Other good active holidays can be based around surfing, yoga, mountaineering, and cycling trips. If you’re getting involved in extreme adventures you need to make sure you have travel insurance and be prepared for the unexpected.

Stay out of the cities

Iceland's Ring Road
In the Icelandic countryside

Cities are great for sightseeing, history, dining, and art. That being said, I like to get out of the city when we travel. This not only gives me a chance to experience suburban life, but usually, it involves long walks, day hikes through mountain scenery, and generally more activity. Don’t get me wrong cities are great for constantly walking around, but it’s also easy to become inactive in them too.

Walk around the cities you do visit

staying active
Christmastime in Helsinki

When you do find yourself in the city skip the taxis, buses, and metros and walk to your destination instead – it’s the best way to explore a new place. If you’re on a holiday just take 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.

Book places with kitchens

Farmhouse France Brittany
One of our favorite Airbnbs in France – with a huge 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 Airbnb’s and full apartments solely so we can have our own kitchen.

I love going to the local market and purchasing 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 be using the local products.

Moderate your drinking

sundowners in Tanzania

It goes without saying that alcohol isn’t exactly a diet drink. I’ve known backpackers that easily put on 15 pounds on their around the world adventures solely because of their drinking habits. When you are traveling it’s easy to meet people and share a drink at the bar. It’s a vital part of traveling and I recommend everyone have social drinks out.

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 the weight from drinking try skipping the beer and wine and drinking more light cocktails like vodka & soda.

Eat out to try the food

Not exactly the healthiest meal in Morocco

Eating the local food is another very important part of travel. It would 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

Hemingways Room
Eating a hearty breakfast in Nairobi

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 with no clue where to start. When you finally do find 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, plus coffee and tea is a must in my morning. 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 trying to stay fit. Whenever we’re in the airport we opt for the stairs and don’t follow the herd to the escalator.

Drink tea or coffee

Park Hyatt Zanzibar

It’s been said that drinking coffee can lower your risk of Type 2 diabetes, reduce the risk of colon cancer, 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 the negative health effects. Green Tea is said to be 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 what I’m trying to say is 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.

Stock up on protein bars and healthy snacks

Backpacking Essentials

When you travel it can be difficult to coordinate every meal. If you are traveling on a budget it’s 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 lunch time. 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 Larabars because they are made with minimal ingredients and not a bunch of 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.

Get a Fitbit

How to stay in shape while traveling

The best way to track your movements is by getting a Fitbit or something similar. I received my Fitbit last Christmas and can’t believe I have never had one before. What better way to count your steps, calories, sleep, and heart rate than a flexible wrist strap. 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 alarms to wake up.

Here’s the latest FitBit model which has all the bells and whistles. If you don’t want to spend that much consider a generic one.

Head to the park or beach

White Pearl Resort in Mozambique

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 Europe, North America, or Asia feature fitness equipment like pull up bars or even bikes.

If there is no fitness equipment at the very least you have room to walk, run, jump, and practice calisthenics. Not to mention there are a ton of health benefits tied to being outside or in nature.

Invest in travel-friendly workout gear

Telunas Private Island
My yoga mat goes everywhere with me – even a secluded island in Indonesia

While airlines may not appreciate 10 lb dumbbells in your luggage there are a few workout accessories that are great to travel with. We both personally travel with resistance bands.

If you can fit it I would also recommend traveling with a yoga mat so you can work out on any surface. We also picked up a jump rope and gliding disks somewhere along our travels and can use that just about anywhere. If you are into swimming then bring your goggles.

Don’t forget to bring clothes that are good to workout in. I always travel with yoga pants, sports bras, and breathable tank tops. One of my favorite brands to buy yoga pants from is Yoga Democracy. Yoga Democracy carries yoga pants that have fun designs, yet they are still extremely durable. All their gear is made from recycled nylon from material like the fishing net that damages our oceans. So yes, they are eco friendly, USA made, and sweatshop free! Use the code TWP20 for 20% off. 

Don’t forget your shoes!

Our Hokas
Our Hokas!

A few years ago I thought I packed well on a trip to Cyprus, Turkey, and Italy. 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 be hiking by day and if I want to go for a run I would in the hiking boots. Just one day of running in those and my feet were killing.

Moral of the story? Don’t neglect to bring real running shoes when you travel. We recently made the switch to trail running shoes such as the Hoka One One Speedgoat 2 that allow us to go hiking, a run, or a combination of both.

 Get the appropriate amount of sleep

Dupont State Forest Romantic Things To Do Asheville

You may not have a strict schedule when you are traveling so it may be tempting to stay up late and cut yourself short on sleep. Streaming services like Netflix can make it easy to stay up binge watching when really your body would be thanking you if you got a full nights sleep.

You probably know this, but it’s recommended to get seven to eight hours of sleep per night 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!

Featured Travel Card

Chase Sapphire Preferred Travel Credit Cards

The Chase Sapphire Preferred has a generous signup bonus of 60,000 points that has plenty of flexibility in redemption options. Chase Rewards are some of our favorite points to earn as they’re high value and can be redeemed in a multitude of ways. We love the Chase Sapphire Preferred as it was one of the first travel rewards we received and it’s well-loved by plenty of others. The awesome sign up offer of 60,000 Ultimate Rewards points which can be redeemed for $750 of free flight if booked through the Chase travel portal.

The other option is to transfer the points to a large selection of airlines such as United, British Airways, Virgin Atlantic, Southwest, or Korean Airlines. This is one of the best all-around credit cards for travel! Of course, everyone needs something different so check out our post on the best travel credit cards here or you can learn more about the Chase Sapphire Preferred on Card Ratings!

Accessories for Yoga Lovers


Alala Leggings

Leggings are great on any women’s travel clothing list as they are lightweight and pack up super small.

Alala makes some of my favorite leggings ever! They have many fun and colorful designs as well as your standard colors. Their leggings are heavy duty and have lasted me through the years. The photo to the left is me in their awesome PINK collection.

backpacking checklist

Yogavated Bras and Leggings/Shorts

This should really go without saying, but any woman should be practicing yoga in a sports bra. Of course, it’s completely up to you, but you’ll want something that is light, nonconstricting, moisture wicking, and will hold your tatas in when you’re moving.

My favorite new sports bras are from Yogavated! They are so incredibly comfortable and supportive, perfect for days out.

Best Travel Yoga Mats

Yoga Travel Bag

A travel bag is essential for your yoga mat. When you’re traveling you are constantly moving in and out of airplanes, taxi cabs, and who knows whatever else. You don’t want all that dust and dirt on your yoga mat, so get a travel bag!

Best Travel Yoga Mats

Yoga Mat Cleaner

A small bottle of mat cleaner will maintain the life of your yoga mat. However, you can achieve the same result with vinegar water.

Best Travel Yoga Mats

Yoga Travel Towel

Towels are great for hot yoga, they absorb any sweat you’ll be producing and prevent you from slipping on it. I have a travel yoga towel, but a good travel towel will achieve the same thing.

Best Travel Yoga Mats

Resistance Bands

Traveling with a pair of resistance bands are great for staying in shape on the road. They are small and pack up light and are great for stretching and arm and leg workouts.

Best Travel Yoga Mats

Knee Pads

If you have sensitive knees investing in some knee pads could make your yoga days that much better!

Thanks For Reading

About Natasha

Natasha is the co-founder of The World Pursuit. She is an expert in travel, budgeting, and finding unique experiences. She loves to be outside, hiking in the mountains, playing in the snow on her snowboard, and biking. She has been traveling for over 10 years experiencing unique cultures, new food, and meeting fantastic people. She strives to make travel planning and traveling easier for all. Her advice about international travel, outdoor sports, and African safari has been featured on Lonely Planet, Business Insider, and Reader’s Digest.

Learn more about Natasha Alden on The World Pursuit About Us Page.

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