Traveling for business or pleasure can play havoc with even the best laid travel fitness plans. Let’s face it, travel is not routine (at least for most of us) so of course the pursuit of fitness while traveling isn’t either? When you travel, little is familiar: Surroundings are different, sleep schedules disrupted, eating not the norm, travel delays happen, and all these changes to life’s once familiar paths can become very exhausting or just discombulating.
A little planning plus packing a few fitness essentials, combined with a suitcase full of flexibility, is the way to go. Fitting in fitness will also keep up your energy for all those things you want to do while traveling — discovering new sites, people, foods, cultures and experiences. And making new friends.
Here are a few tips that will get you started staying fit while traveling:
- It starts with planning and packing, and we have several articles, below, that will help you with just that.
- Travel, by its very nature, often means you are sitting for very long periods of time to actually arrive. This is not so great for overall well-being. Be sure you are wearing comfortable, walkable shoes when you travel by plane, train, boat or automobile. Stroll up and down airplane or train aisles. Walk the airport terminals between flights. If you are driving, take frequent stops and get out of the car to walk around.
- If you know you’re going to have a long layover at an airport, check to see if the airport has a gym and pack some workout gear in your carryon. (Some airport gyms also rent gear.)
- The minute you arrive — especially after a long flight — resist the temptation to flop into bed. Even a brief walk or run or a short session in the fitness center will help to reduce stress, increase your body’s overall energy level, and help you settle in. (Granted, if you arrive in the middle of the night, best to get a good night’s sleep and get a little exercise the next morning.)
- At your hotel, get creative. More hotels, thankfully, are putting in more of an effort to help guests get creative with fitness. Many loan bikes and helmets for free. Others provide yoga mats and access to fitness apps while there.
- No matter what, though, it is up to you to motivate yourself. And realize even if the hotel doesn’t have a decent fitness facility, or you simply don’t have the time, you can work out quickly and efficiently in your room, or even the hallway or stairwell (get ready for weird looks and don’t disturb other guests, please). It doesn’t take much space to do lunges, pushups, squats, or stretching exercises. We have an excellent article with workout tips and suggestions, below, to help you with maintaining your travel fitness.
Remember, too, that you don’t need to do as much as you might do normally to maintain fitness (see article, below). In fact, good brisk walking for sightseeing can help you not moan at weight gain or fitness loss when you are back home.
Staying with a fitness regimen while on vacation can be a challenge. Many hotel fitness centers are uninviting caves with no windows or full of old equipment, and you are not familiar with the city you are traveling to or have any idea where to walk or run. But there are exceptions as we point out here.
Can’t get to a real workout room to strengthen and tone? No worries. You can do a pretty good job maintaining fitness with a hotel room workout that uses what you have in the room and in your luggage. A room workout just takes a little imagination. Think about each exercise you may normally do and then get creative with your own hotel room exercise routine mimicking its motions, using everything from your luggage to water bottles filled with water to chairs to even toilets!
What you pack along will have a huge impact on whether you workout or how comfortable you are when you do. A friend of mine used to always have a just-in-case workout bag in his trunk “just in case a workout broke out,” he’d say. And that’s our travel fitness advice too. If you aren’t prepared, you won’t get your healthy fix in.
Once your trip is planned and you’re thinking about how you can cut back wisely (per the advice in our article “Travel fitness tips: You can stay fit if you adapt”), it’s time to start plotting. Should we say planning? Nah, plotting. It’s time to “plot” hotels, tours, sightseeing, travel departure times and all that other stuff so it doesn’t make fitting in even a short workout totally impossible.
The key to taking workouts on the road successfully is, one, not letting the travel control you and, two, learning to be flexible. A little planning before you pack your briefcase or travel duffel goes a long way toward avoiding frustration plus setbacks in your hard-earned fitness.