How to Stay Fit While Traveling: Our Best Travel Workout Routine and Tips!


Working out while traveling and keeping fit whilst on the road is always a challenge both on long-term and short-term trips. On holidays and vacations it can be tempting to let yourself go and just enjoy copious amounts of exotic alcohol and incredible food, which leaves you heading home feeling unrested, bloated and struggling to find the motivation to get back into the gym. Then there’s the struggles of how to stay fit while backpacking and long-term travelling. Keeping fit lends itself well to having a routine and reliable equipment, long bus rides, eating on the fly, days that are almost never the same and quite often a lack of sleep, well, that doesn’t always make it easy to exercise while traveling!! However, with a bit of forethought, improvisation and determination it’s actually a lot easier and much more fun to keep fit whilst travelling. Here’s our ultimate guide of how to stay fit while traveling with our best travel workout routine ideas, tips and tricks and travel fitness equipment guide!

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Preparation: Having a base fitness before you set off and making your best travel workout routine. 

To begin with before you set off backpacking, travelling or even just on an active holiday its best to have a good base of fitness and strength. This not only makes it easier to get into a routine but it means you can make the most of your trip too, especially if you’re going to be away for a while or on an active trip.

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Backpacks can be heavy and walking with them for an unexpectedly lengthy amount of time in hot and humid conditions isn’t easy. Training your shoulders, back and leg muscles as well as going on regular hikes, walks and runs means when you get on the road you’ll find it much easier to get around. Why not also try out your best travel workout routine before you go to so you’ve got it locked down for when you will be working out while traveling. 

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We also love to go hiking whilst travelling and enjoy challenging ourselves such as our 3 day trek from Kalaw to Lake Inle and climbing the 4000m Mt Kinabalu on Borneo over 2 days. These treks aren’t easy and require a good level of fitness to begin with. It would be a shame to miss out on such incredible experiences because of a lack of fitness. Setting off with a good base opens up so many more opportunities as well as making them much more enjoyable too, rather than being out of breath at the back you can be the first to the summit and enjoy the views to yourself! Keeping up your exercise while traveling routine is also important so you don’t let that fitness slip!

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Carrying this around Asia is 40c humid heat is hard work, especially when you get lost and the bus station/ hostel is way further than anticipated!

Pick accommodation with a gym or take a fitness holiday

Working out while traveling can be frustrating to organise and fit around your surroundings. One of the best ways to get around this is to stay somewhere with its own facilities. Gyms around the world in hotels generally have very similar equipment and allow a much more intensive workout and leave you with no worries about how to stay fit while traveling and forget about bringing along travel fitness equipment!

Even better than that is to take a holiday that places health and fitness at the forefront of the trip. Sure, you want some rest whilst away but Health and Fitness Travel can leave you feeling much more refreshed and invigorated at the end of your trip. Practicing yoga surrounded by rice paddies with a group of like minded people, being served delicious fresh local food you know is good for you, making your workout an adventure and detoxing is a perfect way to enjoy travelling and improve yourself at the same time. 

Ok, so not everyone can stay somewhere with great facilities, but don’t worry, we’ve got you covered on that one!

How to stay fit while traveling: Making the most of your surroundings and being flexible:

The number one rule when it comes to keeping fit whilst travelling is to be flexible and work with your surroundings, especially whilst travelling long-term or backpacking. Your surroundings can change completely from one day to the next and so you should try to keep the base of your best travel workout routine independent of your surroundings and flexible enough to be done pretty much anywhere. This makes working out while traveling a lot easier and have no worries of how to stay fit while backpacking!

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Next you can work with the location you are in to add more to your workout, especially if you don’t have Travel fitness equipment. Is there a local gym or a park gym, a playground you can use or even just a park or a beach for a jog or a swim. Learning to adapt your best travel workout routine to your surroundings will keep it fresh, exciting and make it easier to working out while traveling.

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Volleyball in the Philippines! Aussie and Brits against the locals!

Look at activities you could do where you are too, that’s much more fun than just working out while traveling! Hire a bike, go swimming, surfing, rent a SUP board, kayak, do some climbing, take a hike, try Muy Thai or play volleyball with the locals. This way you get to experience more of the culture where you are too and its much more rewarding. Trying new things too is good as it works out different muscles than your best travel workout routine! When considering how to stay fit while traveling always think of your surroundings!

The best travel workout routine: Strength and conditioning training

Getting a proper workout in for strength and conditioning is relatively easy and shouldn’t take up too much time. A simple circuit of exercises that use no equipment or travel fitness equipment such as resistance bands can be done literally anywhere. Plan out the best travel workout routine that compromises of several sets of exercises that workout out the upper body, lower body and core as well as getting your heart rate going. The best answer to how to stay fit while traveling is to just keep it simple and workout!

Push ups, sit ups, plank, crunches, v-sits, burpees, mountain climbers, squats and lunges are ideal calisthenics exercises that require no equipment. Curls, shoulder press, resisted push ups, rowers etc are perfect resistance band exercises. 

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10k hike at Uluru, you can do push ups anywhere!

How to stay fit while traveling: Search out a great place! That might just be a quiet spot in the hostel or a public park where you can work out on the grass. Many cities around the world, especially in Asia, Australia and Europe have free public outdoor parks with pull up bars, sit up machines and a whole host of other equipment meaning you don’t need your own Travel fitness equipment. We try to keep to our best travel workout routine and add in extras according to what we have around. It’s also worth looking for local gyms too as they’re a great place for working out while traveling. In places like Thailand these are very cheap compared to western countries and are usually new and air-conditioned. This way you can get a much more intensive work out in and you don’t need to worry how to stay fit while traveling. 

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Parks in Thailand have great free workout equipment

We try to do our circuit everyday, plus some cardio and walking 10,000 steps. We add in a more intensive workout at a proper gym when we can too but find a quicker workout daily is more practical and allows us more free time to enjoy the day as it is super flexible. It’s also easier to get into a habit of working out while traveling once you figure out your best travel workout routine!

How to stay fit while traveling: Cardio

Getting your cardio in can be more challenging as it tends to take up more time and require more space or equipment. If you have access to an exercise bike or a rowing machine we find these are the best for a quick but intensive cardio session with low impact on your joints so you’ll have no worries on how to stay fit while traveling. 

However, it’s not always easy to get access to these machines and going for a run when its 40c isn’t ideal either. There are a few ways to get around this depending on where you are. Of course, if you can find a park and the weather allows then a short run such as a 5km which takes around 30 mins is ideal and can be done every few days.

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Taking a push bike around Angkor Wat rather than a scooter! Hard work in the heat!

The very basic we do everyday is to make sure we get our 10,000 steps in using the pedometer on our phones, we walk whenever we can even in the heat and often do much much more than that. We also do a lot of hiking, which it of course, location dependant. Other ideal exercises are hill sprints or running up and down steps are idea for working out while traveling. If you are generally active you’d be surprised how much exercise you get without realising meaning less worries about how to stay fit while traveling. 

One thing you can do if cardio is a problem is a HIIT workout. This is High Intensity interval Training that is ideal for working out while traveling. This means that rather than doing numbered sets with a break in between you can time each exercise and move straight on to the next. We usually do 30 secs with a 10 sec rest in between and with around 10 exercises. We have a 2 minute rest and go again. This has to be the best travel workout routine for time and intensity and perfect for how to stay fit while backpacking. 

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Swimming is a great way to stay fit whilst travelling!

Explosive exercises such as burpees, mountain climbers, jumping lunches, star jumps and skipping (Bringing along a skipping rope is another great compact piece of equipment) really get the heart pumping. How to stay fit while traveling, regular HIIT works a treat!

How to stay fit while traveling: The best travel workout routine, tips and tricks!

Combining a conventional workout with a HIIT workout is ideal daily training that can be done in less than an hour whenever it is convenient. Ideally find a park with some equipment too and some nice grass to do the exercises on. 

Whilst backpacking its hard to get into a strict routine and that is ok, we just try to be mindful of the exercise we’ve done and incorporate workouts around that. We are usually very active in terms of walking, even in a city and when we have days where we are working in the hostel we make sure to go out and get at least 10,000 steps in. When thinking about how to stay fit while backpacking try to think how active you can be each day too. 

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Free outdoor gym equipment near our base in Northern Melbourne

In addition to that we try to do a workout and a HIIT workout daily if we can. This usually doesn’t take up too much time so it can be easy to fit in and is the best travel workout routine overall. If we’ve hiked all day we might just do the normal workout or if we’ve just got off a long bus where we’ve been sat around for hours we might try to find a proper gym or do extra to make up for all that inactivity.  When you think about how to stay fit while traveling you have to realise each day is a different challenge unlike at home. 

We find that local parks are the ideal place to workout and once you get used to the weather in Asia it’s not too bad in the heat. We try to find ones with additional equipment or at least grassy shaded areas and bring along lots of water. When we are near a pool or the sea we also use that to our advantage as swimming is probably the best exercise while traveling you can do for your whole body and cardio.

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Whilst living in Melbourne we fell in love with Aussie rules footy, a great way to keep fit!

If all else fails we try to find a quiet corner of the hostel or make space in our hotel room for working out while traveling. Sometimes it can be off putting being in a public place but as long as you are mindful of others in the hostel then you should be ok and you’ve embarrassment with go once you’ve done it a few times! 

How to stay fit while traveling: Nutrition and taking the time to eat well, not just working out while traveling!

One of the biggest factors when thinking about how to stay fit while traveling is food. It’s tempting to go either way when you are away, to over indulge on eating out, or to eat crap whilst on the run! Either way, it’s not great and makes a bigger difference than you might realise, even if you’re doing the best travel workout routine with fancy travel fitness equipment if you’re not eating well it isn’t going to help!

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In Asia fresh fruit is available roadside and cheap!

If you’re on a holiday or travelling for a few weeks or months with a good budget those meals out can start piling up!! Of course, enjoy yourself, but be mindful of healthier choices or having a treat every few days. buffets are prime locations for over eating, but they also have a fantastic amount of choices including healthy options. Good restaurants too also make healthy food that actually tastes nice!!

One of the problems we’ve found whilst backpacking is convenience food. We’re guilty of eating on the run, grabbing some crisps or chocolate to keep us going rather than putting in the effort to find some real food. It’s silly really too because good food in Asia and Eastern Europe is cheap, easily available and fresh. Look out for street vendors selling noodles with vegetables, fresh fruit and rice or local restaurants selling wonderful simple and healthy meals. The big secret to how to stay fit while backpacking is eating properly!

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In places such as Western Europe and Australia where its a bit more expensive be sure to cook your own meals and buy fresh produce from the shops. It’s easy to make a healthy pasta dish with veggies on a budget! One of the benefits to staying in hostels in these regions is having access to a kitchen. Don’t forget food when you plan how to stay fit while traveling as well as working out while traveling!

How to stay fit while backpacking: What travel fitness equipment can I take?

Working out while traveling is all about keeping it light and simple. Try to keep all travel fitness equipment to a minimum and plan workouts that can be done without any at all. However some of the easy to carry basics we recommend for exercise while traveling are:

A resistance band: This can be used like weights or to make exercises harder and is very light and compact. It’s an ideal accessory when you’re planning how to stay fit while traveling. It’s our go to piece of travel fitness equipment!

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A skipping rope: Great for cardio workouts and is very compact, its ideal for the best travel workout routine and is one of the best pieces of travel fitness equipment. 

Decent shoes/ trainers: You should bring with you a good pair of trainers to workout in. We have a pair of light trail running shoes as they are comfortable for walking, can be used for hiking, running and working out. This is the most important piece of travel fitness equipment!

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New Zealand is perfect for hiking or tramping as they say!

Yoga mat: Ok, this one is light but takes up a bit of room. If you can’t bring a mat use a towel to workout on or find some grass rather than this travel fitness equipment. 

Clothing: Be sure you have a basic pair of shorts and a t-shirt. We usually live in these whilst travelling so we can work out in what we are wearing and get changed afterwards. 

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SUP or Stand Up Paddleboarding is a great way to keep in shape!

How to stay fit while traveling? What exercise while traveling do you do and what travel fitness equipment do you bring?

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20 thoughts on “How to Stay Fit While Traveling: Our Best Travel Workout Routine and Tips!

    li class="comment even thread-even depth-1" id="comment-4029">
    Hoang

    Your article is really useful. I can get some tip for my next trip in Vietnam.

    li class="comment odd alt thread-odd thread-alt depth-1 parent" id="comment-3787">

    Some great tips for staying in shape while traveling, thank you!

      li class="comment byuser comment-author-nic-hilditch17hotmail-co-uk bypostauthor even depth-2" id="comment-3798">

      Thanks!

    li class="comment odd alt thread-even depth-1" id="comment-3437">

    first of all these are great tips on how to stay fit while travelling! I often struggle while travelling especially for extended travel because I have no control when it comes to food and cocktails while travelling. Plus usually our itinerary is usually packed so the idea of hitting up a gym is a bit much. SO for me, doing activities that require some physical activity is probably the best for me. I particularly like hiking, swimming, and biking. For example, Darcee & I rented bikes to cruise around many of the cities in Germany to offset all the great beer and food we were consuming! In Colombia, we swam and did a lot of walking around to battle all of that ceviche’! So even if you don’t “workout” per se, you can find great activities to battle the vacation 15!

    li class="comment even thread-odd thread-alt depth-1" id="comment-3417">
    Jas

    I totally agree that HIIT workouts are great in terms of convenience and saving time! The hardest part is getting started though because let’s be honest, we all just wanna drink pina coladas and hang out on the beach all day doing nothing hahaa. Or at least I do, as I don’t travel long-term and travelling usually means a vacation for me. These are definitely awesome tips regardless!

    li class="comment odd alt thread-even depth-1" id="comment-3416">

    These are great suggestions! I too try to stay active while traveling or on vacation: even if I’m spending a week at a beach resort, I’ll still seek out their daily exercise programs to participate in, like yoga and HIIT. Your HIIT suggestions is fantastic as well. I find that if I spend a quick 15-30 minutes before I shower (either first thing in the morning or early evening before getting ready to go out at night), I can get in some impactful body-weight exercises without throwing off my travel or sightseeing schedule. Coupled with a full day of walking, hiking, or cycling this can end up being more exercise than I get even when I am home and not traveling!

    li class="comment even thread-odd thread-alt depth-1 parent" id="comment-3412">
    Laura Pedlar

    It’s important to keep active and you proved that you can whilst travelling. I liked your tip about using your environment. I always do a lot more walking while I’m away so that helps to keep me trim.

      li class="comment byuser comment-author-nic-hilditch17hotmail-co-uk bypostauthor odd alt depth-2" id="comment-3415">

      Yeah, we walk so much so that is always good and you’ve just got to be flexible and do what you can I think! It is tough so don’t beat yourself up too!

    li class="comment even thread-even depth-1 parent" id="comment-3411">

    This is indeed an important topic for each frequent traveler. Usually while planning my trips, I give sufficient time to my body to become fit and while traveling I prefer ample walking or cycling to burn calories. I am foodie to the core so it becomes even more important to burn calories in some way. I prefer a stay option with in-house gym or swimming pool as well.

      li class="comment byuser comment-author-nic-hilditch17hotmail-co-uk bypostauthor odd alt depth-2" id="comment-3414">

      Yeah, we were are just on a holiday we’d get a hotel with a gym and pool, but its not always affordable so walking, cycling and doing our circuits are a good cheap way to keep fit!

    li class="comment even thread-odd thread-alt depth-1 parent" id="comment-3410">
    pinkcaddytraveloguegmailcom

    These are great tips! I’m not a long-term traveler, so I tend to take time off from my weightlifting and normal fitness regimen when I go on vacation, but I always get in 10,000+ steps every day when exploring a new country/city! Though sometimes I’ll throw in a HIIT workout or 2 because they are so fast and effective.

      li class="comment byuser comment-author-nic-hilditch17hotmail-co-uk bypostauthor odd alt depth-2" id="comment-3413">

      Yeah it’s different for a short term trip and a long term trip. After 3 years we’ve had to come up with a workout we can do on the move and one we will stick too! HIIT works well as it doesn’t take up too much time and covers fitness and strength!

    li class="comment even thread-even depth-1" id="comment-3403">

    Very informative post on how to stay fit while travelling. We weren’t as bothered when we were just on holidays, but now we are travelling long term we need to be more mindful. We have had a great gym over Christmas, but we have also allowed ourselves to indulge a little (okay, a lot)! When we don’t have a gym it’s harder, but your tips are really useful.

    li class="comment odd alt thread-odd thread-alt depth-1 parent" id="comment-3402">

    Wow ! U can still work out whilst on holiday ! Haha.. I just force myself to walk as much cause I know I’ll be eating so much more than usual ! =p

      li class="comment byuser comment-author-nic-hilditch17hotmail-co-uk bypostauthor even depth-2" id="comment-3408">

      Well when you travel for 3 years you have to! We usually eat a lot less on the road and put weight on when we are home for a while, mostly because we’re trying to budget! Long term travel is very different to short term trips, you need to look after yourself a lot more!

    li class="comment odd alt thread-even depth-1 parent" id="comment-3401">
    nitnatshredder

    Thanks for the inspiration – just in time to set some goals for 2019! Also – I had the pedometer activated on my phone but never look at it! Nice to know I am averaging 10000 steps/day for this month! I will be checking it now daily! A long term traveller, I walk tons but getting back on the yoga mat is a goal for the new year. Thanks for all the ideas. Fighting the tide of too many potatoes in S America 😉

      li class="comment byuser comment-author-nic-hilditch17hotmail-co-uk bypostauthor even depth-2" id="comment-3409">

      No worries! I know what its like! It’s easier to do a short daily workout and your steps than putting more time aside! It’s challenging when travelling for sure!

    li class="comment odd alt thread-odd thread-alt depth-1" id="comment-3398">

    I usually download some quick 10-15 minute workout routines that I can do in my hotel room. A lot of times, the hotels charge a fee for the gym so I just find ways to do light exercises without having to use a fitness room 🙂

    li class="comment even thread-even depth-1 parent" id="comment-3397">

    Cheers for anyone who’s got time to do some exercise during their long-term trip! I’m not exactly a full-time traveler, so I can’t really relate to it, but neither I can imagine myself going to the gym in the mid of my trip. 😛

    But I agree about taking the bike instead of scooters to burn those calories. Also, since I usually travel on budget, walking is the best remedies to stay fit during my travel too while at the same time saving some money. Thanks for sharing! 🙂

      li class="comment byuser comment-author-nic-hilditch17hotmail-co-uk bypostauthor odd alt depth-2" id="comment-3399">

      I know, it’s hard when you are travelling but I think if you are travelling long term its important to make the time or at least be mindful of being active and eating well!

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