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!
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.
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.
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!
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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!
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!
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!
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.
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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