Sunday, 24 September 2017

5 tips to stay fit while traveling

Happy Sunday! Regular readers of my blog have read that I exercise regularly and set specific fun fitness goals for myself. I received one comment a while back wondering how I keep up with my exercise routine while traveling. With a little bit of self-discipline, we can enjoy our vacation, and still feel fit when we return home. 

Here's my 5 tips to stay fit while traveling:

1. Stretch and stay mobile:

I do stretches and gentle yoga to release muscular tension, get my air and blood flows going, and stay flexible, especially after prolonged periods of sitting like a long flight. I also walk frequently. We can do stretches and walking just about anywhere and anytime. So build in 10-15 minutes of comfortable stretching every day, whether morning, or afternoon, or evening, stay in motion, and your body will thank you.

2. Moderation is the key:

When I travel, I enjoy the local food but I do not over eat at every meal. I drink in moderation as well. For overall hydration, I drink water. I usually have a healthy snack in my bag before I head out to explore. If we stay at a vacation rental, we usually buy groceries and prepare most of our meals. Eating out would be a treat.

Going on vacation does not equate overeating and excessive drinking. Moderate your calorie intake without sacrificing the fun experience is key. For example, you may choose a light breakfast, or lunch, on the day when there is a festive, multi-course dinner. Choose wine or dessert but not both. Having light, healthy snacks throughout the day also helps curb sudden cravings. Watch out for empty calories from sugar drinks, or accumulative calories from wine, beers, plus big desserts after a full meal.

3. Keep it up:

When I'm at home, I spend about an hour per day for exercising. One hour out of 24 hours is about 4%. I didn't count my daily walking around so my actual daily "active" time is more than 4% but basically, it's not a huge amount of time to invest in my health. When I travel, I'm mostly free from chores and have more free time available for exercising. Without the time pressure, I keep up my fitness routine by working with what I have where I stay at my destination, which brings me to tip #4.

If you work out once or twice or three times a week before your trip, keep it up. Most people say "I'm on vacation", put their workouts on hold, and find it hard to get back into the fitness routine after their vacation. Traveling is a change that can really mess up our sleep (e.g. jet lag, different time zones), or diet (e.g. new food, constant eating out) so by keeping your workout routine, you reap the benefits of staying healthy during and after your trip. The bonus is you will not need to "get back" to your routine because you have always been on track!

If you find it challenging to keep up with your fitness routine, I'd recommend at a minimum to use tips #1 and #2.

4. Modify as needed:

Most of the time when I travel, I stay for free (e.g. with family), or at low cost accommodation which means I may not have access to a gym or equipment to do my regular workouts. As part of my trip preparation, I find out what's available for me to use at my destination, and modify my workout plan accordingly.

Assuming no gym equipment is available, I usually bring a resistance band and a skip rope which are both very light to pack, inexpensive, and useful. In addition, I find our body weight is an excellent tool for strength training. Examples: Jog around a local park if it's safe to do so, use the skip rope for cardio, use the resistance band for triceps/ biceps, and use my arms and legs for jumping jacks, lunges, squats, sit ups, or planks.

Remember local activities are fun exercises, too. For example, hiking at a national park, or a cycling day tour, or tango lessons in Argentina. In some nicer hotels, such as the Westin hotels, they have indoor fitness centre, maps of running routes, and workout gear lending service so if you are staying there, take advantage of their services.

5. Track your fitness activities:

When I'm at home, I track my fitness activities on a simple sheet. I take that sheet with me when I travel as a reminder and continue tracking. The calendar function on my mobile device is useful, too. Whatever works for you, use it to schedule and track your fitness activities as part of your travel itinerary. The key idea is exercising should be part of your day plan, like brushing teeth, and can be scheduled in small chunks of time.

I hope my tips help. Take on the world and take care of your health in your travels! I'll leave you with two quotes from Theodore Roosevelt:

"Do what you can, with what you have, where you are."

"With self-discipline most anything is possible."

If you have a tip on how to stay fit while traveling, please share below.


  1. Hi, Natalie - These are great, practical and very doable fitness tips for travelers. When traveling, I regularly rely on your Tips #1 and #2. As I rely on our local gym and yoga studio when I am at home, I find that I never keep this up well when I am away...despite my good intentions. I do compensate by even more walking - which fits into my sightseeing perfectly. Thanks for sharing this.

    1. Thanks, Donna. Walking benefits us in so many ways. I add in some resistance/ strength training for arms, upper body and core. I'll be following my own tips while in Ireland :-)

  2. Love these tips Natalie! I'll be using them when I fly out on Sunday. I like the point about moderation with food and drink and also I try to at least get to the gym on each cruise and also some yoga from my app. Walking is always good but I do miss my running and feel like I have to start again when I get home :(
    Sue from Sizzling Towards 60 & Beyond

    1. Thank you, Sue, for your comment. I learned to pick and choose my food and drink when I'm on an all-inclusive trip. Your cruise ship likely has a nice fitness centre and/ or fun cardio classes. Have a safe, healthy, and fabulous trip! Look forward to your posts and pictures.