I remember a morning in Hawaii in which my husband and I had woken up early to run some stairs at our resort. On the way back to our room to freshen up, we bumped into a cousin (it was a family trip) who was very encouraging. "I was impressed by this fitness couple I saw in the distance and was wondering who it was. Turns out it's you two!" ... or something of that sort.
Although we really weren't very fit, the compliment resonated with me, as I realized how much better I felt continuing to work out while on vacation. It helped start each day off on the right foot, I was happier and I didn't feel bad about what I was eating during the trip. Working out even allowed me to relax more on the beach, having used up some energy. This realization challenged and encouraged me to stay active on every trip.
Traveling is typically for business or for pleasure. And with both, I've found it's easy to give excuses when it comes to maintaining a workout routine or staying active. When it's for business, there's just not enough time. When it's for pleasure, your purpose is to relax so why bother?
Now, I'm definitely not saying that you shouldn't relax on vacation or get your work done when on a business trip. In fact, you might be someone who works out consistently and vacation is your one time to let loose and be lazy. I get it! This article is simply for the people who want to stay active while traveling but find it difficult to do so.
Let me also be clear that this article does not include health or fitness advice. I'm not a fitness trainer or a fitness guru. I'm merely someone who aims to be healthy even while traveling. And the tips below are some tricks that I've found help me stay in shape no matter where I go.
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Ways To Work Out When You Don't Have Your Typical Equipment
No, you might not have the weights or machines on vacation that you would usually use at home, but you can still exercise without them. Here are some ways to do so:
Utilize your hotel’s gym and pool.
It's there! You paid for it! So use it! I rarely see other people in the gym when I'm on vacation, which is nice, but this also means they're probably underutilized. Take advantage of the opportunity and equipment.
Go for a run or walk.
I love going for runs when I'm on a trip! I get to take in the sights as I move, and it's a pretty quick way to burn some calories. Also, there is really no excuse not to stay active when you consider that you always have the option to walk.
Find some stairs to climb.
I know, climbing stairs is probably not your favorite workout, but it's an easy thing to do when you're traveling. There are usually staircases in hotels. (If you're staying on an upper level and don't have time to work out, rather than taking the elevator, consider taking the stairs every time you go to your room.) Additionally, if you're in a city, there are likely other buildings/areas with stairs. And if all else fails, find a big hill.
Bring resistance bands or booty bands.
These items are especially great to bring along when you are flying to your destination. They're light and don't take up much space at all in a suitcase. So these would be perfect for business trips or vacations.
Watch videos for bodyweight exercises.
Without a doubt, you'll have your phone, iPad or laptop with you on your trip, which means you have millions upon millions of videos to watch with trainers, whether on YouTube or an app. You can easily find exercises that don't require equipment or are "apartment friendly," so they're also "hotel friendly," which means you won't be annoying the people staying below you with jumping.
Find and use makeshift weights.
I've seen people work out with water bottles, wine bottles, books, laundry detergent and even people! Take a look around your hotel, Airbnb, etc. for anything that might have a helpful weight and be easy to carry. (And if you don't own the object(s), just be sure you don't use something that's breakable!)
Look for an outdoor gym.
Outdoor gyms (typically located at parks and beaches) are everywhere nowadays. They usually include various exercise equipment, from pull-up bars to stationary bikes. Find one near your vacation destination, and check out what equipment it offers in advance.
Tips To Make Sure Your Workout Happens On Vacation
Plan your workout routine before you leave. Look at your vacation itinerary and research where you're staying and what amenities it has, and then plan out your workouts in advance — what time you'll do them, where and what you'll use for them. This will help you stay on track and create a sort of to-do list that you need to check off.
Get up early before the rest of your travel party. I've found that I often use the excuse that I don't want to miss out on time with whoever I'm traveling with. But an easy solution to that is going to bed at a decent time and waking up early to work out. So set that alarm for the sunrise (or before others will be ready to go) and start your morning with movement.
Find a workout buddy on vacation. This could be someone who is with you on vacation (a spouse, family member or friend) or someone who keeps you accountable from afar. I will say that having a buddy physically with you is definitely a greater encouragement and motivator, though, and will give you quality time with someone on your trip. You can even look into partner exercises, which can be a lot of fun.
Make the most of airport waits and layovers. Flying to a destination includes a lot of sitting, but it doesn't have to if you use your wait to walk. Go back and forth from your gate to the other side of the terminals, and you'll get some calories burned. (There still aren't many gyms in airports yet, but be on the lookout for them in the future as well.)
Add stops for movement on a road trip. It's always a good idea to park and stretch your legs if you have the time on a road trip. For really long, all-day drives especially, I like to find an activity midway that I can stop and do, whether it's sightseeing in a town, walking through a museum or taking a short walk or hike. I specifically add these stops to my itinerary, which forces me to take a break from sitting for 8 hours straight.
Break up your lounging time at the beach. Relaxing at the beach is great! But it can also be even more rewarding when you add an active activity. For example, spend some time swimming in the water or playing games on the sand. (You’ll get just as much sun.) Consider setting a 15- or 30-minute timer, and every time it goes off, get up and walk the beach or swim for 15 or 30 minutes before lying down again.
Include a physical activity on your trip itinerary. Check out the list below of travel-inspired exercise ideas.
Fun Travel-Inspired Physical Activities To Add To Your Itinerary
Add one of these activities to your vacation, or you can even plan around one of them when deciding which vacation to go on. All are dependent on the type of trip and the area in which you're staying, but they can be exciting ways for you and your fellow travelers, family members and friends to stay in shape.
Sightsee the town/city on foot.
This is especially easy to do in places that are more close-knit and don't require car transportation. (Europe comes to mind, but there are also plenty of small cities in the U.S. where this is possible as well.)
Take a walk on the beach.
Maybe even thinking about doing this with a significant other during a sunrise or sunset to set the mood. Walks along the beach are perfect for conversations and to clear your head. Plus, the sand will give you an added walking challenge!
Visit a botanical garden.
I love going to botanical gardens! They're beautiful, mostly outside and typically walkable. Some are also pretty big, which means you'll get a nice long trek as you explore.
Go on a hike.
There's nothing like spending the day in nature. And whether the hike is easy or hard, has high elevation or isn't very elevated, your calves and thighs will still be burning after hiking for 5 miles or however long the trail is.
Rent bikes and tour the town/area you are visiting.
Biking is great exercise. Additionally, it will help you get around the town faster than walking, and those photos of travelers and their bikes always look so fun!
Enjoy a water sport.
Many beach resorts or lakeside resorts have an option to rent water sport equipment or go on a water sport excursion. I've done everything but scuba diving in the list below (including snorkeled with sharks!) and I can tell you that it's an excellent way to burn calories while enjoying the sun and scenery. These are also perfect activities for the adventure seekers on your trip.
If you've never done any of these water activities before, try one and then pat yourself on the back for not only working your muscles but also learning something new.
Go skiing or snowboarding.
Although I haven't been yet (I'm going this year!), I can imagine how much energy you exert when skiing or snowboarding. Similar to the water sports above, it's always a great idea to push yourself to try something you've never done before.
Look for a yoga class in a beautiful location.
Many hotels and resorts have yoga classes built into their event schedules, but you can also find your own spot overlooking the ocean or on a hike and do some yoga. And, of course, yoga retreats are always an option.
Play a sport with your travel group.
Beach volleyball is a fun group activity when you're near the ocean. I've also found that several condos and resorts have tennis or pickleball courts for visitors to play on. Plus, at least in the U.S., there is always a disc golf or regular golf course nearby.
Lastly, don't forget that there will always be those who give you a hard time for working out on vacation. Don't let it get to you, and remind yourself of the positive thing you're doing for your body ... even when far from home.