The Definitive No B.S. Guide to Staying Fit While Traveling
Traveling enriches our life and staying fit keeps us young, healthy, and full of energy.
Trying to stay fit while traveling? It can feel like the odds are stacked against you. If there is a gym, there's a good chance it's tucked away in some corner of the hotel and the size of a closet. On top of that, you have no time or energy.
These things are fixable. We're all busy. We all struggle for workout ideas when there's no decent gym around. And we all have too little energy. This guide is going to show you how to fix these things so you can enjoy travel for every ounce of its greatness and stay fit at the same time.
Remember these six things:
- Packing and planning are key.
- Stay motivated.
- Use your bodyweight.
- Run sprints.
- Eat healthy most of the time.
- Consider intermittent fasting.
Here's an in-depth, no B.S. look at how anyone can stay fit and healthy while away from home, even with the odds stacked against you. No gym? No problem. No time? There's always enough time to squeeze in a quick but intense workout.
Packing and planning are key.
Before you even head out, half the battle is in what you pack and what your plan is. As any frequent traveler knows, traveling light is essential. So packing a ton of bulky health and fitness items is out of the question. We're not trying to check any bags. Keep it simple with these two things you should take with you.
This is hands down the single best conditioning tool you can carry in a bag. Research has shown that jumping rope burns more calories than the treadmill over the same period of time. Jumping rope is great to include in your warm up routine and is a perfect finisher at the end of your workout to burn extra calories.
As if that isn't good enough, you can always have it with you. If you're going to be traveling, get yourself a jump rope. I recommend a speed rope, like these by Rogue Fitness.
Try this jump rope travel workout.
It's easy to overindulge on the wrong foods when traveling. To help avoid this, be sure to pack some healthy snack options for the trip. The better options include trail mix, nuts, dried fruits and certain protein bars.
Also, consider your mindset about food and nutrition when you're traveling. Food should be viewed as fuel for your body, providing you with the energy you need to get through busy travel days, meetings, sight-seeing and workouts.
Our personal favorite travel snack is RXBAR.
Planning for fitness comes down to two primary factors: scheduling time to workout and figuring out where to workout.
So when are you supposed to workout?
For me, workouts have to happen in the morning before breakfast, so that means waking up an hour earlier than I normally would (and also means earlier to bed the night before). With my workout done first thing, I feel great, am full of energy, and have my "win" for the day. If you'd rather workout at the end of the day, do that. Want to squeeze in sets of push-ups, squats, or burpees spread out throughout the day? Do what works for you.
One of the first things I do when I check into a hotel is to find the gym, or “fitness center,” as many hotels call them and I'm not always happy with what I find.
I've found hotel gyms ranging from rooftop workout spaces with amazing views all the way down to closets with a single treadmill. Hotel gyms are diverse and always different, to say the least. This is a major factor for me when choosing where I stay or if I will ever stay somewhere again.
Sometimes it's not up to you. If you're traveling for business or grabbing a hotel room last minute on a whim, where you stay is sometimes decided without the gym in mind.
One thing you can be sure to find in almost any hotel gym are dumbbells.
If you do have the opportunity to choose what hotel you're staying at, do the research ahead of time and consider checking out our picks for the best hotel gyms in the world.
As tough as it is to find the time to workout while traveling, it's not the only thing stopping many travelers from getting their exercise.
Staying motivated is at the top of the list of the most common reasons travelers give for skipping workouts while on the road. It's not much of a surprise. Long days and full itineraries leave many of us looking for an excuse to do anything but workout first thing in the morning or at the end of the day. Finding a few minutes each day to work up a sweat while traveling will have a tremendously valuable impact on your health.
Here are three tips that you can use to stay motivated to workout while traveling.
Remember why you started.
Keep in mind those moments that pushed you to start eating healthy and exercising. We've all had a time where we hated how we looked or felt and decided that things were going to change. As we progress on our journey to better health, it's easy to lose sight of why you started in the first place. Don't let that happen. You don't want to stop and find yourself in the same position weeks or months down the road, having to start all over again.
Consistency is key when it comes to meeting fitness goals. Start strong, develop good daily habits and routines, stick to the goals you have set for yourself and make fitness a part of your lifestyle.
Consider the consequences.
If you don't exercise, you have a much higher risk of sickness, disease, chronic injury and early death. Just knowing that is enough to make me exercise daily so why don't more of us stick to our fitness routines? I have personally seen too many examples of friends and relatives getting sick and dying far too young. The one common trait they almost all share is that they did not exercise.
Keep the consequences in mind and your perspective on the importance of exercise will change. Invest in your future health with just a few minutes each day now and think about the priceless return you'll get later.
Make it fun.
Fitness should be fun. Why do many of us dread working out? Is it because it's uncomfortable for a short period of time?
It's these moments that make us stronger both physically and mentally. There's something to enjoy about the feeling of becoming a tougher person. Physically exerting yourself should feel rewarding. You're lucky to have a body to test limits and push boundaries. Use it.
If you're searching for other ways to make fitness fun, here are a few ideas:
- Set challenges for yourself.
- Workout with a friend.
- Listen to music, podcasts or audiobooks.
- Buy workout clothes that you love.
- Give yourself rewards for meeting goals.
Use your bodyweight.
If you have a gym in your hotel, that's great. If it's actually decent, and by decent I mean more than just a treadmill, that's even better.
The reality is that you can't always count on having this available to you. Plus, you might not feel like going to the hotel gym.
Great workouts do not require any equipment. Always have a backup plan for working out while traveling. The hotel may not have a gym or it could be closed for renovations. By being prepared with go-to bodyweight workouts, there's no travel-related workout obstacle you won't be ready for.
The great thing about bodyweight exercises, aside from the fact that they're awesome and incredibly effective, is that you can do them in your hotel room. Or you can do them outside. Or anywhere.
Keep workouts short and minimal. Maximize your time by performing high-intensity bodyweight circuits right in your hotel room. This will allow you to build muscle, burn more calories and get better results in less time. Bodyweight exercises require no machinery or equipment and are a simple, effective way to develop your strength, stability and flexibility.
Here are three effective and time efficient workouts that can be done almost anywhere. One for beginners, one intermediate, and one advanced. "For time" means to set a timer and complete the workout as quickly as possible. Minimize rest periods, partition repetitions as necessary (break them up), and record your time.
10 Rounds for Time
- 10 Push-Ups
- 10 Sit-Ups
- 10 Squats
- 100 Push-Ups
- 100 Sit-Ups
- 100 Squats
- 100 Burpees
As Many Rounds as Possible (AMRAP) in 20 minutes:
- 5 Handstand push-ups
- 10 Pistol squats
*Can be done in your hotel room
Remember, exercises like push-ups, squats and burpees can be done anywhere, but pull-ups may require some creativity. You can usually find a decent pull-up bar in most parks and near many beaches. Strong tree limbs work too. If you can't find anything to do a pull-up on, try doing some one-arm rows with your suitcase or bag.
Unlike a slow run with a target distance measured in miles, sprinting shorter distances at a higher intensity will help you build muscle.
This means even more fat burned if you're trying to lose weight. Perhaps best of all, it can be done in less time than running for distance or jumping on the elliptical.
Find a spot where you can run sprints up to 50 yards in one direction. Grass, hills, the beach, or a track work best. If you have to, you can use the treadmill.
Perform a quick warmup and then set a timer.
Run sprints for the entirety of the time established; 10 to 20 minutes being ideal. Start with about 50% intensity and gradually increase until you are sprinting at 95%. Bring it back down to 60% for the last few sprints. Rest only in the time it takes you to walk back to your starting point.
Eat healthy most of the time.
What fitness guide would be complete without a mention about what you should be eating?
Let's scale the whole healthy eating thing for while you're traveling.
It's a given that your options might be limited, plus you're going to want to indulge a bit if you're on a vacation or visiting a foreign country and you've never tried the local stuff. That's why we like the 90/10 rule for eating healthy while traveling.This means that 90 percent of the time, you are eating healthy and the other 10 percent of the time you can eat your cheat foods. This strategy is good all the time but is perfect for traveling.
Who wants to go on vacation and not enjoy some of their favorite foods?
The 90/10 rule allows you to indulge some of the time. What business traveler has access to healthy natural foods all the time on the road? The 90/10 rule gives them some flexibility in choosing some less healthy snacks on the go or being less picky when dining with clients.
Psychologically, it would be almost impossible to stick to a strict diet all the time while traveling. Allowing yourself to eat what you want ten percent of the time will help keep your mind at ease. Physically, you cannot keep your energy levels up if you are always in a caloric deficit, which tends to happen when constantly eating clean.
Help your body regulate body weight and fat mass by occasionally indulging in higher calorie meals.
Learn more about eating healthy while traveling:
Consider intermittent fasting.
Try skipping breakfast or pushing it back a few hours. This eating pattern is known as intermittent fasting and it cycles between eating and fasting. If you eat your last meal at 8 PM and then don't eat again until 11 AM the next day, you have fasted for 15 hours. Do this on a daily basis and you will only be eating between 11 AM and 8 PM, a 9 hour window.
Research has shown that following this pattern forces your body to burn fat stores for energy. The fasting period, however, is not long enough for your body to do the same to muscle. In fact, you can actually gain muscle while following this eating strategy, as long as you're exercising. This will allow you to drop the right pounds, giving you a lean, muscular appearance rather than a skinny, malnourished one.
During your fasting period, drink plenty of water. This will help to keep you feeling full and less likely to feel hungry. You can also drink black coffee or green tea. These will help to fight the hunger pangs.
Staying fit while traveling is not as difficult as it may seem. Plan ahead, pack right, stick to bodyweight workouts, and make smart food decisions most of the time.
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Cover Photo: Crossfit.com