I get a lot of questions on how to keep fit while traveling. It’s a serious issue. If you do your best to stay fit and healthy at home, the routine disruption of several days on the road can wreak havoc on your regular fitness schedule. I asked Alex McCoy, a health care professional for tips on staying fit while on the road and got some simple and effective ideas.
How to keep fit while traveling: A travel nurse’s guide
Hello! My name is Alex McCoy and I am a travel nurse and blogger over at FitTravelLife.net. I have a passion for finding ways to prioritize fitness on the road. Whether you are traveling across the country or across the world, frequent exploring can be detrimental to any sort of health and fitness routine. BUT this does not have to be the case. By coming up with a few routines and systems you can still experience new places and enjoy trips or vacation and keep fit along the way.
If you are on a vacation, a lot of these rules can be a little more “relaxed”. However if you are constantly on the move or taking frequent trips, it is even more important that you stick to this advice if you have long term fitness goals. Keeping yourself healthy while traveling isn’t overly complicated, it just takes a little more planning and discipline.
Incorporate Movement into Getting to Know Your Destination
Walk rather than ride around cities.
While Uber and Lyft provide a convenient alternative to public transportation, saving cash by walking also allows you to get more exercise in on sightseeing days. By walking between activities you also get the true feel of the place you are visiting and the small details like sights, sounds, and smells aren’t blocked by a car window.
Drop in to a local gym or fitness class.
One way to guarantee you are up and working out before a long day of adventuring is to sign up for a class at a local gym. Most places charge a small fee ($15-20 depending on the city) but are very welcoming to visitors trying out a class for a day. The best part about small group training is you can meet some locals and ask for pointers on navigating your destination or finding the best food in the area.
Go for a jog or a walk/run and scout out the area where you are staying.
Whether you are staying for a day or a month, it is nice to have a lay of the land before planning your list of things to see. Set a route on Google maps and take a quick jog in the morning so you have a feel of how the neighborhood or city is laid out. If you aren’t a big runner, set a timer and jog for 30 seconds and then rest for 30 seconds while you look around.
Don’t Use Travel as an Excuse to Eat Everything
Go big on a few (planned) meals
As a big foodie myself, I like to plan out which restaurants are a must at each destination. At these locations I don’t keep myself from trying their famous dishes even if they are a little more decadent than foods I would normally eat. Part of the beauty of travel is experiencing local cuisine, so allow yourself to indulge on these occasions!
Keep healthy snacks on hand.
Another way to save money and calories is to pack or purchase a few healthy snacks. If you travel light, make a quick stop at a grocery store to pick up some fresh produce or jerky to snack on in between meals. I also like having a few protein bars on hand for breakfast on the go.
Skip the junk that isn’t worth it.
If you make a stop out of necessity to grab food, use it as a time to pick more wholesome, healthy foods. For example, if you are road tripping and fast food is the only convenient option, opt for a grilled chicken sandwich or a to go salad if they have them. Just because you are on a trip doesn’t mean that food will taste great or make you feel good, so don’t waste extra calories on an “okay” meal.
Get Outside and Keep Fit in the Sunshine
Use apps or Google Maps to find local walking trails or places to hike.
Even if I am not motivated to get a traditional workout in, getting outside to hike or explore doesn’t feel quite as intimidating. I use All Trails a lot to find a hike that fits the timeline I have in mind and look for routes with scenic overlooks or waterfalls. Some of my best travel photos have been thanks to getting out into nature and away from the traditional areas most tourists visit.
Try a new activity.
The beauty of travel is you are often introduced to environments or climates that are different from home. Look for ways to try something unique to the area you are in that also doubles as physical activity. If you are somewhere warm, look for local bike tours or a body of water where you can rent kayaks. In colder locations, try something new like snowshoeing or skiing. This is a great way to get some movement in and also experience local culture.
Use a local park to get a quick workout in.
I am a big fan of interval training on vacation. In 20 to 30 minutes you can get sweaty and work all of your muscle groups, then be ready to move on with the fun stuff you have planned. Parks are a great place to find equipment that can be used to mix up your workout routine. Use a bench for step ups, monkey bars for pull ups, or do lunges on small bleachers. Don’t stress too much about what you are doing, just get moving!
While getting bigger, stronger, and faster doesn’t have to be a priority when you are on a trip, I highly encourage you to keep up some sort of basic routine for health and fitness. Taking a few weeks off of eating right and exercising makes it that much hard to keep fit at home when you finally get back to normal.
Here are a couple of guides to help you get started, The Female Vagabond’s Guide to staying Fit While Traveling, and this wonderful guide below.
Wherever you travel to, consider Airbnb as an accommodation alternative. Here is a $40 credit to use on your first stay.
What are your tips for staying fit while traveling? We’d like to know.