Welcome to my three part series on staying healthy, fit, and safe while traveling! Disclaimer: I am not a trained medical professional or certified personal trainer. These tips are from my own personal experience and you should consult a doctor before any travel plans or before starting any type of exercise program.
Trust me when I say that I know the last thing on many people’s minds while traveling is exercise. After all, you didn’t fly all the way to Southeast Asia to be on a treadmill, right? However, while a large number of people do not make exercise a part of their travel routine, I believe we should. Exercise is not only a vital part of keeping your body healthy, but it is also an important component of dealing with stress and anxiety, feelings that often surface during travel. Exercise will also make you feel more energized during your travels, will boost your mood, and can even help improve your sleep (7am wake up call for a wine tour? No problem!). Staying fit while traveling doesn’t have to entail running a marathon or spending three hours lifting at the gym (but if that’s your style, go for it!). Here are some of my favorite tips for sneaking in exercise to make your travels even better.
Walking is your friend
This may seem obvious, but you should try to walk as much as possible while traveling (as long as you’re in a safe area, that is!). I’ve found that most Americans have this instinctual urge to take a taxi or other transport above anything else and it is so strange to me. I enjoy walking almost to a fault, especially in a new place. Walk that mile and a half to that restaurant you’ve been meaning to try. You’ll feel energized, burn some calories, and be able to explore an area of the city that you would have otherwise zoomed by in a car.
Get outside and get moving
Look, this could really be anything, depending on what you enjoy. There are some people who travel for extreme sports and others who think that walking a mile is extreme. No matter what your preferences, find something you enjoy and go for it. Find a good hiking trail or a local jogging route or go kayaking with a friend. Another of my favorite things to do is to take a bike tour on one of my first days in a new place. It’s a great way to get a feel for the layout of a city and get sweating.
Don’t be afraid to try local gyms and exercise programs
People all over the world exercise, so it’s not hard to find gyms or studios almost anywhere. It takes a bit of research, but you can easily find and sign up for fitness classes. Think yoga studios, crossfit gyms, functional training classes, or even the big box gyms that we have in the U.S. Although this tip will most likely cost you money, don’t be afraid to ask about guest passes or discounts. It never hurts to try!
Use what you have and be creative
Although cardio is a great workout, I like to also do an equal amount of resistance and functional training. Sometimes hotels have fitness rooms, but they are not universal, so I’ve had to make due in the past. One of the ways I like to stay fit is to design a circuit workout for myself and jog to a nearby park to do it (if that’s not an option you can always do it in your hostel or hotel room). This often requires a bit of creativity, but you’ll definitely see the benefits. Some of my favorite exercises to incorporate into this type of workout are planks, ab circuits, squats and lunges, burpees, pushups, mountain climbers, and tricep dips. To add resistance to these types of workouts, put your backpack on (especially great for squats and lunges) or improvise with items around you. You can also buy an inexpensive set of resistance bands for a wide variety of exercise options anywhere you go. Find fitness accounts on social media that you enjoy. For me, that means following 1 & Only Fitness (the gym my family owns) for daily workout routines and Kayla Itsines, whose fitness guides are almost universally loved by gals looking to get their sweat on without a ton of equipment!
Staying fit while traveling does not have to be a chore! Find something you enjoy doing and remember that it’s always more fun if you can drag your traveling buddy out of bed to do it with you. Do sunrise yoga on the beach, hike to the top of the volcano, or rent some bikes to ride to that artsy neighborhood on the other side of town. Your body will thank you for it!
Carry the beautiful (and treat your body well),
P.S. Stay tuned for Part 3: Staying Safe While Traveling!
P.P.S. I want to add a side note here about safety. It is very important that you are culturally aware of your surroundings before engaging in exercise. While most places are perfectly safe to run around or exercise in a park, there are a few places in the world where people (especially women) do not often do so. You should be respectful of cultural norms in places that you visit. For example, in conservative countries, you will probably not see women exercising in public, and definitely not wearing the tight clothing that we often don while working out. Do not make yourself stand out even more than you already do and never put yourself in a dangerous situation. If you have any doubts, hold off on the three mile jog around town and complete a circuit workout in your hotel room, instead!