Written by Anna Timbrook, Guest Writer
As travel very gradually opens up and if you have travel plans next year, keep in mind these great ways to stay fit while travelling. Traveling opens the door to new experiences, spectacular sights, and connecting with people from all around the world. Although this is great for your mental wellbeing, sleepless nights in transit, unhealthy snacks when you’re on the move, and hours of static journeys (not to mention all those cheeky sundowners) can really take their toll on your physical wellbeing.
But fear not, there are plenty of ways to stay fit when you travel, and some of them are easier than you might think. Here, you can find some of our favorite ways to keep up your fitness levels, plus some top tips on how to make staying fit as simple and stress-free as possible.
Mountainside hikes, beach strolls, lakeside ambles… you probably don’t need convincing to put your walking shoes on and explore some of the most sought-after destinations. But it doesn’t stop there. Walking is one of the simplest ways to keep your body ticking, and you can do it pretty much everywhere. Why not skip the bus and stroll to that town you’ve been meaning to visit? Or if you’ve got half an hour to kill in an airport, why not go for a wander before being stuck in your seat for hours? It might not get your heart pumping, but cranking up your steps per day has to be the easiest way to keep up your general fitness – plus who knows what sights you’ll encounter on your strolls?
These days, you can find yoga classes in some of the most remote corners of the globe. Plus, if you can’t find a class, you can always pop a travel mat in your bag and practice wherever you end up. However, you don’t need to be a yoga expert to benefit from some simple stretching. Just a few bends, twists, and folds in the morning can really limber you up for the day ahead, making injuries less likely (which is especially important when you’re lugging around heavy bags!). If you’ve been on the move for a while – whether that’s hitching a ride in a pick-up, squished on a sleeper train, or driving a motorbike – you’re bound to have some aches and pains at the end of the day. Stretching in the evening is a great way to get rid of this tension, and it’ll probably help you sleep better too (which also boosts energy levels, improving overall fitness).
It goes without saying that this applies more in hot countries, but it’s worth keeping an eye on your liquid intake no matter where you are. Mild dehydration often causes headaches and a lack of energy, which certainly won’t help your efforts to stay fit.
Drinking alcohol is a major cause of dehydration (aka… a hangover) and, while we aren’t going to tell you to abstain, drinking water in between drinks, or at least guzzling a glass of water before bed, will certainly help to take the edge off.
Near a beach, lake, or river? Swim! In hot places, it’s a great way to keep your body temperature low and wash off the daily dirt, and in cooler places, an icy dip is super refreshing and will really get your heart racing. Plus, if you’re on a working holiday, making a morning swim part of your daily routine is a great way to refresh and focus your mind for the day ahead.
Some countries also have amazing lakes that you can take a dip into without having to fork out a fee for access. Countries such as Switzerland, Canada and northern European countries like Finland and Sweden are awash with such opportunities.
Those roadside snacks sure can be mighty tempting – after all, who doesn’t love a cheeky Mexican taco, Indian samosa, or even an Italian pastry? But, sadly, these little snacks are often deep-fried, fatty, and/or carb-heavy, particularly the budget options. And even if there are healthier options, like juicy looking fruit pots, you have to be careful what water they’ve been rinsed with (we wouldn’t wish a Delhi belly on our worst enemy).
Eating unhealthy foods can make you slow and sluggish, which will probably make you less active, reducing your overall fitness. One of the best ways to make sure you eat well is to plan ahead – make lunch and take it with you to the beach or make sure you take some bananas with you on a long journey. That way, you don’t fall into the trap of desperately trying to fill up on unsubstantial fatty foods because you haven’t eaten for hours and that’s all you can find… We aren’t saying don’t indulge every now and then – sampling the local cuisines is hands down one of the best things about traveling – just try and avoid eating those unhealthy snacks way too often.
High-intensity interval training (HIIT)
Although HIIT often brings to mind aggressive gym instructors shouting at a bunch of stressed out, sweaty, lycra-clad gym-goers, the basic elements of a HIIT workout can be practiced at all levels and intensities. Plus, if there’s no gym nearby, you can practice in a hotel room, on a beach, or even in a nearby park. Another great thing about HIIT is that it doesn’t need to take up more than 20 minutes of your day – perfect for a busy schedule.
Here’s are some moves you can experiment with if you’re new to the world of HIIT:
- High knees
- Jumping jacks
But remember, it doesn’t have to be all or nothing. If you’re feeling a bit wiped then why not skip the burpees and stick with your sit-ups and press-ups – just 15 minutes of this a day and you’ll feel the difference in no time.
Keep it local
Keeping fit shouldn’t feel like work, and one of the best ways to make your fitness regime as easy as possible is to use what you have at hand.
Sure, you might love swimming at home, but if you’re surrounded by mountains it makes sense to get into hiking or rock climbing rather than drive for miles in search of swimmable water, doesn’t it?
And why not give running a miss while you’re in the smog of Bangkok (who really wants to breathe in those fumes anyway?) and drop into a muay Thai class instead? By getting involved in local activities, you’ll end up trying new things and really get a feel for where you are.
Mix it up
Repetitive strain injuries such as tennis elbow and runners’ knee are a big clue that humans shouldn’t do the same physical activity every day. On top of that, when you’re traveling your environment is constantly changing, so you probably can’t do the same activities week by week anyway.
Mixing up your activities is a great way to ensure all-round fitness, plus it means you’ll try new things, see new places, and meet new people – and you might even find a new favorite hobby to take home with you.
One of the best parts about keeping fit is feeling good… so there’s no point in stressing about your fitness. Walking often and sleeping and eating well are super easy ways to keep your body in good shape. After that, it’s all about going with the flow.
Staying fit while travelling may seem like a challenge, but it’s not impossible in the slightest. You can incorporate different exercises into your routine such as squats, pushups, sit-ups, jumping jacks, planks, and many others. No special gear is needed either – all you need is a mat or a towel you can place on the ground and an elastic band, and you’re set! You can find a selection of the best exercises to stay fit on the road here.
Don’t say no to a sunset walk because you’d planned to swim that evening, and don’t skip an early morning yoga class with a friend because you’d planned to run. We aren’t saying stick to your guns – if there are one of two activities you’d like to do every week then go for it – but try to be flexible. After all, in years to come, you’re more likely to remember that hike with a friend than the HIIT you did in your hotel room.
About the Author
Anna was born to travel the world having studied languages all her life. Although she has traveled the world, she now calls Switzerland home and spends her time writing about her experiences on Expert World Travel. You can follow her on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.