Trying to stay in shape is a challenge when you are in the comfort of your city and home. And it doesn’t get any easier on the road, but there are ways to set yourself up for success. Below you will find our tried and tested ways to ensure you are working out while traveling.
Going on vacation can be so relaxing and refreshing but you can feel guilty not working out while traveling once you get home. Trust us, we travel full-time and it can be HARD to work out when you could be sitting by the pool. These are the ways that we stay in shape while traveling.
We talk about easy workouts without gear while traveling, eating healthy while on vacation, what equipment to bring with you, and more!
This post is about working out while traveling.
Working Out While Traveling:
Calisthenics may not be a term you have heard of. If you Google calisthenics, you will see pictures of people performing gymnastic-like feats of strength that most of us cannot imagine doing. Fear not, this is advanced-level calisthenics that just so happens to make for really cool pictures. Calisthenics, at its core, is simply bodyweight exercises such as push-ups, pull-ups, sit-ups, squats, or any type of resistance training you can do that involves using your body weight as leverage.
The point is, your body is with you everywhere you go so it is the most effective and accessible piece of workout equipment you have. Need a workout? Try NFL Hall of Famer Ray Lewis’ first workouts and use a 52-card deck of cards. Flip a card over and the number you see is the number of reps you do of your pushups, sit-ups, or squats (Jack, Queen, or King should be 10-25). If you finish the deck, you are a superhero in my book.
Yoga is the perfect blend of strength, flexibility, and mindfulness training all wrapped into one. I am about as flexible as a piece of plywood, but I love the feeling of accomplishment following a Yoga session. The important part about Yoga is to focus on your form. If you can’t perform a perfect downward dog, or warriors pose, don’t worry about trying a headstand. In SouthEast Asia, there are great Yoga studios everywhere for about $5 a class. If you are crunched for time, jump on YouTube, and find a class to follow along to. If you need the accountability of a live session, apps like Peloton are a great option too.
Some days I love running, some days I loath it, but I think that is the case for any type of exercise. For me, running is easier when traveling. There is an influx of new sites, sounds, and smells to distract from the fact that you are running. My favorite place to run was in the countryside of Kampot, Cambodia. First and foremost, it was beautiful. Secondly, it was so refreshing to see all of the smiling faces of the locals and to be greeted in the morning with their enthusiastic “hellos.” Lastly, the cows always seemed to stare at me like I was crazy which made me laugh every time. I always recommend that you check with your hotel before setting out for a run. They are well versed in the area and can set you on the right path….pun intended.
4. YOU ARE WHAT YOU EAT
As with this entire article, we are not doctors, exercise physiologists, or nutritionists. While exercising is an important part of our physical and mental well being, I have learned one thing. It is A LOT harder to burn a calorie than it is to eat a calorie. You can work out until you are blue in the face, quite literally, but if you eat garbage all the time, it is going to be tough to achieve your desired fitness level.
Let’s put this in perspective. Every mile you run, you burn approximately 100 calories. A mile typically takes someone between 8 to 20 minutes to run. On the other hand, light beer will run you between 100 – 150 calories. How many people do you know who run a mile for every beer they drink? I am guessing nobody. And your favorite burger from a popular fast-food chain or bar? You are looking at 575 – 700 calories. So yeah, if you can defend what you take in/consume, it is a heck of a lot easier than trying to work it off. So how do you do this? There are several ways, but my favorite is…
5. INTERMITTENT FASTING
Intermittent Fasting is a lifestyle whereby you eat your daily calories during an eight-hour window and fast for the remaining 16 hours. There are various intermittent fasting schedules, but I will only discuss this one because I believe it to be the most effective, and more importantly, sustainable.
I like to keep things simple. If things are difficult, I believe most people take the path of least resistance. I know I do. This is why I am not an advocate of counting calories. Do you know anybody who counts competitively, as a hobby, or likes doing inventory? Nine times out of ten, the answer is no. Intermittent fasting takes the counting out of the equation….pun intended again. If you are only eating for eight hours a day, you are likely to passively eat fewer calories than when the eating world was your oyster.
Is it difficult to fast for 16 hours? In the beginning? Yes. Eventually? No. From time to time? Sure. The good thing is you sleep through 6-8 hours of the fast so that is the easy part. Most people just skip breakfast and have lunch at around 11p or 12p and eat periodically until 7p or 8p. The earlier you can finish eating the better. Why? Most people are just less active in the evening. When you are less active, your body doesn’t need as many calories. BUT, the best feeding schedule is the one you will stick to consistently. If that means 10a-6p, 12p-8p, or 2p-10p, just pick one that works.
QUICK TIPS FOR INTERMITTENT FASTING
Lastly, I will leave you with a few tips to help you successfully get started:
Start Slow – Jumping right into a 16 hour fast can be difficult. Do yourself a favor and work your way up to it. Start with 10 hours, then 11, then 12, and so on, until you can comfortably complete a 16 hour fast.
Drink LOTS of Water – Water is your best friend while intermittent fasting. Drink tons of it to curb those hunger pangs. If you need some flavor, try brewed black coffee or black or green tea. Sorry, no additives, just the goodness of the pure product.
Do Something Active – I know, seems counterintuitive, but if I am hungry, I lace up the running shoes and hit the road. Any activity you enjoy will do the trick. The idea is to distract the mind and it works.
6. BRING YOUR OWN EQUIPMENT
You already have your body with you so that is your first piece of equipment for calisthenics. Still, need more? Pack those running shoes for sure. You are already bored with your workouts? Perfect, bring a jump rope and resistance bands. Pop on a YouTube workout and you are set. These are two very affordable items that don’t take up much space in your suitcase. Now you get in a killer workout AND bring your 50 outfits and 75 pairs of shoes. Everybody wins.
7. BOOK ACCOMMODATIONS WITH A GYM
On just about every booking engine, you will find filters you can use to get the experience you desire. Just check the “Gym/Fitness Center” box and book the hotel that is suitable for your travel and fitness needs. This is one of my favorite methods to stay accountable for my fitness regimen.
8. FIND A LOCAL GYM / YOGA STUDIO
If you can’t find a hotel or Airbnb gym that does the trick, check out a gym or yoga studio near your accommodations. Ask the front desk or host if they have any partnerships with the local gyms. If they do, great, you might get a discount. If not, most gyms have an available day pass. In SE Asia, this can range from $1 – $5 for a day pass and $5 – $10 for a Yoga class. In the US, you are looking at $10+ each.9. USE A FITNESS APP
Remember that body, fitness bands, and jump rope you brought? Time to dial it in with a guided workout. YouTube is my first choice, but if you prefer a fitness app, there are TONS out there from Peloton to Fitbit and beyond. I used Peloton when in quarantine in Cambodia, and they had a workout for everything; it was and still is impressive. I opened up the filters and let them know I didn’t have any equipment, and boom, there was a bajillion challenging workouts at my fingertips. They held me accountable and got me back into a regular workout routine. I thought they were just a spinning app, but I was wrong. They had yoga, meditation, calisthenics, HIIT workouts, etc. They left me tired, sore, and with a great sense of accomplishment. Peloton and others are certainly a great option.
>> Try Peloton’s 30-Day Free Trial
10. TAKE A SCENIC HIKE
Hiking is a fantastic way to get some exercise on the road. You can smash your daily step count for the day while seeing beautiful scenery, lush landscapes, curious wildlife, and breathtaking views. Since it is not a race, you can stop and snap some photos to remember or just sit down for a minute and feel the breeze wash over you. Don’t forget your water, sunscreen, bug spray, and a charged phone.
11. BECOME A STAIR MASTER
If your hotel doesn’t have a gym, chances are they at least have stairs. Take the stairs instead of the elevator. Better yet, make it a workout and climb them for 20 to 40 minutes. You will feel the burn, I can promise you that.
If you are walking around the city you are in and notice a great staircase, drop a pin on your maps and head back to it for a workout. I prefer to suck wind outside versus in the hotel stairwell.
12. CLIMB A HILL
Have you ever walked a hill? It is tiring. Try jogging or running it. While it is definitely a humbling experience, you feel great when you are done. It is high-intensity stuff and is great if you need to squeeze in a quick workout. It takes a bit of recon work ahead of time, but much like the stairs, keep an eye out for a steepish hill when you are out and about exploring your destination. In the picture above, the hill was right inside our resort leading down to the beach and back up to the rooms.
13. RENT A BIKE
I will be honest, most of the time we have rented a motorbike when we are traveling abroad. Recently, in the province of Kampot, we decided to rent a pair of bicycles instead. It was one of the best ideas we stumbled upon and might change how we traverse the smaller towns we visit in the future. There is just something fun and nostalgic about exploring on a bicycle AND….and….it technically exercises too.
Some of the bigger cities in the world have also added community bikes and bike racks whereby you can unlock and rent the bike using an app and return it at various bike rack/hubs around the city. It is getting easier and more accessible every day.
14. OUTDOOR FITNESS CENTERS
I have to be honest, I was completely shocked when I saw how many outdoor fitness centers there were in SE Asia. What was more surprising was how many people use them. In the states, I have seen so many outdoor fitness areas that always look deserted. In SE Asia, however, entire families are getting their exercise in for the day in the early hours of the morning or the evening just before dusk. Truth be told, they are very nice areas too and have more than enough equipment to keep you moving for an hour.
15. DIVE IN WITH WATER SPORTS AND ACTIVITIES
The possibilities here are endless. If your hotel or Airbnb has a pool, get up with the sun and swim some laps. There is nothing that wakes you up like plunging into the water at the crisp hours of the morning. It is also a very peaceful time to swim.
If you are in a beach town, learn to surf. Surfing involves swimming, balance, concentration, and so much more. If you think it is easy, give it a try and let us know how well you sleep.
Go kayaking and stand-up paddleboarding. At the last two resorts, we were at, both the kayaks and the standup paddleboards were free minus the loads of energy we expended while participating in each respective activity. Again, sunrise and sunset are amazing times to take advantage of each water sport.
If you are somewhere coastal, explore the underwater world and snorkel. We have gone on day trips or just explored coastlines and have come across beautiful coral reefs and underwater creatures. By the time you are done, you won’t even realize how much swimming you just did.