Staying in shape while traveling

February 11, 2011 in Philosophy,Travel

Vacation is usually an excuse to relax and indulge; workouts and diets are best kept at home. But when travel becomes a lifestyle, it’s important to learn how to stay healthy and fit without the reliable comfort of a kitchen or a gym.

Hiking The Incline in Colorado Springs, Colorado

Hostels rarely have fitness centers, so I’ve found that my on-the-road workouts have to be able to be performed anywhere and with minimal equipment.  And even though I regularly enjoy in local specialties—good bread and rich chocolates are particular weaknesses—I rarely gain weight on the road by drinking lots of water and staying active.

Walking: Quite simply, I walk just about everywhere. It’s a win-win-win situation: I stay active, I save money and I get to explore the city up close. On holiday in Spain, I rarely took public transport, preferring instead to wander through the parks and soak up the sunshine in Barcelona and Valencia. While living in Colorado Springs, I spent my days off hiking and exploring the gorgeous natural beauty that surrounded me–including doing The Incline every Saturday. Don’t forget to wear comfortable shoes: I’ll be testing out the Vibram FiveFingers as I explore Sydney.

Taking the stairs: When walking just wouldn’t make sense, I’ll always take the subway system over the bus. The primary reason is that while I can always figure out a subway system with relative ease, I never fail to get lost using the bus. An added bonus is the stairs: great leg workout!

Drinking lots of water: Alcohol, soda and fruit juice are a quick way to pack on the pounds and lose energy while you’re on the road. Stick to water—I never leave without a Klean Kanteen full of tap water in the morning. It’s heavy in my bag, which reminds me to drink it and stay hydrated. I also order ice water at restaurants and bars–there’s nothing more refreshing and budget-friendly! Heading to a place where you don’t trust the water? Try out the Bobble, which incorporates a filter into the water bottle.

Fresh apples at Nice market in France

Go to market: Checking out a local market isn’t just a cultural experience: it’s great for your health! Plan a picnic or sneak in a snack of fresh, local produce and artisan products.

Bender ball: The Bender ball is a staple in Pilates classes and personal training sessions. It’s a great way to increase the intensity on your core workouts: strengthening your abs, obliques and back.  Plus, it deflates and blows up easily, making it easy to stow in your bag.

Resistance bands, bender ball and fitness videos

Resistance bands: Resistance bands can be used to work almost every part of the body, but they’re my favorite for arms, shoulders, inner and outer thighs and glutes. They’re practically weightless and can be tucked into just about any space in your bag.

Your own body weight: There’s a reason why pushups, tricep dips and situps are still the most popular exercises around: they work, they’re cheap and they’re (relatively) easy. Add in squats, lunges and wall sits and you’ve got a full-body workout that doesn’t require any equipment.

Yoga poses: As I stressed in how yoga made me a better traveler, yoga is an easy way to stay calm and centered while in the midst of travel chaos. I love the Yoga Journal web site to find new poses, sequences and workouts.

How do you stay healthy and in shape while traveling?

  • http://twitter.com/conniehum Connie Hum

    I had NO idea those bender balls deflate! That’s a wonderful tip! I also like elastic bands, which were introduced to me when I pulled an arm muscle from pulling up my pants too quickly after peeing. I kid you not.

  • http://www.MyBeautifulAdventures.com/ Andi Perullo

    Great tips!!! B/c I don’t travel for long periods on end, I typically indulge while traveling and not worry about keeping in shape. Usually before a trip I hit the gym twice as hard and cut out all alcohol and carbs, so that I can indulge without any guilt. Looking hot in that pic!!!

  • http://100mileshighway.blogspot.com Katherina

    We went up all those stairs every saturday? Wow, That’s being in shape!! I’m with Andi – I just do a fitness diet before leaving and then splash around. I can’t give up alcohol when I’m on the road (did I just say that?).

  • Anonymous

    Best injury story EVER. And yes, the bender balls are super easy to deflate and blow back up–totally worth sticking one in your bag!

  • Anonymous

    im packing my resistance bands for costa rica!! yay for being strong and packing light.

  • http://www.facebook.com/ahesser Abbey Hesser

    Oh love. This is my new biggest problem. I gained almost 30lbs last year when I moved to Spain, even though I ride horses for 6 hours a day and am rarely sitting still. I am a sucker for the food and I do indulge in all of it… all the time. This is good motivation for me. I gotta stop… well… chowing.

  • Pingback: Tweets that mention Staying in shape while traveling l Keeping healthy and fit on the road — Solo Female Travel Blog C'est Christine -- Topsy.com

  • http://twitter.com/fabdestinbrenna Brenna

    I usually just walk lots so I won’t feel guilty when traveling. I usually can’t give up trying to local drink!

  • http://delana-dujour.blogspot.com Delana

    I brought my ball and the bands with me to France. When I’m on the road I take the bands although it’s often hard to find a proper door to attach them to. For water, I pack Vapur bottles which fold up compactly and can be filled (if you’re in a country where you can drink the water) and attach to your belt or back pack. You can get them at Amazon.com. Not an advertisement, just an FYI. I like the direction your blog is going Christine.

  • Anonymous

    Thanks lady–that pic is from ages ago, when I worked in sports and went hiking every weekend! That’s a great idea to cut out alcohol and carbs BEFORE a trip–because I can never seem to cut those out when I’m somewhere new and want to taste all the local specialties :)

  • Anonymous

    I definitely don’t TOTALLY give up alcohol–I just drink lots of water so I can have a local beer or drink without feeling guilty!

  • Anonymous

    Great idea! I’m sure you have so many awesome ideas on how to use them–I need some more tips!

  • Anonymous

    I think the only reason I didn’t gain weight in France–where I was eating for free ALL the time–was constantly being on my feet waitressing and the fact that I lived on a fourth floor apartment with no stairs. And I was too cheap to use the tram, so I walked everywhere! We’ll see how things go in Australia–my big problem is wanting to eat all the time, too, but I haven’t heard many people rave about the food in Australia, so it might be a bit easier!

  • Anonymous

    That’s definitely my plan–impossible to say no to French wine or Spanish sangria!

  • Anonymous

    Those Vapur bottles sound cool! I’m a sucker for my Klean Kanteen, mostly because it’s an eco-friendly product that’s from my college town of Chico! Glad you’re enjoying the blog :)

  • http://twitter.com/katydunnet Katy

    Great post. I’ve really struggled with this. Lost 18lbs on first month of my trip last year from trekking and food poisoning. Gained it all back over next 2.5 months from eating my way through Europe and Middle East. And I love walking about some less developed countries have poor sidewalks and roads.

    I think the best plan is to just limit calories and not drink. I no longer drink like I’m in vacation. It was just too easy to have beer and wine with lunch everyday.

  • http://marisawilliams.com risamay

    Walking everywhere is the way I stay active abroad, too. Plus …

    http://www.nytimes.com/2011/02/08/health/research/08fitness.html

    Seems that walking is one of the best forms of exercise for your brain, as well as your body! Nice perk à pied, eh? :)

  • Anonymous

    The drinking is a big thing! I try to keep it under control, especially when I’m traveling long-term. The tough part is that I often work in bars and restaurants to fund my travels, and there’s a big drinking culture with that! I’m going to try and drink plenty of water in Oz, even though it seems like a big beer culture!

  • Anonymous

    Tres bien! I like that!

  • Anonymous

    If you try to stay in shape all year round you can goof off while

  • JollyDog

    Great way to stay in shape while traveling is to start your morning of with some basic calisthenics and plyometrics. For example, push-ups, jumping jacks, crunches, bicycle crunches, leg raises, body-weight squats, body-weight lunges, back extensions, plank and side plank. No need for equipment to do these things, and doing these things will pretty much hit all the major muscle groups, and most importantly core stability muscles.

  • Anonymous

    That’s a great tip! I definitely need to get back into a morning routine of some basic exercises to keep me in Sydney-beach ready shape! Thanks for providing such a great list.

  • Anonymous

    That’s a great tip! I definitely need to get back into a morning routine of some basic exercises to keep me in Sydney-beach ready shape! Thanks for providing such a great list.

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