This article was updated for accuracy and relevance on December 24th, 2021.
Is there anything better than an adventure to someplace new? The people, the architecture, the culture—travel is pure bliss.
While life is often on pause during a vacation, the same can’t be said about fitness goals. Those never take a break. Thankfully, we know all about how to stay fit while traveling. And we’re here to share it with you.
Ready to go from jet-lag to gym duffle bag? Keep reading for more on staying fit while traveling.
How Do I Not Gain Weight While Traveling?
It’s a question that many of us can relate to. With so much new food to try and so little time, gaining weight while traveling seems inevitable. That can feel doubly true if you don’t plan on straying far from the beach lounger. Coming back from a two-week trip with a few extra pounds isn’t unheard of—and we’re not talking about those souvenirs in your suitcase.
But there are many ways to maintain a healthy lifestyle while traveling, and watching your weight doesn’t have to mean missing any of the fun activities.
We’ve put together a list full of tips and tricks for all the health-conscious travelers out there.
Fitness Tips: Travel Edition
The grind doesn’t have to stop just because you’re on vacation. Whether you’re a fitness fanatic back home or you’re simply looking to counteract all those yummy carbs, here are our recommendations to help you workout while traveling.
This is rule number one for staying fit on a trip. Have a reservation in another neighborhood? Walk there. Headed to a top tourist attraction? Again, walk there. Each mile you walk burns anywhere between 50 and 150 calories.1
Obviously, there are times when walking doesn’t make sense. Some sites are simply too far away, and the lack of sidewalks and road rules in some destinations can make walking dangerous. But if you come prepared with a sturdy pair of shoes, a water bottle, and a chic bag for all the essentials, you’re set to stroll.
Plus, walking is the best way to explore everyday life in a new city.
Always Take the Stairs
You thought walking ended at flat surfaces? Think again. Stairs are a fitness blessing.
Skip the elevator in your hotel to really feel the burn. And instead of taking the cable car up to that lovely scenic vista, consider trekking up. You’ll save yourself some cash for an ice-cold drink at the top, and your legs will be a whole new level of toned. Besides, the view is always ten times better when you work for it.
Seek Adventurous Activities
For those that don’t love the idea of working out but still want to stay fit, we have the solution for you: adventure sports. Nothing beats an activity that’s fun and burns calories.
The stunning landscapes of a new destination can suddenly become your playground. Whenever you visit somewhere new, research opportunities to try some of these exhilarating activities:
- Rock climbing
- Downhill biking
- White water rafting
- Skiing or snowboarding
Even in major metropolitan areas, you’d be surprised how often you can find options like these nearby. Ask around at your hotel or homestay—they’ll gladly set you up with a day of adventure.
Exercise Like the Locals Do
Sure, you can always hit your hotel gym or fitness room if you need a quick workout. But where’s the adventure in that? To embrace a new culture fully, you should try everything the locals do. That includes exercise.
When in Vietnam, stop by an open-air gym by the waterfront. Grab your lederhosen and go hiking in the Alps. Visit the local gym in Peru to see everyday life.
Sometimes the simple, humbling experiences like these are the highlight of a trip.
Rent a Bike
As cities around the world become more and more eco-friendly, bike lanes are springing up everywhere. In locations like Amsterdam or Copenhagen, biking is more than just exercise—it’s a way of life. Hiring a two-wheeler to cruise around town for a day is an exciting way to see the sights and work that cardio.
Work Out in Your Room
Maybe it’s far too hot and humid outside. Maybe you’re on a business trip and don’t have much time to wander around.
Whatever your reason for staying in your room, there’s still plenty of opportunity for fitness. Clear a bit of space and put on a quick yoga video on YouTube. If you plan ahead, you can pack a jump rope or a resistance band in your gym workout bag. They hardly take up any space and can elevate a hotel room workout.
No workout gear? No problem. Calisthenics (also called bodyweight exercise) allow you to stay fit using nothing but your body. Here are some exercise ideas to create a fitness routine in a pinch:
- Jumping jacks
- Tricep dips
- Wall sits
Get Up Out of Your Seat
Picture this: you show up at the airport two hours before your flight (because you’re a savvy, responsible traveler). When you arrive, you see your takeoff has been delayed another two hours. Sounds like a lot of sitting and waiting at the gate, right?
Wrong. Let’s get that heart rate pumping.
Any kind of trip—whether a quick stopover or long-term travel—inevitably involves waiting for some form of transportation. Use your time at the train or bus station to stand up and walk around—especially since you’ll be sitting down on the bus for hours.
You don’t have to perform a complete workout routine in the airport security line. Some light stretching and a little stroll around is much better than sitting on a bench for hours before your flight.
We know how hard it can be to crawl into bed when there’s so much of the world left to see. But staying fit on vacation is impossible without a good night’s sleep. Poor sleep is associated with higher body weight and a higher calorie intake.2
So make sure you get an adequate amount of sleep every night. Being well-rested at the start of each day will help you enjoy every moment. Plus, you’ll have enough energy left over after your walking tour for a quick stair climb or yoga class. If you’re looking for a new mat and you’re on the go, learn how to choose a yoga mat. If you want to bring it with you, a travel yoga mat is perfect for this situation because you can easily throw it over your shoulder.
Eating and Drinking On a Trip
Food is one of life’s great pleasures, and eating your way through a new country is—to put it plainly—heavenly. But it can be easy to overindulge on vacation and throw any health goals to the wind.
Food and drink consumption is as important to fitness as exercise. With that in mind, here’s how to be mindful of your eating habits while away.
Try Nutritious Alternatives
When you look at a country’s famous dishes, a lot of the time they can seem… well, unhealthy. Swiss cheese fondue, delicious (but greasy) Mexican street tacos, Canada’s gravy-smothered poutine—the list goes on. But look a little further, and you can find traditional meals that are authentic and good for you.
Italy means bottomless pizza and pasta, but don’t forego a Caprese salad or a tomato-laden bruschetta, either. A trip to Greece is all about gyros and moussaka, yet nothing beats a garden-fresh Greek salad.
All this is to say that eating healthy food while traveling doesn’t mean avoiding traditional cuisine altogether. Do a little research on wholesome local foods before you leave, and you can dine out like a health-conscious queen.
Opt for Healthy Snacks
Outside of your daily meals, there are snacks. Every seasoned traveler knows that a well-packed backpack full of snacks is the key to a pleasant train or ferry ride. But pre-packaged junk food tends to take over in this realm.
So when you go to pack your day bag full of treats to nibble on, ditch the chips and chocolate bars. Instead, do your shopping at local markets when you can. Sample fresh fruit galore! Stock up on nuts and veggies! Make sure that you have the gym bag essentials for women so you’ll never be hungry on a day trip again.
Watch the Alcohol
What’s a gorgeous sunset in an exotic destination without the icy cocktail to go with it? Let’s face it: drinking and vacationing tend to go hand in hand.
While it’s fun to imbibe on holiday, keep in mind that alcohol is not the most health-friendly. Alcohol temporarily stops your body from burning fat and beer and wine are full of empty calories.3
Enjoy your rooftop margarita, but try to keep it to one or two, and don’t give in to those late-night cravings for greasy, cheesy foods.
When in Rome...
You know what they say. Sometimes you just have to do as the Romans do (which means eating a whole pizza to yourself). After all, part of the reason to travel is to experience new cultures. What better way to immerse yourself in a foreign country than by eating and drinking your way through it?
Everything in moderation… including moderation! You’re somewhere new and exciting. Kick back and indulge a little every once in a while. The stairmaster will always be waiting for you tomorrow.
Staying Fit on the Fly
Whether you travel for business or pleasure, for one week or three months, you can maintain an active lifestyle and stay fit with these tips.
Leave a little extra room in your luggage for some comfy sneakers and your workout clothes, and you’ll be ready for a fun, fitness-filled trip. As they say in Paris, bon voyage!
- Verywell Fit. How Many Calories Do You Burn Walking Per Mile? https://www.verywellfit.com/walking-calories-burned-by-miles-3887154
- Healthline. 10 Reasons Why Good Sleep is Important. https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/10-reasons-why-good-sleep-is-important
- CNN. Wine or your waistline? Rules to follow. https://www.cnn.com/2013/04/03/health/wine-waistline/index.html