How to Stay Fit on your Travels

08 Feb 2019

Whether you’re travelling for work or play, keeping up with your usual fitness routine is tricky when you’re away from home. But fitting in a workout between meetings, art galleries or pina coladas is totally achievable with a bit of planning and creativity.

And hey, go easy on yourself. You’re on holiday! No one expects you to stick to your routine exactly, but keeping up some level of fitness while you’re on the road will help you to avoid returning home feeling bloated and groggy.

Have a look at your itinerary before you leave and schedule in some workout time. It can be hard to squeeze it in once you’ve reached your destination and there are plenty of other things there to distract you. But if you schedule it in, it’ll be easier to stick to some regular exercise while you’re away.

There is no point committing yourself to doing an exercise you know you don’t like, so don’t plan on doing weights workouts every day if you know back home you prefer to go to spin classes. Similarly, this is not the time to introduce your fitness-related ‘new year, new me’ resolutions.

Sightseeing x fitness = the best way to start the day

Why spend time in a gym when you can incorporate your day’s exercise with a bit of sightseeing? One of the best ways to do this is to go for a run first thing in the morning. If you’re in a city, the streets are empty and you’ll be able to scope out the best spots in the neighbourhood for breakfast. If you’re by the ocean, try running in the ankle-deep shallows, where the sand and water will create more resistance. Starting the day with a run will give you a much-needed boost of energy for the long day ahead.

Every step counts

I tend to walk as much as I can in my everyday life but when I travel, particularly when I’m visiting a city, I get a bit obsessed with the inbuilt pedometer on my phone. My step count often reaches 30,000 for the day - three times as much as I usually do back home. See how much you can increase your own averages by. I would much rather walk between the cute shop and the history museum than navigate the public transport system when I only need to go two stops. Avoiding public transport as much as possible also saves a bit of cash and allows you to see parts of the city you might not get the chance to otherwise.

If you’re staying in a spot near hills or mountains, take the opportunity to see some amazing views and get some fresh air by taking a hike up to a tall vantage point. The views at the top will be worth the shortness of breath.

Portability is key

Just like you don’t want to spend your limited time in a new place stuck inside a gym, you don’t want to use up too much of your precious holiday time with lengthy workouts. A quick, high intensity circuit in your hotel room is a great way to incorporate some exercise when you don’t have access to gym equipment. There are plenty of guides to these kinds of fast, intense workouts online, but they often involve burpees, push-ups, sit-ups, tricep dips and squat jumps. You don’t usually need gear for these kinds of workouts, but a jump rope and resistance band are useful and take up very little space in your luggage.

Yoga is another great one for portability. Once, when I was killing time at Kuala Lumpur airport in between long haul flights, I noticed a woman unfurling her yoga mat in a quiet corner. She positioned herself so she was next to the airport’s wide windows, and faced the sun. Having come off a 10-hour flight with the prospect of another 8-hour one ahead of me, I was drained, exhausted, and just a tad grumpy. Watching her, I knew a quick 10 minute practice was all I needed to stretch and refresh. Without my yoga mat, I found a patch of carpet and tried to quieten my feelings of self-consciousness as I went through my routine. I needn’t have worried; few people turned their heads, seemingly too caught up in their own feelings of exhaustion and a desire to get to their next destination. Instead I was able to step onto my next flight feeling so much more relaxed and calm. It helped me to fall asleep easier too, which is something I usually struggle with on flights. These days when I travel I take a compact yoga mat with me, which I have used in airports, hotel rooms and public parks.

Try something new

Take advantage of your accommodation’s amenities and hire out a bike or kayak if they have that on offer, or ask about what discounts they might have for nearby leisure sport rentals. Travelling is a great time to try something new, so if you’re on Australia’s Gold Coast, why not try some surf lessons? Or go snorkelling on the Great Barrier Reef? Adventure sports are a must-do when you’re in New Zealand, so make time to go skiing, rock climbing, hiking, rafting or canyoning – all of which will make you sweat and get your heart rate up.


Looking for an active holiday? Speak to one of our Travel Experts about booking a holiday to suit you today.


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Ellen Falconer

Ellen Falconer is a New Zealand writer and journalist who recently made the move to London. She plans to explore this corner of the world as much as possible before her visa runs out. She is always on the hunt for the best local noodle dish, so if you have any suggestions for her, tweet her @ellen_f.