5 Ways Stay in Shape While Traveling

This is a question we get asked very frequently–how do we stay in shape while traveling?  

Hiking in Gridwood, Alaska

Simply put, we stay in shape by remaining committed to staying active every day while traveling.  We make sure we get in some sort of activity every day, whether that be a dedicated workout or active travel through hiking, biking, running, walking, kayaking, etc. You may not feel like working out or doing something active every day while traveling but you will feel much better if you do.   Movement is not only important for your physical health but also your mental clarity.

Here are 5 ways to stay in shape while traveling:

1. Morning HITT or bodyweight workout

Hiking in Arches National Park

If we have a long day of driving or flying, we make sure we get in at least a brief workout, even just 20 minutes, in the morning before leaving.  Many of the places we stay at do not have gyms so we typically do bodyweight or high-intensity interval training (HITT) workouts in our room or outside. 

  • Example workout: approximately 30 minute full body workout, using only body weight, that can be done in a small space, 10 second break in between each exercise:
    • 50 Jumping Jacks
    • 20 Squats
    • 30 Russian Twists (left one, right two, etc) 
    • 50 Mountain Climbers (left one, right two, etc) 
    • 15 Push Ups  
    • 50 Flutter Kicks (left one, right two, etc) 
    • 30 Skaters (left one, right two, etc) 
    • 10 Burpees
    • 50 Bicycle Crunches 
    • 20 Lunges (left one, right two, etc)
    • 30 High Knees (left one, right two, etc) 
    • 30 Second Plank 
    • Repeat 5x 
      • If you have less time, repeat as many times as able.  Even if you can only go through one round of this workout, do it. Some activity is better than no activity!
  • Example workout: approximately 20 minute HITT workout that can be done in a small space, 10 second break in between each exercise:
    • 20 Tuck Jumps 
    • 10 Burpees
    • 50 Jumping Jacks
    • 15 Push Ups
    • 50 Mountain Climbers 
    • 30 Speed Skaters
    • 30 High Knees  
    • 50 Flutter Kicks 
    • 20 Frog Jumps
    • Repeat 3x
      • Or as many times as time allows. Once is better than none!

On our last trip, we literally pulled up this article to do these workouts.

2. Wake-Up 30 Minutes Early to Workout

Morning running views in Essaouira, Morocco

If we are on a group tour or on a tight morning schedule, we will wake up 30 minutes earlier than we would normally need to so that we can complete a brief workout.  Even though you may feel tired getting up a little earlier, you will feel much more awake and ready to seize the day after the workout.  Regardless of what you decide to do, stay committed to always doing at least some sort of physical activity every day. Even if you can only fit in a very brief amount of exercise into your day, some is better than none.  

3. Go for a Morning Run or Walk

One of our favorite ways to see the sites of a city is going for an early morning run through the city.  These sites are usually without the crowds in the early morning, making a morning run not only a great way to get a workout completed but also to see some of the sites.  For example, in Venice, we went for a run around the island in the morning. It was a completely different vibe than the night prior as the main square and waterfront were nearly empty in the morning (see Venice, Italy Quick Guide).  Furthermore, in Barcelona on a morning run, we were able to see Park Guell without all the tourists and get some of the most amazing pictures as the sun was rising (see Barcelona, Spain Quick Guide).  

4. Walk Everywhere

If we plan to walk to different sites throughout the day, we may not do a dedicated workout. Walking to/from places is our activity for that day.  In general, we try to walk as much as we can while traveling, you see so much more of an area this way and it is a great way to stay active! While in NYC, we took the opportunity to walk across the Brooklyn Bridge to see Manhattan from the other side of the East River (above) and were afforded some of the best city views. See Why You Should Walk Everywhere While Traveling and New York City Quick Guide for more information on both.  

5. Plan a Hiking, Kayaking or Biking Adventure 

Hiking is one of our favorite ways to stay active while traveling–not only does it give us a great workout but it also affords us some of the best views and time in nature. (See The Perfect One Week Itinerary for Hiking in Rocky Mountain National Park and Alaska Road Trip: The Perfect Guide for active vacation itineraries). We have also done some amazing kayaking in Alaska and Hawaii (see Whittier, Alaska Quick Guide and Kauai, Hawaii Quick Guide).  Many cities offer biking tours as well and are another fun way to actively a new city (see Amsterdam, Netherlands Guide). 

Bonus of staying active: Try all the new foods you want! 

One of our favorite parts of traveling is trying new foods. Staying active allows us to add some extra calories and try all these new foods without guilt.  We often hear people talk about how they gain weight while traveling.  Fortunately, we have not had this problem despite always trying all the new foods and never restricting ourselves.  If we want to eat something, we eat it! When we were in Italy, we ate gelato twice a day and no, we did not gain any weight. We actually both lost weight on that trip, likely because we walked so much. When you are consistently dedicated to remaining physically active and living a balanced lifestyle, you can indulge while traveling. 

Note-Parents, we see you. We know things don’t always go as planned, especially when traveling with kids. If you had a rough night or need that extra 30 minutes, allow yourself some grace. You don’t need to stress yourself out more because you did not get your morning movement in. Remember, some movement is better than none so just try to incorporate it throughout your day.

We hope this post inspires you to join us and to commit to staying active while traveling.  Any other tips you have?  We would love to hear your feedback.  Please send leave us a comment.

And remember, Always Have A Trip Planned!

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