How to stay fit while traveling rarely scores high on our priority list. It’s usually somewhere between remembering to send a postcard to your grandmother telling her how you went to the top of the Eiffel Tower and waking up at dawn to listen to birds sing.

We’re just too overwhelmed or tired to do these things sometimes.

The worst part of it is not that we’re not motivated to stay fit or have no time. For burgers sake, we’re on holiday, right? We should have all the time in the world.

I believe the issue is that we are out of our regular “home routine”. People, language, food – everything is different. Our brain simply can’t link new environment to our usual habits and puts itself in “explorer’s” mode. New experiences, logistics, foreign language and even lunch decisions.

By the end of the day our willpower to do something extra is very low.

How to stay fit while traveling

For an athlete being away from home can easily throw the whole training process off track. Depending on the situation, skipping a session or taking a week off can be either a good or a bad thing.

To make it a good thing, don’t let yourself get obsessed and fall into the mentality of dreaming of traveling when back at home and then feeling bad about not staying fit and missing the training routine when traveling. Make it a game, instead. We travel to experience new things. Why should fitness be any different?

After all, there’s a high chance it’s not going to be the same as at home anyway. There may not be enough time to squeeze in a session like you used to. Or there won’t be a good gym with right equipment around. Or the area will not be suitable for running. There can be many ‘or’s.

It’s important to be ready for this, mentally accept it and remember that it’s a good thing. We need a break sometimes and it’s a chance for us to try something new and learn about our body.

We bring a lot of memories with us from trips we take. So, make them count.

#1 Have a strong vision

The best way to create motivation to stay fit is to have the right mindset. Something you can visualize.

What drives you to search for ways how to stay fit while traveling? Is it running the marathon in a couple of months? Or taking an entry examination to become a Baywatch lifeguard?

If you have the visual – good. Picture it, feel it and, most importantly, focus on it. If it helps, write it on a piece of paper (or find a picture that visualizes it) and put it in your wallet. This will serve as a vision for you.

When you’re traveling – don’t think of daunting exercises you have to do. Think of the vision you created.

Once you focus on the vision and consistently think about it, things get easier. All of a sudden that extra gelato is not so tempting anymore. And running in the morning suddenly becomes enjoyable.

#2 Prepare a ‘travel routine’ ahead of time

Consistency is the most important part of the training process. Yet, traveling tends to break our regular pattern and change our focus.

I found that having a ‘travel routine’ helps to signal the brain that from organizational perspective nothing has changed.

It doesn’t have to be very detailed and can be as simple as a set of principles, like exercising in the morning or not eating too much after 6:00PM. A plan is what helps to maintain focus. Personally, if I don’t have a plan I underestimate what needs to be done and overestimate what I did.

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#3 Walk and explore more

The easiest way how to stay fit while traveling is to move and make active lifestyle a habit.

Walk a couple of stops instead of taking the public transport. Use the stairs instead of an elevator. If there’s a nice viewpoint, look for a way how to hike to it not drive to it. Apart from good training, hiking always provides some great landscapes along the way.

The best part about it is that the more we move, the fitter we get. Sure, it will be tough at first, but our bodies are amazing at adapting to anything. Gradually, you’ll become stronger and start enjoying it.

#4 Plan an activity trip

If you have an option to choose what to do for your holiday – choose activity trip. It’s much more fun than going to explore a new city.

It can be anything – trekking in Himalayas, a surf camp in Sri Lanka or a skiing holiday high in the mountains. Whatever adventure you fancy.

Traveling for a specific activity not only allows you to mentally ‘re-charge’, but also keeps you very fit. On top of that, most of the time you’ll be surrounded by like-minded people and there’s a high chance you’ll make friends along the way.

Surf trip to stay fit while traveling
A surf camp is a great way how to stay fit while traveling, meet new people and explore a new place.

#5 Watch your diet

Besides moving, the next best thing one can do to stay fit is to eat well. When we’re traveling it’s very easy to over-eat or focus on the foods that drain energy (like sugary and carb-heavy).

Maintaining healthy food and eating habits while traveling is not easy. However, they provide lots of energy to explore, help to recover quicker and generally keep spirits high.

Staying hydrated, not over-eating in one sitting, focusing on vegetables instead of proteins, minimizing added sugar. All of the healthy lifestyle habits that work at home are twice as effective when traveling.

Related: 9 Tips For Eating Healthy While Traveling And Having More Energy

#6 Stretch and mobilize

For those who do a lot of exploring or walking, the most important thing to do in the evening is to stretch. The weight of the muscles and/or a backpack causes legs, shoulders and lower back to tighten and fatigue more than usual. If untreated, it can lead to all sorts of pains – lower back, shoulders, knees, neck or even cause a headache.

When we think of staying fit we mostly think about improving fitness. However, muscle tightness influences us much more than we might imagine. Often we think we lost fitness, when in fact the only thing we needed to do was to stretch out.

#7 Yoga

That being said, sometimes yoga can be the best exercise one can do for the day. It strengthens the core and stretches and mobilizes muscles and joints. Do it first thing in the morning – even before breakfast.

It’s amazing how peaceful and energetic you can feel after a yoga session at sunrise.

You don’t need a special 100$ dollar hotel-offered course. Just put a 30-minute sequence from any trainer on YouTube and you’re good to go.

#8 Go for a run

Running is, by far, the easiest way how to sustain and improve your fitness. One can do it almost anywhere in the world – there’s not much ‘equipment’ needed.

I love to run wherever I travel to explore new places. In the best case it would also be first thing in the morning, just before the sunrise. It’s great to explore the place while others are asleep. There are no tourists early in the morning and you can see only locals at that time.

Doing a fasted Zone 1 run in the morning is also a great way to force the body to learn to utilize fat better. And a great way to wake up as well.

#9 Pack some resistance bands

Traveling can be a great time to work on areas that are usually overlooked in the training process – core exercises, injury prevention and stabilization muscles.

Light exercises with resistance bands help to strengthen and mobilize smaller muscles and joints, like rotator cuff or hips. This helps to recover from injuries, prevent them and in many cases improve muscle economy.

I use door handles to fix the bands and do sets of 30-second-repetitions at slow speed.

#10 Search for local experiences

Before traveling it’s a good idea to research if there’s something active or adventurous to do.

Like that sunrise yoga session the hotel offers, a Tai Chi session in the park or even a surf session. I remember wandering around Kuta in Bali not really knowing what to do. Then I spotted the ad for a surf session and decided to try it out. Who knew it would spark a passion and years later I would be traveling around the world for surf camps.

If you’re around something that is remotely active – spend the time and money to do it. These might end up being all those amazing things we imagine doing when we think of traveling. So we might as well do them.

Related: Trekking Mount Rinjani – On Top Of Indonesia’s Second Highest Volcano

#11 Measure your success

One easy way to staying focused is to think of a way how to measure if you succeeded. Be it a daily step total, a weekly running total or just completing an activity.

They say only what gets measured gets done and it’s more than relevant during traveling when there’s so much happening around. Agree with yourself beforehand how you plan to exercise and make an effort to stick to it.

#12 Make the world your playground – mix it up

If you know you’re going to be away from home for a while, start preparing early. Think of alternatives you can have for your existing workouts and start including those in your routine at home.

If the vision you’ve created is strong enough, it’ll help you think of ways to stay active. And you can have a lot of fun doing it, just by letting your imagination flow.

Apart from running, I often do short explosive movements when I travel. These help to build and maintain mitochondria that are critical for endurance.

I use stairs to do jumps, poles to climb & pull or just do a plyometric session. If there are playgrounds with pull-up sets installed – I’ll happily spend 10 minutes there.

How to stay fit while traveling
Be flexible with the choice of location for your exercise. Mix it up and make it part of travel experience