It always feels like when I go on vacation I come back ten pounds heavier. Let’s face it – it can be extremely tough to stay fit and active while traveling. It doesn’t matter what kind of fitness routine you have at home. When you’re on the road, your schedule gets completely disrupted. If left unchecked, bad habits that form during business travel or vacation can seriously impact your quality of life and productivity. Below I’d like to offer three easy strategies for staying fit and active while traveling.
In essence, the biggest challenge that traveling presents is lack of control over our environment. While I’m at home, I can easily avoid processed meals and typically stock up with foods specific to my goals. I also normally have access to a local gym and equipment that I’m used to using. However, when traveling, all my workouts and healthy eating goes out the window because: “Hey, why not?” I never wanted to miss that amazing meal or that big night out while vacationing. However, returning home from any trip was like taking five giant steps backward on my health goals.
I’ve written before about forming health habits, but to save you from unnecessary and potential derailment, I’ve collected a few great strategies to stay fit and active while traveling.
Strategy # 1 – Plan Ahead
Before your trip, map out where you will be and identify the best places to work out. Wherever you go in the world, the chances are high that there’ll be a local gym or a fun new exercise class that you can try out to stay active during your trip. Many gyms and studios offer discounted prices or even a free trial if it’s your first time.
When planning ahead, be sure to pack appropriate gym or running shoes with you along with light equipment. Resistance bands are a great choice. They’re light, compact, and easy to fit in handheld luggage. A jump rope is also one of the greatest workout tools you can take anywhere. You may not have enough room to jump rope in your hotel room, but luckily I’ve included a handy guide from the website Fittest Travel to help you get started. The link is here: https://fittesttravel.com/blog/2018/12/8/5-crossfit-jump-rope-travel-wods
Finally, I urge you to prioritize your workout routine in advance by tailoring it to your schedule. If you typically work out around the same time every morning, schedule it as a reminder on your phone. There are plenty of excellent apps that can help you keep your fitness routine on track. These range from simple pedometers to personalized daily routines and push reminders.
Strategy #2 – Start Right Away
Once you’ve settled in after a long flight or car ride, it can be difficult to find the motivation to do anything other than sit by the television. However, take this time to find your motivation and choose to be active instead. Remember that each workout you do, you’re becoming a healthier person.
Maybe start your vacation by taking a few laps around the hotel pool. Or explore your surroundings by taking a walk or hike. For example, if you’re on the beach, enjoy a long stroll or run by the shore. If you’re in the city, wander around the city sights.
Fitness consultant and sports psychologist Alex McBrairty suggests creating a MAP (Minimum Acceptable Plan). According to McBrairty, a MAP is simply the minimum exercise and nutrition goals you set for yourself during times of change in your routine schedule. Maybe it’s 20 minutes of high-impact activity and a certain caloric goal each day. It’s entirely up to you to decide what the minimums are in your life. By completing a personal MAP, you’ll still feel good about your performance without the unnecessary guilt.
Strategy #3 – Resist the Temptation
To make it easier on yourself, buy groceries when you can decrease the temptation to eat out for every meal. Go easy on the after-work drinks. If you simply can’t avoid going out or you just want to blow off some steam, order wisely. Avoid sugary drinks and splurging on dessert just because you’re away from home.
In addition, I also suggest packing healthy travel snacks. So often when we travel on the road or in the airport our only option is processed junk food. Plan ahead by packing healthy snacks to help you avoid making bad food decisions while you travel. Trail mix, dried fruit, and protein bars are all great choices.
Strategy #3.5 – Have Fun
Make the most out of every situation and do what you can to keep your body active. Although these strategies may seem like sacrifices at first, they’ll be worth it in the long run. Traveling for vacation or work (or because of a stressful life event) does not mean you have to regress because of bad nutrition or missed workouts.