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Workout While Traveling: Practical Tips for Modern Travelers

Traveling and staying in shape contradict themselves.


Think about it.


A routine and consistency are how most people get in great shape and maintain their shape.


Traveling, on the other hand, is about living in the moment, doing whatever looks the most fun, and trying everything – all without a routine.


Oh and I almost forgot to introduce myself – Shaggy here, and for the past 1,364 consecutive days, I’ve been traveling. That's right, I've been on the road, in the air, and across the seas, traveling non-stop every damn day =D.


And while this nomadic lifestyle has its perks, it also comes with its fair share of challenges, especially when it comes to eating healthy and maintaining a consistent workout routine.


I don't know about you, but when I don’t have a routine, it takes A LOT of willpower to stay in shape.


Despite being on the move for so long, I would consider myself to be in great shape. I just ran a marathon the other day with 6.5k vert, I ski 100+ days a year and I frequently go ski touring with 5k+ of vert in a single day.


These accomplishments aren't just to pat myself on the back, but to show you that with determination and the right mindset, traveling can very much be in sync with your fitness goals.


The Importance of Staying Active


Staying active is THE BEST medicine we have access to. Better yet, it is free (or at least very affordable).


Working out helps combat the fatigue that comes from long flights or road trips. It's an instant energy booster.


And let's just be real with each other……………..


Who doesn't want to look good in their travel photos AND when they are naked?


Not only that, but the mental benefits of working out while traveling are extremely beneficial too. It's my secret weapon against stress and mental fatigue.


You will be more prepared to handle any problem that arises. Whether it's flight delays, spending a week in the hospital, car troubles in -30° temperature, or just the challenges that come with navigating a country that doesn’t speak English.

And when things feel super rough, a good workout helps clear the mind. This is because exercise is known to release endorphins - those feel-good hormones.


What it all comes down to: While traveling can pose some challenges to maintaining a fitness routine, the benefits of staying active are massive. With a bit of determination and flexibility, you can continue to meet your fitness goals and enjoy the experiences that travel offers.


Workouts for Travelers


Doesn’t matter if you are in downtown Bangkok, Minnesota or in the middle of Jasper BC, there is always a way to get a good workout in.


Some of my other favorite movements that require zero equipment are:

  • Running: This is the simplest workout that you have access to.

  • Air Squats: Stand with feet shoulder-width apart. Lower your body as if sitting in an invisible chair, ensuring your knees don't go past your toes. Rise back up. This works your thighs, glutes, and core.

  • Push-ups: Begin in a plank position, hands slightly wider than shoulder-width. Lower your body until your chest is close to the ground, then push back up. This targets the chest, shoulders, and triceps.

  • Lunges: Standing straight, step forward with one leg, lowering your hips until both knees are bent at a 90-degree angle. Push back up and switch legs. This tones the thighs and glutes.

  • Planks: Lie face down, prop yourself up on your elbows and toes, keeping your body in a straight line. Hold. This is excellent for core strength.

  • Sit-Ups: Lay on your back with knees bent and feet flat. Place hands behind your head and lift your upper body towards your knees using your core, then lower back down. This strengthens the abdominal muscles.

  • Hollow Rocks: Begin by lying flat on your back with arms extended overhead and legs straight out. Lift your arms, shoulders, and legs off the ground, arching your back slightly and create a "hollow" shape with your body. Rock forward and back using your core muscles to maintain the position. This exercise engages and strengthens the entire core.

  • Burpees: Start in a standing position. Drop into a squat, placing your hands on the ground. Kick your feet back, landing in a plank position. Lay down on the ground, then jump your feet back to the squat position. Explode up into a jump and return to standing. This full-body exercise works the legs, chest, core, and increases cardiovascular endurance.

  • Pistol Squats: Begin standing on one leg with the other leg extended straight in front of you. Slowly lower your body by bending the standing leg while keeping the other leg elevated. Push through the heel to return to the starting position. This advanced move challenges balance and targets the quads, glutes, and core.

  • Wall Sits: Stand with your back against a wall. Slide down, bending your knees until they're at a 90-degree angle as if you're sitting in an invisible chair. Keep your back flat against the wall and hold. This static exercise engages the quads, hamstrings, and glutes.

  • Side Planks: Start by lying on your side with your legs straight. Prop yourself up on your elbow, ensuring it's directly below your shoulder. Lift your hips off the ground, creating a straight line from head to feet. Hold the position. This move targets the obliques, shoulders, and hips. Switch sides to work both sides of the body.

  • Sprints: Start from a standing position with feet shoulder-width apart. Explosively accelerate forward, running as fast as you can for a short distance or time. Return to the starting position, recover, and repeat. This high-intensity exercise boosts cardiovascular fitness, strengthens the legs, and improves agility.


There are a ton more exercise movements that you can do, but I am going to end the list here because these are all the straightforward ones.


I personally like to plan my workout once I am looking at the space that I will be working out in. It might be a hotel gym, a trail, a grass field, my hostel room, or on the beach. Who knows!


And it really doesn’t matter where you work out, it just matters that you work out.


When I have no equipment and a very small space to work out in, these are some of the workouts that I enjoy.

30 feet raised push up's

30 hollow rocks

​90 second Plank

​30 sit-ups

30 pistols (5 ea. side)


50 push up’s

50 hollow rocks

50 pistols

2 min plank

2 min wall sit

Here is a more relaxed one


3 Rounds of

15 feet raised push up’s

15 hollow rocks

1 min plank

15 sit-ups

​1 min rest

Don’t feel like you need to copy these and do them exactly the same! These are just examples.


The amount of reps you do is far less important than how frequently you work out. This means that you should focus on doing 3-5 workouts a week, and however hard or easy your workouts are is completely fine!


A more specific workout program that is excellent is called Knees Over Toes. It focuses on the longevity and usability of knees, shoulders, hips, and other crucial body parts that frequently get injured.


I enjoy this program because you can get advice from coaches directly from your phone! All you do is upload a video of you doing the workout and they will respond to you with the action steps you need to get better.


To be honest with you, I think bodybuilding is silly. It doesn’t help you in real sports, and makes you less flexible. This program focuses on you being able to live a long and active lifestyle – the opposite of bodybuilding.


If you have had any knee or shoulder injuries, look no further than this workout program.


Equipment (You Need None)


Fitness equipment is great! Except that traveling with it would be seriously irritating – AND you don’t need any of it.


Listen, I'm all for the latest fitness equipment and tools. They're fantastic and can genuinely enhance a workout session. But when you're traveling, simplicity is key.


You can work out with zero equipment and get a very good workout, or you can get an affordable gym day pass and use all of their equipment.


The beauty of the workouts listed above? You need absolutely no equipment. Your body is the most versatile piece of fitness gear you'll ever own!


That said, if you're itching for some weight training or specialized machines, remember that gyms are everywhere. Whether you're in California or Lombok Indonesia, there's likely a gym nearby. Most places offer day passes, which can be an excellent opportunity to use equipment you don't usually have access to.


Innovate and get creative. Those water bottles in your hotel room? They can double as dumbbells. The sturdy coffee table? Perfect for elevated push-ups. The park bench you're sitting on? Ideal for tricep dips, or box jumps.


The world around you is filled with opportunities to exercise; you just need to see them.


Here’s the point: traveling doesn't mean giving up on fitness. With a sprinkle of creativity, a dash of determination, and the world as your gym, you can keep in shape wherever you are!


Embracing Local Activities


Traveling isn't just about sightseeing; it's about immersing yourself in the local culture. One of the best ways to do that? Dive into local activities that not only offer a taste of the culture but also keep you active.


Hiking: Many countries boast beautiful landscapes, and what better way to explore them than by foot? From this massive waterfalls in East Java Indonesia, to this vast mountain range in the Enchantments Washington, hiking is an excellent way to explore nature.



Surfing: If you're by the coast, why not learn to surf? Countries like Australia, Costa Rica, and Portugal have vibrant surfing cultures, and joining a beginner class can be a fun way to bond with locals and other travelers.


Skiing: Traveling to the mountains is among the best kinds of getaways! Since skiing is the best way to explore the mountains, I recommend you take the time to get out there. Plus it is a wonderful way to meet other active people in the wintertime.



Group Workout classes: Many cities offer outdoor fitness classes, from aerobics to Zumba. These are often attended by locals and can be a great way to break a sweat while making some new friends.


Backpacking: Venturing into the unknown with just a backpack is one of the purest forms of travel. From the bustling streets of Southeast Asia to the untouched wilderness of the Canadian Rockies, backpacking offers an unparalleled sense of freedom and adventure. It brings us back to one of the simplest and oldest forms of exercise. It also teaches you the art of minimalism, as you carry only essentials, and rely on your instincts and adaptability.



Local Dance and Yoga: Dance is a universal language. Whether it's Salsa dancing in Colombia, Flamenco in Spain, or traditional folk dances in India, joining a local dance class can be invigorating. Similarly, many places offer yoga classes – imagine doing yoga in a park in Tokyo or on a beach in Thailand.


Paddle Boarding: Gliding over water on a paddle board offers a unique perspective of any travel destination. Whether you're navigating the tranquil coves of Greece, discovering the mangroves of Florida, or exploring the rivers south of Bend Oregon (as I am in the pics below), you can enjoy the peace and quiet of the outdoors. Besides being a low-impact full-body workout, the calm rhythm of paddling combined with balancing on the board enhances your core strength, balance, and focus.



When you get to a new country, there is a good chance you won’t even know what some of their local activities are. Since the point of traveling is to experience new things, you should find an activity that is completely different than anything else you have ever done.


Why?


Because you will get out of your comfort zone and learn more about yourself.


Not only that but by indulging in these activities, you're not only keeping fit but also experiencing a place from a local's perspective.


Eating Healthily While Traveling


One of the joys of traveling is trying the local food. But like most great-tasting food, it can be unhealthy.


Which brings the question, how can you indulge and experience other cultures' food without compromising on health?


The first thing to consider is if the food is safe or not to eat.


Generally speaking, these are the best ways to avoid getting sick while eating foreign food:

  • Make sure all meat and fish are cooked

  • Avoid food that was been sitting out for a while

  • Go to where all the locals eat

  • Look for street food vendors or restaurants that are busy

  • Make sure the water you are drinking is clean

  • Clean your hands before eating


And that list is mostly to avoid foodborne illnesses like travelers diarrhea or food poisoning.


As for consuming healthy calories, here is my advice:

  • Eat real food – stay away from processed food

  • Limit your drinking (it is really common for travelers to drink a lot, so I honestly recommend only drinking a couple of times a month or less)

  • Drink plenty of water, all too frequently we forget to drink water because it is not as accessible as back home

  • Eat local, usually it is fresher and less processed than many Western dishes

  • Watch out for food with vegetable oil


If you are road-tripping (my favorite travel method!), I find it much easier to eat healthier by purchasing food at groceries and always having it in the car.


What it all comes down to: We are all human, so just eat healthy 80% of the time.


It's okay to indulge once in a while! The 80/20 rule is a popular approach: aim to eat healthily 80% of the time and allow yourself to indulge in local delicacies the other 20%.


Advice for trying local food without being unhealthy:

  • Instead of a large portion, try a smaller one to get a taste.

  • Before trying a local delicacy, do your research and find out its ingredients. You might find healthier versions of popular dishes.

  • Share dishes if dining with others. This way, you get to try multiple things without overeating.


Remember, traveling is about experiences, and food is a massive part of that. With a little mindfulness and moderation, you can enjoy local cuisines and still maintain a healthy lifestyle.


Conclusion


Traveling offers us a chance to explore new landscapes, understand different cultures, and of course, tantalize our taste buds with unique flavors. However, maintaining a fitness regimen and healthy eating habits while traveling ain’t easy.


Remember this so you will stay healthy and fit while traveling:


  • Stay active during travels to combat fatigue, boost energy, and enhance mood.

  • With a mix of simple exercises that require no equipment, you can keep fit anywhere, anytime.

  • Embracing local activities, from hiking to dancing, not only immerses you in the culture but also offers a fun workout.

  • Eating right doesn't mean skipping out on local delicacies. With moderation and smart choices, you can enjoy the local cuisine and stay healthy.


Remember, the journey is as much about self-discovery as it is about discovering new places. By prioritizing your health and fitness, you ensure that every adventure leaves you feeling good both inside and out.


Ready for your next adventure? I’d love to hear about where you plan to go! In the comment section below, tell me about your next adventure.


Don't let the road be an excuse; let it be your motivation. Safe travels and stay active!


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about

Sierra Lifestyle

Hi, I'm Connor - a big skier who's had his share of life-altering injuries. I've turned my passion for the mountains into a lifestyle blog where I talk about outdoor adventures, injury prevention and recovery, and life hacks. Let me inspire you with stories, photos, and advice. 

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