Easy tips for staying fit and healthy while you travel
If your Instagram feed is anything like ours, then it only takes about thirty seconds of scrolling to find (yet another!) travel quote worth saving — but we still believe the late, great travel legend Anthony Bourdain said it best because the best thing about travelling really is that “gorgeous feeling of teetering in the unknown.” It’s about planning your dream trip, escaping reality, that nervous excitement of leaving your comfort zones, opening your senses to somewhere different and new, taking a break from your inbox, relaxing when you can and living a life of adventure at every chance you get. That’s the mark of a good trip — well, that and a few cool, no-filter-needed stories. But what about staying fit. There is one part of travelling that we don’t particularly enjoy: falling out of shape.
And we’re not alone.
Whenever people make a pledge to work hard so they can travel harder, they unconsciously abandon their healthy lifestyles and staying fit. Workouts, training routines, healthy eating, sleeping patterns – they all get left at Terminal 2 as you celebrate your new mantra of “sod it, I’m travelling!”
And we get it. Of course we do. Travelling is an assault on the senses, full of new and exciting experiences that you can’t get enough of. The problem is, when you get home after a long stint of travelling, you will have taken so many steps backwards you’ll feel like you’re having to start from scratch on your health and fitness – and no one wants that.
Thankfully, it doesn’t have to be an either-or situation. You can see the world whilst also staying fit and super-healthy, but it takes a conscious effort. That means less convincing yourself that it’s cool to “let yourself go” and more reminding yourself that it’s really easy to eat healthily and stay fit no matter which paradise you’re heading to.
Don’t worry, we’re not about to tell you to become a health-food fanatic or a fitness addict because travelling is as much about pizza and wine as it is seeing the sights. Instead, we’ve pulled together a list of simple and effective tips to hep with staying fit n’ healthy no matter how long your next adventure might last. Enjoy.
- The Beach Is All You Need
When you think of pristine white beaches lined with tall palm trees and hammock beds, you probably think about the high tides and good vibes, dragging your feet through the warm sand in the search of some pretty sea glass as you slurp on another beach club Mai Tai. But the beach is also the best piece of strength and conditioning equipment you could ever hope for. No dumbbells, kettlebells, resistance bands, rowing machines, pull up bars or even a gym membership. Instead all you need is your favourite beach and some creativity and, voila, you can give every muscle in your body a darn good workout. Beach burpees, sandy sprints, planking, bear crawls and box jumps while waist-deep in the sea – there’s so many ways you can use the beach to your advantage, so why not try it.
- Run The Best Local Routes
There’s only one thing better than pulling on your running shoes after a few days of rest, and that’s pulling on your running shoes in a foreign country. Somewhere new. Somewhere you’ve not been before or explored on foot. It doesn’t matter where you are, running every time you travel is a must-have experience. The simplicity. The intimacy. The views. The little moments most tourists never get to see. It’s as much a travel hack as it is a way of staying fit. The only problem is, when you’re faced with such a wide choice of stunning running routes, you can suffer from choice-overload. Thankfully, we live in the digital age where a quick Google search will help you out no end (unless you’re in Thailand, in which case skip Google and go straight to these 12 amazing running routes in Phuket).
- Yoga’s In For The Win
There’s a lot of sitting involved in travelling. A lot. And it usually involves being super-cramped and uncomfortable as you sit sandwiched between two strangers (who either have the world record for snoring or a hacking cough). From long-haul flights to chugging your way cross-country on a rickety train or to maximising your budget with a bouncy bus ride, there’s a lot of sitting — and the best way to relieve the aches and pains that come with so much travelling is yoga.
It’s the mini-workout that will help your achy back, open up your hip flexors and bring the blood flow back to your arms, head and legs. And the best part: you can do yoga anywhere – the floor in your hostel room, the airport terminal, the bus stop, the beach, anywhere. Of course, time could be off the essence, so instead of pulling every yoga pose possible, our yoga instructors recommend you focus on the:
- Half dog
- Chair pose
- Standard hip opener
- Tree pose
- Standing big toe pose
- Forward bend
- Half-moon pose
- Warrior II
- Feel As Great As You Eat
We know you probably don’t want to hear this as you’re about to board an overnight bus with just a bag of cheesy Cheetos for dinner, but what you eat will account for 80–90 percent of how you look and feel. That doesn’t mean you have to treat your body like a temple because no one can resist the temptation of cheesy Cheetos all the time. If, however, you can try to limit your delicious-but-not-nutritious snacking to just 10% of your diet (okay, maybe 20% given you’re travelling) that would be amazing for your health and fitness.
The reason is simple: you can’t outrun bad eating habits, and you can’t out-train them either. Luckily, it’s really easy to enjoy a healthy eating plan. Eat whole foods, don’t always choose the burger when you’re eating out, love your veggies, snack on nuts, pick up fruit from the local markets, enjoy the local way of cooking rice, keep your metabolism pumping by having a granola bar in between meals and, above all, don’t freak out if you opt for dessert — you only live once. And if you want a little food-based travel hack, enjoy at least one yoghurt a day. It will help keep your tummy happy by regulating your digestive system, which can be so helpful when you’re introducing new foods from new places.
Of course, if you really want to keep your diet as healthy as possible, then there are certain things you can do, like buy your own groceries, cook when you can, know exactly what you are eating, treat yourself to some delicious superfoods and, yes, think before you drink a non-alcoholic beverage as they’re usually not as healthy as they make out to be.
- Drink Plenty Of Water
Everyone knows how healthy it is to drink lots of water, but it becomes even more important when you are travelling. All that moving about, hopping from one place to another, flitting between beach bars and exploring tourist hotspots will dehydrate you more than you realise, so it’s important to stay fully hydrated as much as possible. But that’s not the only plus point of H20. Drinking loads of water will help you stay cool in the heat, help you replenish your electrolytes after a long night drinking tequila shots and help you keep from drinking nasty tipples like fizzy sodas. So, before you head off, invest in a top-rated self-filtering water bottle (or some Boxed Water) and enjoy that healthy living feeling as you trot about the globe.
- Always Choose The Active Option
In the words of Teddy Roosevelt, “Do what you can, with what you have, where you are,” which you can totally do by embracing the little things that make travelling the thrill-ride it is. Give your glutes a workout by taking the stairs, get your blood pumping on a cycle ride through your local city, get lost on purpose, hike that trail you overheard those people talking about in the cafe you love and keep choosing the hard way because it’s the best way.
You can also mix it up with activities that feel as far from exercise as possible but are incredibly awesome workouts: take up tango lessons while you’re in Argentina, try your hand at Capoeira in Brazil, get your heart racing at a Muay Thai camp in Phuket, surf the waves in Bali, do stand up paddleboarding in New Zealand and meet people at every chance you get. In other words, close that Uber app, walk, burn some calories, smell the roses and stay fit while having a blast.
- Flex While Your Walk
One of our favourite little fitness tricks to help you maximise your workouts is to flex, and you can do it while you’re walking through town or enjoying your morning run along the beach. All you have to do is flex your muscles and, voila, you’ve learned the easiest way to turn every step you take into a workout. And the more you practise this, the more you’ll learn the way your muscles move when you walk, which will allow you to tighten them accordingly. For example, if you’re walking through the midday markets wondering which fruit to snack on, do it with your abs flexed and your glutes tightened, and after just a few minutes you’ll feel them starting to burn from this secret workout.
- Love Yourself, Love Your Sleep
You might think sleeping-in sounds lazy, but it’s not. Sleep is amazing, especially when you’re caught up in the furore of travelling, desperate not to miss out on all the amazing experiences, from the stunning ocean sunrises to the late-night beach parties. But that’s exactly why you should consciously try to make time for quality sleep. It will help your body recover from all the adventures and help you with staying fit while travelling. How? That’s simple: not only will you have more energy to do all those physical activities you’ve made a list of, but the better the quality of your sleep the better your metabolism will be able to work.
- Get A Water Sport Workout
We’ve all woken up on vacay and gone, “yup, today is a lounging on the beach kinda day.” And quite right. You’re travelling. You deserve to stop and relax and stare up at the palm trees above you and the limestone rocks in the sea around you. But as idyllic as this sounds, life is for living, which is why you should promise to try at least one physical water sport every time you travel past a shimmering body of water. Get your muscles pumping, your blood flowing, those endorphins exploding and your metabolism firing, and do it by snorkelling around those gorgeous coral reefs, signing-up for a standup paddle boarding tour of the caves, hiring a kayak and heading upstream – anything that will give your muscles a workout in a fun and entertaining way.
- Enjoy A Fitness Vacay
Believe it or not, lounging around on a white Cabana bed as Phuket’s tropical sun rays dance along your horizontal body – a sugary cocktail in one hand and that amazing novel you almost started reading last summer in the other – isn’t everyone’s idea of an amazing vacation. Some people are looking for a fitness holiday knowing that the best way to recharge their batteries is to jump up and get a move on. And the logic is simple: all fun and no fitness makes Jack feel less than refreshed when he finally returns home. That’s why the fitness holiday trend is becoming more popular than the Glastonbury Playlist on Spotify. And the best part: you can add this sort of adventure to your bigger trip as and how you please.
All you need to do is a) know what sort of fitness vacation is best suited to you, b) know how to best prepare for a fitness holiday and c) choose a far-flung fitness holiday you’ll actually love. You might want to spend a week at a Yoga Retreat, take your Muay Thai to the next level, do a midnight sun-run or try your body at a Thaiathlon (yeah, you read that right – a Thaiathlon). You’ll be amazed at how incredible they make you feel.
Sure, up until now your favourite hybrid has always been the Cronut, and the thought of going on holiday and working out weren’t two things you’d stereotypically lasso together but, trust us, fitness holidays are so on point right now. It’s wanderlust meets wellness, and what could be better than that?
Remember you’re travelling. You’re out there. You’re out of your comfort zone, seeing the world and enjoying new experiences, which is why you don’t need to be “all or nothing” with your fitness — you just need to be good enough. And to be good enough, you just need balance, and that means making exercise a part of who you are. Walk more, say yes to hikes and swim in the sea. Use the beach for strength and conditioning training at least once a week and make each adventure a fun workout. Eat whole foods, avoid cheap calories as much as possible and make a pact never to eat two bad meals in a row. Drink lots of water and, well, do the best you can because every effort counts. That’s all.
Thanks for reading!
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