From indulging and eating out more often to neglecting your usual workout routine, it’s notoriously hard to stay in shape while traveling.
However, you don’t need to give up on your goals just because you’re out and about!
In this article, you’ll learn how to maintain a healthy diet and exercise routine even when you’re visiting family and friends, vacationing, or living abroad for a short time.
How to Stay in Shape While on the Road
One of the greatest things about traveling is that you get to see a part of the world that you wouldn’t experience normally. So, one of the best ways to stay active while on the road is to go on adventures!
While you’re traveling, find ways to fit some energetic sight-seeing into your schedule to keep you moving while exploring this new area.
For example, hiking can help improve your body composition by burning calories and challenging your muscles.
Cycling also has health benefits, such as improving your heart health and cardiovascular fitness.
Other high-intensity options for increasing your movement during your travels include:
- Horseback riding
- Mountain climbing
Track your treks
If your options for adventuring and/or formal workouts are limited, you can focus instead on how much you’re walking, as a way to ensure that you’re getting enough exercise during your trip.
Use a smartwatch or pedometer to gauge how active you’re being and to recognize when to step it up.
While individual goals will vary based on your current fitness level, you can start by aiming for about 10,000 steps per day.
This will help you stay moderately active during your trip and, in some cases, may even help with weight loss if you’re also in a caloric deficit.
Take advantage of your hotel’s amenities
If your accommodations include an onsite workout room or other opportunities for fitness, take advantage of them!
Use your hotel’s gym to do a quick resistance training workout, hop on the treadmill for half an hour of cardio, or use the pool to swim a couple of laps.
This is especially useful if you’re traveling for business reasons and don’t have tons of free time to dedicate to adventuring (but still want to keep moving).
The best news: even short workouts are better for you than none at all. Working out for just 10-59 minutes a week can still benefit your health more than staying sedentary.
No hotel gym? Go virtual!
If you don’t have the option of a hotel gym, don’t discount the possibility of doing your workouts from the comfort of your hotel or guest room.
There are plenty of options for strength training exercises that require minimal equipment — or no equipment at all — which makes them ideal for quick workouts during hotel stays.
If you prefer a more structured workout, try following along with an exercise video, or look for an online fitness instructor who specializes in no-equipment workouts.
Get back in the swim of things
Why not see the sights by water on your trip? Swimming has many health benefits, including helping to improve your heart health and body composition.
If you happen to be vacationing near a body of water, such as a beach or a lake, consider going for a daily swim to add some refreshing cardio to your trip.
Take a walk on the wild side
“Active traveling” like walking and cycling may help with lowering your risks of high blood pressure, Type 2 diabetes, and even other risks of all-cause mortality.
So, rather than snagging a spot on a bus tour, consider seeing the sights in a way that encourages more movement. Join a walking tour or rent a bike to experience your new environment while keeping your heart rate up.
Similarly, look for opportunities to walk to your destination, rather than driving or using public transportation.
Walking presents a unique opportunity to see the place you’re visiting in a new light, which can help create more fun and exciting memories of your trip.
Stretch for success
If you’re actually on the road (for example, on a long road trip or plane ride) all of that sitting can do a number on your physical fitness and your joints.
To help alleviate some of the pressure that sedentary sitting can put on your body, make time for regular stretch breaks.
Stretching can do your body and mind a world of good if you’re otherwise inactive.
Case in point: studies have shown that, for office workers, who notoriously sit for long periods of time, a ten-minute stretching intervention over the course of several weeks led to improvements in pain, physical functioning, and mental health.
So, during your travels, make it a point to pull over the car or get up from your seat on the plane to get your stretch on. For best results, aim to stretch at regular intervals.
Get a sneak peek at the menu
Eating out and enjoying the local cuisine of your destination is one of the most enjoyable parts of traveling, but eating out every night of the week isn’t necessarily beneficial for your health.
If you want to stay on your nutrition plan but still would like to dine at restaurants during your vacation, looking at menus ahead of time can help you to prepare, which will minimize last-minute impulse choices.
Some general guidelines to keep in mind while you’re eating out include:
- Choosing plates that are dominated by vegetables and lean proteins
- Opting for nutrient-dense carbohydrates, such as brown rice or quinoa, over simple carbohydrates like bread and pasta
Prioritize portion control
Healthy eating is all about moderation, but restaurant portions are famously too large for most people’s meal plans.
As a result, frequently eating out during your vacation can inadvertently lead to overconsumption if you aren’t being mindful.
Instead of eating your entire entrée, find ways to stick to more reasonable portions while eating out during your travels.
For example, you could:
- Ask for a take-out box at the beginning of your meal, then split your entrée into several portions
- Order an appetizer or side dish as your main meal, instead of an entrée
- Split a main course with a colleague or family member.
All nutritional advice aside, vacations should be enjoyable, and that means there are some indulgences which you shouldn’t pass up.
You definitely don’t have to skip eating your favorites while traveling. Instead, just make sure to factor those delicious treats into your overall meal plan.
Choose what you want to indulge in and where you can cut back for balance.
For example, if you’re traveling for the holidays and look forward to your mom’s pumpkin pie every year, choose that as your big “splurge” and turn down other options on the dessert table that strike you as more “meh.”
This will ensure that you get to try all of the delectable treats you’ve been dreaming of without compromising your overall healthy eating pattern.
Meal plan if you can
Meal planning is one of the best strategies for healthy eating.
Cooking and portioning your meals out ahead of time allows you to stay ahead of your busy schedule and prevents unexpected splurges, which can be tremendously helpful if you’re looking to stay fit.
If possible during your travels (i.e., if you have a small kitchen at your accommodations, you’re traveling long-term for business, or you’re abroad for an extended period of time) try prepping large meals and dividing them into individual portions.
Not only are these pre-made meals convenient, they can also help you to stick to your nutrition goals during your trip.
Join a fitness group
Finally, joining a fitness group during your travels is a great way to learn more about your destination while still staying active.
Take advantage of any fitness classes that your hotel or resort offers to meet other vacationers and get your sweat on! Dances at local night clubs can work for this purpose as well.
Or, if you’re going to be in town for a while and need some structure, look for a local running, cycling, or walking club to join, so you can make friends and stay active during your stay.
Vacations and trips are meant to be fun, but you don’t need to put your health goals on the back burner to enjoy them.
With a little bit of planning, you can keep on track with your nutrition and exercise plans while enjoying all the opportunities your trip offers.