12 Ways to Stay Fit on the Road

If you’re a travel addict, you’ll know all about the post-vacation bulge. For me, the problem is undoubtedly too many tacos coupled with an aversion to exercise.

However, I was shocked to discover recently that you actually don’t have to overindulge. That it is possible to stay fit while traveling. All you need is a bit of organization and a sprinkling of willpower.

Obviously, traveling is also about having fun. So, yes, dance through the night. Eat that calorific dessert. Loosen those shackles. 

But also, use these 12 helpful tips to stay fit while traveling. You’ll return home healthier than ever.

1. Reset Your Thinking

For a long time, I saw traveling as an excuse to let myself go.

“It’s only once a year,” the devil on my shoulder would say.  “Go on. You deserve it. You’ve worked suuuppppeerrrr hard.”

But, to stay fit and healthy on the road, you need to shut that devil up and adjust your mindset. In reality, being on vacation is not a good reason to batter your liver through binge drinking. Nor is it an excuse to have the odd cigarette. Instead, think of a vacation as a mental, spiritual, and physical reboot. 

You should feel better after a break, not worse.

2. Book Accommodation with a Gym

Here’s something I’ve learned from bitter experience. Excuses come easy, motivation doesn’t. Especially when you’re traveling.

Make sure you’ve got no reason to skip a workout and book accommodation with a gym. Or, if you’re not much of a gym bunny, at least a pool in which you can do some lengths.

3. Join a Local Fitness Class

If you couldn’t book a hotel with a gym, there’s still no excuse to slack. Instead, sign-up to a local fitness class and do your work out there. Plus, you’ll be able to make friends with the locals. Win-win.

Also use the opportunity to have a cultural experience. Holidaying in Havana? Join a salsa class. Backpacking through India? Learn yoga from the masters. Enjoying a break in San Francisco? Give surfing a go.

4. Find a Free Gym

If your hotel hasn’t got a gym and you don’t want to splurge on a fitness class, it’s understandable that you might skip the exercise session. 

But, you don’t have to.

Instead, head to a public gym and pump iron there. Okay, they’re not super hi-tech. And some do have that prison-y vibe. But they’re free and you’ll have a decent session.

If you’ve got valuables on you and don’t feel comfortable taking them with you, store them in a secure, short-term storage facility like Bounce. Easy.

5. Make Your Runs Monumental!

It’s obvious but effective. If you want to stay fit while traveling, just go for a run. Or a jog. Or a brisk walk. Whatever gets your heart pumping.

To make your run more exciting, simply include the city’s major landmarks on your route. It’s the best way to explore a new city. For example, if you’re visiting Paris, a run from the Arc de Triomphe to the Eiffel Tower is a reasonable 2km. It’s a city tour and an aerobic hit rolled into one.

6. Create a Hotel Room Routine

Saving time is important when you’re on the road. So to have a quick workout, turn your hotel room into a gym. All you need is a bit of space and some ingenuity.

jump rope

Bodyweight exercises should be enough for a basic session. Think pushups, burpees, and jumping jacks. But, if you want to go harder, improvise. Squat masters can wear a loaded backpack for extra weight. Or a suitcase could work as a makeshift dumbbell.

7. Choose Healthy Trips and Tours

This one’s simple. Rather than booking that bar crawl, book an active tour instead. Yes, the all-night drink-a-thon sounds fun, but it will strike a major blow to your healthy intentions.

Walks, hikes, and bikes are great alternatives and a much more productive way to spend your hard-earned dollars.

8. Eat Smarter

Traveling and food are a match made in heaven. Which, unfortunately, makes a thrice-daily feast (almost) inevitable. I would never tell you to only eat leafy greens while you’re away. But I can suggest that you eat smarter.

In particular, avoid empty calories. On-the-go chips are quick and easy, but a killer on the waistline. Instead, pack protein bars or fruit. And when it’s time to indulge, go for it. Just make sure you don’t overeat at every meal.

9. Stick to a Schedule

If you’re like me, a typical vacation day looks like this: 

Wake up. Shake off hangover. Eat a big breakfast. Head into the city. Get lost. See a landmark. Get lost. Eat. Wander and get lost. Lunch. Wander a bit more. Dinner. Drinks. Uber. Bed.

Honestly, there’s not a lot of time for a work out. But you don’t have to make my mistakes. Instead, make a thorough plan and stick to it. Just remember to schedule in some exercise time.

10. Take Fitness Equipment with You

Find yourself with some down time? Any spare moment can be used to stay healthy if you pack some fitness equipment in your luggage. Long layovers and those interminable hours waiting for your flight are perfect.

Obviously, you should leave those dumbbells at home. And that exercise ball. Yes, and that smith machine too. A simple resistance band or a skipping rope will do.

11. Ditch Public Transport and Walk

It’s fun to take public transport in other cities. Sometimes. But it does nothing for your health and fitness. Instead, challenge yourself to walk everywhere. You’ll get a whole different (and arguably better) experience exploring a new city on foot rather than in a tour bus or vehicle. 

Many fitness experts will tell you to aim for around 10,000 to 12,000 steps per day. But that’s just a guide the more walking you’re doing, the better! Really, it’s about doing as much as you can and staying moving. If you need to go further, many cities have a reasonably priced bicycle hire scheme.

12. Sleep Well

Finally – and really, really importantly – get good sleep. Because you won’t exercise if you’re tired. Follow all the regular advice. Avoid caffeine in the evening. Don’t eat too late. And turn off that cell phone before bed.

But also remember that traveling throws up other impediments. Shared dorm rooms are difficult. As is sleeping on planes. Just do your best and aim for seven to nine hours of sleep a night.

And there it is. Follow these 12 smart tips and you’ll return home happier and healthier than ever. Remember, it’s all about balance. So, yes, indulge a bit. But combine it with some good ole fashioned exercise.


  • heather

    Great ideas and some I had not thought of before. I love the tip of creating a work out routine for inside the hotel room. I like to use the hotel gym as long as there are people around and I feel safe.

  • Tamra Phelps

    Walking is probably the most important tip here, I’d say. It’s something most people could do and it’ll work off those restaurant meals.

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