Travelling and staying in shape don’t normally go hand in hand. We all know a vacation is the time for over-indulging, treating yourself, and then coming home feeling about 15lbs heavier! However, I personally think time out of your routine is a great opportunity to prioritise your health. With fewer pressures and commitments, why not take full advantage and get fit so you go home feeling refreshed and revitalised? Or, at the very least, don’t view travelling as a fitness regime ruiner, and learn how to keep your health in check while on the go. I’m going to share some of my easy top tips on how to look after yourself and your health while you’re travelling.
Working out while travelling
It’s pretty obvious that no one really wants to spend hours on end exercising while they’re travelling the world, so my approach has always been about maximising output while minimising input. Full body resistant workouts focussing on major multi-joint weighted exercises (think squats, deadlifts, lunges, bench press) are my travel go-to because they do exactly this. Working multiple muscle groups in one go means you can burn more calories in a shorter amount of time and get more bang for your buck so to speak. Easy like a Sunday morning! This approach also means you can get away with training less often than if you choose to train specific muscle groups individually (I aim for 2-3 times a week while travelling as opposed to 5-6), therefore creating more time for enjoying yourself – which is for sure the main reason you are travelling in the first place! This type of workout tends to require access to a gym/equipment, but the good news is that most gyms offer day or week passes, which is perfect for us travellers who only tend to be in a place for a short amount of time. An added bonus for those on a tight budget is that they are often free of charge if you ask nicely! Even better? Some hostels such as Vintage Gare du Nord in Paris or Freehand in Los Angeles even have onsite gyms to help you keep your workouts on track.
📍Queenstown, New Zealand 📷: @lyfitness_
Another great training style perfect for travelling and one that you should take full advantage of is HIIT (high-intensity interval training). It is ideal for getting your heart rate up, getting a sweat on and leaving you feeling fab. HIIT involves brief bursts of exercises in which you give 100% maximal effort interspersed with short recovery periods. An example would be 30 seconds on, 30 seconds off for 20 rounds, with exercises such as burpees, push-ups, and sprints. Because this type of training is so intense, your body takes a while (up to 48 hours!) to return to its normal state, and consequentially you continue to burn calories at an elevated rate even when you have finished exercising. So while you’re sitting drinking an ice-cold beer on the beach, your body is likely to still be burning off some extra calories. Gives a new meaning to ‘beer belly,’ hey?!
Another benefit is that HIIT doesn’t take long to complete (if you did the mental maths my example workout would only take 20 minutes) and doesn’t necessarily require any equipment. All you need is yourself! So, if the gym is a big no-no for you while jet setting, you can always squeeze in a quick dorm-room/park bench/beach workout when you find yourself with a few spare minutes. For those extra keen to stay fit while away, a resistant band is one small and light piece of equipment I would recommend taking with you. They not only offer a greater variety of exercises but can also massively increase the intensity of your workouts.
📍Nha Trang, Vietnam 📷: @lyfitness_
Staying active while travelling
If your idea of a holiday doesn’t involve working out, there are still plenty of other ways to stay fit. Just focus on moving more and being active. It sounds simple, and well, that’s because it is! However, we all know how easy it is to let the day pass us by, lazing around, with the only movement being rotating on the sun lounger every half an hour to make sure we develop an all over tan… But being in a new place is the perfect opportunity for being active – go on a walk to explore hidden backstreets, take a stroll along the beach, opt for the hostel stairs instead of the elevator (especially with your backpack on), or hike up a hill to get a better view. There are usually plenty of activities to throw yourself into – surfing, kayaking, yoga, beach volleyball, swimming/snorkelling, rock climbing, tennis – just to name a few. Even if it’s for just half an hour a day, it will help to get your endorphins flowing and your heart pumping, which in turn can help to boost your mood, increase your energy levels, and keep you in shape. Swimming is a great full body workout, and with hostel pools as sexy as these I know you’ll want to dive right in!
Diet and nutrition while travelling
Diet and nutrition also play a key role in staying fit and healthy, but for many people food is a massive part of travel. Tasting all the local cuisines, sampling every type of street food, and indulging yourself with that extra cocktail is all part of the fun, so it’s important to find a way to balance both the treat yo’self urges and the healthy regime. Here are my tips for how to find that delicious balance…
Take advantage of the hostel kitchen
Make the most of the clean and well-equipped hostel kitchens and prepare your own food, especially breakfast! Not only will this help save a few pennies (and give you an opportunity to meet some fellow backpackers) but restaurants or shop-bought foods tend to be more calorific. Porridge is my cheap, quick and easy go-to breakfast when travelling and it’s not too much hassle to transport a bag of oats with you when you’re moving between destinations. Heading out already full up with brekkie means you’re less likely to stop and pick up some convenience snacks, which usually tend to not be that healthy. Most hostels offer free breakfast including fresh fruit. Stock up on this and keep it with you for when you’re feeling peckish. You also have the added bonus of hitting your 5-a-day and feeling smug AF!
Be clever when dining out
If you love dining out and want to try lots of local dishes, why not go halves with someone so you can still get a taster without overindulging? Alternatively, order a dish and if you’re still hungry add another dish on afterwards. That way you don’t over order and feel you have to devour it all because you don’t want to waste it (or your precious pennies). Don’t be afraid to ask how meals are prepared or to swap out items, such as asking for some fresh vegetables instead of something deep-fried, or for oily sauces/dressings to be served on the side.
Turn down for what? For health…
Be aware of liquid calories, mainly alcohol! We all know how much backpackers love a cheeky drink – and so they should – but beers, ciders and wines are very calorie dense. Try opting for a lighter option such as lower calorie beverages or spirits with light mixers (e.g. diet coke, soda water). Some days you could even choose to skip out on the alcohol all together (is that traveller blasphemy?!), which brings me onto my next point…
📍 Onsen hot pools, Arthur’s Point, New Zealand 📷: @lyfitness_
Water is your friend
Stay hydrated… with water! It is recommended that we consume 3-4 litres of water every day, and this is even more important when you are out and about in hot climates. Not only does this help control appetite and prevent overeating because often dehydration is mistaken for hunger, but it helps reduce excessive water retention and bloating. Carry a big water bottle with you and refill it so you know exactly how much you’ve drunk throughout the day.
Finally, don’t stress yourself out! The main thing is that you enjoy yourself and make the most of your time travelling. It doesn’t really matter if you treat yourself a few too many times or don’t exercise as much as you’d planned – this trip is once in a lifetime so have fun and then have some more fun!
📍Queenstown, New Zealand 📷: @lyfitness_
About the author:
Lucy is a fitness, body confidence, mental-health & brunch enthusiast and blogger. She is from London but is currently living in Queenstown, New Zealand after three months of solo travelling and one heck of a spontaneous life decision. Lucy has nailed the art of tasting every FergBurger on the menu whilst somehow staying fit and healthy! Follow Lucy for more wanderlust pics and fitness inspo on Instagram at @lyfitness_
For more tips on how to stay fit and healthy on the go check out these blog posts: 👇