Staying Fit on the Go: Your Guide to Exercising While Traveling

August 28, 2023

Traveling is a great way to explore the world and try new things, but it's also an excuse for many of us to overindulge. Eating out is a big part of the travel experience, but it can wreak havoc on your overall health. Fortunately, if you can make room for a travel workout or two along the way, you can stay in shape and feel less guilty about splurging on a decadent meal.

That said, we understand that working out on vacation is a challenge, which is why we're prepared with some handy tips and tricks to get it right. Whether you decide to plan a hotel room workout or take the stairs more often, here's how to exercise while traveling.A man wears his travel backpack while walking near the Plaza De Bolivar in Bogota, Colombia

Pre-Travel Preparation

Because it can be hard to exercise during your trip, the best option is to plan ahead. The more research you can do ahead of time, the easier it will be to incorporate more physical activities along the way. Some points to consider can include:

  •  Bring Travel Exercise Equipment ‒ While you won't be able to bring a full set of dumbbells along, you can pack some essentials (along with other travel accessories). Examples can include workout gear, some resistance bands, and even a fitness tracker. By having the equipment handy, it's much easier to get into the right headspace for working out while traveling.
  •  Look for Fitness Facilities ‒ Many hotels have a fitness center onsite, so you can ask what amenities are available. If you're looking for something a bit more accommodating, you can also look for local gyms. If you're traveling domestically, you may be able to use your current gym membership at locations around the country. This way, you can cut down on costs during your trip.
  •  Incorporate Exercise Into Your Travel Plans ‒ Working out while traveling doesn't have to happen at a gym. Instead, you can go walking, running, or hiking. This option has the added benefit of allowing you to explore your new locale while getting some steps in. For example, if there are any natural sites around, you can plan multiple hikes during your visit. Even if you're traveling with the family , you can bring the kids along on easy hikes.

Exercise Options During Travel

Planning is one thing, but acting on those plans is another. Figuring out how to work out while traveling takes a bit of effort, and you must be able to schedule your trip according to your exercise goals. Here are some ideas on how to make the most of the various options you may have available.

Working Out in Your Room

Depending on where you're staying, a hotel room workout could be a breeze or it could be tricky. And if you are traveling for business, your free time may be squeezed. Again, you won't be able to bring a full set of weights with you, but resistance bands can work in a pinch.

You can also utilize workouts that rely on body weight to stretch and strengthen your muscles. For example, pushups can work wonders on your arms and chest, while tricep dips are easy enough to do on the side of a bed or chair. Other in-room workouts can include squats, lunges, burpees, and crunches.

If you have limited space inside the room, you may have to stick to workouts that don't require you to lie down. You can also do jumping jacks and leg lifts without needing a ton of room to spread out.

Finally, if the hotel has a fitness center, make sure to see how large it is and what equipment is available. Typically, these spaces are pretty empty throughout the day, but you may have to plan your activity around peak usage times.

Hiking and Other Outdoor Activities

Even if you're visiting a city, you can still incorporate walking and exercise into your itinerary. For example, booking a walking tour of the city is a great way to explore and learn more about the history and culture of the area. Similarly, you can rent bikes and ride around to different spots at your own pace.

That said, if you're not already super active, make sure you don't overextend yourself. If you bike two miles from your hotel, you'll have to bike that route back (or find transportation that can accommodate a bicycle).

Similarly, you may need to do some research to find out whether the city is walkable and bike-friendly. Some cities are not safe for biking, so you'll have to find another way to exercise while getting around.

Gyms and Fitness Centers

As mentioned, traveling domestically means you may be able to use your gym membership at a location near where you're staying. However, if you're going out of the country, you'll have to do a little more research to find local fitness centers.

Before heading anywhere, be sure to call first and ask what the daily rates are (or weekly rates if you're in town for a while). As a rule, gyms will have plenty of equipment and space for working out, but not all gyms are the same. For example, some centers may be focused on sports training, while others are meant for the general public.

Another point to consider is whether you want to take workout classes. These classes can be an excellent way to meet new people and stay motivated to work out while traveling.

Staying Active During Transit

Sometimes, the longest periods are when you're traveling from point A to point B. However, just because you're on a train, plane, or bus for several hours doesn't mean you can't exercise (albeit in a limited capacity). Here are some pointers in how to keep your blood flowing while in transit:

  •  Learn Stretching Techniques ‒ You may have to stretch in your seat, or you may be able to stretch in the aisle. Make sure to learn techniques that don't require a lot of space since you might be working in a tight area.
  •  Find Airport Fitness Centers ‒ Some airports (like Denver) may have fitness areas for travelers, allowing you to get a short workout in while you wait for your next flight. You may also be able to take a shower and change clothes, but that depends on the rules at the airport.
  •  Take Advantage of Long Layovers ‒ If you have several hours between flights or trains, you don't want to sit for the duration of the layover. Instead, you can take laps around the airport or go from one end of the terminal to the next. That said, if you have lots of luggage, this tactic may not be feasible.

Overcoming Obstacles and Excuses

For many people, routine is the foundation of a healthy exercise regimen. When you have a set schedule, it's much easier to incorporate a trip to the gym or a run around the neighborhood.

So, working out while traveling is difficult because of the lack of familiarity and routine. Unfortunately, it's very easy to make excuses and avoid exercising, particularly if you have a busy itinerary. Here are some strategies to ensure you still find time to work out:

  •  Schedule Your Exercise ‒ If necessary, plot out an hour or 30 minutes for exercising, even if it's just a walk around the hotel. By putting a travel workout into your itinerary, it may be easier to stick to it.
  •  Stay in Fitness Mode ‒ Typically, when working out is part of your daily routine, you find ways to stay motivated to go every day. Unfortunately, when traveling, this mindset usually goes out the window (especially if you're traveling for a food festival), making it harder to get back into it once you return. So, by avoiding the temptation to say, "I'll just work out when I get home," it's easier to maintain that fitness mentality.
  •  Adjust Your Concept of "Working Out" ‒ Another problem that many people experience is believing that exercise has to happen in a gym. However, hiking, biking, kayaking, and swimming are all fantastic options, even if you don't need any machinery. Also, if you like to keep track of calories, you can bring a fitness tracker to ensure you hit the right numbers.
  •  Set Goals ‒ An added benefit of packing a fitness tracker is that seeing your progress can make you more likely to keep up your workout routine. For example, you can set a goal for 10,000 steps in a single day or to burn a set number of calories. By checking your tracker throughout the day, you can know how much more exercise you need to achieve those goals.

Safety Considerations

Exercise is one of those things that most people do alone. If you're in a well-lit gym, you shouldn't have to worry about anything happening to you. However, if you're outside in a new city or country, you want to be extra careful. Here are some points to consider when figuring out safety precautions, so you can exercise comfortably during your travels:

  •  Know Your Route ‒ If you're jogging in your own neighborhood, you know how to get back home, even if you make a wrong turn. But what happens if you're in a new city or country (like Iceland)? While you may assume your phone's GPS can guide you, it's not always reliable. Also, some countries may not allow access to GPS apps, so it's much easier to get stranded. Make sure to plan your route beforehand and pay attention to local landmarks as guides.
  •  Consider Health Risks ‒ Even the most physically fit person can pull a muscle or tendon during a workout. If something does go wrong and you're in another country, do you know what to do? Make sure to research the proper procedure for seeking medical attention in case something happens. For example, what number do you call, and do the EMTs and paramedics generally speak English? If not, you could struggle to get the help you need.
  •  Share Your Plans with Others ‒ By letting others know your whereabouts, you're taking an important step in ensuring your well-being. Many adventurous souls have enjoyed worry-free experiences by simply keeping someone informed of their plans. Consider wearing a Road ID bracelet with your medical and emergency contact information, adding an extra layer of safety to your adventure.

Planning a Trip Around Exercise

Finally, the best way to stay fit while traveling is to plan your trip around your exercise goals. For example, instead of taking a food tour of an European city, you can plan a cycling trip along the Italian coastline.

There are many travel options that can help you stay physically active and in shape during your entire vacation. However, make sure you don't overextend yourself, either. For example, if you're planning a trip that requires you to bike for several hundred miles, you'll need to train your body, so you don't get too sore or worn out after the first couple of days.

The Bottom Line: Exercising While Traveling Is Crucial

Working out while traveling helps you stay healthy, both during your trip and after you return. Once you discover how incredible it can be to integrate physical activities into your itinerary, you'll start adding more hikes and outdoor exploration to your planning.

Best of all, The Parking Spot can help you manage your transportation logistics, so you can focus more on staying active. For example, you can reserve a parking spot via our app, and we'll take you directly to the front of the airport so you never miss your flight. Incorporating a travel workout may be challenging, but finding a parking spot at the airport isn't when you rely on The Parking Spot.

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