Do you find yourself longing to travel but hesitate because you want to keep up with your daily fitness regimen and overall wellness goals? I completely understand. Travel and staying in shape are often considered contradictory pursuits. You've probably told yourself that vacation equals relaxation and staying in shape equals hard work... right? Now imagine if you could combine the two! As a Certified Personal Trainer and full-time traveler, I have put a lot of thought and effort into balancing my own lifestyle. I've put together a series of seven tips for you to stay active while on the road:
1. Walk everywhere. Walking around a new city is my absolute favorite way to explore a new place while burning calories simultaneously. I've found some of my favorite neighborhoods, restaurants and sights by simply stepping outside of my hotel and letting my feet take the lead. And what's even better than wandering around a new city? Getting outside of the hustle and bustle and into a nearby green spaces. Hiking and walking allow you to escape into less-traveled areas, to gain a new and unexpected perspective on the place you are visiting and to breathe some fresh air while you're at it. As magical as it is to wander the streets of Paris, the highlight of your trip to France just might turn out to be a spectacular overlook that you discovered in a mountain town or the time you spontaneously ventured onto a hiking trail and wandered into a welcoming forest.
2. Rent a bicycle. Walking isn't your thing? No problem! Check out local bike shops in your destination where often you can a rent two-wheeled stallion for the day (or for the week). And it turns out that bicycling is a great low-impact exercise that helps improve your cardiovascular health and can strengthen a range of your muscles. Even better, riding a bike in a new place brings you the opportunity to ditch the crowds and delve into everyday sights and scenes that the locals take part in. You're able to cover a ton of ground quickly, maybe even break a sweat and have fun in the meantime!
3. Destination-specific activities. Surf's up in Hawaii; there's no better place to learn how to catch a wave. Ever wanted to dance the Argentine Tango? Familiarize yourself with the basic steps during a lesson in Buenos Aires. How about experiencing a glacier up-close? Time to put those crampons on your boots and walk across a river of ice. What's on your bucket list? Getting active with a destination-specific activity is a fantastic way to combine learning a new skill, creating a fun memory and getting in some physical exercise while you're at it. Even better,consider booking a trip through an active tour company like Backroads, where the whole trip is designed around being active and each day of the itinerary is filled with dynamic experiences. An organized, active tour is an excellent way to see a new destination and get to know a new culture while maintaining with your fitness level. Plus, you don't have to worry about the planning the routes, finding a place to stay or renting the equipment!
4. Book a hotel with a gym OR bring your own packable gym equipment. A wide range of casual and premiere hotels have a gym available for guest use. Often, they're small facilities with minimal equipment, but who says you need a fully-functioning gym to get a satisfying workout? Check with your hotel ahead of time and schedule some gym time in your schedule during your stay. Your body will thank you! If you happen to stay in a hotel without a gym, bring a few pieces of packable exercise equipment. When I travel, I pack a jump rope, a resistance band and travel yoga mat. All of these items together can easily fit into my carry-on and give me no excuses to miss a workout! Set aside (at least) 30 minutes in the morning and get your sweat on! A simple internet search will turn up millions of free travel workouts but here's one you can take with you anywhere! NO equipment needed; modify as necessary.
Warm up routine:
50 jumping jacks & jog in place for 1 minute
25 air squats
1-minute plank hold
20 alternating lunges
1-minute jumping jacks
1-minute plank hold
repeat sequence 3 times
Cool down time:
5. Nutrition. Making the decision to eat well when you're on the road is half the battle! And please DO, indulge in the local cuisine no matter where you are. Food is a major part of experiencing someplace new. However, be prepared! It's always best to carry some healthy snacks in your daypack. This way, if you happen to experience some hunger pangs between meals, you won't be stuck in a situation where your only option might be that chocolate croissant covered in powdered sugar. The types of snacks I recommend taking with you are trail mix, beef jerky, plantain chips and fresh fruit.
6. Everything in moderation... even moderation. As I mentioned already, don't stop yourself from indulging on vacation. Eat that cookie! Take pleasure in sipping that fruit juice or smoothie! Maybe even consider dessert...but perhaps not with every single meal of every single day. When you're contemplating what to order from the menu, look for protein-dense options, keep the extra-sugary cocktails to a minimum and consider making a pact with your travel buddy to split a dessert instead of each ordering a separate one.
7. Mostly, give yourself permission to be good enough; don't strive for perfection. You're on vacation! And a little bit of physical exercise is better than none. So, the next time you're planning a getaway, think about my advice. Better yet, choose to find a vacation that will allow you to stay active and see a new part of the world at the same time. Choosing active adventures will contribute to the overall value of your trip and keep your mind and body feeling good when you return home.