Stay Connected with our Smart Travel Resources

How to Keep Fit while Traveling

A guide to exercise on the go

Keep it While Traveling
2 Comments 11 November 2010

So, you’re on the road and your exercise routines, running routes and personal trainers are all back home… what now?

How does one maintain an effective fitness routine between the strange and weary hours, the midnight flights, the inopportune train rides, the constant and disruptive activity. As most athletes will agree, it begins and ends with a strong will and determination… but what about the in-between bits, the how’s and how-to’s…? Connected Traveling can offer some insight! Calisthenics, yoga, running & other great ideas means you can keep in shape no matter where you are.

Pack for the occasion

It’s a constant traveler’s curse: what to pack and what to leave behind. For those of us who need regular exercise to maintain a daily balance, it is even more difficult to say ‘adios’ to our surfboards, hiking boots, gym routines, running routes and personal trainers. However, time away from daily routines can lead to new ways of keeping fit by packing some essential, light and useful items.

A pair of running shoes, which can double as walking shoes, is an essential item in my backpack. As I am prone to trail running and hiking I would go for a pair of multi-purpose trail shoes I can use for running, walking and hiking. Exercise clothes tend to be light and take up little space. A skipping rope is a useful item and is light and easy to pack. Suspension bands such as the TRX Suspension Training Kit ensure a full body workout almost anywhere. Similarly, a small and light yoga mat ensures you keep up to date with your yoga practice and can double as cushioning for long and uncomfortable journeys.

Now that you have packed the basics, here are some tips to keeping fit while traveling.

Go for a run

As a runner I find it effortless to put on my running shoes, locate the nearest road, mountain path or running track and simply get on with it. Finding myself somewhere new, running is a great way to unwind after a long journey, orient to new surroundings and find out what is available in my immediate environment. This is particularly helpful when arriving in a new city. After a 30-40 minute jog around the neighbourhood, not only would I feel more relaxed, I would have found a convenient ATM machine to withdraw local currency, checked out the available public transport, perhaps gone shopping for the right SIM Card and found the nearest sushi bar with Free WIFI.

Unfortunately, running is not always an option for a number of reasons. So, what else is available to the traveler who wants to keep in tiptop shape?

The great outdoors

If you have the time and opportunity to be outdoors, take it! There is a number of fun and worthwhile exercises and activities one can find in a park. Apart from running lanes, many parks have jungle gyms or exercise stations that are perfect for a variety of calisthenics such as pull-ups, push-ups, squats, stomach crunches, calf-raises and stretching. Even a park bench is perfect for body weight exercises and stretches. If you packed your skipping rope or yoga mat, bring them with for some outdoor thrills. An open field is also a treasure chest of potential exercise options so be on the lookout while exploring your new surroundings.

Your new gym

Imagine yourself in a new city on a business trip, extended vacation or just visiting friends and family. Your hotel, guesthouse or backpackers do not have gym facilities or the facilities are sub standard and uninspiring. Now imagine you could easily find and gain access to a gym in your surrounding area. Global Gym offers this service with a $6 monthly membership fee, which allows you access to gyms in major cities throughout the world. You can book quickly and securely with your credit card through the Global Gym website. Give it a try!

Exercise in your room

If you are short on time and need a quick workout, you can always exercise in your hotel or guesthouse room. A sure-fire exercise routine can be set up quickly and effectively with the items one regularly finds in a room. Place a towel on the floor for push-ups, sit-ups, stomach crunches and other stretches. Use a chair for dips and inverted push-ups to work your abs, shoulders and chest. If you packed your suspension bands, whip them out for a more comprehensive full body workout or clear some space for your yoga mat.

Some further tips

Try an iPhone App to maintain your fitness routine while on the road. PumpOne has a great App called Fitness Builder, which allows you to select your location or the equipment immediately available and offers exercises tailored to your personal goals. Furthermore, you can keep logs of your workouts, track your progress, set targets and even create your own workouts.

Ensure to eat & drink correctly. As difficult as it is to maintain a sense of diet when visiting foreign countries, which invariably offer new and strange cuisine, a few basic rules can help your diet and ward of those unwanted calories. Avoid deep fried junk food, as it will usually contain lots of calories, bad fats and low nutritional value. Take an extra few moments to explore your surroundings or research online before to find restaurants that offer healthy alternatives. Remember to drink lots of water whether you are in a cold or hot climate, it’s important to keep hydrated. Keep a stock of rehydration powder sachets which are small and convenient to carry.

Walking is also exercise! When visiting a new place, walking is a great way to explore your surroundings and familiarise yourself with your immediate vicinity. Similarly hiring a bicycle is a great way to explore and exercise simultaneously. One of my fondest memories of traveling in Cambodia was hiring bicycles and exploring the amazing temples at Angkor Wat. Despite the heat and dust, riding from temple to temple and exploring in our own time was both liberating and revitalising, not to mention great exercise!


Ensure to warm up before beginning strenuous exercises. Be courteous to the people around you and other guests. Always consult your healthcare provider before beginning an exercise program. Be aware of the spacing in your hotel or guesthouse room and look out for sharp corners.

Your Comments

2 Comments so far

  1. TRX says:

    I try to take my suspension trainer with me everywhere, but I find when you’re out traveling you just don’t have the same level of motivation as when you’re at home. It’s very easy to skip a workout to go sight-seeing. Great article though, hopefully it’ll inspire a few people to keep fit!

    • Yaron says:

      Very true. Often short the feeling of “hey, I’m on vacation!” trumps any desire to stay fit while traveling. Unfortunately this isn’t a very healthy lifestyle when backpacking for weeks or months at a time.

Share your view

Post a comment

Login or Register to leave a comment!