Stay Fit While Traveling
Traveling for work or vacation is common, especially pre-pandemic. Now that you may be traveling again, you may be wondering how to stay fit while traveling.
When you travel, finding the right workout routine and eating healthy can be challenging. If you aren’t careful, you may forgo working out altogether and eat foods that may not align with your fitness goals.
However, in this article are guidelines, workout routines, and nutrition tips on how to stay fit while traveling, so that you can reach your goals and stay in shape year-round.
At the very least you have access to your body weight when it comes to traveling and finding the equipment and time for working out. Using your body weight is simple, easy, and free. All you need is enough room in your Airbnb, a hotel, or the great outdoors.
This study found that bodyweight training is enough to substantially increase your lower body strength. (1)
Below, is a sample bodyweight workout plan to give a go while traveling.
Sample Bodyweight Workout
- Pike push-ups 3 sets x max reps
- Close-grip push-ups 3 set x max reps
- Superman 2 sets x 10 reps
- Dips 2 sets x max reps
- Pistol squats/Assisted pistol squats 3 sets x 10 reps
- V-ups 3 sets x 10 reps
- Front plank 3 sets x 1 min.
Getting some resistance bands can be a lifesaver when it comes to staying in shape while on the road. They’re cheap, portable, and are easy to set up from anywhere. You can do them right from your hotel room.
They also allow you to add some resistance to your workouts that bodyweight exercises can’t (besides your body weight).
Below, is a sample resistance band workout routine to try.
Sample Resistance Band Workout
- Resistance band squats 3 sets x 10 reps
- Resistance band chest press 3 sets x 10 reps
- Resistance band bent-over rows 3 sets x 10 reps
- Resistance band shoulder press 3 sets x 10
- Resistance band lateral raises 2 sets x 12 reps
- Resistance band biceps curls 2 sets x 12 reps
If you’re lucky, you may have access to a hotel gym while you’re traveling. However, not every hotel gym is the same and most will likely lack all the weight and machines you’re used to to get an effective workout in. The good news is that almost all hotel gyms will have access to at least some dumbbells, even if they’re light, and a bench. With that being said, it’s recommended that you do a dumbbell workout if you’re able to have the luxury of having a hotel gym.
Below, is a sample dumbbell workout routine you can do.
Sample Dumbbell Full-body Workout Plan
- Dumbbell incline bench press 3 sets x 8-10 reps
- Dumbbell bench press 3 sets x 8-10 reps
- Dumbbell bent-over row 3 sets x 8-10 reps
- Dumbbell incline row 3 sets x 8-10 reps
- Dumbbell front raise 2 sets x 10-12 reps
- Dumbbell triceps extension 2 sets x 10-12 reps
- Side plank 2 sets x max time
In my opinion, walking is the most underutilized physical activity you can do. It gets your heart pumping, burns calories, and is an effortless way to get moving to stay in shape.
A lot of people think that just because walking is easy that it’s not effective. Well, contrary to that belief, walking is still a great form of exercise and actually, it can be a good way to practice active recovery — allowing your body to recover from workouts while still engaging in physical activity. Furthermore, walking helps preserve lean muscle mass since it’s less intense than other forms of cardio.
So make sure you’re walking as often as possible when you’re traveling! Even if it’s just to the nearest (healthy, hopefully) restaurant. All that walking adds up and will go a long way in making sure you maintain your physical fitness levels until you get back in town. (3)
As far as cardio goes, besides walking you can go jogging or use any cardio machine your hotel may or may not have access to. But there’s a shorter and possibly more effective way of doing cardio on the road, aka high-intensity interval training (HIIT) workouts. Short and effective HIIT cardio workouts help maintain your physique when you’re busy and limited on time. (4)
Doing some cardio is always beneficial since it’s great for your cardiovascular health and burns calories, however, you’ll want to mainly stick to trying to find the time and equipment if you can to do resistance training to really keep you in shape and maintain your muscle mass while you’re away from home.
Aside from catering to your workout needs, making sure you watch your diet is equally important as well. You likely won’t have access to the same foods you’re used to eating, and eating healthier can be much more challenging, especially if you’re used to eating the same meals to hit your nutritional goals — calories, protein, fats, and carbohydrates. There are some tricks and hacks you can do though to limit eating poorly and being too far off from your nutritional targets.
Watch Your Calories
First and foremost, portion control how much you eat (even if you’re pigging out on foods you didn’t plan on eating). How many calories you eat will be the most important factor in making sure you can ward off gaining weight and fat while you’re traveling.
Focus on Protein
Secondly, try to focus on protein-dense foods. If you can, eat as many meals with meat as you can. If not, get some protein bars and protein shakes. These are quick and easy to consume and are often easy to find no matter where you’re at.
Another secret hack that you can utilize while traveling is fasting. Fasting has an array of benefits, but it’s especially useful when you’re on the road. That’s because you won’t have to constantly meal prep and worry about what to eat and how much to eat. Instead, you’ll only need to eat 1-2 meals a day, with maybe a light snack or two.
The main culprit to weight loss is burning more calories than you consume and fasting makes eating fewer calories much easier since you’ll be restricting when you eat. (5)
If you travel a lot for work or pleasure, then working out and eating right may be troublesome for you. However, there are ways to make fitness a part of your schedule no matter where you’re traveling or where you’re staying. Through the use of your own body weight, resistance bands, dumbbells, and intermittent fasting, you can stay fit while traveling.
Follow the tips and guidelines laid out in this article and staying fit while traveling will be as if you aren’t traveling at all.
1 – Yamauchi, J., Nakayama, S., & Ishii, N. (2009). Effects of bodyweight-based exercise training on muscle functions of leg multi-joint movement in elderly individuals. Geriatrics & gerontology international, 9(3), 262–269. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1447-0594.2009.00530.x
2 – Lopes, J., Machado, A. F., Micheletti, J. K., de Almeida, A. C., Cavina, A. P., & Pastre, C. M. (2019). Effects of training with elastic resistance versus conventional resistance on muscular strength: A systematic review and meta-analysis. SAGE open medicine, 7, 2050312119831116. https://doi.org/10.1177/2050312119831116
3 – Rippe, J. M., Ward, A., Porcari, J. P., & Freedson, P. S. (1988). Walking for health and fitness. JAMA, 259(18), 2720–2724.
4 – Nicolò, A., & Girardi, M. (2016). The physiology of interval training: a new target to HIIT. The Journal of physiology, 594(24), 7169–7170. https://doi.org/10.1113/JP273466
5 – Rynders, C. A., Thomas, E. A., Zaman, A., Pan, Z., Catenacci, V. A., & Melanson, E. L. (2019). Effectiveness of Intermittent Fasting and Time-Restricted Feeding Compared to Continuous Energy Restriction for Weight Loss. Nutrients, 11(10), 2442. https://doi.org/10.3390/nu11102442