How to Stay Fit During Long-Term Travel

Keeping fit while traveling is hard.

It is a huge struggle to keep fit while traveling. The internal struggle between eating, working-out and relaxing is a complicated one. Naturally, you want to eat the local food, which 98% of the time is fatty. Sticking to a tight budget makes it harder to keep to a super nutritious diet while eating out. To top it off, you have no gym membership, group workouts… The list of hurdles is extensive.

Anyone that knows me knows that I have been a sports junky my whole life. Growing up playing competitive tennis I have always loved to get my body moving. My life has always been ruled by exercising. It was also something Katey and I spent a lot of time doing together in New York so we didn’t think it would be too hard to maintain our fitness while away. We did think there would be some challenges but definitely not as hard as it has been.

Our plan was to do a combination of running outside, body weight exercises and day gym memberships when possible. Food wise, we would treat ourselves to local delicacies but try to keep to our normal diet as much as possible, cooking at hostels and relying on accessibility to salads. But, even with this established plan we vastly underestimated our drive and ability to keep our fitness up and the pounds off. It has been a steep learning curve for sure so we wanted to share with you what we have learnt to make your travels a little easier. Here are the few key learnings we had so far.

Maintain your at-home fitness routine miles away from your ‘9 to 5’.

The lack of routine is probably the biggest challenge you face when traveling. Consistency is what helps you the most when trying to maintain a diet and keep in good shape. The problem is, sometimes you travel for 10 hours, arriving at 6am at your destination absolutely exhausted. Odds are, you won’t go for a run. But, make sure you take advantage of the times when you are in one place for longer than a day or two.

When you can, establish your routine. Try to get your exercise in first thing in the morning, otherwise, you most likely won’t do it (trust me, after spending the whole day walking, you’ll just want to sit, eat everything and relax). We’ve been trying to wake up around 7am to get our exercise routine done by 8:15/30am. This way, you’ll have time to enjoy your breakfast and enjoy your day. Trying to stick to your ‘9 to 5’ definitely helps.

Anything is better than nothing.

Not having enough time is not an excuse when traveling. You can do at least a little something everyday and something is better than nothing. So do it! So far, we have managed to get in some kind of workout most days. It usually consists of, at minimum, a short run followed by a little core workout.

During long travel days, +10hr bus rides, here is our trick: No need to rush things once you arrive. The solution is to settle, rest for a little and go out for a light jog. Try to get at least 10/15 minutes of movement. No need to attempt to run 5k in 12 minutes, go at a chill pace. Try to find a park or an area where you can run at a consistent pace without having to dodge people, cars and holes. Half the battle is getting started, so just go and then see how you feel. Maybe you will surprise yourself and go harder than you thought you would. You are already winning by moving. Bonus points if you break a sweat.

Skip the walking tour. Lace up and run the neighborhood.

Make exercising more than just exercising. Use running as a way to discover and enjoy a new area. It is a time saver. You will get to see an area, such as a park or promenade, in a much shorter period of time than walking. It’s also a great way to get to know a new place. When you first arrive it’s a great way to acquaint yourself with what is around. It will also make you feel more comfortable in your new destination, once you find ‘your park/area’ you’ll feel a little more settled. Take note of any cute cafes, restaurants, parks or whatever else you pass on the way. That way you can come back later and explore when you are showered and ready to go.

Apps make the best workout buddies.

If you’re not so keen on just running everyday try something else. We all know there are loads of apps out there, so take advantage of them! HIIT, Tabata, dancing, cycling, running, bodyweight, yoga, and many more. The options are endless.

If you’re a budget traveler like us, don’t get too concerned about money. There are plenty of great free apps and the ones you do have to pay for tend to be pretty cheap. Our list has been working for us so far but we are open to switching it up if we get bored. Our app buddies are:

Check them out, we think they’re great.

To deal with travel pains make yoga a part of your repertoire.

Katey suffers from bad lower back pains and traveling definitely doesn’t help them. If you suffer from similar ailments that are amplified from many hours stuffed in a bus seat, sleeping on rock hard beds or walking for miles everyday then stretching is a must. Yoga is perfect, get your flow going. No equipment needed. Find a small space and grab your towel to use as your mat. Check out our ‘5 essential yoga poses for travelers’ or download the ‘Yoga Studio’ app. It has a tonne of options for all levels to stretch all different parts of your body depending on your needs.

Last but not least: Abs are made in the kitchen.

It is really important to eat well while traveling. Of course you can indulge to some fatty lunch/diners, BUT, be careful for it not to become normal! Nutritious meals can get expensive and cheap eats are normally unhealthy. In order to solve our problem Katey developed a few recipes that are cheap, yum and healthy. You can check them out here (insert link).