Every time I pack my bag to go traveling, my sport wear and running shoes mingle with my sunglasses, scuba-mask and mosquito repellent. I often imagine myself running along a lonely beach with a scenic sunrise in the background or doing yoga stretches in a beautiful bamboo hut with a stunning ocean view. Merrily I throw the motivation in my backpack and am ready to take off!
Once I arrive at my destination though, I often realize that my plans are far away from being realized so easily. There is no beach front where I could go for a run, my hotel room is simply too small and doesn’t even fit half a yoga mat and the hot climate exhausts me way too much for anything else to do but to lay at the pool. Exercising suddenly becomes a real challenge to pervade and my motivation seems to have been lost somewhere around the baggage claim. For a one-week vacation, it’s no big deal to skip my workout and postpone getting back to training when I return home, but doing no sports at all while traveling for three months is non-negotiable.
The good news is: Where there’s a will, there’s a way! During my travels, I’ve accumulated some handy tips on how to squeeze in a workout despite the challenges along the way and I am happy to share them with you:
- Plan ahead and choose an accommodation with a swimming pool, a gym and if possible a room big enough for you to exercise in. It makes things very easy from the beginning and leaves little room for excuses.
- Bring a resistance band. This will allow you, in even the smallest rooms or dorms, to do a variety of exercises. Simply google “exercises with bands” and you’ll find a ton of videos with workouts for every body part. Plus, the bands are light weight, take up little to no space and are therefore very easy to carry.
- Bring your yoga mat. I was really uncertain if I should bring my yoga mat or not, since it means more weight attached to my backpack. So far, I haven’t regretted taking it, as I have used it in almost every location I stayed at: A hotel room, a bungalow, and right on the beach (the sand definitely won’t stick, so don’t worry about that). If your room is too small, try to swap to a bigger room or shortly relocate to a place that allows you to do your workout. Ignore other people’s stares and focus on your wellbeing, which is the most important thing after all.
- Walk, walk, walk! Unless your sole purpose of your travel is to relax at the pool, there is always something to discover in foreign places. Markets, museums, nice quarters, riverfronts, old bridges, the best restaurant in town – all of which you can explore by foot! Avoid public transport and cabs and simply walk to your most memorable spots. Don’t be afraid of the miles you’ll walk – they won’t hurt, if anything, they’ll improve your sleep, burn more calories and make you discover more places, which you wouldn’t have known of if you passed them by in an underground and smelly metro.
- Track your steps. I am using a fitness tracker that counts my steps and the distance I walk. It’s slowly becoming a habit of mine to beat my former day’s distance and number of steps. You’ll all of a sudden find yourself taking detours just to get some extra steps in – the extra sightseeing comes for free.
- Seek out local gyms. If your accommodation doesn’t come with an inhouse gym, try finding a local gym. They will cost some money, but if it’s the only option you have, invest in it. In many Asian countries, the fee is almost negligible, but will be well worth it.
- Be more active. Whether it’s swimming, diving, surfing, hiking, rock climbing, skiing, snowboarding, kayaking or zip lining – in most regions, there are plenty of choices to discover the area in a very active way. Again, this is something that requires a budget, depending on the activity, but one thing is for sure: You’ll burn calories, you’ll sweat and you’ll most likely have a great time and take some soreness home.
- Rent a bike instead of a motorbike. If you want to explore outer areas consider renting a bike. You’ll be able to cycle around a city, a lake or anywhere in the nature and get off your bike whenever you want to explore something in detail. In many countries, motorbikes are a popular way to get around the area, but really, bikes will take you almost as far while providing plenty of benefits for your health and they are oftentimes cheaper than motorbikes.
- Join a local yoga class. It is fairly easy to join a local yoga or Pilates class and in many Asian countries it is really cheap to do so. I’ve found information online, in my guidebook and advertised in local cafes for open classes. Some classes are outdoors and held during sunset or sunrise, which really makes for an unforgettable experience. I’ve done it a couple of times and can wholeheartedly recommend it.
- Exercise in the morning. My last tip for you is to exercise as early as possible to beat the heat. Given the climate in warm countries anyway, people tend to wake up early anyways, which allows them to start their day with a nice and easy workout before the hustle of the day sets in. You’ll not only avoid the heat during the day and the well-known evening fatigue, but you’ll also free your mind by being done with your exercise first thing in the morning.
I hope this post has offered some new ideas for being and staying active while traveling. Some days it might be easier to exercise than other days, but this is honestly no different at home, right? If you have more tips on how to keep the laziness at bay and increase activity while traveling, feel free to share them in the comments below.