7 Creative Ways to Stay in Shape While Traveling

Mar 3, 2019

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Anyone who travels frequently knows sticking to the healthy habits you have at home can be a real challenge. But that doesn’t mean it’s impossible.

Sure, there are hotel gyms and healthy snacks you can pack, but there are some tricks I’ve picked up over years of travel that I’ve found to be time-efficient and effective for maintaining a fitness routine even far from home.

And because they’re unexpected — and probably not what you’re doing at home every day — you may not even drag your feet about working out while on vacation.

Remember, you don’t have to work out for an hour to get results. In fact, working out for a shorter period of time with a higher intensity can be even better.

With high-intensity interval training, or HIIT (all-out bursts with short breaks between rounds), you can expect to burn 8 to 12 calories per minute, and up to 375 calories during a 30-minute session. And with Tabata training (20 seconds of all out exercise followed by 10 seconds of rest, for eight rounds) you can increase your aerobic and anaerobic fitness levels significantly.

From making the most of your surroundings to indulging in healthy fast food, here are seven creative tips for staying fit on the road.

Use Your Suitcase as a Weight

For those moments when there’s no gym, and basic bodyweight exercises won’t cut it, use your backpack or suitcase as added weight. There are countless variations you can do here, but some of my favorites include overhead squats with my carry-on held over my head; grabbing the topside handle on my carry-on and doing one-arm rows; and throwing my backpack on and doing push-ups.

Put enough personal belongings in your suitcase to make the moves challenging. The contents of your suitcase might shift as you work out, but that’s a good thing, as it will make your muscles work harder to stabilize you, and you’ll burn more calories from the extra work.

That bag you overstuffed with items might make for the perfect overhead weight while doing some squats in your room. (Photo via Shutterstock)
That bag you overstuffed with items might make for the perfect overhead weight. (Photo via Shutterstock)

Run Sprints in the Hallways

Running sprints is one of the most effective things you can do for burning fat, and they require less time and space than distance running. Find a good hallway in your hotel that allows you to sprint at least 20 yards in one direction. Sprint down at close to maximum effort and walk back, repeating this 10 to 15 times. Just be extremely careful not to run into anyone!

Or Walk up the Stairs

Stairs are also a great option for a slower, more relaxed workout. Walk up the stairs, taking one or two steps at a time, for 30 minutes.

Start on the upper floors, where you’re less likely to bump into people, and remember that safety is the most important thing. Watch out for others and let someone know that you’ll be in the stairwell before you get your workout started.

Full length shot of a sporty young woman standing in her hotel roomhttp://
You can do a Tabata workout right in your hotel room. (Photo via Getty Images)

Work Out in Your Hotel Room

If the hotel gym is closed for renovations, not up to your standards or doesn’t exist at all, a bodyweight workout right in your hotel room is an excellent option.

Place a towel or yoga mat on the floor and do sets of push-ups, squats and crunches. If you find these exercises too easy, there are countless variations you can do for more of a challenge.

Just be thoughtful of your neighbors. Don’t go too crazy with jump squats or burpees if there’s a room below you, especially if you’re working out early in the morning or late at night.

Go for a Run When You Arrive

When arriving in a new city, one of the first things you can do is go for a long run. You’ll get to explore your new surroundings and knock out your exercise for the day all in one shot.

Scope out the local running routes by using apps such as Strava or MapMyRun. You can also find a local running group if you prefer to run with others by checking with the hotel’s front desk or by using MeetUp.

Just remember to pace yourself. You’re not trying to set a personal record — you’re trying to check out the scene. Take in the sights, stop and talk to people or drop in to local shops along the way.

Get the lay of the land by going for a run right when you arrive at your destination. (Photo via Shutterstock)
Go for a run right when you arrive at your destination. (Photo via Shutterstock)

Exercise in the Airport

Why not put your downtime at the airport to good use and get a workout in while you wait for your flight?

Some airports now have gyms, like ROAM Fitness at Baltimore-Washington International (BWI), or yoga rooms that are free to use, such as those at San Francisco International (SFO). You can also do your own bodyweight workout in a corner of the terminal or in an airline lounge.

Wear your workout clothes or pack them in your carry-on, along with some wipes and hand sanitizer. Knock out your workout, and then freshen up afterwards so you’re not sweating on the person sitting next to you on the plane.

If bodyweight workouts aren’t your thing, you can get your steps in and take a walk around the terminal. Go up and down the stairs a few times for an added challenge.

Grab Lunch at Chipotle

Seriously. If you’re traveling and need some quick food, it’s hard to beat Chipotle. There are thousands of locations worldwide, so it won’t be hard to find one. And the food is relatively healthy, if you make the right choices when ordering.

Try to stay away from burritos and tacos, as the tortillas are the largest sources of hydrogenated oils and preservatives. Instead, stick to bowls and salads, with meat for protein and plenty of veggies, and you’ll be able to indulge in a fast meal that won’t sabotage your fitness goals. Don’t be afraid of rice, either, especially if you’re staying active.

(Photo via Shutterstock)
(Photo via Shutterstock)

Chris Castellano is a travel fitness specialist and the founder of Fittest Travel. He recently self-published his first book, “Fit For Travel: Your Guide to Losing Weight and Feeling Great While Traveling.”

Featured image via Shutterstock.

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