So oreos, ritz, and fruit shakes have become a staple of your daily diet. A local beer is cheaper than water, and those workout clothes seem to have sunk deep into the bottom of your backpack.
Long-term travel inevitably changes our bodies. It throws our natural rhythm in and out of balance; and unlike our male counterparts who unfathomable seem to lose weight when they travel, it always seems like we seem to gain some extra love- love handles that is.
I will be the first to admit that staying fit on the road is hard, and it is basically impossible to stick to a strict diet due to the constantly changing culinary surroundings.
During my past year of travels I have gained weight, and I have lost weight. I have lost weight during weeks when my diet was beer and pad thai, and I have gained weight during weeks when I drank beer and ate pad thai – the key difference between the two is balance, portion control, and exercise!
Long-term travel doesn’t grant us a ticket to laziness, it grants us a ticket to exploration in taste. Therefore, you don’t have to throw your fitness, health, and bod out of that sleeper bus window.
Try one or more of these eleven suggestions to help stay healthy while traveling.
1. Make small, achievable fitness goals you can stick to
Try to write down your fitness goals for the day, week, or month. Everyone’s goals will vary, but writing them down encourages action, and will help keep you motivated.
2. Try the every other day rule (engaging in some type of exercise every other day!)
This allows you to be lazy the day after that 30-hour bus ride, but holds you accountable to get up and active the next day! Switch it up- do yoga one day, a Youtube video the next, and head off on a half-day bike ride around the city after that. The exciting part is your scenery is forever changing, so there is no time to be bored.
3. Run for ten minutes and see where it takes you
If you can’t run, start by walking. Get out and explore. Run down dirty alleyways, run past the staring eyes, run over rocks, through villages, and into the lives of those around you. I promise you will see a different side of the people, landscape, and city.
4. Limit alcohol consumption
I know you’re on holiday, but limiting alcohol consumption is the easiest way to cut those empty calories. At home I rarely drink on the weekdays, but during long-term travel I find myself craving a cold beer (or five) at the end of a long sweaty day of exploring. One beer isn’t going to kill you, but one everyday adds up (that’s an extra 800 calories /week). Opt for water or an iced cold tea instead, it will make your early morning wake up call that much easier.
5. Popsugar Youtube Videos and Channel
Really any Youtube fitness videos will work, but these are my personal favorite because they have a wide range of formats, workout lengths, and moderations for any level.
6. Get up early
6 am to be exact. I dare you! Get out and see how a city wakes up, watch it come alive. Waking up before the rest of the world is invigorating, it grants you a special place in space unobtainable by anyone else. You start to see how a culture moves, and you begin to move with it.
7. Check out the local community, city, or town’s activities
See what classes are going on wherever you are. From yoga, Asian zumba, muy thai, badminton, and dancing to outdoor weightlifting, fishing, or laughing yoga – whatever the local specialty is, try it.
8. Walk everywhere
When you’re dropped in a fresh new city, take the time to walk around it. Get lost in the sprawling alleyways, take a deep breath and inhale all the smells (the good, the bad, and the ugly). It is the best way to get your bearings and keep your booty!
9. Try Tabatas
Tabatas are one of the most time efficient exercises designed to blast fat. Developed by an Olympic speed skating coach, Tabata training accelerates the fat breakdown process by increasing EPOC (excess post oxygen consumption). These babies are 4 minutes long consisting of 8 consecutive sets of 20 seconds on, 10 seconds rest.
Example: It works with any exercise that will push your limits, and leaves you out of breathe immediately such as pushups, jumping jacks, jump squats, jumping lunges, etc…Still confused, look here for an example Popsugar fitness video!
10. Balance, balance, balance.
If you eat ten pancakes at your all-inclusive breakfast, rent a bike or make a goal to walk for a couple hours. If you splurge on booze one night, opt for water the next. Balance is so crucial to sustaining health, and it’s important to realize that you are going to have days where you eat ALL CARBS (dare I say it to my western world fitness gurus). You are going to have days where your sugar intake is through the roof due to the massive amount of fruit shakes and pad thai you have inhaled. It’s okay. It’s part of the experience; it’s part of the ride.
11. Lastly, try the food, really taste it.
Don’t skip out on the Laos coffee because it has gooey, sugary milk. Don’t miss the sizzling flavor of a Vietnamese street food dish because it has gluten, carbs, or sugar. Guess what, most everything does.
‘Your body isn’t a temple, it’s an amusement park, enjoy the ride.’ –Anthony Bourdain
Food is the foundation of culture, and it is my absolute favourite part of travel because it tells you so much about a place. Sitting in with the locals, pointing to random dishes on the menu, and trying weird food has been the highlight of my travels. So don’t feel bad for indulging in the local cuisine – just be sure to counterbalance all those tapas, local beers, or savoury desserts with movement!
For more tips on staying healthy while you travel check out these articles on Hippie in Heels
- 10 Tips for Not Gaining Weight While Traveling
- Mango Fit Shares How to Stay Fit While Traveling
- Differences between Western and Eastern Yoga from and Expert
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I find that whenever I travel – wherever in the world that is, I can eat what I want and I always lose weight . I thought it may be more to do with getting away from a high stress job for a while or maybe I feel like I’m satisfied with less food while travelling?
That’s so lucky! I used to be that way, but not so lucky these days!
I love this post! I’m finishing up a graduate degree in exercise physiology and I really enjoy exercise and how it makes my body feel. That makes it a lot easier to go on a hike, hop on a bike, or go for a run around a new place. But I do get anxious sometimes (I’ve got more long-term travel ideas in the future) about how travel will affect my routine. But I think the exciting things you get to see, taste, do, etc. DEFINITELY should cancel out any of those worries. :)
This is great advice! I’m going to have to check out Popsugar – I’m always interested to learn about fitness channels people like on YouTube! Right now I’m into Blogilates, which is great because for most of the workouts, no equipment is needed.
never heard of it but it sounds interesting!
These are such great tips Phoebe. Eating well and exercising regularly is something I totally struggle with when I’m traveling. And I always appreciate posts like this that motivate me to really think about what I’m putting into my body. I like the idea of running for 10 minutes. I do find that once I start running I’ll go for much longer than that. Getting out there is the hardest part!
Justine, I totally agree – eating well on the road is just so hard, especially when you want to try all the new dishes of a new country. I am glad this post could reignite some fitness motivation, and I know for me the ten minute rule for running is essential!
I also find it so, so hard to just begin running. I promise it helps to just start at ten, and maybe end there- who cares, its a start! :)
well i am just over running myself lol… i am going to do jumping jacks instead!
Staying healthy while traveling is HARD. Every trip, I swear I am going to workout (in the hotel room, on the beach…wherever!) and most the time, it’s just so easy to stay in “vacay” mode and skip the workout. While I eat extremely healthy at home, I will never deprive myself of the local eateries (that is half the travel experience!)
I think all this is easier said than done, but just like travel; if health is a REAL priority to you, you WILL make it happen, regardless of where you are in the world
I guess that’s the real thing, you have to be the type to make health a priority!
To stay healthy maybe eat fruits as much as one can or try to get home cooked food.
Yoga definately helps to stay focus and good health as well.
Hi there! I thought this was such a useful post – I’m always looking for ways to stay a little fitter when travelling! I have a billion food allergies and permanent anemia so at home I control my diet religiously but whenever I’m travelling I either lose a ridiculous amount of weight because I can’t find anything I’m allowed or putting on lots of it because I stop planning or coming back I’ll because I havnt eaten enough green vegetables! You’re completely right in that it’s all about balance and sometimes you just have to think about it a little more and keep it a part of your travelling routine :)
Oh wow that must be such a challenge for you. It’s great you can still travel and make it possible!
Love these tips. I really struggle to not gain weight when traveling. In saying that, the times I have, I didn’t exercise that control you mention above. Great, realistic tips!
Awesome glad they could help
Some great tips for staying in shape while traveling, thank you!