How To Stay Fit While Traveling

How To Stay Fit While Traveling

I woke up this morning on Taghazout Beach, Morocco. My hostel's a few minutes from the water. Family-owned and beautifully decorated with Moroccan tiles, blankets, art and plants. Before eating breakfast, I've stretched, jogged a few miles down the coast and showered.

Other backpackers may see me as crazy for working out while I travel, considering how hard it is to keep a routine of any kind with all the moving around. But for me, traveling has become my lifestyle. One that allows me to try new things and find what works for me and what doesn't. Indeed, my life looks and often feels like a vacation but not in the same respect of being lazy. 

I care about my health and I think it's important to stay in shape! Mentally and physically. So here I'll share my tips for staying fit while traveling. I think you'll feel more balanced by incorporating these practices into your daily life, whether you are living on the road like I am or not. 

Dead Sea, Israel

1) Eat balanced. You'll feel stronger.

Without going too much into nutrition, I'll remind you to make sure to eat enough protein and veggies. Carbs are great for energy and easy to come by, but our bodies need more nutrients than the common staples (rice, bread, potatoes) offer. At first, eating healthy can be a bit overwhelming and difficult depending on where you are traveling. Grocery stores aren't always an option. Thankfully, local markets (referred to as "Farmer's Markets" back in the States) are everywhere. Exquisite selections of fruits, veggies, nuts and grains depending on the season and region. Eggs and chicken are high protein sources that are easy to find as well. I do indulge in the delicacies of each country too, of course trying the local food is a big part of the fun, but I balance my choices here. I feel my best when I'm not eating the unhealthy dishes all the time.

Market (Mysore, India)

2) Drink a gallon of water daily

Water aids in all processes of the body especially digestion. You'll be eating a lot of new foods as a traveler and want to make sure to hydrate enough to help flush out toxins, keep bloating away and replenish water lost through sweat. Drink what Earth provides us with naturally. Limit soda and alcohol.

3) Active Sightsee

This is one of my favorite ways to explore a new place. Climb the 1237 steps up to Tiger Cave (Krabi, Thailand). Beat my time of 43 minutes up the Manitou Incline Hike (Colorado Springs, USA). Trek the Annapurna Circuit (Nepal). Hike to the top of one of Bali's volcanoes like Mt. Batur. There are so many challenges like this as you travel. I love to always seek them out.

 Manitou Incline Hike (2000 ft. vertical climb)

Manitou Incline Hike (2000 ft. vertical climb)

Bike all around Black Rock City, Nevada

4) Plan Ahead For Transit Days

Pack something healthy so you’re not relying on expensive, nutritionally challenged snacks at the airport or bus station. I like to bring a couple of boiled eggs, yogurt and some fruit with me on a long journey.

5) Meditate daily

Mindfulness helps every area of your life, especially the balancing act between eating enough and staying active. Through my daily practice, I’ve further been inspired to eat more organically and not over indulge. 

Lost City of Petra, Jordan

6) Local Gyms

I’ve paid for day passes ranging from 25 cents in Laos to 15 dollars in Bali. This is a great way to gain access to all the weight equipment you normally don’t get to use. Some bigger cities also have free trials like the Golds Gym in Jakarta, Indonesia.

Hostel gym (oh, so rare)

Free 3-day pass to this one in Jakarta.

7) Workout Ideas

  • "Stadiums". One of the greatest workouts ever is repeatedly running up and down stairs. A staircase is easy to find. The longer the stretch of stairs, the better, so you’re not turning around too quickly. I normally do 3-5 staircase repeats followed by a minute jog, repeat for 20-30 minutes. 
 Shayna and I did stadiums & squat jumps at Red Rocks, Colorado. They were SO hard.

Shayna and I did stadiums & squat jumps at Red Rocks, Colorado. They were SO hard.

  • Walk everywhere. You see more of the city this way, find cool things you'd miss while in a taxi and also, get an activity in without even trying. I walk a few miles a day, sometimes more if there's a lot to see in a new place or I have errands to run.

 

  • Resistance bands I talked about these in my favorite travel items post here. I love them! I use youtube for different ideas to work each muscle group.

 

  • Create week or month challenges. For all of February in India, I did 75 pushups each night. I’d recruit random people in my hostel to do them with me and it became a regular ice breaker. (Record # of participants on the same night: 10). 
  • Go Running! Hard, but rewarding. I've been in countries where this is easy & common (Israel) and others where it is not (India). To be more comfortable, I always wear a full body tracksuit and don't make eye contact with anyone I pass. I keep my awareness up, but still get into my workout zone. If running by yourself, make sure the area is safe and don't play your music too loud.

 

  • Make your own equipment. Some parks offer little machines or things to use. One in Chiang Mai had a barbel with cement blocks on either side (pictured below). Fill empty water bottles with sand to use as dumbbells. Deadlift with your backpack on. Creativity pays off.

Next blog post coming soon: Tips For Riding Trains in India


Peace & healthy vibes from Morocco,

Caroline