Do you find it easy to keep up your workouts on vacation? I don’t. But over the years, I’ve found ways to make my trips work with my fitness goals, rather than interrupt them. 

I think we can agree that one of the best things about travel is being taken out of your usual daily grind. Whether you prefer restful vacations or adventure trips, that change in routine is fun. But, if you’re trying to stick to healthier habits with diet and exercise, a trip can also be an excuse to indulge and slack off. 

Even with the best of intentions, our fitness progress can be derailed. Not to mention that if you travel for work like I used to, you really can’t use every single trip as a break. Or you’ll always be two steps forward three steps back, right? 

In this post, I share my best tips for keeping up fitness goals on the road, including some product recommendations for workout gear that packs super small. I’ve broken my tips into two categories: four tips if you’re like me and like to relax, while also making sure to move your body. Then, four tips if you’re seriously into fitness and want to keep it up no matter where you are. 

Set realistic goals that work with your vacations plans, not against them 

Build your fitness plans around the vacation, not the other way around. You might not have access to the facilities you’d need for a full CrossFit workout in a tiny Italian village, but sightseeing along might help you hit 2-3 times your 10,000 step goal. Find peace with the fact that your goals might change based on access to equipment, your vacation  location, and your sightseeing plans. You don’t want to miss out on something phenomenal you could only do in your vacation destination because you were doing crunches in your hotel room. 

Use your surroundings and take advantage of what's available 

If the hotel you’re staying in doesn’t have a gym, and honestly, most don’t if you’re not at a major chain, use what you do have. Staying near the beach? Running in the sand is a great workout and daily swims are a great way to move your body. Do you have the option of a bike tour vs a bus tour? Opt for the bike one to fit in more activity in your day. Maybe you spotted some drop-in yoga classes in the park near your Airbnb, why not join a local class as a way to get a fun experience while keeping up your practice. If you’re near a mountain with an amazing lookout, plan a hike. There are endless examples, so get creative as you’re making your travel plans. 

working out in the park

Every little bit of movement counts, it doesn't have to be all or nothing. 

Maybe at home, you work long hours and your fitness routines are compact and intense. It’s ok if that’s different on vacation. String together as many opportunities for movement as possible and see it as a win if by the end of the day, you’ve hit your movement goals. I find fitness trackers helpful for this, so it all adds up and I can see that I did, in fact, burn a lot of calories, just stretched out over 8 hours. 

Practice intuitive eating vs calorie counting 

Depending on your goals, you may or may not be on a pretty strict diet. For me, part of travel is tasting the local dishes and flavours, so being too strict about calorie intake and macros is a real buzz kill. Instead of obsessing, I try to practice more intuitive eating. Only eating when I’m hungry, only eating until I’m full, and filling my plate with lots of fruits and veggies first. I feel like I can still enjoy everything while following these principles. 

Start your day with a workout

Now for some tips for people who like to workout hard and consistently. 

 If you are dead set on specific workout routines, all the power to you. My advice is to carve out you time at the beginning of the day, so you can move on with the day’s activities after. If you’re on a trip with other people, you might not have full control over your schedule later in the day. To make sure you’re not forced to skip a workout by sheer  circumstance, do it right before things get busy. That might mean sneaking out earlier to do yoga on the patio or to run around the block a few times. Whatever a satisfying workout looks like to you. 

Don't wait for others

With that advice in mind, be ok practicing privately and ask for what you need. Going on a trip with other people can be tricky if everyone has their own rhythm. Don’t wait for other’s to get on your wavelength if workouts aren’t their jam. My advice is to put your plans out there to set expectations and express that this is important to you. If you don’t mind company, you can announce, for example, that you’ll be getting up for pre-breakfast yoga and that anyone is welcome to join. Or, if you prefer private workouts, just let everyone know you’ll be available after for group activities. Make your plans known so nobody is surprised and nobody, (intentionally or not) derails your plans. This is also your vacation after all!  

Pack equipment that's travel-friendly 

I have a whole blog post on travel-friendly workout gear with plenty of suggestions. But in a nutshell, some of my favourite items to pack for travel-friendly workouts are:

  • Workout clothes, obviously. I try to pick things I can easily wash in a sink and dry quick, like merino tops. I also try to be smart about my workout wear so I can wear it with other non-workout things too to maximize my wardrobe.
  • I also try to pick cuter sneakers, so I can pair them with other outfits, like dresses.
  • Resistance bands are also some of my favourite things to pack to level up a body-weight workout. 
  • Sliders pack flat and have two sides, so you can use them on carpets and hardwood floors. 
  • You can simply pack a yoga towel and use a regular towel underneath to create a bit of padding, or you can also pack a grippy thin travel mat if you need that. 
  • I haven’t personally used these, but there are bags that you can fill with water to turn them into dumbbells, which I find pretty ingenious. 
  • A skipping rope is also one of my favourite easy-to-pack fitness items and I use them in parking lots, concrete patios and anywhere where I’m not bothering anyone with the jumping. 

Tune into online workouts 

There is so much available online now that you can full on have a remote virtual-only trainer and still have an amazing workout experience. If you’re dead set on building on your progress, follow one of these programs on an app that creates workouts for you and helps you progress to more difficult things. 

working out online

Be gentle so you don't hurt yourself, put yourself in danger, or exhaust yourself

Lastly, for people who work out hard, make sure you don’t ruin your trip by getting injured on vacation. If you don’t have travel insurance, a trip to the hospital in a foreign country can be expensive and complicated. For minor injuries, it can just be a huge pain in the butt and put a wrench in your sightseeing plans. Take it easy, don’t put yourself at risk, and hydrate! Avoid intense workouts at peak hours for the sun and heat, and drink lots of water. Stop if you feel faint. Also, jogging outside is a pretty western concept, so depending on where you’re visiting, it might be unsafe to go jogging in some neighbourhoods. Make sure you are informed about safety where you are. 

And that’s it, those are my tips for keeping up with your fitness goals on vacation. 

Happy Travels xoxo