How many times you’ve returned from a holiday with a few extra pounds on you? And I am not talking about luggage, but weight. I remember my trip to Italy… before I left, I used to go to the gym every day, swimming in the morning and doing a class in the evening. I felt great with my body! But the one month I spent in Italy has brought me so many opportunities to try the local food to which I never said no. So, all my work at the gym, before my trip, went in vain. I was again back to the point that brought me to the decision to start a healthier lifestyle in the first place. I don’t regret anything though, as Italy was an amazing experience. However, I know I should have done more to keep in shape and still enjoy all the great food that Italy offered me. Because, isn’t Italian cuisine one of the best in the world?
So how can we enjoy a holiday but also keep in shape and don’t come back home with extra “luggage”?
What to pack for an active holiday
You don’t need to pack a lot of extra items in your luggage if you want to keep fit whilst traveling, but make sure you do think about the environment and don’t take anything that you won’t really use. Always pack light and in an eco-friendly way by choosing a smaller backpack.
Don’t forget to bring:
- A swimming suit/Speedo
- Your gym kit (sweatpants and tshirt)
- A good pair of running shoes (they are great for hiking easy trails as well because of their support)
- A reusable travel water bottle (most of the tap water in Europe is drinkable)
- A fast-drying towel (it can be great for both using in hostels and taking it with you on a run)
I am a supporter of slow travel, and this means that I recommend with all my heart walking everywhere instead of taking the bus. I walked the entire old centre of Rome, from morning till dawn, without taking any public transport. I walked from the Vatican all the way to Piazza del Popollo, to the Colosseum and then up to Termini.
To keep in shape, you need to walk at least 10,000 steps a day, but when you are traveling, this is not that much. For someone who weights around 65kg, 10,000 steps mean that you are burning around 400 calories! And that’s the equivalent of the delicious pistachio gelato you just had.
Plus, what’s the best way of discovering all the secret corners of a city if not through walking? You can never know how you can stumble upon a local that will befriend you and will show you around!
I personally love hiking. It’s a wonderful way to connect yourself with the nature and every time I travel I tend to look for a place to go hike. In Italy, I used to go around the hills surrounding my house at least once a week. One weekend I went to Cinque Terre and did part of the Sentiero Azzuro trail, as much as it was open. I completed it a few years ago, during my second visit to Cinque Terre. Unfortunately, due to the floods and the land slips from a few years ago, parts of the trail are still closed for safety.
During my last trip to Central America I hiked Pacaya volcano, in Guatemala. In Chile, I went up the Villarica volcano. In Peru I spent 5 days hiking to Machu Picchu.
Hiking can be a very enjoyable way to spend a day if you keep in mind a few simple rules: don’t choose a difficult trail if you are not physically fit for it, always wear good grip shoes and bring plenty of water with you.
I love swimming, even if I am not very good at it. As long as I am in a pool and not in the open ocean without a life vest, I feel confident and find it quite relaxing rather than a workout. When booking a hotel for your next trip check if they have a pool. Most of the 4 stars will have quite a large one.
The best time to go swimming is early morning, when all the other guests are still sleeping or having breakfast. Some of my best mornings were in Malta, where I would wake up at sunrise, when the first rays of sun would break through my room, jump into my swimsuit, take my towel and head over to the outdoor pool for a swim.
If your hotel doesn’t have a pool, you can always search for a local gym. Usually most of them will have day passes that will cost only about a fiver, and will include use of their sauna or Jacuzzi as well.
An hour in the pool, swimming slowly, will burn up to 400 calories.
Rent a bike
If you are in a cycle-friendly city, why not rent a bike to see all the attractions at a slower pace? Most of Europe’s capitals have public bicycles that you can rent with your credit card. You can also search for apps like Donkey Republic, which let you see where the nearest bike that you can unlock with your phone is, and pay directly through it, for as long as you use it. I find this to be a great concept as not everywhere you can rent a public bicycle as a tourist.
Exploring a city on two wheels is both relaxing and keeps you fit in the same time. A one-hour leisure bike ride can burn up to 450 calories. If it’s hilly, even more!
I have to admit that I am not a runner. I would happily choose any of the above activities instead of jogging. I was never good at it. I even remember how in school, at the PE classes, when the teacher would make us run around the school building, I always had a bicycle waiting for me around the corner.
There are plenty of people who love jogging, and they don’t have to stop their daily habit on holiday. Each city has plenty of routes where you can jog. I remember the beautiful Malecon, in Havana, where people would jog alongside the waves smashing in the concrete walls. It was such a beautiful sight, especially early mornings, at sunrise, when nobody else was around.
Did you know that if you weight 65kg and run a mile every 12 minutes, you burn around 100 calories/mile?
How do you keep fit when you are traveling?
Disclaimer: This article was written in collaboration with Simply Swim.
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