How to stay in shape while traveling

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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 and use packing cubes to keep your clothes organized.

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)

 

Walk everywhere

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.

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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!

 

Read more on how to workout when you only have limited time during your trip.

 

Go hiking

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.

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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.

 

Go swimming

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.

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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.

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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!

 

Go jogging

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.

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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.

Some of the links one this website are “affiliate links.” This means that if you click on the link and do a purchase, I will receive an affiliate commission at no extra cost for you. This helps me keep my website running and continue to share my traveling knowledge with you. I thank you for booking your flights or hotels using the links on my website. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers.

Traveler. Dreamer. Cat lover. Wondering around the world with my backpack and my camera. Contributing to make the world a better place.

46 Comments

  1. I absolutely love this article! There’s something about vacation that makes you feel a bit lazy, and I can totally relate to the lures of Italian food. Fitness abroad sounds like a really great trend that I will totally jump on! (if I could go abroad again…)

    XOXO,

    Kat

  2. I’ve never really considered these things as keeping active when I’m travelling if I’m honest! I love exploring new places so will usually walk or hike (I guess that’s one word for me stumbling around haha!) to get there. These are fabulous suggestions and things everyone can do!

  3. I walk everywhere when I travel, and I always make sure to stay at a hotel that has a gym and get up before the day starts to get my sweat on! It’s mandatory/a non-issue in my life!

  4. These are some great ideas on ways to stay active while away. I have to admit I love getting in the pool when I’m away though I never really thought of it being keeping in shape it’s just something I’ve always enjoyed as part of a holiday.

  5. This is just a post written for me. I love travel and do it 4 times a year! Second I am a fitness freak. I love how you talk about renting a bike and jogging. I am not sure if I still have the energy to jog during traveling but I really love the idea of renting a bike to explore. Hiking too is another thing I will love to do.

  6. These are awesome ideas for people who love to travel but would also like to stay in shape. I love the idea of walking around because it allows you to see more of the place while you also get that much needed exercise.

  7. one of things I really love when we go anywhere (even just a hotel in town) is swimming! They must have a pool! It’s a great way to relax but it’s also a great way to get some exercise in! These are great and I would love to rent a bike the next time we travel further away from home!

  8. I always walk everywhere when I’m on vacation. I feel like you experience your destination (where ever that may be) so much better that way. Great tips!

  9. I’m like you and whenever we travel I walk everywhere we possibly can. Not only is it great exercise, but it’s far nicer to mingle with the locals and easier to stop into a local pub for a drink. Also, wherever we go, I like to sign up for a week at an exercise place I haven’t tried. Most offer your first week free. This past summer I went to Colorado and tried out the coolest yoga studio I’ve ever been to. My favorite class was hot candlelight yoga at 10 pm. x

  10. Your tips are so easy to follow. I keep fit while travelling by either taking long walks and exploring and also just going for a run. I am yet to try hiking but that is only because the places I have so far visited do not have great hiking trails.

  11. I am not an active person as you are. When I travel, I always eat then walk a few steps to take pictures and gaze at the scenery for moment and eat again. We always get on public transport when we transfer to different locations. And I figured out, that maybe I can do it the way you do. The next time I travel, I’ll be on my most comfy walking shoes and light clothes so I can walk around the place as long as possible.

  12. When we go anywhere we tend to walk a lot, and keep busy. All your suggestions are great ways of having that little bit of exercise that doesn’t take much effort, but always helps.

  13. Whenever I go travelling, I have to admit, I have good intentions of going for runs and then never do! However, I end to do a lot more walking or hiking than I would in a typical day at home and I find this usually compensates ok! There’s nothing worse than post holiday blues as well as feeling unfit!

  14. I really love this article. I am always travelling and when I do I usually just abandon my exercise routine. I love your tips there are so easy to follow and yes swimming is a great way to work out. I also happen to love being in pools and at the beach so I like this option the most.

  15. Travelling always disrupts my fitness plans. I do try and walk alot while travelling, and hike as much as I can, but sometimes all that sitting waiting for airplanes takes its toll! (and the good food!)

  16. Staying in shape is always something I try to do rather I’m traveling or not. However, it can difficult to stay in shape while traveling so these tips will be great help/reminder to stay in shape.

  17. Great ideas. I think that walking everywhere, biking, and hiking are also great ways to really immerse yourself in the place you’re traveling. Instead of holding up in a hotel and using a car to get everywhere, you can get a more authentic feel of the place when you travel by foot or bicycle.

  18. I am glad you had an amazing time in Italy. I agree with you, it is so not always feasible to say no to the local delicacies and famous food of the place when you are traveling. Some great tips here, I am more of a walking person, I love walking and do prefer to even go up the stairs instead of taking the elevator.

  19. For me I find walking is my best friend when I travel, my fitbit can rack up so many steps without even realising I am exercising! You gave so many great tips here 🙂

  20. No going to lie, I’m usually more in shape when traveling than not – I’m never used to all the walking haha! I backpacked Italy for two weeks in 2016 and it was amazing, and also kept me very active! Glad you enjoyed it too!

  21. These are some great suggestions, for me. When we travel we always walk and renting a bike to have so much fun and enjoy more the beautiful places.

  22. great tips! I somehow always manage to forget trainers, so have hiked up a mountain in ballerina flats before — terrible idea!

  23. All of those are great ideas. I think I am with you that slow travel through walking is an excellent way to get to know the city and the people. I know when I went to China I ended up meeting someone that way and someone came along and introduced themselves. I got to try some unique and amazing food and go to some great out of the way places on our journey as a result.

  24. I’ve tried it and it’s completely not impossible to achieve. You can travel and be healthy while also getting the chance to taste the local cuisine. These are awesome suggestions on how to do that!

  25. I think when you are travelling it can be much easier to get steps in when you are sightseeing as more often than not walking around makes it easier to see everything. When I was in London with my husband, we walked all over the place and it was such an amazing experience.

  26. I always worry on holiday about how much weight I’m going to put on but it actually never turns out to be that bad because like you, I walk as much as I can. I love walking around new destinations, really getting a feel for the place. I should try and swim more on holiday too, it’s something I always regret when I get home because we don’t get the luxury of amazing weather and outdoor pools.

  27. These are all super practical tips to keep fit while travelling. Unfortunately, not all travels are for fun and not all of them allow for that extra time. I guess when scheduling business trips it should be mandatory to take health and fitness time into account! But companies don’t always have this consideration for employees 🙁

  28. A great writeup! This has been a big issue with me lately on my travels. It’s been very hard for me to stay fit. but I would definitely try some of the tips you have mentioned here. Thanks for sharing!! 🙂

  29. Such great ideas… I like to keep fit and if anything I do more activities on holiday/travel that I keep fit. .. If I can I’ll make sure the places I stay at have swimming pools so I can jump in here and there.

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