“Eh, why not? I’m on vacation!”
We’ve all made this excuse, right? It makes for a fun trip, but then you bring home a big ol’ souvenir of self-loathing. It makes sense that when you’re in a new place, you’ll want to try restaurants and treats that you can’t get at home, and you absolutely should take advantage of these opportunities. But how will you be responsible about it, so that your vacation doesn’t create a giant setback for your health and fitness?
I’ve had jobs that keep me on the road most of the time — as much as 44 weeks a year in the past. Continental breakfasts and airport lounges are no friends to fitness. I had to figure out how to make my wellness a priority when I was constantly on the go and could not rely on a routine. Below are my three keys to fitting in fitness on the go!
How to Stay Fit Away From Home
1. Set aside time to work out at the BEGINNING of the day. It’s too easy to make excuses for yourself when you’re tired at the end of a long day of sightseeing. “Well, we did do a lot of walking … I don’t REALLY need to do anymore cardio today …” Or, “I carried those heavy shopping bags for hours — I can skip the weights … ” Sound familiar? Set your alarm and head down to the hotel gym before you leave. It’s so easy to tell yourself you’ll get to it later, and then find your day all filled up.
2. No gym? No problem. Most hotels these days have at least a minimally-equipped fitness room, but maybe you’re staying at someone’s house or just don’t have access to any equipment for whatever reason. No biggie! It’s great to mix up your workout as much as you can, but in a pinch, a few good sets of squats and push-ups will hit almost all of your major muscle groups. You can walk or jog outside for cardio, or do a YouTube search to find a workout you can do in your room (we love this one!). There are oodles of great free workouts on the internet.
3. Be prepared for climate and elevation differences. Don’t try to push yourself too hard on your first day in a new place — you need to give yourself a chance to get used to the different climate and elevation. I gave myself a frightening asthma attack when I went for what I thought would be an easy bike ride in Klamath Falls, Ore. The trail was mostly flat, so I wasn’t expecting it to be too challenging, but what I didn’t consider was the fact that I was 4,000 feet higher than I was used to at home. Humidity can be another kind of beast when you’re not used to it. I remember struggling to run a mile in the Virginia countryside just a few weeks after completing a half marathon in the much drier Pacific Northwest. Environmental conditions can add a surprising degree of difficulty, so don’t try to push too hard. If your body is telling you to slow down or take a break, listen to it!
Staying fit on vacation doesn’t mean skipping the sightseeing to hit the gym or forgoing a decadent meal at a new restaurant. It is your vacation and you should let loose and take time to relax — but you’ll feel a lot better when you return to your home routine if you haven’t completely ignored your fitness while you were away.
Do you have other tips and tricks on how to stay fit when you’re traveling? Share ’em! —Meg