Deciding what to wear for a workout when I’m at home isn’t hard. I have types of clothes I prefer for different types of workouts, and I know what undergarments work with various fitness tops and bottoms, and I can pick which shoes I want to wear based on activity or distance.
But when I’m traveling on a plane and space is at a premium?
But I’ve gotten pretty decent at it over the years, so I thought I’d share my top tips for ensuring that I’m never without workout-appropriate gear … and still have space to pack my snorkel. (And, reminder, some of the links below are affiliate ones, so if you decide to purchase them, you’re helping to keep this site going — thanks!)
Do double duty.
Instead of a sheer tank, I might opt for a top (like this) that would also work under a cardigan for a casual day early in my trip — or even on the flight. Solid leggings can be worn for loads of non-workout situations if they’re nice quality, fully opaque, and you pair them with a tunic, long sweater, or go with a full athleisure look. One note on leggings, however — if you have a possibility of being upgraded on your flight or are flying on an employee’s buddy pass, you might want to stick to true street clothes depending on the airline’s rules.
I avoid bringing more than one pair of sneakers when at all possible, so I’ll often choose a pair that also looks good with a cotton dress or jeans and will work for workouts. (I wore an older pair of gray Brooks PureFlows all over London and Italy while walking, cycling, and running, and I think the Revel is pretty much made for just what I’m talking about.)
Running shorts might be less versatile than leggings, but they don’t take up much space and probably don’t require you to pack undies for them. Plus, in most cases, they’re pretty quick drying, so you can easily give them a rinse during your post-workout shower and hang them to dry so you can wear them again for your next workout. Tanks with built-in bras can be great options for lower-impact activities like yoga, but I would recommend having at least one sports bra with your usual support on hand for just about anything else. A mile into a 10k isn’t the time you want to realize that your top wasn’t made for this.
Even if you’re not comfortable running in just a sports bra at home, doing so when you’re in a new location might be different. You’re not seeing people you see all the time, and, if you’re visiting a beachy area, chances are good that you’re getting sweaty surrounded by loads of people wearing far less. Being able to leave a few tops at home can free up quite a bit of space — especially if you’re able to rinse and dry your sports bra every day or so to rewear it!
Maybe you aren’t comfortable with just a basic rinse of your clothes after a killer workout. I get it — I’ve been there. In that case, if space is truly an issue, it might be worth inquiring ahead of time about laundry facilities wherever you’re staying. If we’re talking about a long trip with many clothes that require serious washing, you might want to check out the Scrubba Wash Bag. I used one the first time I went to Hawaii and it saved my socks after some incredibly muddy hikes.
I am obsessed with my space-saving travel bags. There are all sorts of options out there (travel cubes, vacuum sealed bags, etc.), but the ones I got don’t require any additional tools, seal tightly, and are small enough to serve as organizational tools, too. I use one for workout clothes, one for socks and undies, and one or two for my other clothes. As I work (i.e. sweat) through what I’ve packed, I switch one to a dirty clothes bag so I can easily keep things separated without sacrificing space. Plus, because they seal, if you’ve gotten a few items real stinky, you can keep them from smelling up your clean clothes, easy peasy!
Got any other hot tips for packing light? Whatever I pack for sleeping also doubles as workout wear, just in case I happen to run short. —Kristen