Enjoy your Vacation and Maintain your Healthy Lifestyle – Part Two
Exercising on Vacation
Vacations can be an amazing experience and a wonderful way to reduce your stress levels. However, travelling for many people can mean an upset in their workout routine. Rather than adjusting their routine to fit within their travel plans, exercise can be abandoned all together through an ‘all or nothing’ attitude. There is good news! There is a middle ground! It is possible to incorporate exercise and still enjoy your vacation. Travelling doesn’t have to interrupt and derail your healthy regime. All you need is to be a little flexible and it can be done ? Read on for my top 10 tips for getting in that all important movement whilst on vacation!
Tip 1 – Plan Ahead – Work your Workout into your Itinerary
Exercise is something that should be worked into your holiday itinerary. Plan ahead of time when and where you’ll fit in your workouts. Knowing your plans means you’re more likely to stick to them. Exercise is great for your physical and mental health. A bonus is that it’s a great de-stressor too (something that can occur easily whilst travelling)! Prioritise your physical and mental health. Just because you’re on vacation doesn’t mean that these should slide. Structure it into your environment and then make it happen (physically scheduling it into your printed itinerary or itinerary app is a great way!). Do your homework. Prior to heading off on vacation, gain a sense of the workout possibilities in and around the area you’re staying. Know whether your accommodation includes a gym / workout area or if you’ll need to have another plan of attack.
Tip 2 – Pack your Workout Gear
This sounds like a pretty simple one, but it goes without saying – pack your workout gear. Set yourself up for success by packing strategically. Otherwise it just becomes a good excuse not do exercise. Going for a run is going to be much harder if you don’t pack your sneakers. Just because you had good intentions and envisioned your feet hitting the pavement, doesn’t mean that you actually did it. Pack your workout clothes and shoes and you’ll have no excuse. It’s a not-so-subtle reminder to get up and move!
This takes me to my next tip…
Tip 3 – Pack Small Exercise Equipment
Your suitcase can easily fit small exercise equipment such as a Thera Band (resistance band) and skipping rope. These are both light, take up minimal space and can provide a fantastic workout. A resistance band can allow you to complete a broad range of exercises. It can be stood on to provide a range of upper body exercises. It can be tied around your thighs to give a great (and intense!) butt and hip workout. And it can be used whilst lying on your back to provide resistance for a number of leg workouts. A full-body workout for only a couple of additional grams luggage weight. It is a game changer! For a more cardiovascular workout, the skipping rope will certainly get your heart rate up. This one is probably best kept as an outside activity unless you’re staying at a hotel with a gym! If like us and Yoga is your thing, you can pack a lightweight travel yoga mat in your suitcase. Yoga is a great way to stretch and untie those tight muscles from sitting in transit too long. It can also be quite an intense full body workout too if you so wish!
Tip 4 – Use a Workout App
There are numerous workout apps available these days to suit every budget and style. If apps aren’t your thing, there are also workout streaming services available ranging from strength training, HIIT, Yoga and Pilates. All of these can be done from the comfort of your own home, hotel room or even outside. The best part is these exercises are primarily designed to use your own bodyweight. This means the only thing you need is you and gravity! No additional luggage required!
Tip 5 – Scope out Local Classes
Now is the perfect time to check out that cool Fitness Studio you’ve been stalking on social media! One of the benefits of travelling is being able to explore the different fitness classes on offer.
Taking a local class is a great way to immerse yourself in the culture of a place. Even if the class is instructed in another language, who cares! Go with the flow and make the most of it. It’s not often that you get the opportunity to experience something like this. It can be a great way to really relax, unwind and start your vacation right. One of my fond memories of our recent trip to Bali was the yoga classes we took on our first day. We felt instantly relaxed and as though we’d been in holiday mode for days already! Studios will sometimes offer an introductory membership for a couple of weeks at a discounted rate. This can be a great way to partake in classes without breaking the bank.
Tip 6 – Use Hotel Amenities
If you prefer to use traditional gym equipment or stay true to your workout regime back home, most hotels have gym facilities available to their guests. If staying in an alternate style of accommodation such as Airbnb, the amenities will vary from place to place. Be sure to look at the specific arrangement for your booking and factor this into your list of required criteria if it is a ‘must have’. If your accommodation doesn’t have a gym (or one that is satisfactorily up to your standards), have a look at potential gyms in your area. A lot of fitness centres will offer daily or weekly passes so you should be able to find one that meets your requirements. Some of the very large gym chains allow you to visit all their centres worldwide as part of your standard membership. Check this out as an option too!
Tip 7 – Hit the Trails
Chances are even if you’re staying in a large city, there is a forest or hiking trail within a reasonable distance. A day out in nature is a fantastic way to fit in some exercise and de-stress. This is the perfect activity for people of all ages too. An unsettled toddler can easily be tamed by a walk in the wilderness; inspecting all the flora and fauna that doesn’t exist back home! Worst case scenario, the trees aren’t going to mind about the temper tantrums unlike some crowded tourist attraction might!
If you are on a long travel day with nothing ahead of you but a lengthy drive – hiking is a great way to break this up. Find a suitable park or nature reserve along the route and schedule in a few hours break. It’ll get the blood pumping again and really stretch your legs after sitting in a car for so long. We did this frequently as we drove throughout Northern Spain and were privy to some of the most beautiful countryside. It was a free family friendly activity and we’ll have fond memories of these stops forever.
Tip 8 – Get Involved in Activities
Regardless of where you’re going on vacation, you can pretty much guarantee there will be some form of activity to get involved in and help stay active. You don’t need to be staying at a fancy resort either. Whilst resorts will often offer water sports such as paddle boarding, kayaking and snorkelling in their accommodation packages; you can just as easily find these activities on your own. Depending on where I’m staying, I may ask the Reception desk for any recommendations but I also like to do my own check against Trip Advisor (or other similar online sites) for reviews so I’m wary of shoddy operators. Check over any equipment before you head out on it to ensure it looks safe. We love to get a bit adventurous when travelling and try things we wouldn’t normally at home – so far we’ve added white water rafting, diving, cave tubing and horse riding to the list. We’ll see what else we can try out next time! There are of course less adventurous options available too! Swimming is a great fully body exercise. Next time you’re lazing by the poolside, jump in and have a swim for 10 minutes. Do this six times throughout the day and you’ve been swimming for an hour! It doesn’t need to be a technically correct swim either – a mix of treading water and front and back strokes will provide a good amount of exercise.
Heading for a swim down the beach instead adds the complexity of the waves and ups the workout. Add in a walk (or run) along the beach sand and you’ll be feeling that burn quite quickly. The natural resistance of the sand can make a simple walk feel much tougher than on pavement. Walking along the beach however has an amazing effect of calming and reinvigorating so the long beach stretches don’t quite feel as tough as they could (I can first-hand attest to this after many kilometres of soft sand walking into headwinds whilst carrying a heavy hiking backpack… The sight and sound of the waves made it almost bearable ?)
Tip 9 – Walk as much as Possible and Track your Steps
It goes without saying but try to walk as much as possible. Exploring a new city by foot provides a vastly different experience to seeing it by car or tour bus. On foot, you can slip down narrow streets and alley ways. You can pause to take in a sight rather than whizzing by in a blur. You also have the opportunity to stumble across hidden local hole-in-the-wall places you’d never find otherwise. All the while getting in your precious daily steps! When catching public transport, hop off one stop earlier and take the scenic route. It usually doesn’t add that much to your journey time-wise but will help your step count. Another oldie but a goodie, is to take the stairs. It will get the blood pumping and your leg muscles working. When staying in some of the older buildings throughout our European travels, we had no option as elevators didn’t exist. Lugging a large suitcase up 4 stories certainly left us puffing by the end of it! Many of the large tourist attractions such as the Eifel Tower, will also allow you to climb the stairs instead of taking the elevator. That would be a unique experience in itself! Tracking your daily step count will help to keep you motivated. A wearable tracking device is ideal, however most mobile phones will also give you a rough idea of how far you’ve travelled. Aim for 10,000 steps each day. This should be easily achieved as you walk around the various tourist sites (or dance up a storm if that’s your preference!).
Tip 10 – Rent a Bike
Cycling is such a fun way to explore the countryside and can burn quite a few calories in the process. It is in fact one of our favourite past times! Cycling allows you to travel further than walking but at a pace in which you can appreciate and enjoy the sights. Bike riding is quite trendy these days in many cities so it’s quite easy to find and hire bikes. Ensure you check the local laws and grab yourself a helmet. If you’re not confident to explore a city on your own, there are usually a few operators that provide bike tours. We rented bikes during our stay in Banos Ecuador and set off on a 65km ride between two cities. It was an exhilarating ride and at times quite scary on those windy rides and overzealous drivers! Most of all, riding at our own pace allowed us to stop wherever we wanted and to take in all the sights along the way. Had we travelled in the car; we wouldn’t have witnessed the change in the biodiversity of the area from tropical rainforest to normal forest as we dropped down 1,000 metres in elevation. Safe to say that after riding one direction, we caught the bus back!
Lastly…Factor in Jetlag, Tiredness and New Routines
Travelling can be exciting but also be tiring. Between long flights; changes in timezones and seasons (hello from the other side of the world here in Australia!!); and sleeping in different beds, travelling can take its toll on your body. Jetlag can be a real killer. Jet lag is the phenomenon of traveling from one time zone to another, but still being stuck in the former timezone. When I’m sleep deprived, exercise is the last thing on my mind. However, it is often the best way to reset your circadian rhythm. Prioritise sleep but also try to assimilate into the new time zone as quickly as possible. Go for a walk in the sunshine and fresh air if you arrive during the day. Sleep when night falls in the new city. It’s important to be realistic with your exercise routine. Whilst you may have all the best intentions in the world, if you’re body isn’t adjusting well to the new circumstances, you’ll need to adjust your routine to suit. Don’t set unrealistic expectations for yourself. Accomplishing something is certainly better than nothing!