A minimalist's Guide to Staying Fit while Traveling

 by Liesa Huppertz
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This guide on how to stay in shape while traveling was written by Margaret Dunn, a traveling health and fitness coach. Follow her adventures on Instagram to see where she travels and how she works out!

If you’re anything like me, when you’re traveling, whether for work or for fun, your main goal is to relax. Hitting the gym or going for a run are the furthest things from your mind. And choosing a light, healthy meal over the delicious local cuisine? Forget about it! On the other hand, (again, if you’re like me) altering your routine, even for a few days, can completely throw off your groove. It doesn’t matter how dedicated or focused you are; skipping out on your routine for more than a couple of days means starting over from scratch and giving yourself pep talks just to put your sweats on and think about heading to the gym. It’s an evasive balance to find. So how, you might ask, can I find that balance and stay fit while traveling? I’m going to give you the five most effective (and simplest) ways to stay fit while on the move.

1. Take the (un)easy way out

If you’re planning a tour, exploring the neighborhood, or just heading off to work for the day, rather than grabbing a taxi or renting a car, WALK! It’s as simple as that! You don’t have to lace up your sneakers and go for an intense run. Studies show that walking, even for just a short distance, every day can improve your mood, strengthen your bones and muscles, help with weight loss and/or maintenance, and decrease your risk for heart disease and diabetes.

Perhaps you’re planning on going for a longer distance. Well, the answer is simple: rent a bike! Biking is a great form of exercise and can get you from point A to point B quickly and easily. It is also a pleasurable way to get around town, as you can take alternate roots, enjoy the fresh air, and revel in the beauty of nature. Biking is also a lot faster than walking, which is great for impatient people like me.

A walk in the woods

2. Teamwork makes the dream work

Dragging a friend along with me while I work out always makes it easier. It motivates me to actually get going and not completely slack off. It also gives me someone to gossip with while putting in my 20 minutes on the treadmill or running around the block. Some people enjoy a nice, quiet jog by themselves, or a good, hard gym session alone. Me? Nine times out of ten, if I don’t have someone nagging me to get up and go, I’ll stay in bed. Having a friend with me is the easiest way for me to get my bum in gear.

Next time you’re on vacation with friends, make a plan to hit the gym, go for a morning run, or maybe just watch a quick YouTube yoga video in your hotel room. That way, you can hold each other accountable and still enjoy yourselves while working on your buns of steele.

workout with a partner

3. Work with what you’ve got

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been on a trip and have wanted to get a good, sweaty session in, but haven’t had access to a gym. What do I do, you ask? Well, I pick up the nearest log or rock and make my own routine! A big, washed up tree trunk on the beach makes an excellent place for tricep dips, step ups, incline push ups, and whatever else your body/mind can come up with. All you need is a bit of imagination and, viola! You have a whole body workout.

Some things I have used in my make-shift workouts have been rocks, tree trunks, smaller limbs from trees, water resistance (ocean or pool), and of course, body weight. I've even used cans of food when I've been stuck inside with no weights (whatever works, right?). I’m telling you, you just have to be a bit creative and you don’t even need a gym!

A good driftwood log makes for a great piece of exercise equipment.

Using a coconut as a fitness equipment

4. Get some fresh air

Sometimes the best way to get a good workout in is to get out and go for a hike. Now that's something that I can wake up for. Set your alarm for an early morning trek, as it gives you something to look forward to, and is a great way to get (or stay) in shape. There are so many places to explore, so get out there and enjoy Mother Nature in all her glory!

Now, sometimes we are not in a place where there is a nice hiking trail readily available. Well, in that case, find a nice park to walk around in. Or perhaps just go walking through the city and see what you discover. Just get up and get moving, one way or another!

Hikes in the forest are worth the dreaded early morning alarm.

5. Make it a plan

If I make a set plan to work out or go on a daily walk, I am much more likely to do so. I already have the idea in my head, and setting a plan in stone to do something every day (or maybe every other day) gives me more of a drive to actually do it. I like to go into my trip with the goal of keeping somewhat of a routine going as far as staying fit and being active. That way, I'm much more likely to follow through.

Also, using tools like Google Calendar or writing it in my desk planner helps, because then I see if in writing and feel obligated to follow through. I mean, who can argue when your calendar tells you what to do?

Google Calendar tells me how to live my life, and I let it.

So, you see? Staying fit while living the life of a nomad IS possible! You just need to bring the right attitude and work with what you've got!

Follow Margaret's adventures on Instagram to see where she travels and how she works out!

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