21 Effective Tips for Staying Fit on Vacation

It’s tough to stay in shape while traveling the world. You’re in new environments, trying a bunch of new cuisines, and lack access to an actual gym. All you want to do is explore new places and try new foods/restaurants, which you totally should! However, if your goal is to maintain your weight or even lose weight while on vacation, then there are a few things you can do to achieve this. Read on to explore a bunch of my favorite ways to avoid weight gain and stay healthy while on vacation!

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Diet. It’s easy to fall into a bad habit while traveling whether that’s consuming nutritionally poor food or too much alcohol. If there is one tip I can give it’s to consider diet as your first line of defense. I know, I know, eating is a huge part of traveling. But with these few tips below, you’ll have no problem balancing the maintenance of your diet with a little indulgence here and there.

Exercise. While your vacation may be mean a break in routine, don’t let that be an excuse to skimp on physical activity. With so many fun and effortless ways to explore a new destination while staying active, you’ll be sure to burn calories and stay in shape without even trying.

How To Stay Fit and Exercise On Vacation

Maintain a healthy diet

Exercise is important, but the main driver for staying in shape is your diet. You can’t expect to lose weight after working out at the gym for 30 minutes, followed by consuming a double cheeseburger and milkshake afterward. However, when you’re traveling it can be really hard to maintain a consistent diet, especially because the food is half the fun. Chances are, you’ll be eating out a lot. When doing so, be mindful of eating wholesome foods. Seek out menu items that are abundant in fresh fruits, veggies, and protein; try to avoid those that are extra carb-heavy.

Tip: If you do happen to choose the high-salt/high-carb option, that’s totally okay too (you’re allowed to indulge–after all, you are on vacation). Just remember to chug a lot of water and get a walk in after your meal.

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Don’t eat two bad meals in a row

Limiting bad meals or cheat meals to once a day is a good way to limit the damage you can do while on vacation. By never eating two bad meals in a row. If I’m in a location known for something unhealthy and delicious, If you find a restaurant or a dish on Yelp that you absolutely must try, make sure the meals before and after are healthy enough to make up for that one bad meal.

Cook at least one of your meals per day

A super simple way to keep your diet in check (and save money) is by preparing meals for yourself. Book a rental with a kitchen or even just a fridge. On longer trips, I prefer to stay in houses, apartments, and even hostels because of the fact that there is a full kitchen. Going to the local market or farmer’s market for fresh produce is fun and enjoyable in itself, so it’s a total win-win.

Make fast and easy oatmeal for breakfast

Keeping instant oatmeal in a Ziploc bag along with your preferred toppings (dried fruit, chia seeds, nuts, brown sugar, cinnamon) makes for a super convenient and nutritious meal when you’re on the go. By keeping them all in the same bag, you won’t have to do any prep work other than adding water. Hot water is accessible in a lot of places, so just ask for some water, or boil some at your Airbnb/hotel. Enjoy your cheap, easy, and healthy meal in a coffee cup!

Bring fruit/veggie supplements

Traveling can take a toll on your body. To prevent getting sick (especially if you’re not eating that well), pack powdered superfood supplement and a blender bottle for smoothies. To prevent getting sick during your trip or after your trip, keep your nutrients in-check while traveling with a superfood green juice powder. This equally as good option by Naturelo claims to be able to boost energy, detox, and enhance health.

Have a larger lunch and a light dinner

If you’re going to calorie-splurge on a meal, make it your lunch meal. This way, you’ll have many hours left in the day to burn it off. Have a lighter dinner, especially if you know you’ll be sleeping right after with little to no physical activity.

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Try intermittent fasting

There’s a lot of science behind this eating lifestyle, but it’s a powerful tool that can help you maintain your weight when you’re traveling and indulging in great meals. Here’s a quick rundown:

Intermittent fasting is an eating pattern that cycles between periods of fasting and eating. It doesn’t specify which foods you should eat but rather when you should eat them. By consuming fewer calories throughout the day, you’re able to sustainably prevent weight gain. Additionally, intermittent fasting changes various hormone levels to facilitate weight loss. By helping you eat fewer and burn more calories, intermittent fasting causes weight loss by changing both sides of the calorie equation.

The 16/8 method (one of the most sustainable methods of IF in my opinion) involves skipping breakfast and restricting your daily eating period to 8 hours, such as 1–9 p.m. Then you fast for 16 hours in between.

Drink water

This is a no-brainer at home, so apply the same logic when traveling. It’ll keep you full, hydrated, and help you stay away from drinking unhealthy drinks like soda and juice. If you would like to drink something else, opt for tea with little to no added sugar.

Tip: Always carry a water bottle with you to avoid dehydration during your travels. Being in the sun, exploring on foot, and taking planes, buses, and trains can take a lot out of your body.

Avoid packaged junk food on vacation

Avoid processed junk foods, candy/chips, and liquid calories like soda or bottled juice. You can already eat these ultra-crappy things at home, and they’ll bring no joy or value to your travel experience, so just avoid them altogether. If you’re going to splurge on cheat foods, allow it to be something you can’t easily get back home (local cuisine, food trucks, locally made snacks, etc).

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Stock up on protein bars

Opt for something that doesn’t contain a whole boatload of pure sugar and grains. There are a lot of energy bars out there that are as bad, if not worse, than candy bars in terms of their nutrition profile. Unless you’re hiking, backpacking, running a marathon, or need fast energy, stay away from these energy bars. Go with something more wholesome, like thinkThin Protein Bars. I also love Power Crunch Protein Bars, which are creme wafer bars, similar to a KitKat– so good!

Moderate your drinking

Consider limiting yourself to only a few drinks at the bar. If not, try to skip the post-drinking “fourth” meal (burritos, bacon wrapped hotdogs, fast food, frozen pizza rolls, and what have you), which is a surefire way of gaining weight. Trust me… I know from experience. If you find yourself putting on the weight from drinking, try skipping the beer and wine and opt for more light cocktails like your choice of alcohol mixed with soda water and lime.

Continue reading: I Traveled For Over Three Months And Didn’t Exercise. Here’s What Happened.

Use the hotel gym

If there’s a gym in your hotel or accommodation, make the effort to use it every day. It’s a luxury amenity! Most chain hotels always have a gym so keep an eye out for them when deciding where to stay.

Stay farther away from the city center

When traveling to big cities, choose a lodging location that’s still walking distance from key landmarks, but not so close that you’ll be paying an arm and a leg to be in the hustle and bustle of it all. Not only will you save money by staying at a hotel or rental slightly farther away, but you’ll also be forced to walk to your destination and burn calories effortlessly.

Get a walk in whenever you can

When you’re at the airport waiting for your flight, take a stroll through the terminal. Waiting in line somewhere? Do squats in place or something. Opt for the stairs whenever possible. Craving dessert? That’s fine, but make yourself walk there to really earn it.

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Skip trains, buses, and rideshares if possible

When you find yourself in cities, opt to skip taxis, buses, and metros and walk to your destination instead. It’s honestly the best way to explore a new place. Another perk: walking on foot provides you with a perspective that you’d otherwise never get if you were on a moving vehicle. Walking will allow you to travel slower, discover new spots, and soak in the finer details of the neighborhoods you pass by.

My rule of thumb is: if my destination is under 0.75 miles away from where I am, I will just walk it instead of taking public transportation.

Incorporate physical activity into your travel plans

Snorkeling, hiking, bike riding, taking a light jog, walking on the beach, taking surfing/snowboarding lessons, stand up paddleboarding, dance lessons, walking tours, etc…

Regardless of your level of fitness, there are likely tons of fun activities in your destination that can make for a great way to meet people, learn something new, and get your heart pumping.

Learn a few basic moves you can do anywhere

Pushups, squats, sit-ups, leg lifts, lunges, and tricep dips are all moves you can do in the comfort of your hotel room, at public parks, at the beach, and anywhere else you can think of. Mix in a little bit of cardio such as running, burpees, jumping jacks, and you’ve got a well-balanced, equipment-free workout.

Bring your fitness tracker

The best way to track your movements is by getting a Fitbit or something similar (Apple Watch, the pinnacle of smart watches). You’ll be that much more motivated to get your steps in on the day.

Pack workout clothes

A pair of leggings, sports bra, and workout tank are must-haves for me. And don’t forget a pair of lightweight running shoes! The worst mishap is to be prepared to work out only to have forgotten the most important piece of equipment, a good pair of trainers.

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Invest in travel-friendly workout gear

If you want to work out while traveling, consider buying small, packable workout gear. There’s tons of stuff on the market small enough to fit inside of a carry-on. When I travel, I like to carry massage balls and resistance bands with me at the very least. Lacrosse balls are great for rolling out tired legs and feet as well! See below for a list of travel-friendly fitness gear.

Fitness Gear To Take With You On Your Travels

The following items are lightweight and ultra-packable, so you can stay fit while traveling.

  • Flobody Gym – This might not be the most packable of the bunch, but the features surely pack a punch. The Flobody gym comes complete with removable weights, resistance bands, handles, and foot/hand straps that allow you to mimic boutique studio workouts. If you’re a Pilates, yoga, or HIIT workout fan, this system is essential.
  • Resistance Loop Exercise Bands – The ultimate multi-purpose workout tool that takes up zero space! Comes with an instruction guide, bag, e-book, and online workout videos. Get your butt burn on.
  • Pilates Ring – great for toning thighs, abs and legs
  • Resistance Band Set – handles and ankle straps to allow you to perform the widest variety of resistance training exercises possible.
  • Full Body Gliding Trainer – this sliding workout device can effectively tone your entire body, and be easily transported anywhere. All you need is a floor and your body.
  • Adjustable Jump Rope – perfect for that quick yet intense cardio session. Ropes are super lightweight and tangle resistant; just toss it in your bag and go!
  • Muscle Roller Leg Massager – This one is more for recovery, which is equally as important for your health. This deep tissue massage stick can be taken anywhere with you, fits into most bags easily.

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Continue reading: 

I Traveled For Over Three Months And Didn’t Exercise. Here’s What Happened.

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Elle Leung

My name is Elle and I'm a travel blogger and adventurer based in California. I love helping people plan trips and create unique itineraries based on their interests and their budgets. I'm a huge fan of outdoor adventures and doing off-the-beaten-path things in my state (and all around the world too)!

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