Let me start off by saying that if this is your trip-of-a-lifetime, honeymoon, food tour of South America, etc, you’ve got to live your life. If the following tips seriously impede your enjoyment or happiness on a vacation, don’t stress about them. A week or even two weeks probably isn’t going to impact your progress and fitness goals too much. Personally, I find I feel better while on vacation if I try to eat well and stay active. It’s also easier for me to jump back into my fitness and nutrition routine when I return home if I maintain some semblance of structure throughout the trip. With that said, the following are just some basic tips that can hopefully help you enjoy your vacation, as well as stay healthy on the road.
Embrace the stares
I was doing burpees on my little travel yoga mat next to a truck stop picnic table when my traveling companion finally said: “I have to wait in the car, everyone is staring at you and this is embarrassing.” The fact was, we had been sitting in a car for 8 hours and I just needed to do something involving movement. But yeah, people were staring.
Likewise, people might not understand if you turn down cake, copious amounts of drinks, or a deep fried oreo. But hey, this is your life and you’re reading this article because you want to be a badass and stay on track. So your choices are going to be a bit different than someone who doesn’t make their health a priority. Try to see it less as embarrassing, and more empowering. You’re strong AF because you because you continually make choices and sacrifices to do so.
Take portable exercise equipment
While it’s not completely necessary, especially on a short vacation, having even a resistance band can really help to ramp up the intensity of your workouts. For the purpose of simplicity, the rest of this article will focus on not having any portable exercise equipment. If, however, you are considering bringing a small piece of equipment, my favorites for travel are a jump rope, suspension band, and resistance bands. If you’re someone who has a lot of joint stiffness or gets sore from sitting on planes or in cars for long periods of time, a tennis ball or small foam roller can be great for rolling out knots.
Utilize health apps
There are a ton of fitness apps and nutrition apps available for free on your phone that can create short, zero equipment workouts for you. The following are my favorite free fitness apps, and new ones are coming out all the time. Try a bunch and see what best meets your needs.
Summer 2017 – Summer 2018 I once heard that we often overestimate what we can do in a day, and underestimate what we can do in a year. I love personal growth, and I love looking back and seeing what I can accomplish in a year. I love when a year feels like a lifetime, so that I can squeeze as many lifetimes into one life as possible. Every year I want to look back and see that I know myself a little better than a year before, that I’m a better partner, a better friend, and a better human being. Cheers to everyone making the most of every year. If you feel like you aren’t, now is a great time to start. . . . . . . . . . . . #transformationtuesday #nerdfitness #girlswholift #brazilianjiujitsu #crossfit #iifym #paleo #fitness #weightloss
Personally, I like to track my food while I’m traveling, even if it’s just writing down in a notebook what I have so that I’m at least aware, and not just binging mindlessly. This can also be great for just remembering the good meals you had, or you could even take pictures of your food if it’s fancy and beautiful. If you’re someone that wants to track a little more specifically, the following are the best nutrition apps I’ve found
My Fitness Pal
Savor bodyweight workouts
Bodyweight exercises are still some of my favorites even when I have a full gym. They’re simple, easy to scale up or down, and it’s easy to track progress if you’re doing the same exercises consistently. Especially if you aren’t bringing any equipment, bodyweight workouts on the road are a necessity. Below is a quick, full body workout from Nerd Fitness (https://www.nerdfitness.com/blog/beginner-body-weight-workout-burn-fat-build-muscle/). Aim for every other day, and track your results. If the workout below feels too easy, try going through it two or three times. If it feels too difficult, scale back on some of the exercises.
- 20 bodyweight squats
- 10 push ups
- 20 walking lunges – 10 each leg
- 10 dumbbell rows (using a gallon milk jug, suitcase, or backpack)
- 15-second plank
- 30 jumping jacks
Make exercise a game
When I was younger my friends and I would play drinking games set to movies. Drink every time someone gets bitten by a zombie, two drinks for nudity, a shot for a director cameo, etc. I still do this, except now instead of drinking I do exercises. My absolute favorite movies to do this with are the Harry Potter series. I threw in a short Harry Potter example below, but add your own flair. You can do this with any movie you like with a bit of creativity. Pinterest has tons of workouts already written for different movies, just search the movie title + “workout”.
- Every time a spell is cast – 10 jumping jacks
- A student is awarded points – 10 squats
- Points taken away – 10 lunges
- A painting talks – 15 crunches
- “You Know Who” – 5 push ups
- Dementors are seen – 5 mountain climbers
- Hedwig is seen – 15-second plank
If it isn’t too weird for you, you can even do this when you’re out exploring a new place. Before you leave for the day write out a little scavenger hunt workout like the one below. If you don’t want to do burpees on the sidewalk, you can keep a note of every time one of these things happens and do the cumulative workout back at the hotel.
- Learn a new word in a different language – 5 mountain climbers
- Try a new food – 5 burpees
- Visit a national monument – 30-second plank
- Visit a museum – 10 squats
- Learn a new historical fact – 5 push ups
- Watch a street performer – 20 jumping jacks
Make exercise part of the trip
If you already have an active hobby back home, why stop while you’re traveling? If you like dancing, take a lesson for a new style of dancing in a new city. A quick Google search of your hobby + the place you’re visiting might turn up a lot of options you hadn’t previously considered. If you don’t have something you’re already doing, your trip could be a great time to try something new. Try out a rock climbing gym, rent bikes and tour the city, go for a run on the beach or a local favorite hike, or find a park and do yoga or one of the bodyweight workouts above. Meetup.com is a website where individuals and clubs host events, with some personal trainers and fitness professionals hosting free public workouts all over the world. Taking a chance on something new like this could be a great way to workout and meet new people.
Try to make the centerpiece of your meals whole foods like meat and vegetables, then add heavier foods like rice and pasta. If you’re road tripping bring healthy road trip snacks for something to munch on while you’re driving. As for bringing food on airplanes, it’s all good as long as there’s no liquids or gels included. So pack a healthy lunch for your layover instead of trying to buy a 12 dollar sad salad from an airport kiosk. High protein snack bars (like Quest), low-carb beef jerky, and protein powder are a few of my other go-to travel snacks.
A note on protein powder – This might want to be something that you purchase at your destination, or put into your checked baggage, as getting pulled to the side by TSA and having to explain a large individual zip lock of powder might be a bit uncomfortable. “No, it’s protein powder, I promise! See, it tastes like chocolate!”
Compensate for a cheat meal
If you know in advance that you’re going out to a special dinner or event, try to eat lighter in the days leading up to it or the days after. If you’re going out to eat for every single meal, set aside one or two nights a week where you eat whatever you want without worrying about calories. For the rest of the week leading up to those days try to be mindful and keep your food on the lighter, healthier side.
Research restaurants beforehand
Sometimes, when I’m especially excited about a trip, this happens before I’ve even left my house. I look up all the awesome, must visit restaurants in my destination and decided exactly what I want at each one. It is infinitely easier for me to eat smart and healthy at a restaurant if I’m able to decide what I’ll be getting before I’m there. Rather than when I’m in the restaurant, reading the amazing descriptions, and hangry after a long day. Researching the restaurant in advance can also give you insight into portion sizes. If people are saying that the portions are huge at a certain place, it might be a good idea to split an entree and save some money.
Try to limit liquid calories as much as possible. This generally goes for coffee drinks, alcoholic beverages, and soda. A 16-ounce Americano has 15 calories, while a 16-ounce latte with 2% milk has 190 calories. When you start adding syrup, flavors, creams, and sugar the calories start to add up quick.
The average calories in alcohol drinks are about 150 calories each. Keep in mind there are lower calorie alcohol drinks options, like liquor mixed with club soda and lime, which usually comes in around 100 calories each, but just be smart and drink safely and in moderation.
Soda is another area where people tend to take in a lot of calories without realizing it. Having one 12 ounces Coke with breakfast, lunch, and dinner (3 per day) adds 420 calories per day. Instead, try out sparkling water with lime and save those calories for enjoying a great meal.
Remember, if you choose not to do any of these things, a week or two isn’t going to inhibit your progress too much. Always have fun and enjoy yourself, and listen to what feels right and what works for you. Safe travels!