Want to stay fit while traveling?
Yeah, me too.
In just three weeks I’ll be catching a plane to Malaysia, where I’ll be living in a virgin rainforest and working with orangutans.
It’s going to be hot, humid, and far from the modern luxuries (like exercise equipment) I’ve grown accustomed to.
But that’s no excuse to throw away the momentum of my current fitness routine.
“Staying fit” takes a back seat the minute most people get on a plane — and it doesn’t come back into the picture until they’re back home with their creature comforts.
Why is that?
Staying fit is about building and sticking to a routine so the power of habit can kick in and fast-track your progress over time.
The problem is that traveling is by its very nature a break in routine (at least for most people) and throws all your well-formed, structured habits out the window.
And it’s not like you’re traveling to go find a gym somewhere else… chances are you’re going somewhere for work or adventure.
Personally, I always find interesting local eats to taste and unique sights to go see. That translates into increased caloric load and less energy for exercise.
To work around this I have a few recommendations.
These saved my (fit) butt big time when I spent a few months living in Taiwan a number of years ago.
Staying Fit While Traveling: My Quick and Effective Method
Step #1 – Track your fitness
What gets measured, gets managed.
If you want to stay on top of your fitness while traveling, you need to track your workouts and any other variables you care about (e.g., weight, inches).
If you’re already using something like MyFitnessPal then you’re all set. Otherwise, consider starting with a spreadsheet — it might sound rudimentary but nothing beats a Google Spreadsheet for quickly laying out your data in a way that’s quick to update.
Step #2 – Bring lightweight gear (and use it)
Fitness is a priority for me, ESPECIALLY since I’m on a big fitness kick right now and I don’t want to lose steam.
I’m bringing the following items in my travel backpack:
- A super-mini travel bathroom scale (weight: 1.25 lbs)
- A Japan-made Shiro tape measure (weight: .08 lbs)
- An Xertube resistance band (weight: less than 1 lb)
Total weight: 2.33 lbs
Why these items?
The scale gives me the ability to measure my weight and track changes over time. It’s not a perfect tool, but it gives me a high-level sense of change.
I can track changes to my arms, waist, hips, and thighs using the Shiro tape measure.
This tool is brilliant, as it’s made of fiberglass so the tape doesn’t stretch (which would make it less accurate) like cloth.
And of course, a good ol’ resistance band for… well… basically any type of exercise. There are tons of exercise options available for resistance band users.
Pick some exercises you can do without gym equipment, write them down, and make sure you know how to perform each exercise properly — DO THIS BEFORE YOU GO.
Staying fit while traveling is way easier when you already have a plan for what to do.
I keep a sticky note on my computer with the exercise plan I’m using.
Step #3 – Pre-emptive strike unhealthy meals
Your body doesn’t have to be punished just because you want to sample the local food and try new things.
Pick any of the following tactics to circumvent fat-gain and ensure you’re getting decent nutrition:
- Eat a high-protein/high-fiber meal for breakfast to keep you full longer
- Drink water consistently throughout the day to stay hydrated and flush out garbage (bring a water bottle)
- Drink green tea for the EGCG fat-burning benefits
- Perform some quick exercises immediately prior to eating an unhealthy (carb-overload) meal to send carbs to your muscles, not your ass (thanks to Tim Ferriss for this one)
- Schedule-in rewards or “cheat days” in order to combat the urge to splurge
Even if you only implement Step #1 from this post, you’ll be in better shape than the average traveler.
How do you stay fit while traveling?