To stay active while traveling, it’s not necessary to block out an hour of exercise every day in your Air Bnb or hotel gym. There’s so much more to explore in a short amount of time, to me it seems silly to spend time on something you could do at home. Whenever I go on a trip, I find I get more movement in than I typically would at home without doing any sort of formal workout. Now that most of us are out of lock-down, its awesome to see people back out traveling in responsible ways. I haven’t taken a vacation-like trip recently, but I will be moving around all year for 8-week clinicals. In this post I’ll take you through how you can get movement in at every step of the way – from the car ride or air travel to the sightseeing and activities.
What to Pack to Stay Active while Traveling
I don’t think the following items are essential to stay active while traveling, but these are great travel-friendly ideas if you have them and would like to bring them along.
1. Workout Clothes: Sneakers (you are probably bringing these anyway), 1-3 workout outfits depending on the length of your trip. My new favorite brand is Love Fitness Apparel. I am an affiliate with LFA and you can use my code MVMT10 for 10% off!
2. Headphones: Again, you’re probable bringing these anyway for the car or plane ride.
3. Resistance Bands: These are perfect for travel since they are lightweight and don’t take up much room in your suitcase. They’re a great alternative if you normally workout with weights. I use Arena Strength bands – I have both the booty bands and the body bands. I love them because they are so durable, come with great instructional videos, and you can do any exercise you want with them! You can use my link to get them here (I am an affiliate with Arena Strength.)
4. Foldable yoga mat (for my yogis): I have a small cloth yoga mat intended for hot yoga, but I find it works well for any type of yoga! So easy to fold or roll it up right into your suitcase.
Stay Active while Flying
If you’re going through larger airports and multiple airports, you’re probably getting a lot of movement in on these days. I know I’m always exhausted from walking hurriedly with my bags and suitcase as additional weight. Plenty of cardio right there.
On flying days, I truly don’t think its practical or necessary to get a workout in. However, it is helpful to stretch and work on mobility before and after you sit in the tight space on your flight. The perfect time for stretching in the airport is when you’re waiting at the gate before your flight. I’m always getting up, stretching my hip flexors, hamstings, calves, inner thigh muscles, chest, and doing segmental movements for my spine. I rarely sit while waiting around! It’s a good thing its not uncommon to sit on the floor near your gate, because that’s always where you’ll find me stretching out. On some occasions I have even brought out my cloth yoga mat to stretch on the floor. I might get a few stares, but I really don’t care anymore – at least I’ll have a more pleasant flight.
Stay Active on Long Car Trips
Unlike air travel, car rides don’t allow for as much waiting time in larger areas to get stretching in. Your chance for movement breaks lies in rest stops. When I’m not pumping gas, buying a snack, or finding the restroom, I discover its best to do stretches that are fast and flowy with the limited time, targeting the same areas as mentioned above for plane rides. For me it looks like a quick standing yoga flow, plus some fast-paced walking or a short jog.
During car rides, if my back or neck is starting to feel cranky, I make sure to change my posture, and even stretch when I can in the car. The best ones for me are cat/cow to wake up the spine, upper trap stretches, and chest stretches (being mindful of others of course). Core muscle activation is also awesome for dealing with back stiffness in the car. My favorite exercises for this are pelvic tilts and sitting marches with light pressure from hands on thighs. Look out for an IG post on all these movements this week!
Considerations for Where to Stay
When it comes to where you stay on a trip, consider your workout plans if you have them. Of course I don’t believe you need to keep up a rigorous regiment to stay active while traveling (after all, its vacation!), but I do believe movement is necessary and we should do what makes us feel good!
Gymers: If you’re a big fan of gym workouts, look for a hotel with a nice gym or an Air Bnb with gym access. Or book a place by a unique gym that interests you and offers a nice short-term membership or a 1-week pass.
Runners: Look up some of the best running routes in the area and aim to stay somewhere close by (running apps can be helpful for this). Also consider the safety of the area as well.
Yogis: Consider staying somewhere with a nice porch or open space with hardwood floors where you can lay out your mat. Or somewhere that is near a yoga studio that has a special traveler rate (i.e. my favorite studio in Jacksonville has a “Visiting Yogi” pass.)
Movement + Sightseeing by Vacation Type
When planning a vacation, any sightseeing will require at least a good amount of walking. Planning active ways to explore a new place is a perfect way to get movement in while traveling and make memories.
Explore the city by bike! Most big cities have bikes available to rent all over town.
Dancing: If dancing is your thing, explore the clubs or dance studios. One of my hobbies is salsa dancing and I love finding new places to dance when I travel.
Unique fitness experiences – Bigger cities will have the clientele for super niche fitness experiences or gyms. I’ve never lived in a city with SoulCycle before, so as soon as I moved to Tampa, I gave it a try! From rock-climbing to aerial yoga and Cross-fit, there is bound to be something interesting and unique in any city.
Snowy weather: Snowboarding, skiing, tubing, sledding, snowball fight
Warmer weather: Hiking, horseback riding, whitewater rafting, zip-lining, parks, swimming, kayaking, canoeing, climbing
Beach or Lake
Beach: Runs, walks, yoga, surfing, snorkeling
Lake: Canoeing, kayaking, sailing, paddle-boarding, SUP yoga, cliff-jumping, swimming, tubing, wake-boarding
My Movement Principles to Stay Active While Traveling
My “one rule” still applies here! If you don’t know what my only fitness rule is, find out what that is here. I know my body craves movement no matter what in order to function well, it just may look different on vacation or while traveling.
Do what is possible to minimize aches during long travel. Lack of movement can lead to stiffness, pain, poor posture, poor sleep and more. Beyond during the trip, stay “active” while traveling too. Keep your body healthy and happy so you can enjoy the adventure!
Make physical activity unique to the location I’m visiting. I recently moved to Tampa for a clinical and I definitely want to use any runs I go on as a way to explore the city. I definitely plan on checking out the community fitness trail on Bayshore Blvd. Many places have something similar, so scope out your next travel location for some scenic workout spots like this.
Don’t have guilt from breaking a regular fitness routine. It’s vacation. Of course, you won’t feel good if you just sit and eat at restaurants the whole day, but since you are most likely to be getting out of the ordinary movements in, stressing about working out is NOT worth it. Actually, stressing about working out is never worth it on any occasion!