Keeping fit whilst travelling: It’s easier than you think

We all love a good bit of travel every now and again don’t we? But what about keeping fit whilst travelling?

A lot of people tend to stress over this, often giving up all together on trying to keep up any sort of fitness regime whilst on their travels.

How many times have you heard people say they have come home about 10 pounds heavier after their trip?

It doesn’t have to be like this though. With a few simple tweaks, you can stay as fit as ever whilst on your holidays.

Are you ready for your key to keeping fit whilst travelling?


What makes me an expert?

In short – nothing.

I’m not claiming to be an expert but I am telling you what works for me and I know it will work for you too. I do travel a lot and hold a qualification in personal training if that is any sort of qualifying criteria for those concerned about certificates and credentials though…

#1 Prior research

This is the biggie if you’re dead set on getting a full weighted workout in whilst away. There’s nothing wrong with going to the gym abroad (I’ve done it a few times this year) but you just need to do a bit of research before you head out.

Get an idea of what sort of gyms are near your hotel/apartment/whatever, look at some reviews on google and see if they have any images online or even better, their own site.

keeping fit whilst travelling

Then find out if they offer day passes, week passes and anything in between. This can get expensive so just beware. This is why I recommend sticking to the protocol below for keeping fit whilst travelling.

#2 Equipment

There are varying levels of equipment you can take on holiday with you to get the perfect workout. In reality, you have 3 options: Nothing, a pull up bar or my preferred option – a pull up bar and some gymnast rings.

You may be thinking that it’s impossible to take these with you, but you’re wrong. I take these with me in my hand luggage. A pull up bar can be a tiny tube that extends and you can pick them up for about £15 ($25). Then some rings will only set you back another few quid and they take up virtually no room.

The bang for your buck with these two is absolutely immeasurable as it allows you to do what I believe to be the best two upper body exercises about – the pull up and the dip. These should be your keeping fit whilst travelling bread and butter no matter where you go.

I recently just invested in one of the coolest pull up bars on the market – the Flexr. It folds to fit in your travel bag/suitcase and you can hang your olympic rings off it to perform dips, incline pushups, L-sits and anything else you can think of.

It did set me back about $85 (it’s from the USA) but it’ll be worth it in the long run as just a week’s membership at some gym I went to in Barcelona cost €50 alone. Think of the savings god damn it.

However, if this isn’t your cup of tea, just go for your standard doorway pull up bar which, like I said before, ain’t gonna cost you the Earth.

One tip for your rings, if you choose to use ’em, is to invest in wooden ones. They are more durable, easier on the hands and simply a lot cooler than plastic ones. Just my two cents.

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#3 Keeping fit whilst travelling: The workouts

We’ll go in the three stages depending on what equipment you have at your disposal. This can all be done in your hotel room, saving you time, money and stress.

Do the workouts on days you would normally work out (duh). They will be fully body workouts though so if you’re used to working one muscle every day, just do these workouts every 48 hours to give your body a chance to rest.

I haven’t gone too big into leg work as you’re more than likely going to be doing a helluva lot of walking and nothing ruins a holiday quite like leg DOMS.

No equipment

Do as many pushups as you can, then take a 10 second break and do as many doorway rows as you can, take a 10 second break and finish by doing a 20 second plank.

Repeat until you hit 100 reps for both pushups and rows. Don’t stress if you’re better at pushups or rows, just get 100 done and really feel the contraction of the muscle.

We’re working out with no equipment here so there’s no need to worry, just get it done and feel great as you take your cold shower afterwards.

Pull up bar

If possible, try and wear a backpack with random things in it to add extra weight to your exercises. This will make the moves far more challenging and will build/maintain more muscle. Obviously if you can only do the prescribed reps with bodyweight then that is fine too – whatever challenges you is perfect.

Perform the pull ups and pushups as a super set and do the same with the chin ups and pushups, taking 90 seconds rest after completing a set. By working opposing muscles back to back, it allows us to work more muscle in less time, resulting in greater gains and a better hormonal boost.

Pull up bar and rings

This is pretty much my personal workout even when I’m at home. The rings add such a great element to a workout and force you to work out in a way you never thought you would, incorporating skill and balance into the muscle building equation.

Make sure to perform each new exercises set as a superset with the exception of the plank. So you would have 3 supersets: pull ups and dips is A, push ups and rows is B and curls and extensions is C. Be sure to take a 90 second rest between each set.

What’s so effective about this workout is that it hits each of the big movement patterns for the upper body. We have horizontal push and pull (pushups and rows) and we have vertical push and pull (dips and pull ups). We also move the arm through flexion and extension which is essential if you really want to eek out as much growth as possible.

There’s also some ab/core work in there for good measure to break things up a bit. You can add weight to your plank via a backpack to really test your might. This will help to stop the exercise getting boring too.

For some context, I only do this workout twice a week and it takes about half an hour to complete. Any more and it may start to get a little overkill, especially if you’re in holiday. Twice is enough in my opinion and you should spend the rest of your time enjoying your life.

#4 Diet

The easiest thing you can do is bring some rations with you if your airline allows it. Bring some tinned sardines, some epic bars, protein bites, packs of rice or whatever dried goods you fancy eating.

These will make things a lot easier and straight forward if you’re worried about poor food selections when travelling abroad. This is probably the easiest diet hack and a key element of keeping fit whilst travelling.

If you don’t fancy packing your bags with foodie bits, you can implement my favourite eating hack – intermittent fasting. Click the link to find out everything about IF but basically, you skip breakfast and consume all your food for the day in an 8 hour window – fasting for the other 16 hours.

This helps to curb cravings and over consumption of food whilst still allowing you to enjoy the local delicacies within that timeframe.

food in lisbon

I also recommend aiming for a nice balance of protein and fats with minimal carbs for breakfast as this keeps the insulin spike down when you break the fast. If you do consume carbs just make sure that fats are accompanying them (think avocado on toast with some OJ).

The ideal meal would be salmon, a couple of eggs cooked in coconut oil and half an avocado but anything that follows that basic rule is ideal for fuelling a day with no crash.

As I am considering heading back to a vegan diet I will give a vegan example too! Try sourdough bread with peanut butter, chia seeds and some blueberries. Blueberries are quite low in carbs and sugar and PB is surprisingly high in protein – bonus.

Is this actually effective?

Damn right it is!

At any level, these workouts will at worst, keep you fit on your travels. At best, they will add muscle or burn fat depending on your diet and they may just revolutionise the way you train. By freeing yourself of the ball and chain that is the gym, you become free to live life again.

I’m not saying that the gym isn’t great – it is. If I hadn’t discovered the gym back when I was 15 then I would have never become who I am today. But sometimes, it can get a bit stressful trying to keep up with a regime, especially if you don’t work out at home and you have various other commitments.

Being able to get these sort of quick, effective, minimalist workouts in is perfect for anyone looking to pack on muscle and lose fat without having to spend their life in a gym. I always say that fitness should add to your life, not take away from it and these routines will help you do just that for the long run, they’re not just for keeping fit whilst travelling!

Shop: The Travel Collection

Golden nuggets

No, this tasty childhood cereal is not the hidden key to untold gains. But I can give you some tips that may help you along the way.

The 30/60 rule

Keeping fit whilst travelling needn’t be the minefield that people would have you believe it to be. The 30/60 rule is something which we can all apply.

man walking in lisbon

For every 30 minutes we spend sat down, get up and walk around or stretch for 60 seconds. 2 minutes every hour isn’t too much of a commitment is it? Just stand up and get the blood flowing round again. Even though you’ll be doing a lot of walking on your travels, I guarantee you’ll spend a lot of time sat down so just remember this little tip for when you start cramping up after being sat at the all you can eat buffet for 5 hours.

Always take the stairs

This may seem like a ball ache and truth be told – it is. However, taking the stairs whenever you get the opportunity is one of the best ways to increase your total calorie burn for the day. It’s also one of the most effective cardio workouts you can do, for literally no cost.

If you’re looking for the cheapest and most convenient way of keeping fit whilst travelling – you’ve got it here. Even if you didn’t do the workouts outlined above, just taking the stairs at any chance you get will allow you to stay uber-fit and keep your body fat in check almost without trying.

Mindset

I know there is a lot of talk about keeping fit whilst travelling in this article, but one crucial component to travelling is to set your mind to relaxation mode.

You want to return home refreshed, not burnt out – like so many people do after a trip abroad. I know it’s easier said than done but make sure you try not to stress over the little things and don’t ‘let yourself go’ if that makes sense.

Look at your holiday as a time to recharge your batteries and come home with a whole lot more get up and go about you. That will keep you fit as a fiddle and stop you feeling lethargic and guilty for your indulgences.

The novelty factor

This could be a lot of people’s favourite way of keeping fit whilst travelling. The novelty factor allows us to do a lot of exercise without even realising it’s exercise.

In Thailand? Try a Muay Thai lesson. Spain? Flamenco dancing. Gone all the way to New Zealand? Why not try some rugby? These may be extreme examples and may not exactly be to your tastes but you get the idea.

Using local activities that are genuine cultural experiences at the same time can be one of the best and most fun ways to stay in shape whilst still experiencing your travels to their fullest.


You see – keeping fit whilst travelling is wayyyy easier than you think. I used to stress about finding a gym with a squat rack, walking too much as it might burn muscle and strength or even missing a workout all together.

Now however, I do two weights workouts a week along with some sprints and this can be done anywhere, making working out on the fly easier than ever.

If you can prize yourself a way from the gym-dependent mindset that so many of us fall into, you may just unlock your most fruitful period of gains.

Either way, it’s something to think about.

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