How to Stay Fit While Traveling

Travel Fitness Tips: 8 Ways to Stay in Shape While Traveling

I don’t know about you, but when I travel the absolute last thing on my mind is exercising. I just want to have adventures, eat delicious food, and sip on the local wine while enjoying the sunset. And while going for a run on the beach or through the city sounds good in theory, I rarely make time for it. There are too many other things I’d rather be doing!

But since we’ve been on the road for over 2.5 years, I’ve had to figure out ways to stay fit while traveling. Here are a few of my tried and true travel fitness tips to help keep the pounds off while still enjoying myself on vacation!


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1. Walk Instead of Drive

A complete stranger sent me a message on Instagram that said: “your butt is looking really good, do you work out when you travel?” It was nice, and a little weird. But I’d like to attribute my butt-tone-ness to the fact that we generally walk 4 – 8 miles each day.

How to Stay Fit While Traveling: Secrets to Staying Active on Vacation Walk Instead of Drive
Maybe don’t walk down the middle of the street though

Most cities offer a “free walking tour” which is a good way to get your bearings when you arrive. You’ll get a little bit of history about the city while getting your steps in. Or you can plan your own walking tour by mapping your must-see destinations on Google Maps and then planning the best route to see them all on foot.

If your next destination is close to where you are, skip the Uber ride and walk instead. Unless it’s a million degrees outside or the area is not pedestrian-friendly. You’ll save some cash, get to know the city, and get your travel fitness on! It’s the easiest way I stay fit while traveling.

2. Plan Outdoor Adventures

No matter where you travel, you can almost always get out of the city and find some good outdoor hiking adventures. Many cities have big parks nearby or right in their city center. If not, do some research on scenic areas within a reasonable distance and either rent a car or figure out how to get there by public transportation.

How to Stay Fit While Traveling: Secrets to Staying Active on Vacation Plan Outdoor Adventures
Who knew there were so many epic outdoor adventures in Germany?

Even in really metropolitan cities like Seoul and Hong Kong, we were able to find some really peaceful hiking trails that were easy to get to and made for a great workout. Often these trails will lead you to scenic overlooks where you can get a truly epic view of the sprawling city below.

It’s a great way to get some fresh air, enjoy the scenery, and get some exercise while you’re doing it!

3. Invest in a Travel Scale

Okay, okay, I can see you rolling your eyes. But trust me, it works. I’ve been on two long-term trips, the first was 15 months and this one has been over two years. On our first trip, I didn’t have a travel scale and I gained 10 pounds in the first few months. We were always in new places, with new cuisine options, and I wanted to devour all of them.

How to Stay Fit While Traveling Invest in a Travel Scale

On this trip, I haven’t gained any weight. Is it because I gained a travel scale? Or more self-control? It’s hard to say for sure but the scale really keeps me thinking about the food I’m putting into my body. And it’s allowed me to keep up my normal physique while on the road.

4. Eat the Local Food

Look around you. Do you see a bunch of fat people? Being from America, we’re always amazed by how few obese people there are in other countries around the world. Most people in other countries don’t consume as much fast food or junk food as we do in the states. And a big reason is that you can often get a really quality meal for even cheaper than a Big Mac!

How to Stay Fit While Traveling: Secrets to Staying Active on Vacation Eat the Local Food
Guinea pig is so much healthier than pizza!

In fact, we talked to a guy that we met in the Philippines about whether or not Filipinos actually ever go to the Burger King in town. He said they do, but it would be for a celebration or something as the food there is more expensive than the local Filipino food that you can get at any restaurant around town.

So while the country that you are visiting will probably have a few restaurants you’ll recognize – like Outback or Hard Rock Cafe – don’t eat there! Eat the local food, at the local restaurants. You’ll get delicious food that will probably have a lot of fresh veggies and rice. Your tastebuds and your body will thank you.

Exercising while traveling is important, but you’ll really derail yourself if you don’t watch what you’re consuming!

5. Get a Workout in When You Can

When we travel to a new place, we usually try to get up early and do as much sightseeing as possible each day. We usually have a long list of attractions to see and not a lot of time to do it. So fitting a workout into a packed schedule can be challenging.

How to Stay Fit While Traveling: Secrets to Staying Active on Vacation
The best view for an afternoon run…

In my ideal vacation world, I’m staying in a hotel that has a gym and I’m waking up early to get a 4-mile run in before we set off exploring for the day. In the real world, that doesn’t happen very often. But I do try to get a workout in when I can.

If we’re just sitting somewhere and not doing anything productive, I’ll scoot my butt off the seat and use my arms to drop it almost to the ground and then back up. It’s an easy arm exercise that uses your own body weight.

Or instead of sitting, stand up and get some squats in. You’ll look silly to those around you but who cares? You’ll probably never see them again. You don’t need a gym if you know some simple but effective exercises that can be done anywhere.

6. Swim Laps

If you’re headed to a tropical beach paradise on your vacation, you’ll probably want to spend your days lounging by the pool instead of in the gym. And while a run on the beach sounds nice, it will probably be way too hot unless you wake up at sunrise. And who in their right mind wants to do that?

But you can combine your desire to swim with your desire to get a workout by exercising in the pool. Swimming laps is a great full-body workout. Or you can use the resistance of the water to do some water aerobics on your own or with a group. I do this all the time and Nick loves to watch and laugh at me.

Running in the water is another aqua-exercise option. It’s incredibly challenging but will probably make you feel a little silly while doing it. Again, you’ll probably never see these people again so who cares? Exercise your little heart out!

Better yet, swim laps around whales

7. Buy a Fitbit and Challenge Your Friends Back Home

We’ve started a weekly “Work Week Hustle” Fitbit step challenge with Nick’s siblings back home. It starts every week on Monday morning and ends on Friday at midnight. Whoever gets the most steps, wins. It keeps us connected to them by taunting them when we’re ahead, or cheering them when they are. And the desire to kick their butts helps us keep our step count up.

How to Stay Fit While Traveling Invest in a Fitbit

A little friendly Fitbit competition is a great way to keep you motivated to increase your step count! You can even up the ante and have a small prize for the winner each week. Guaranteed you’ll do whatever it takes to win!

It’s a great way to keep you accountable to exercise while on the road.

8. Cut out Booze

I know, I know, I don’t want to do it either. But those slushy boozy tropical drinks are loaded with sugar and calories. Your average piña colada contains over 800 calories for a 10-ounce serving! If you enjoy just three of those by the pool, you’ll be taking in more than the 2,000 recommended daily calorie consumption, just in booze!

If you want to have a drink while lounging by the pool, stick to vodka sodas or gin and tonics. And definitely steer clear of beer. Your bikini bod will thank you!

How to Stay Fit While Traveling: Secrets to Staying Active on Vacation Avoid Fruity Cocktails
If it looks fruity, refreshing, and delicious, RUN!

Do you have other travel fitness tricks for staying fit while on the road? Leave them in the comments!

Want more tips and tricks for staying healthy on the road? Or to know where to go to eat the most epic food? Check out our favorite guides!



  • Valerie Wheatley

    Val grew up in Portland, Oregon but moved to Oahu on a whim back in 2013. She sold her house and all of her belongings and bought a one-way ticket. Since then she’s taken two around-the-world trips and has visited 60-ish countries while living out of a duffel bag.

    Val started documenting the Wandering Wheatleys travels back in 2013 as a way to update friends and family about her whereabouts and to relay humorous daily interactions. The only readers were her mom and her mother-in-law but that didn’t stop her!

    These days you’ll find Val dreaming up future trips, creating new travel content, managing a team of amazing travel enthusiasts, and chasing around her two adorable but naughty kids.

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