Keep your fitness on track when traveling without compromising your holiday
Updated: Apr 23
So you started to get your fitness and health on track and feeling good about your routine, but now you have a holiday booked and worried that it will all come undone.
We have all heard of people loosing their fitness and packing on a couple of kilos after a holiday, so how do you avoid this while still having a fun holiday? After all using a hotel gym is just beyond depressing! You didn't travel all that way to waste time and experiences indoors working out by yourself!
Here are some key things that have always kept my health on track while ensuring it only enhanced my holiday experience.
Swap all local city and town transport for walking. Long distance walking is known for a number of health benefits and is a high calorie burner, so in terms of your fitness and health it will tick all the boxes. In terms of your holiday you will find you see absolutely so much more and become far more immersed in the culture. Usually people catch the train, bus or taxi to the sights that aren't right next to them, by doing this you are not moving around much and you are only seeing the big tourist sites. By walking to them you will discover hidden streets, shops, restaurants and the like along the way. As there is always so much to see and do along the way to the big attractions you will not find the walk too hard or boring. I am always amazed at how far I end up walking each day. Places that seem far away I always decide with just starting to walk in that direction, pick places along the way that I also want to see, I know that I can always jump the train if I need to at any point. However I usually find that I end up at the place I thought was too far to walk to and had an amazing day amongst the locals. So walking your way around a city or town will benefit your health, holiday and your wallet!
Plan fun activities that make you move. No matter where you travel to and what season it is, there are always active things you can do that are also really fun so you can still rev up your cardiovascular system without taking time out of your holiday. It's best to research what you can do before you go in case you need to plan for it or book in advance. The most important thing is to pick things that the area is known for and that you would really enjoy doing. This could be hiking, trail walking, bike riding, diving, swimming, assailing, skiing/ snowboarding, climbing, caving, surfing, ice skating, bush walking, snorkelling, etc. There are endless things that you could do, find out what's amazing to see or do where you are going and book something that is an active away to do it. You could choose to do something simple like hiring bikes and riding across the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, trying something new like taking a learn to surf lesson in Bali or something challenging like a 3 day climb up to Machu Picchu in South America. Find what inspires and excites you most and you will never forget it.
Look at the alternative ways to see the main attractions. Everyone always has a bucket list of what they want to see and do in a place they are about to visit. Whatever yours are don't just plan to do it the way everyone does. Ask yourself if there are more active ways to see or do it that you would also enjoy. For example hiking up to see the Hollywood sign instead of getting on a bus tour, taking the stairs up the main part of the eiffel tower instead of the lift, go on a kayaking tour off the coast of the Hawaiian islands to see the green turtles instead of going on a boat tour. Think bigger than the norm and not only will you keep your fitness in check but you will have great experiences off the beaten track.
Eat as the locals do, but have one smaller meal a day. While you are on holidays food can often been seen as the enemy! Honestly though if you are too strict on your diet you are really missing out on a huge experience of your holiday. Food is such a large part of any culture and it should not be missed because you are avoiding carbs, calorie counting etc. Eat the local food, get things you can't at home, having what that area is known to do well. Don't worry or overthink it too much! After all you are being active, moving every day. One thing to be aware of is that eating 3 meals a day out at restaurants will be too much food. Generally meals that you have out are a bigger proportion than what you would make yourself and tend to be cooked with more butter and salt. Besides this having 3 restaurant meals a day can get expensive and takes up a lot of your day. What has always worked for me is choosing one meal a day that will be smaller and simpler such as something you might pick up from a grocery store, market etc. Each day can be a different meal such as having a full breakfast on days that you get out late or won't have time for a big lunch then plan to have a smaller lunch like a small take away sandwich from a deli. Other days you might plan to have a nice sit down lunch to break up your day and have a good rest so for breakfast you pick up a small yogurt and a piece of fruit from the corner store. Do whatever suits your holiday plans and your preferred diet but be mindful and plan ahead to not have all three meals in a restaurant day in and day out.
Hire bikes. Bikes are one of the best ways to see big cities and spread out towns. You are able to cover a lot of ground in a short period of time, and you can make it as gentle or tough as you want. A lot of places are geared for bike riding, be sure of ask for a ride map and suggestions from your hire place as they will know the best routes to see all the sites. This will not only tick the healthy box but also your holiday experience box, seeing a place by bike is a real pleasure and has always been a memorable part of my trips.
Have a before bed routine. If you are currently working on a specific goal or on a strict training scheme and are worried you will be set back by your holiday then organising a before bed routine is for you! This is something you must only do just before bed, don't let it take over your holiday, don't let it cut into any time during the day. Set aside 10-30m just before bed to do the critical parts of your workout. It should not be the length you do at home, just the cut down version so that the return from holiday curve isn't too big. For me I have done stretching, yoga and body weight exercises while my travel buddies are getting ready for bed or winding down with some TV before sleep. It takes no time, don't interrupt the holiday and makes me feel good and on track before I go to sleep. Don't get caught up if you don't do it every time that you planned, after all you are on holidays!
You may not be doing your hard sweaty classes each day that you might at home but you are likely to be moving for more hours than you would being at work each day and this is important to remember.
These are just some of the ways I have learnt to come back from a holiday feeling really good about my health while still having amazing memories of my trip. Give some of them a go next time you travel and see if they can make a difference for you.