As I write this, I’m sitting in a vegan coffee shop in Cork, Ireland. The walls are mostly glass, and as I sip my Americano, I watch tourists and locals, burrowed in their jackets and scarves, walk past. It’s still cold here in April, but it clearly hasn’t slowed the city of 200,000 people down. Watching them all walk by has me thinking about travel and how most people don’t even want to think about working out while they are away from home. Either they’re on vacation or they’re working and under a great deal of stress. Well, I’m here to tell you that designating time to move and challenge your body is the best way to fully enjoy a vacation or process work stress in a healthy way.
I travel so much for work and for fun, I’m often asked how I maintain my fitness routine (aka sanity) while on the road. The answer is surprisingly simple: if you make the effort to exercise at home, you can just as easily make time while traveling even with a packed schedule and unfamiliar terrain. The key is to have a few tricks up your sleeve to make it easily achievable.
Below I lay out five of my top travel hacks for maintaining a certain level of fitness while traveling, and I can honestly say these have saved me from jet lag, constipation (sorry not sorry), stress, anxiety, and sleeplessness brought on by being in a new place. Feel free to try all of these techniques, or simply choose the ones that work best for you. I guarantee you, the amount of pleasure and relaxation from your vacation will increase exponentially, and if it’s a work trip you will be better rested, and have more clarity and focus so that you perform at your absolute best when when required.
Hack No. 1: Book a Hotel with a Fitness Center.
If given the option between hotels, opt for one that has a gym. Even if it’s tiny, it can make all the difference between your energy flowing for the day, or you feeling stagnant because you slept in. Small gyms usually have dumbbells and some form of cardio machine. Do 10 mins of hard cardio and then weight train. If there are no weights, use your body weight as resistance in your workout. There are plenty of videos on YouTube that show how to make the most of a small hotel gym. If your hotel has a huge gym even better. Just knowing that you have amazing resources minutes away, can help in getting you dressed and out the door ready to move your body.
Hack No. 2: Trick Yourself by Downplaying How Long You Will Workout.
There have been plenty of times that I’ve been tired and unmotivated to workout. The key is to bargain with the voice that says “No, I’m not feeling up for it today”, by telling yourself you’ll just go for 10-15 mins. Anyone can workout for 10 minutes right? I can’t tell you how many times I’ve done this to myself, and then once I start, I feel amazing and don’t want to stop. The hardest part in accomplishing anything we don’t really want to do is usually by just getting started. Once that hurdle is overcome, the rest is just momentum and by then you really do start feeling good. Mood boosting hormones like serotonin and dopamine are released during exercise, and the effects can last all day long. If I can convince myself to just get to the gym or out the door for a run, it’s only a matter of minutes before I’m thanking myself that I did. Never once have I regretted a workout, whether it was for only 10 minutes, or the more typical 45-60.
Hack No. 3: Focus on How You Will Feel After.
Visualization is a powerful tool. When I travel there are so many things I want to see, taste, and do, and spending time in hotel gym isn’t always the most exciting option. What I use to get over that thinking and get my workout in is to imagine how vitalized I will feel afterwards. I also notice that my skin is more vibrant and I think more clearly with less negative internal dialogue. By moving my body I absolutely impact how I feel and think, and that carries over into my experience for the rest of the day, whether I’m sightseeing or attending a training conference. Try imagining how wonderful you’ll feel and how much sharper you’ll be if you workout, and it will be a lot easier to convince yourself to get it in.
Hack No. 4: Don’t Be Afraid to Explore.
If you couldn’t choose which hotel you booked or a gym wasn’t an option anywhere, your next option is to get outside and get steps in. If you’re not a runner, it doesn’t mean you have to suddenly pick it up. Just walking has tremendous health benefits, and will leave you feeling energized and ready to start your day. Plus, getting out and moving is a great way to explore a new city and see where you might want to return later. When I studied abroad in France, I traveled to different countries every other weekend. I would always wake early and go running as a way to orient myself in a new city and scope out fun places to visit later in the day. The same applies today. This cute little coffee shop I’m in is one that I saw with the backdrop of the rising sun as I ran past. I never would have known it was here otherwise, and now I’m enjoying an Americano listening to Shakira circa 2002. Life is interesting and you’ll be surprised how much you miss when you stay in your comfort zone (or hotel room).
Hack No. 5: Get Your Partner or Co-Workers on Board.
Humans are hardwired for connection. We are pack animals essentially, and sometimes the best way to stay motivated to workout is by getting our friends to go with us. Working out is a great way to bond with your partner or co-workers, and often you end up learning something new about them that you never would have otherwise. And again when you engage in an endorphin boosting activity with another person, you can’t help but feel closer and more bonded to that person. Trust builds, and you feel supported and safe. This is an incredible tool for personal and professional life: don’t let it slip away.
I hope you enjoyed these tips, I absolutely love sharing my life experience in order to help others live their best lives. Feel free to comment below if you have any questions or have additional tips you’d like to add that you’ve used in your life to stay fit while on travel!