If you are a frequent traveler, especially overseas, then you probably know how easy it can be to gain a few extra pounds, get out of shape or rely on fast food to curb your hunger. Whether you are at an all-inclusive resort or on a cruise ship, staying fit while traveling is possible. And it doesn’t require a lot of work – just a little preemptive thought.
When most travelers think of exercise, they probably think of themselves as having to use a small, and often outdated, hotel gym with weight machines and a treadmill; however, staying in shape while traveling doesn’t need to happen in a gym. Traveling is the perfect opportunity to learn how to stay in shape away from home (and the neighborhood gym). Here’s how:
Basic Workout While Abroad
You don’t need fancy equipment (or even any equipment!) to exercise and stay in shape while traveling overseas. Instead of looking for a rowing machine, commit to 15 minutes of lunges, squats, push-ups, crunches, and sit-ups every day – or create a similar exercise routine (note: do not start a new workout regime without consulting your physician first).
If a regular workout routine is not your thing, even something as simple as taking the stairs instead of the elevator will increase your daily steps count and is better for your overall health.
Stretch On the Flight or in the Hotel
After a long flight or after sitting for an extended period your muscles tend to be tight. As soon as you get to your hotel room stretch your muscles by bending at the hips, falling forward, and hugging your knees as best you can. You can also reach for the sky to stretch your arms, or roll onto the balls of your foot to stretch your legs.
Eat Well – Advice for Eating while Traveling
As tempting as reaching for convenient, fast foods, such as a hamburger and fries may be, commit to eating real food as much as possible. Instead of counting calories or fat content, look for food based on its nutritional value and use common sense when ordering meals, i.e., if it’s deep fried it probably isn’t as good for you as something that is grilled.
Also, try and eat three regular meals and choose a balanced diet with a healthy serving of vegetables and proteins. You should also avoid alcohol as much as possible – liquid calories can add up!
If you have access to a kitchen, try to shop for your food and prepare your meals. This will not only ensure you know what you are eating but will more than likely decrease your sodium content, which is commonly high in restaurant food.
Drink Clean Water
Keep yourself hydrated, especially if you are visiting extremely hot destinations. This means you should always have access to a bottle of water, and while carrying and refilling a reusable water bottle is more environmentally friendly, if the tap water where you are traveling to is not safe or its safety is questionable then invest in bottled water.
Avoid drinking too much alcohol, which causes dehydration, and avoids relying on sugary, non-nutritional drinks, such as soft drinks and artificial fruit juices.
Be Consistent and Careful
Don’t start a new exercise program while on the road. If you plan on doing ten push-ups and jog on the spot for one minute every night before bed, then plan to do so almost every night. After traveling for a month, don’t start working out after you have gained some travel weight – be proactive!
You also shouldn’t decide to run for half an hour on the treadmill for the first time simply because your hotel has one. Before starting any new exercise program consult your family physician and make sure you are following a program that works for you, your health and your current weight.
Stay Protected with Travel Insurance
It may seem simple enough, but some travelers either leave travel medical insurance to the last minute or don’t invest in any insurance. Even if you think you are protected by your domestic insurance plan, you should always inquire about what your plan does and does not cover. For example, if you were to have a heart attack while hiking abroad, would your current insurance plan cover you for the hospital or medical doctor of your choice? What if it was determined you need a major operation or need to be transported home? Does your current travel medical plan cover this or do you need additional insurance?
It’s also important to note that your domestic insurance plan may only cover you if you are out of the country for a short period, or only in certain countries.
You should also make sure your travel insurance covers any extracurricular activities you plan on doing while away. Activities such as a hot air balloon ride, horseback riding, and even recreational downhill and cross-country skiing are considered extreme sports and may require additional insurance coverage. Insuring yourself in case your health fails or in the case of an accident is your best way to ensure you are covered for any worst-case scenario.
Instead of hopping on a bus tour, consider renting a bike, hiking or walking around a foreign city or from tourist attraction to tourist attraction. Many cities in Europe, Australia, New Zealand and elsewhere are very walkable and with a little research, you can easily find self-guided tour maps. You will be amazed at how quickly you can accumulate 10,000 steps or 5 miles worth of traveling. The good news is this traveling not only allows for a few extra calories (for those unique foreign desserts) but also allows you to experience a travel destination up close and personal and may even lead to some unexpected travel gems!
Everything in Moderation
Give yourself a break and allow yourself to splurge, eat treats and eat junk food every once in a while – especially if you are on vacation. Just remember to do so in moderation and try not to do it consistently.
The same applies to exercise – You should exercise in moderation and should not try something new while you are away from home. Stick with safe and familiar exercises, and exercise with the purpose of simply staying in shape while you are traveling.
Remember to have fun while away and to not worry too much if you gain a pound or two. Just be vigilant about what you are eating and eat to nourish, hydrate and stay healthy.