As I have mentioned in my articles countless times before, traveling is a great way to broaden our mind and your understanding of the world that we live in. It is a great way to learn about other cultures and how other people around the world live. Not only does this teach us about this wonderful world that we live in, but it teaches us a great deal about ourselves as well.
However, that doesn’t mean traveling doesn’t come without any challenges. One of the most challenging aspects of travel (especially if you do it a lot) is staying healthy while you are away from home exploring. If you think it is difficult to stay healthy when you are at home where you can get a regular routine going, just imagine how much more difficult it can be to stay healthy when you are traveling and aren’t in the same spot for very long.
When I first started to travel a lot, staying healthy when traveling was something that I consistently struggled with. I would work hard at home to lose a lot of weight, build up my endurance for hiking and walking while sight-seeing, and get into the habit of eating healthier. However, as soon as I started traveling I would slide back into old habits and undo all of the hard work I had put in during the months leading up to my travel.
Without my regular routine at home, I found myself becoming less active and eating less healthy. It was easy for me to justify the inactivity and unhealthy eating because I was traveling and didn’t have the same amount of time and resources I had at home. This vicious cycle of getting healthy, being unhealthy when traveling, then having to get healthy again started to take its toll on me both physically and mentally. Each time I got back from traveling, it got harder-and-harder to start getting healthy again.
In this guide, I am going to pass on to you some of the tips and tricks that I have either learned from other travelers or thru experiences of my own on how to stay healthy when traveling. This guide isn’t designed to give you the secret formula for weight loss, turn you into a world-class athlete, or push the next great diet or workout routine on you.
Instead, this is a simple guide with some simple, common-sense tips on how you can stay healthy when you are traveling and you don’t have the benefit of the time and resources you have at home. If you follow these simple tips, not only will you feel better physically and mentally when you travel, but you will feel much better about yourself when you get home as well.
Drink lots of water
The first tip that I can give you on how to stay healthy when traveling may be one of the most important tips. In order to be healthy, you need to drink the proper amount of water each day. According to health experts, you are supposed to drink roughly eight 8-ounce glasses, which equates to approximately 2-liters or a half-gallon, of water each day. Drinking less water than this each day can leave your body dangerously dehydrated susceptible to illness.
When you travel, I would strongly recommend that you invest in an insulated water bottle that you can carry around with you while you are out-and-about. If you are traveling to a place where the tap water is unsafe, you can buy bottled water or get treated water to fill up your water bottle throughout the day. That way, you can make sure you always have clean and cold drinking water to drink and stay hydrated.
Always Take the Stairs
When it comes to getting exercise when you travel, it can be difficult to find the time and the resources to get the same amount of exercise in on the road as you do while you are at home. That is why I recommend that you try and find exercise in everything that you do while you are traveling.
If you have the option of taking the stairs or using an escalator or elevator, then opt to take the stairs. This can be a great way to get your cardio exercise in without having to dedicate specific time to do a workout. You can be exercising as you are sight-seeing.
Walk Instead of Getting Rides
Speaking of exercising as you travel, another great way to get additional cardio in as you travel is to choose to walk to where you are going instead of getting a ride with a taxi, ride-sharing company, or public transportation. Walking even just a few miles a day is a great way to keep in shape and you will have plenty of opportunities to do some walking as you do your sight-seeing.
When I travel, I love to walk around the cities that I visit anyways. Walking is a great way to really get to know the city, the people that live there, and make sure you don’t miss any fun sights or activities that you want to experience.
Granted, walking to see everything might be a little much, especially if you are visiting a large metropolitan area. In those cases, I like to take advantage of the hop-on-hop-off tour buses (if the city you are visiting offers then). This way I can take the bus when I am traveling between spots that are quite a ways away from each other, but then do some walking within the area to see the sights that are close to each other.
Take Advantage of Fitness Centers When Traveling
If you are lucky enough to have access to one, one of the best ways to stay healthy when traveling is to take advantage of a fitness center. Even though it is possible to stay active just by traveling, having access to a fitness center will allow you to keep up much of the same fitness routine that you use at home. If you are wondering how to get access to a fitness center when traveling, I have outlined a couple of suggestions for you below.
Look for Hotels with Free Fitness Rooms
A great way to get access to a fitness center or fitness room when you are traveling is to look for a hotel or hostel that either has a fitness center on-site or includes access to a nearby fitness center with your stay. For instance, I have included a screenshot above on how to filter out hotels that have a gym available on Hotels.com. Most hotel booking sites have similar filters that you can use to find a hotel that has a gym for guests to use.
Join the YMCA
If you are traveling within the United States, another great way to get access to a gym when you are traveling is to utilize your YMCA membership. The YMCA is a national organization and membership at your local YMCA gets you access to all of their facilities nationwide.
Use Other Global Access Gyms
If you would like to have access to a fitness center while traveling and don’t live close to a YMCA, or don’t want to pay for everything that the YMCA provides, then there are other global access gyms that you can get a membership to. These gyms either have a number of gym locations worldwide that you can use while you travel or give you access to a number of gyms worldwide with your membership. In case you are interested, I have listed some popular global gyms for you to review below.
- LA Fitness (over 690 gym locations in the US and Canada)
- Crossfit (over 15,000 gym affiliates worldwide)
- 24-Hour Fitness (over 400 gym locations across the United States)
- Anytime Fitness (Over 3,000 franchise locations in 20 countries and all 50 US States)
Look for Free Gym Trials at Your Destination
If you would really like access to a gym while you are traveling and all else fails, another option you can look into is whether a local gym at your destination offers free trial memberships. Even if they aren’t free and you have to pay a small fee for a daily pass, it may be worth it if you would like access to exercise equipment.
Choose Active Tours
One of my favorite ways of staying healthy when traveling is to look for active tours to participate in at my destination. Whether it be hiking, kayaking, bicycling, climbing, or any other type of activity, finding an active tour to take part in will help you stay active and fit while you are away from home. I will typically look to book a few of these types of tours and spread them out so that I am getting exercise throughout my trip.
Pack Light Workout Equipment
If you can find room in your suitcase, another great way to make sure you can get some exercise in while you travel is to pack some lightweight workout equipment. Exercise bands, a jump rope, small exercise balls, and other lightweight workout equipment can be used in your hotel room at night to burn some calories. The best part is when you move locations the equipment comes with you.
Create an Exercise Routine That Works for You
Regardless of how you decide to get your exercise while traveling, one of the most important tips that I can give you is to try and find a routine that works for you. Establishing a routine will help you stick to your goals and get your workouts done because you will be able to plan for them. Travel can be hectic and if you don’t plan for time to do some exercise you won’t end up doing it.
If you decide to find a gym membership that you can use on the road, set up a specific time of day (like first thing in the morning) to go and workout. If you want to bring some lightweight exercise equipment with you, find a time of day where you can use the equipment in your room or in the courtyard of your hotel. As soon as you establish your routine, you will find it much easier to stick to your travel exercise goals.
Learn to Do Yoga
Another really great way to stay in shape while you are traveling is to learn to do yoga. Not only is yoga a great way to keep your body and mind in tip-top shape, but it is an exercise that you can do almost anywhere. For some great tips on how to create a yoga routine to do while you travel, in addition to countless other health tips, check out the great resources on the Live Heavily Meditated website.
Use Technology to Help You Stay Healthy
If you are like me and have trouble keeping track of your health, especially when you in the midst of the hustle-and-bustle of travel, then you might need some help. With all of the new technology that has come out for the health and lifestyle industry, keeping track of your health has never been easier. Whether you decide to invest in a FitBit or use a phone app to help you track your diet and activity, leveraging technology can really help you stay on track. In case you are interested, I have included a list of some of the health apps that I use below for you to review.
- MyFitnessPal – Great app for tracking your diet and exercise
- MapMyWalk (or Run or Hike) – Great app for mapping your walks\runs\hikes
- Pacer Pedometer – Wonderful app for tracking your numbe of steps
Buy Groceries Instead of Eating Out
In addition to struggling to find time to exercise when you travel, it can also be difficult to eat healthy when you are in the middle of a trip. When you are preoccupied with getting from place-to-place and in full tourism mode, eating healthy can sometimes take a backseat. Instead of taking some extra time to find something healthy to eat, that fast food breakfast sometimes sounds really convenient.
It isn’t always a luxury that you can pull off when traveling, but if you do have the opportunity to do some healthy shopping and eat in while traveling the health benefits can really pay off. Depending on what you buy and whether you have adequate resources at your accommodations to prepare food, local markets can be a gold mine for healthy cuisine. Buying some fresh fruit and vegetables to eat as snacks during your trip can go a long way in ensuring you don’t fall into bad dietary habits while traveling.
Don’t Skimp on Meals
Speaking of food, another important tip I can give you on how to stay healthy when traveling is to not short change yourself on meals as you travel. I get it, travel is expensive and we have to find ways to cut corners in some areas in order to be able to afford to travel as much as we want to. One of the areas that many travelers like to try and save a few bucks is on the meals that they eat. If you want to stay healthy when traveling, this can be a big mistake.
Travel is thrilling and exciting, but it can also be a laborious and stressful endeavor. In order to make sure our bodies are prepared to deal with the ware-and-tear of travel, we need to make sure we are providing ourselves with the fuel that our bodies need. Instead of cutting corners on meals and not eating enough, try and find other areas where you can save some money. In the end, you will feel much better during your trip and you will enjoy your travels even more.
Watch Your Intake of Sweets and Alcohol
Out of all the tips I am providing you in this guide, this one is probably the most obvious and easy to understand of them all. If you want to stay healthy when traveling, common sense would dictate that it is probably a good idea to moderate the number of sweets and alcohol that you consume. This doesn’t mean that you have to completely refrain from enjoying some sweets and a few drinks, but if you are sitting on the beach drinking Daiquiris all day, you probably aren’t meeting your fitness goals.
Boost Your Immune System
In addition to keeping yourself physically fit, another important aspect of staying healthy when traveling is preventing yourself from becoming sick. I think we can all agree that not becoming ill is a great goal to have when on vacation. A great way to keep yourself from getting sick is to boost your immune system. Staying physically active and fit alone will boost your immune system some, as will eating healthy and getting enough rest.
However, if you are looking for an extra boost to your immune system, a great way to do that is to eat some extra Vitamin C before and during your travels. Fruits such as oranges, grapefruit, lemons, cantaloupe, pineapple, mango, papaya, and watermelon all have a lot of Vitamin C in them. If you aren’t really into eating a lot of fruit, you can also try some chewable immune support tablets.
Get Lots of Sleep
Without the sleep that our bodies need, staying healthy is a very difficult proposition. Not only will a lack of sleep dampen your travel plans by making you tired and putting you in a bad mood, but it can also wear down your immune system. Unless you want to be tired, cranky, and sick, getting enough rest when you travel is important.
This is why it is important to make sure you have the proper accommodations when you travel. If you are planning on staying in a hostel or other lodging that has communal sleeping areas, I would check the reviews to make sure quiet hours are enforced and air conditioning is provided (if it is going to be hot). It may also make sense to travel with earplugs, a sleep eye mask, and even download an ambient sound app for your phone if they will help you get some quality rest.
Try Using Melatonin Instead of Sleeping Pills
If you have trouble falling asleep when you travel, you might be tempted to use sleeping pills. The problem with sleeping pills is that they can leave you feeling drowsy and tired the next day, which can put a damper on your travel plans and also leave you feeling less motivated to be active. Instead of using sleeping pills, I would try an over-the-counter Melatonin supplement instead. Melatonin plays an active role in regulating our sleep and sometimes just an extra dose of this natural hormone can help you fall asleep naturally.
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OH Josh, such nice pictures with so much wonderful advice. I think I saw the Melatonin girl somewhere in an ad. Just looking at her makes you start dreaming. I traveled a lot for my work and eating has its consequences when invited in strange places. In Bangladesh we suffered from the “Dhaka run”, you know what I mean. Or the Garcia parasite that prevents your digestion. In Cameroon it was the spinach (we never ate salads). In Abidjan, fish poisoning from lobsters. Well, I ate out nice in Lebanon and Jordan, surprisingly clean. Generally, I ate lots of fruits (mangos, pineapples). And the best restaurant ever for Indian food was the Amber in Calcutta! I even arranged my travel so that I could stop off there before going back to London. I agree about the water, dehydration in the tropics is a common threat and makes you feel dizzy. But a friend of mine had that nice bottle you mention and when we wanted to visit the Capitol in D.C. in the July heat the guards took it away and threw it in a huge garbage can. When we finished our tour, we fished it out again, almost sliding into the garbage can ourselves. Yes, travel is full of adventure.
Wow John, it sounds like you have had such amazing adventures and have so much wisdom to pass on. Thank you so much for reading my article and sharing your personal experiences. 😀👍
Great advice Josh. I would add one more thing, though it’s really more for recovery, but it goes along with some of the exercise things you said. I just threw our stick roller into my suitcase. A regular foam roller – even a travel size/length one – just takes up too much space in the luggage, but if you are going to be exercising regularly on your travels, rolling afterward can stave off pain. Our upcoming trip will have lots of cycling, as well as some running and hiking. I’ll be a much less grumpy person if I roll after all those activities. 🙂
Fantastic advice!!! I can’t believe I forgot to add that to the article. Much appreciated for mentioning it 😀👍