There have been plenty of times when we’ve traveled and have not had time to work out, but for when we do, I like to pack properly for the occasion.

I happen to be a runner, and I also like hiking, lifting and strength training, biking and of course, walking. All of these activities can be elevated with the proper travel-sized workout equipment.

What should you have in your packed bags this year if you want to work out while on a trip? Join me in seeing my recommendations that follow, to discover new exercise essentials for travelers.

Grab your comfiest shoes, and let’s begin!

Apple Watch

Tracking your fitness progress can be rewarding at the end of your trip. If I’m getting my fitness from walking, my Apple Watch can help show me how far I’ve traveled in a day. It’s so satisfying, especially when Becca and I walk a ton after we land in a new city.

There are plenty of other fitness trackers that are less expensive and equally suitable, but I like the Apple Watch because it has multiple use cases that work well for a traveler.

I use my Apple Watch to help out with directions when we get lost traveling in a faraway city. It can also help show me notifications without taking my phone out of your pocket (that’s convenient). I can stream music from my Apple Watch, and best of all, my Apple Watch tells me if I’ve hit my workout targets for the day, so it keeps me moving.

One time in Merida, Mexico, I walked in circles in our hotel suite, just to make sure I “closed my rings” on my watch’s exercise tally.

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Apple Watch

Track your fitness while traveling, conveniently on your wrist.

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Apple Watch sport band

And as a bonus, if you’re looking for a super comfortable Apple Watch band, check out the Nike Sport Loop. Nike was generous in sending one out for me to test.

It handles sweat really well, even for long workouts, because it allows sweat to escape through the nylon weave. It’s what I use. I replaced my silicone watch band because it started causing irritation, and I haven’t looked back.

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Nike Sport Loop Band for Apple Watch

The Nike Sport Loop is a breathable watch band that won’t cause irritation.

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Bluetooth Sport Headphones

I’ve taken the Shokz running headphones in my travel bags multiple times, especially when Becca and I go away and I get my running in. I once ran 10 miles on a snowy weekend away in New Hampshire, and listened to podcasts for a few hours with these.

These headphones are incredibly lightweight and they’re pretty bendy, even though they look rigid. They’re sweat-resistant, and have a titanium wraparound frame with open-ear design, so that you can be in tune with your surroundings (like traffic) rather than blocked-out.

They always survive being tossed around in my luggage (although I pack them in a tech bag), and I’ve worked out with them so many times I can’t even count. They have deep bass and 10 hours of battery life, so you can charge them every few days if you’re working out for only an hour at a time.

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Shokz Lightweight Sport Headphones

These packable titanium open-ear headphones use Bluetooth technology and have 10 hours of battery life for workouts.

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Proper gym, training or running sneakers

Becca and I work out very differently (I run marathons and have done CrossFit; she likes yoga and swimming), but some things we both do are run and walk. One thing any traveler learns over the years, with us included, is that good shoes are a requirement for happy feet on a trip.

Some running shoes I swear by are the Hoka Cliftons, and for Becca, it’s the Nike FlyKnit React Infinity running sneakers. For training shoes, I got the Nike Metcon 8 AMP sneakers that are good for floor workouts, lifting and cardio. Try taking these to a hotel gym or fitness studio near where you’re staying and you’ll be in for a comfy workout.

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HOKA Clifton 9

These are my favorite running shoes that I take for workouts on every trip.

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Nike Flyknit React Infinity

These walking and running sneakers are Becca’s top choice for the support and stability.

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Nike Metcon 8 Training Shoes

For lifting and gym sessions during my travels, I opt for a strong training sneaker like these.

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We’d like to thank Nike for providing us with the Flyknit and Metcon sport sneakers for testing out.

Quick-Dry Towel

I’ve been a long-time fan of taking a quick-dry towel with me and I’ve included mine as one of the best travel accessories to have on any type of trip. Did you consider that a packable quick-dry towel is a travel-friendly workout accessory for fitness away from home?

A compact and lightweight workout towel like this one from Coccoon is good to sling around your neck while heading to the hotel pool, hotel gym or simply, a layer on your yoga mat. Also, for people who sweat a lot (that might be me), you can tuck a towel like this into your hiking backpack, travel daypack or duffel bag, no matter which exercise you’re doing.

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Coccoon quick-dry microfiber sport towel

This towel folds up small and dries fast, perfect for quick workouts on a trip.

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Travel-sized massage gun

When you’re looking to warm up or cool down, a travel-sized massage gun is a great way to work out knots from tight muscles. It’s something that I use frequently after running or on a lazy Sunday while I’m sitting on the couch. You also may have seen me list this idea in the best accessories for long flights to tune-up stiff legs.

As an update to our Bob & Brad massage product collection, we tested out the travel-sized packable Q2 Mini. We’re excited to travel with it and stay loose on our trips. This one’s the most travel-friendly massage gun we have found, and at its pocket-sized dimensions (the size of a water bottle), it can fit in your suitcase with everything else.

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Bob & Brad Q2 Mini Muscle Massage Gun

The Q2 Mini from Bob & Brad is the travel-sized version of the best-selling muscle massage gun.

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Running belt

Any time I run, I like to have my keys, my phone and some money or a credit card with me. I don’t rely on my pockets to hold these things snug and secure, as that would never work!

I have the Original Pocket SPIbelt for running. It’s lightweight and has no issues holding my phone, keys and a credit card or two. I also started using the Dual-Pocket SPIbelt for my marathons. As an update, SPIbelt says on their website that the Original belt can hold up to an iPhone Pro Max, so you don’t have to worry about giant phones fitting.

I’ve had both my SPIbelts for a long time and they have held up great despite all the wear and use. Both are so comfortable that I sometimes forget that I am wearing one after I complete my run.

As an alternative packable and travel-friendly running belt, Becca likes her FlipBelt. It fits her well, it’s safe and it’s washable. It has more surface area to hold more items because of its flat build. It also works well as a money belt to wear around your waist, to help avoid theft and pickpockets.

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SPIbelt Original Running Belt

My favorite running belt for workouts is super packable and can hold a phone, cards and keys.

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FlipBelt Classic Running Belt

Pack this snug running belt to double as a money belt during travel.

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YOGO Travel yoga mat

I’ve never seen such a slim foldable yoga mat for travel as when I laid eyes on Becca’s Yogo mat. YOGO claims that this hyper-light yoga mat folds up into the size of a newspaper, and you can be ready to take it on the go if you’re a yoga addict.

It securely bundles when it folds, and has a carrying strap that Becca has found very useful. It weighs only 2.8 lbs, and get this: you can clean the entire thing by taking it into the shower with you and letting it drip dry. What’s important to know about a thin yoga mat like this is that if you have sensitive knees, you’ll want something padded underneath. Or, you can use a yoga blanket or any other blanket (even a sweatshirt) to pad your knees.

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YOGO Travel yoga mat

The lightweight and packable YOGO travel yoga mat folds up neatly and has a carrying handle.

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Lacrosse ball

A Champion lacrosse ball is one of my favorite (and super simple) products to help prevent injury when I’m far from home. In 2015, I got really into fitness. I started exercising every day. This was a big improvement from doing almost nothing for a few years prior.

Working out started to catch up with me, and I started to develop pain throughout my hips and lower back. I found a lacrosse ball to be the perfect size and shape to get into tight corners to roll out knots in my lower back and on my hips. As I started running more, it was perfect for rolling out my feet to help loosen them up.

When traveling, I bring a lacrosse ball with me to help my muscles stay loose when I go on runs. If you have a metal water bottle or something sturdy, you can also use that and get similar results! I find that a lacrosse ball fits right into any of the packing cubes in my backpack. And now, my daughter thinks they’re really fun to play with, too.

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Champion lacrosse ball

Roll out your back, hips, joints and muscles with a lacrosse ball that’ll fit in any luggage.

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TRX System

I would say traveling with a TRX System is for someone really into fitness and looking to stay fit while traveling for a few weeks at a time. It’s probably not worth packing an entire system, or components of it, if you’re only away from a night (but if you’re really committed, then maybe).

The way the TRX works is by attaching the system to a sturdy structure, like a beam, tree or post. Then, while it is securely attached, you can do your movements. The TRX Fit System is recommended as the most travel-ready workout system. It’s “ultra-ready” to be done on the go.

Even while you’re not traveling, a TRX is a great way to stay in shape and cut out the added expense of going to a gym. There’s a learning curve of learning the movement and creating your routine. There are a lot of resources to help you out on the TRX website.

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TRX Fit System

A travel-friendly full-body workout system that can be taken on the go.

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Resistance bands

Have you heard of resistance bands? These workout bands are both lightweight and effective to use for working out during travel. If you use them at home, you’ll have no problem adding them to your travel workout equipment arsenal.

You can do a wide variety of exercises and level up your resistance as you build your strength. This can all be done from a hotel room, hostel backyard, Airbnb living room or train station waiting platform. You can choose your own adventure with these!

We learned about this lightweight resistance band from Nike, which is durable, packable and easy to take out of your backpack anywhere along your route. It’s also an affordable purchase.

Our friends Alex and Ryan from their blog Duo Life have created a guide for how to workout with resistance bands, which we’ve been recommending for years!

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Nike Resistance Band (Light)

Use a lightweight resistance band to do strength training while traveling.

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Travel running bottle

For more serious runners who travel, a travel running bottle is a good investment for your travel-friendly equipment.

When you’re running near your home, you’ll know where the water points are, or have a system that works for you to make sure you have enough water. But when you travel, you’re on your own to find water. And, water is very important! In some countries, tap water is not drinkable, so you can’t stop at a drinking fountain in the park for a quick sip.

I have the Nathan SpeedView Handheld Water Bottle and it’s been a favorite for years. When we’re on a trip during my marathon training plan, I pack this in my duffel or my Peak Design Travel Backpack and it fits with no problem. It has a clear front pocket in which you can keep your phone, while you run with the bottle in its handle.

When you’re not running, you can use this water bottle for hiking or other outdoor activities. The strap for your hand can easily be used to attach the bottle to a backpack or your belt. It’s one of my travel must-haves for running, and the size can’t be beat.

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Water bottle for running

See your phone and grab the handle of this water bottle made for running, perfect for its travel size.

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The Buff (Neck Gaiter / Headband)

For all weather conditions, I think the Buff is an essential travel fitness product to have for most exercise activities.

The Buff is versatile and can work as a neck covering (to avoid sunburn), which is great in the tropics. It can also serve as a headband (for sweaty workouts), or it can help keep your face warm in cold weather climates. There are many uses for a Buff because it’s so versatile.

I have the Merino Wool Buff. I like it because it dries quickly and does well with unpleasant odors. You can hang it in your hotel room shower to dry for a few hours and then use it again. Some people also use it as a ski mask!

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The Buff (wear it 12 ways)

Never leave for a trip without this wear-it-12-ways merino Buff, handy for being worn as a headband, ski mask, neck cover and beanie.

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Waterproof hiking shoes

Forget running: hiking is where I get my heart rate up and pack in a sweat when I’m traveling. My and Becca’s most memorable hikes and treks have been in Sri Lanka, Taiwan, Colombia, Peru and Vietnam, just to name a few. We’ve named my favorite travel accessories for backpackers in another list, where we only dip our toes in the possibilities for hiking equipment.

We recently came across the Vessi Stormburst hiking boots, which we review in our Vessi shoe review. They’re totally waterproof, and multi-purpose enough to wear as cushioned everyday sneakers when you’re not hiking.

What we like about them is that they repel water completely, leaving your feet dry. You don’t have to worry about leaving them out in the sun for a day until you can wear them again (and we’ve definitely had to do this during our trips!).

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Vessi weatherproof hiking shoes

These 100% waterproof hiking boots double as comfortable walking shoes during travel.

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