How to Workout While Traveling
- Get creative finding your workout jam
- Bring your own equipment
- Do a drop-in class at a studio
- Go running (or try!)
- Try a ciclovia
- Turn day trips and excursions into workouts
- Go on walking tours
- Make workouts “work” in hot climates
- Go walking
- Find hikes and go hiking
- Climb steps
- Go on a bike tour
- Take a local dance class
- Go swimming
- Use the hotel gym
- Use workout trackers & social media
- Work out in a hotel room
- Try the funny workout equipment in public parks
- Use fitness apps
- Work out safely in high altitudes
I’m someone who loves the thrill of my heart rate going up and breaking a sweat during a trip. In fact, I think some of my best vacation memories are when I’ve been exercising or doing physical activity. Could it be that getting some fitness time in during your trip is actually fun?
Vacation doesn’t have to be sitting in a lounge chair on a beach for five days straight. For me, traveling means hiking, running, boating, swimming, yoga or simply walking for miles and miles.
Even if you don’t consider yourself a workout fanatic or fitness pro, check out this extensive list of all the ways you can exercise and work out during your travels (without even trying).
Ready for this? Let’s go.
Get creative finding your workout jam
Traveling doesn’t mean you have to go running or do yoga. You can find enjoyment in any activity that gets your fitness juices going.
This can be hiking, if you’re on an outdoorsy trip, or swimming, if you’re at a resort with a pool. The sky’s the limit!
Bring your own equipment
If you want to get a great workout, you can practice some travel-friendly workout equipment so you can always ensure that you get a good workout even if a hotel gym is closed. We asked our friends Alex and Ryan and here’s what they recommend.
For a complete list of ideas, see my list of the best travel-friendly workout products.
Do a drop-in class at a studio
Being the newcomer or “out-of-towner” at a workout studio class can be intimidating, but it’s a smart choice if you want to work fitness into your trip.
When I was in Hollywood, FL, for only three days, I dropped into a class at a yoga studio by the beach, with my ClassPass membership. This was such a good use of a subscription that I typically would use only at home in NYC! For no extra charge, I got a workout in before I hit the beach for the day.
Either before you leave or when you arrive, search around for fitness studios that allow drop-in attendees. You may wind up trying a new activity that you love.
Go running (or try!)
Starting in Mexico City, after acclimating to the high altitude, we both started running on our own. Mexico City has an awesome park called Bosque de Chapultepec, which has a great running path.
I’ve really never been an excellent runner, but the best things about running are that it’s free, it happens on your own time, you can go at your own speed and you’ll always see something new. Running was one of my favorite ways to explore awesome cities like Hanoi, Taipei and Merida.
Try a ciclovia
If you’re traveling to South and Central America, most big cities have ciclovías (we discuss this in both our Medellin travel guide and Bogota travel guide). A ciclovia is when the city closes down select major avenues and people walk, bike and run. There are street-side vendors that sell fruit, homemade juices and water, so you have hydration at your fingertips for most of the experience!
In Medellin, it was a weekend activity that we always looked forward to.
We love taking part in ciclovias because it’s not every day that you get to work out in one of the major roads in a new destination!
Turn day trips and excursions into workouts
When I went to Banff, Canada, with my family, we went on a canoe excursion! This was true to my family’s travel style, as we like to do stuff, and my parents like to find unique activities to do.
Boating is actually really strenuous, so we got a full upper body workout by rowing canoes during the tour down the river. There are LOTS of types of workouts that can also be ways of experiencing a new place and a new culture, so I urge you to find those on a site like Get Your Guide!
Go on walking tours
They’re a great (sometimes free) thing to do. You get to spend time seeing the place where you are traveling, with a local expert guide. Sometimes these tours are two or three hours long, like the Medellin Free City Walking Tour. You’ll probably walk slowly, and it’s a good way to sneak in a enjoyable two- or three-mile walk.
Be careful, though: if the walking tours include food, you may want to work that into your daily “food budget” (of calories, but maybe also money!). Otherwise, all of that walking might not be offset by all of the extra calories that you consume. (But if you’re enjoying yourself, don’t worry about it! It’s your vacation.)
Make workouts “work” in hot climates
In Cartagena and Santa Marta, the hot weather completely drained us. Being out in the hot sun and weather that has a real-feel of 90° F with humidity is exhausting. To keep moving, we walked as much as we could before we felt lethargic, and then luckily had a pool to cool off in.
If you plan to run or work out safely outside in hot climates, do it at sunrise before it gets hot, or later at night, when it cools off.
If you have a few hours to kill in the airport, like on a layover, get up and walk around. We’ll make sure to at least walk for 20 or so minutes, which should generously be about one mile of walking.
Dan will sometimes track walks on his Apple Watch to get an idea of how far we’ve walked if we’re only walking for the steps.
Find hikes and go hiking
I’ve done multi-day treks, and also one-hour hikes around the world from Panama to China (foothills of the Himalayas!). Some memorable hikes that really worked up sweats for us were the Grouse Grind in Vancouver and trekking in Sapa, Vietnam.
I don’t think there’s anyone who thinks hiking isn’t a workout, and I’m one of the people who thinks that hikes are some of the best exercising methods around! When I plan a trip, I like to mix in history, culture and nature, so if we don’t know of any hikes in our destination, I either do my research or I ask around for some good ones!
When you travel, and if you’re anything like us, you may find yourself going in and out of a lot of different places.
Maybe our Airbnb is on the third floor of an apartment house. Maybe the place we’re going to for lunch is on the second floor of a building. Maybe a museum has a few levels to discover.
For all of these choices, we take the stairs! The added steps will accumulate during the day and you’ll see them later in your Apple Health or Google Health app.
Go on a bike tour
When we were in Lima, Peru, we went on a bike tour and it was a really fun way to see the city. We would often ride our bikes when we were living in NYC, before that trip to Lima. (Fun fact: the Lima city bike tour made Dan feel more comfortable about riding his bike in the NYC when we got back home!) Go out of your comfort zone if riding a bike in a more urban area is adventurous for you.
We also biked in rural Salento, Colombia, and it was really hilly. We were glad the brakes were good on the bikes we rented. The couple we met were Dutch, and were experts on bikes, and they loved going fast down those hills. We, on the other hand, needed a slightly different pace.
If you don’t want the structure of a bike tour, look for bike rentals or bike shares in the city you’ll be visiting.
Take a local dance class
How cool would it be to take a tango class in Argentina, or a salsa class in Colombia? While I’m no dancer at all, I have friends who are, and let me tell you: dancing is one of the best (and most fun) ways to work out. Especially while traveling, taking a dance class with some local flavor can be a cultural experience for the books.
Or, go dancing! Spending a night out at a live music event or concert can keep you on your feet and keep your body moving. Bust a move!
Use the hotel pool! This means having a bathing suit packed in your suitcase, and honestly, this is one thing I usually forget if I know we’re going to a hotel with a nice pool.
Instead of sitting in the hot tub or jacuzzi, swim some laps, tread water and set a goal for yourself. For me, I want to be able to record my workout on my Strava app, even if manually, so I want to do a number of laps that I’m proud of.
Use the hotel gym
That’s right, don’t be shy! I’m no expert, but even if I hop on the bike or the treadmill at a hotel gym, it’s a great way to get your heart rate up for a few minutes if you’ve been flying or in the car all day.
On our babymoon to New England, we spent a rainy day in the car driving from New Hampshire to Vermont and got zero steps or physical activity. By the time we got to the hotel, we felt stiff and groggy, and solved that by trying out the hotel gym downstairs.
Use workout trackers & social media
To motivate myself to run more when we spent a month in Merida, I recorded my runs on Strava. Dan uses Strava too, and after we would finish our runs, we’d be able to see each other’s routes.
While Strava is kind of like a social app for people who work out, you can also share photos of your workouts while traveling if that’s motivating for you! If you use Instagram, a series of photos you took on morning runs, hikes or walks is something nice to look back on.
Or, if you use TikTok, Instagram or Facebook, making a “reel” or video about how you worked out in a certain destination may be helpful for others!
Work out in a hotel room
I’ve tried to work out in hotel rooms, and for me, the obstacle is the carpet or hard wooden floors and not having a workout mat. That’s because I haven’t gotten creative, enough though: there are some fitness masters on the internet who’ve devised workouts that can use things like your luggage as weights, and explain how to even do things like cardio, without any equipment.
Try the funny workout equipment in public parks
We’ve been to a lot of places around the world that have public parks with exercise equipment. Where we live, the only thing we have are playgrounds that are meant for kids. You won’t find us trying to do a HIIT workout next to a five-year-old. But if you can find an adult-friendly park, that might be a nice way to spend 30 minutes or an hour in the morning before you start your day.
Use fitness apps
Apps like the Peloton app have guided runs and walks, and more! Of course, an app like this is able to “travel with you” all around the county and the world, so you can be consistent with your workouts and progress.
YouTube is also a great resource for the same reason, if you have a place to do floor workouts, yoga, stretching or even dancing!
Work out safely in high altitudes
We are able to start working out at high altitudes only after several days of acclimation. Whenever we get to a new altitude that is higher than the city or town we came from, we take two to three days to take it easy, stay hydrated and avoid strenuous activity. I have learned this the hard way: I had altitude sickness in Bolivia and it was not fun.
After a few days, increasing physical activity is fine, but we always listen to our bodies to determine if we’re getting exhausted. Don’t expect to maintain the same level of fitness right away. It takes time!
Workouts on short trips vs long trips
On a short trip, I want to pack in all the sights, maybe sleep a bit less, and make the most of every moment. For fitness during longer travel plans, I can do something like buy a monthly membership at a gym or at a yoga studio.
For us, workouts look very different when we’re away for a weekend versus spending a month somewhere. When we’re in a different city every few days or only away for 48 hours total, we’ll try going for a run or we’ll use the hotel gym.
If we’re away for a month, we’ll consider becoming members at a fitness studio, like what I did when we spent four weeks in Lima, Peru.
One more thought
A suggestion of mine in regard to being fitness-minded while traveling is to watch the food you eat.
For us, we’re not big on food tourism, but we do love good food. I am gluten- and dairy-free and Dan is a vegetarian, so for these reasons, we’re more happy grabbing something quick and spending more time sightseeing or hiking.
For some people though, the food IS the destination. And while food and eating aren’t really parts of this article, an excess of calories will end up making you gain a few pounds if you’re not active.
My recommendation would be to watch what you eat, and balance this with enjoying yourself! Practice portion control and savor your meals, and check out my guide to how to eat healthy while traveling.
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