Let’s face it, establishing and maintaining healthy habits while travelling is a real challenge. With changing time zones, disrupted schedules, inconsistent access to spaces and a million other reasons to skip out of your daily routine, these important rituals can often go out the window while we’re on the road.
We know this more than anyone.
In December 2021, my partner and I packed up our lives in Australia to embark on a global 18-month journey. In our “regular” lives, we both lead very active lifestyles and maintain a regular meditation practice. Therefore, it was essential for us to ensure that these healthy habits were adapted for the road so they could be properly maintained. Now, after travelling for more than four months, we’ve established some habits that we’ve found very useful and that can be used by anyone looking to maintain their physical and mental health on the road.
Here are our top tips for how to stay fit while travelling:
Keep it simple. The simpler that you make your routine, the easier it is to follow. We’ve found that a combination of the following 5 things has been highly beneficial to achieving strong mental and physical fitness while travelling: meditation, yoga, HIIT exercises, long walks and enjoying the outdoors.
Meditation: For us, regular mediation is integral to our mental health. So, fortunately, finding the time to meditate on the road is easier than we thought. Yes, we find it best to meditate first thing in the morning but this isn’t always possible during our travels.
The next best thing? Incorporate your meditation practice into your travel. While you’re sitting there on the train, bus or plane, why not meditate? If you have your own practice, great, do that. Otherwise, we recommend the free Insight Timer app for guided meditation options. Put your headphones in, gently close your eyes and no one will be any the wiser.
Yoga: Long hours spent crammed into uncomfortable airplane, bus and train seats (or standing if you miss out on a seat – hello Sri Lanka!) lugging your heavy backpack around and sleeping in odd-shaped beds that are too small for your body (for the love of god, why!!) make it all the more important to set aside time for yoga.
We recommend using the online platform Glo. Glo offers a monthly subscription that grants access to thousands of yoga, pilates, meditation and general fitness classes. They also have some of the best teachers in the world. We have been using Glo for many years and are very happy with it.
But even if you can’t fit in a full class, then some simple, regular stretches will do. You’ll be surprised at how little space you need to do baddha konasana, twists and forward bends. Take 10 minutes out each day and you’ll definitely feel the difference.
Also, if you’re travelling without a yoga mat then hotel towels and travel towels aren’t bad alternatives.
HIIT Workouts: High-intensity interval training or HIIT workouts are another excellent way of staying fit while on the road. These short but intense exercise sequences are highly efficient and require very little space. The workouts last anywhere from 15 to 40 minutes so they are easy to fit into your schedule. We like the Self workouts. Also, if you’re looking for a good butt whooping then try Fitness Blender. You can get both of these on YouTube, so they cost nothing (just your sanity in advertisements).
Walking: For us, one of the best ways to experience a new location is to lace up our shoes and head out for a walk. While it’s also a great way to see the sights, it’s equally as useful for maintaining fitness. I have a Garmin watch that tracks my steps, but these days most smartphones also have a step-counting feature. We recommend setting yourself an attainable goal – we try to do a minimum of 10,000 steps per day. To achieve this, it sometimes requires us to skip a taxi ride or two, take the stairs over an elevator or pick a restaurant that’s a bit further away. It’s actually become a fun game we play!
Enjoy the outdoors: We’ve saved the best for last! Spending time outdoors (aka trekking!) is one of the best ways to keep fit AND it’s a lot of fun. We spend as much time as possible hiking. If you’re spending a bit of time somewhere, why not repeat a hike? For example, we were recently camping at a location that was a short distance from a beautiful viewpoint. We made it a habit to walk up to the viewpoint each day of our stay. We kept getting a beautiful spot and a workout in!
Bonus Tip: If you are undertaking a longer trip, we recommend setting aside time at the beginning of your trip to attend retreats, workshops or classes. We were lucky enough to attend a 6-day yoga retreat at Suan Sati (highly recommended) and a 10-day vipassana retreat and Suan Mokkh (also recommended). These retreats served as excellent foundations for our practices early on in our trip. This has meant that it’s been easier to maintain these healthy habits. If you don’t have too much time to spare (perfectly understandable) then find a local yoga class or meditation meetup early on in your trip. This can make a world of difference.
Lastly, let’s not kid ourselves, success ultimately hinges on our ability to be disciplined and how we can form our own routine amidst the travel chaos. Be accountable to yourself and experiment a little to find what’s best for you. Write down your exercise goals, ensuring they are realistic and attainable. But hey, if you skip a workout, it’s ok. After all, you’re out travelling – enjoy yourself!
Explore Travel Oasis, Zandy and Dotti’s Travel Blog: https://exploretraveloasis.com/
Insight Timer: https://insighttimer.com/
Fitness Blender: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cZnsLVArIt8
Suan Sati: https://www.suansati.com/
Suan Mokkh: https://www.suanmokkh-idh.org/idh-registration.html