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How to maintain your fitness routine while travelling

Aleney de Winter

Whether it’s for work or play, travel doesn't have to mean letting your health goals slide.

Two girls with a bike and skateboard talking, leaning on a railing by the beach
Two girls with a bike and skateboard talking, leaning on a railing by the beach

There's no doubt that travel is filled with many temptations. The temptation to sleep in, to skip your workout, sink one too many cocktails, and nosh on waist-wrecking meals. Because travel is meant to be a break from the daily grind, right? At least it is until you return feeling bloated, tired, and suffering from holiday remorse. 

While maintaining a fitness routine on the go can be a challenge, it's important to prioritise your health. The key is to be flexible and adaptable. There’s no need to stress out if you miss a workout or can't find a gym. Instead, focus on staying active and making healthy choices wherever you can. 

Here are a few simple but effective ways to stay focused and fit while you’re travelling. 

Plan ahead 

Before you travel, research fitness options at your destination such as local gyms or fitness classes that support casual visits. Better still, consider a hotel that has an in-house gym or fitness centre. Then plan your workouts in advance and schedule them into your itinerary, even if it means getting up an hour earlier to do so. You won’t regret it and you might even be rewarded with a spectacular sunrise, which research shows can help boost moods, reduce inflammation and anxiety, and even help you get a better night’s sleep. 

Pack with purpose 

Pack your workout clothes and runners, because a cute cocktail dress and a pair of heels aren’t the stuff of a successful workout session. Think about throwing resistance bands, a skipping rope, a superlight yoga mat or other small and lightweight exercise gear in your luggage to encourage you to stay active in your hotel room. If your hotel has a pool, pack your swimsuit, goggles, and a swim cap for laps. Consider tossing few non-perishable snacks in your luggage, such as protein shakes (and a portable blender) to avoid bingeing at the breakfast buffet, and a couple of protein bars to avoid the temptation of calorie-laden take out. (But check to make sure you can bring these items through customs.) 

BYO personal trainer 

There are some brilliant fitness apps available that can help you stay on track with your workouts while travelling. Nike Training Club is a free digital personal trainer that can travel with you and offers hundreds of free workouts from yoga to strength training. MyFitnessPal can help you track your food and fitness and offers a range of workout routines. Centre, by Chris Hemsworth provides expert High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT), boxing, Pilates and yoga workouts, as well as guided meditations, that you can do anywhere, anytime. Or simply stay accountable by wearing a smart device like a FitBit or Apple Watch. 

Make use of your surroundings 

Even better than a gym session is to explore your destination while working out. Two birds – one stone. Go for an early walk or jog outside to soak up the sights while you clock up some cardio. Do some strength and conditioning at the airport using your carry-on for a ‘farmer’s walk’ to activate your core, forearms, shoulders, and legs. Do bodyweight exercises such as push-ups, squats, and lunges in your hotel room. Or find a park or beach to do yoga or other outdoor activities. The hit of fresh air will give you a bonus energy boost. 

Get walking  

Walking offers a variety of benefits for your physical and mental health and uses almost three times more energy than sitting. So, ditch the Ubers and explore on foot. Not only will it burn more calories, improve cardiovascular health, and reduce stress, you’ll uncover wonderful local secrets as you experience your destination in a more immersive way. 

Explore by bike 

An increasing number of cities have bike-share programs with day options, so it's easy to grab a bike to get around. Pedal power can help improve cardiovascular fitness, increase muscle strength and flexibility. The best bit? Bikes are a fun way of exploring and allow you to delve into every nook and cranny of a city, so you can dig deeper into your destination. (Be sure to always wear a helmet while riding.) 

Stay hydrated 

Hydration is especially important on holidays, especially if you’re spending a lot of time in the sun, as an increase in body temperature causes you to lose more water. You need to keep your fluids up, and no, poolside piña coladas don’t count. Drinking plenty of H20 is essential, wherever you go. Not only does staying adequately hydrated help regulate body temperature, support kidney function and promote proper digestion, it boosts physical performance and enhances cognitive function and mood. So, drinking those eight glasses every day you’re away will make for a happier holiday. 

Consistency is key 

It's important to stay consistent with your fitness routine, even when you are travelling. Aim to get at least 30 minutes of exercise very day while you are away, whether it's a morning workout, a midday run, or a hotel HIIT. Your body will thank you for it. 

Travelling soon? Consider nib Travel Insurance and get a quote 

To learn more about what’s covered, see nib travel insurance. Nib Health insurance members get a 10% discount off their travel insurance.* 

nib Travel Insurance Distribution Pty Limited, ABN 40 129 262 175, AR 336467 is an authorised representative of nib Travel Services (Australia) Pty Ltd (nib), ABN 81 115 932 173, AFSL 308461 and act as nib's agent and not as your agent. This is general advice only. Before you buy, you should consider your needs, the Product Disclosure Statement (PDS), Financial Services Guide (FSG) and Target Market Determination (TMD) available from us. This insurance is underwritten by Pacific International Insurance Pty Ltd, ABN 83 169 311 193. 

*The discount applies to the total nib travel insurance premium and is for members that currently hold an Australian health insurance product, an Overseas Student Health Cover product or an Overseas Visitors Health Cover product with nib. Discounts do not apply to the rate of GST and stamp duty or any changes you make to the policy. nib has the discretion to withdraw or amend this discount offer at any time. This discount cannot be used in conjunction with any other promotional offer or discount. 

A portrait of Aleney de Winter smiling at the camera

Aleney de Winter

An award-winning writer and photographer with an unquenchable inclination to wander and a passion for the world of wellness, Aleney de Winter was a curious teen with an adventurous spirit when she first set off to explore. Three decades on and a specialist travel, food, parenting and wellness writer, the only thing she loves more than new adventures is her equally itchy-footed kids