Everything You Need to Stay Fit While Traveling (Even on a Budget)

Budget-Friendly Fitness Vacations

Vacation Workout
Getty Images/Jordan Siemens

I love traveling. Not just vacationing, but traveling. I love it so much I've transformed it into a lifestyle. I live abroad, I teach abroad and I travel as much as I possibly can. I feed my soul with each new country I visit, but I have to make sure I don't simultaneously over-feed my mouth. 

Maintaining a healthy, active lifestyle while seeing the world is a major priority to me, but as a 28-year-old English teacher, my budget doesn't always provide for fancy hotels or top notch gyms. Rather, small hostels and a well-used backpack define each of my trips.

Despite such monetary limitations, I've learned how to effectively maintain an active lifestyle while away from home. Sure, you might still long for the amenities of a (crazy expensive) full-service health retreat, but there's absolutely no reason you can't turn any vacation into a fitness vacation, even while on a budget.

Forget the Gym

Phone Fitness
Getty Images/Cultura/Chad Springer

You don't need a full gym, rows of equipment or front-row access to the latest exercise trends to stay fit on the road. There are only three things you really need to stay active; good shoes, good music and a notebook or phone filled with bodyweight workouts.

As the world gets smaller and people’s desire for experience grows larger, an endless number of bodyweight workouts and equipment-free circuits have sprung up on the Internet. These can be done any time, anywhere, and are often provided by top-notch trainers.

Take five minutes to pin a few circuit variations or screen shot your favorite workout blogs to take the pressure off developing your own routine. If you have a good pair of shoes and music to motivate you, you'll have no problem at all demolishing a routine.

If you do feel the need to travel with workout equipment, a resistance band is ideal. Not only can you use the band to perform a wide range of full body exercises, but it's almost weightless and fits into the smallest spaces.

Use Your Environment

Beach Run
Getty Images/Jordan Siemens

Whether you're vacationing in a mountainous region, along a sandy beach or amid a bustling city, you can harness your surroundings to produce a killer workout. 

Sandy terrain challenges your balance. Planking in the shallows of the ocean provides an excellent core workout - the ebb and flow of the ocean provides natural resistance to test your stability.

Sprinting up a mountain or hillside challenges your cardiovascular endurance and yields an amazing leg and butt workout. 

Pick up a piece of drift wood from the beach and turn it into a makeshift dumbbell. You can use it to perform biceps curls, shoulder presses and weighted squats - the possibilities are only limited by your creativity. 

Nature can be your gym equipment. Everyday surroundings can be your personal trainer.  Use the environment you're in - the sights, smells and pace - to motivate you. I can tell you from personal experiences that the beaches of Thailand and the limestone mountains of Lao have motivated me far more than the rows of treadmills at the gym.

Be Okay With Skipping a Workout

Relaxed Vacation
Getty Images/Thomas Barwick

The fact that you're working out your body (not just your mouth or wallet) on vacation is a success in itself. If you find you over-indulged one night and don’t feel up to training the next day, or you just crossed the border into a beautiful new country and would rather take it all in, that's always OK. 

A new day will follow, and with it a new opportunity to exercise your mind, body and soul. If you can’t stand to miss a day, then set a time in advance to fit a workout in. Personally, I love getting my workouts done in the morning - waking up, putting my body in motion and taking a moment to relish my surroundings always puts me in an amazing mood. It also provides the freedom the rest of the day for spontaneous or planned adventures.

Ignore Others' Opinions

Lonely Workout
Getty Images/Geber86

Pay no attention to the looks or questions you may receive from fellow travelers. On more than one occasion I've felt self-conscious while working out on a  beach or outside a hostel for fear of judgment.

“Why are you working out, this is vacation?” “Why do you have to do that, you're making all of us feel bad.”  The questions and concerns from complete strangers can be intimidating.  When this happens, you have to will yourself to ignore it. You're not working out to make others feel bad, you're working out to make yourself feel good. 

Vacation and traveling days are just as real as any other days. If you're invested in an active lifestyle, your habits should stick with you, regardless of what country or city you're in. I implore you to continue. You may even end up being an inspiration to others, motivating them to start their own regimen while vacationing or at home.

Dig Deep and Harness Your Internal Motivation

Workout Motivation
Getty Images/Cultura/Edwin Jimenez

The only things you really need to maintain an active lifestyle while traveling are desire, motivation, and creativity.

It's as simple as that. Your heart, your mind, your soul - those parts of you are all that you need. You and you alone have the power to wake up everyday and make a choice. Find your balance. Indulge and enjoy. Challenge and strengthen. 

You travel to expand your mind and your experience, which doesn't need to be limited to what you eat or what you see. You can build a list of countries you've run in, or the number of natural elements you've used to train, or the new people you've bonded with who share similar goals. You are your only limitation. Keep in mind that your desire, motivation and creativity are limitless - and you should always "pack" them with you when you go on vacation.

Exercising while traveling isn’t always easy. At times it's tricky, and you have to learn to fight temptations. Yet, isn’t that how everyday life is? Look at your vacation as a heightened, exhilarating version of your daily life. Harness your surroundings, the beauty of each new location and the excitement of each new country. Use all of it to your advantage to enjoy incredible workouts while vacationing.

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