I often get asked how I stay fit on holiday or when travelling. If you have been following me for a while you will know that I have been on extended backpacking trips for months at a time, and multiple long trips away from 7-14 days since then. On the majority of these trips I have aimed to keep up my fitness routine in some shape or form. However, I have to admit that on some holidays I have used the time away as an excuse to step back from training and take some time off. Unless you’re a competitive athlete, taking a week or so off training will not have a significant impact on your long term results. In fact it can be valuable, and allow you rest and for your body to fully recover from your usual training regime.
That being said, if you do want to stay active while you’re abroad or away from home. I have recommendations of some basic equipment and kit that you can take with you to help you stay on track. You certainly don’t need all of these, so pick and choose your personal essentials!
How can you expect to workout without some gym kit? Taking cute gym clothes and putting them in clear sight in your hotel room will remind you to get your ass to the gym. I recommend taking 1 pair of compact versatile trainers and 2 of everything else i.e. sports bras, tops, shorts/leggings and socks. This means that while one is being worn the other can be washed and dried. If you are seriously tight on packing (like I was when backpacking), you can just about get away with one of each as long as you’re quick with your laundry. I also recommend taking a sweatband if you’re going a hot country, I promise you that you won’t regret it.
This is a given. When training, especially in hot humid climates, you need to be rehydrating yourself sufficiently. Keeping a water bottle on hand will ensure you do just that. Make sure that you research the country you’re in and whether you can safely drink the tap water, otherwise stick to bottled.
When I backpacked through Asia for 3 months I used resistance bands the whole time. If you don’t have access to a hotel or local gym, these are extremely useful. I recommend looking at YouTube videos of resistance band workouts prior to your trip and noting down some key moves you can try. There are also a multitude of different band styles. I personally like small looped bands for glute workouts, larger looped bands for assisted pull-ups and long bands with hand attachments for rows, chest flies, squats, curls, etc. Pre plan yourself some resistance band workouts and take them with you so you feel prepared.
TRX Suspension Trainer
If you have the budget and the inclination, you can take your training to the next level with your very own TRX suspension trainer. These are incredible and I often use them with my clients in the gym due to their versatility. They can be used to complete a challenging full body workout and pack down to hardly anything in your suitcase. As with the resistance bands, I recommend looking up TRX workouts and noting them down prior to your trip.
If you don’t want to have to buy resistance bands or a TRX, then don’t underestimate how much you can do with your body alone. Bodyweight training is hugely beneficial and can be extremely challenging. Think handstands, pull ups, push ups and plyometrics. These moves can leave you sweaty, sore and satisfied.
Your Phone & Headphones
Your phone can be an endless source of workout inspiration. Try downloading training apps which take you through bodyweight workouts step by step. You can also store some motivating and upbeat playlists on your phone to plug in and listen to while you train. These can make a sweaty HIIT session or humid run much more tolerable! I personally use Happy Plugs headphones as they are tiny and travel friendly but stay securely in my ears.
An Open Mind
Training while travelling is a new challenge and one that should be taken on with an open mind. If you’re used to lifting heavy weights 6 days a week but you haven’t got access to a gym, you might have to accept that this won’t be possible… and thats ok! Try something new. Go for a run and explore the area, do some hill sprints, do HIIT in your hotel room or try calisthenics. Be flexible with your approach and don’t be to hard on yourself. Enjoy your time away. You may not get the chance to see a new country, experience a new culture or enjoy quality time with friends and family for a while; put these things first.
Photos: Hugo Pettit