Getting caught up in all the new flavours, local beers and native treats is part of the travelling experience. It's fun to just try everything. But holiday calories still count and you may find yourself looking a little worse in the belly department when you finally return home.
I've been travelling for a month now and have managed maintain my fitness (as well as eating allll the food because, hey, I'm on vacay). Here are some tips on how I've been going about it, hopefully you pick something useful up.
First thing is having the right mentality when travelling. You have to WANT to keep fit, and if you do want to, then you've already won half the battle.
1. Commit To Less.
Don't try to do the exact same as what you would at home as it won't happen. Instead, commit to doing less. The aim should be to maintain your fitness. Think about the essential things you need to do to keep fit, covering the bases of cardio, resistance training and nutrition, and commit to nailing only those.
2. Plan For Fitness Success.
I like to scout ahead, looking for parks, gyms, supermarkets to buy fruit and veggies and accommodation with a fitness centre included, making things as easy as possible. You can throw your usual routine out the window when travelling and should set some health-centric goals for your trip. Plan to workout at least once every three days (every second day is better!) and know where the gym and supermarkets are located.
3. Try Something New.
Travelling is all about experiencing new things, which includes the local fitness and sports or even just trying out new ways of training. It could be a good chance to start yoga (following along to YouTube classes) or popping into a fun-looking Crossfit class at that little gym on the corner. If there's something you want to try out, now's your chance.
One aspect of fitness you want to keep up is your cardio. Don't let it slip by sitting in your lounge chair at the pool all day. There's so much more to do.
4. Adventure Travelling.
Some of my most memorable experiences while travelling have come off the back of hard work.
Trekking through the canyons of Cappadocia.
Stand-up paddle boarding.
Hiking up to the Ice Cave in the mountains of Montenegro.
These are fitness-based activities where you don't even realise you're exercising. Perfect!
Even my Mum cycled over 25kms during our recent wine tasting tour in the Austrian countryside (anything for a glass of white...).
5. Explore On Foot.
The best way to experience a new city is to explore it on foot. Get lost in the winding streets and explore the culture up close. Make a deal with yourself to always take the stairs to burn even more calories. Walk as much as possible because it's just not the same in a cab or Uber.
Tip: Most big cities have Free Walking Tours available if you Google them. These tip based tours allow you to have a guide for about 2 hours who walks you around the main highlights of the city and explains the history behind them. Highly recommended.
It's important to keep up muscle mass and strength while travelling otherwise your physique will start to slide, even if you're staying active.
6. Quick & Dirty Bodyweight Exercise.
One thing you can do is complete short home workouts using your bodyweight. Doing these in a circuit fashion (all the exercises in a row and then repeating) is an efficient way to train. For example, here is the workout I did today.
Workout time = 27 minutes
Yogaplex x10 (vid below)
Glute bridge x15
Reverse lunge x10/side
Resistance band row x15
Ab wheel rollout x10
Rest 30 seconds.
Foam rolling for glutes and upper back.
To take it up a notch, you can bring some travel-friendly equipment with you to enhance your home workouts. Things like skipping ropes, suspension trainers and resistance bands are easy to pack and will expand the variety of your training.
7. Check Out The Local Gym.
Nothing beats lifting some heavy weights to really stimulate your muscles. There are gyms in all corners of the globe which allow you to come in for a one-time visit and completing a really tough gym workout only once or twice a week is more than enough to maintain the muscle and strength you already have. Plus, you can meet some locals in there who can point you to a nice place to get a post-workout meal!
8. Master Of Technology.
Use technology to your advantage and make exercising simple by either finding YouTube videos of home workouts to follow along with or downloading one of the many Apps out there with workouts in them.
YouTube channels: Adam Rosante, BeFit, Bodybuilding.com, FitnessBlender, HASfit.
Workout Apps: Workout Trainer, Nike+ Training Club, Freeletics, Sworkit.
Or you can hire an online fitness coach who can tell you exactly what to do and how to do it :)
Of course, nutrition was always going to be mentioned as you know how important it is to your physique, and it's also probably the hardest to keep in line when travelling. So much food to try...
9. Be A Fruit And Veggie Monster.
Make fresh fruit and veggies numero uno on the priorities list. They should still make up the bulk of your diet so you get all the vitamins and minerals your body needs. The good thing is, you can try all of the foreign fruits and veggies you've never tried before.
Also, always carry around a water bottle with you as, with all the walking you're doing, you'll need it.
10. Protein Is Your Saviour.
The 11th Commandment states: There will be no calorie counting when on vacay.
Instead, I only count protein. Prioritising protein intake is super important for muscle mass retention and physique maintenance (I refuse to lose everything I've worked for). This means I aim for at least 150g a day and just guesstimated how much I think I had, which isn't too hard if you're prioritising eating eggs, meat and protein supplements.
11. Earn your dessert.
There is seriously nothing better than going to a new country and divulging in the local desserts. Must... taste... everything. Multiple desserts a day aren't exactly going to help me stay fit though, so I ensure I earn my dessert with activity. If I did a workout that day, I get dessert. If I walked 12,000+ steps that day, I get dessert. If I sat by the pool and tanned all day, I don't get dessert.
12. Don't abuse the buffets.
Ah, the love of my life, all-you-can-eat buffets. I always need to tell myself, "Just because there's food there doesn't mean you have to eat it!" You can easily eat a full days worth of delicious calories at breakfast if you're not careful. Eat in moderation, a normal breakfast... then a little more. Then stop as soon as you're no longer hungry. You can always try that chocolate croissant tomorrow.
Most importantly, enjoy yourself.
It's ok to let it go a bit, it's a holiday remember. You won't lose everything you have gained in a week. If you're travelling a little longer than you can pretty easily maintain your fitness with minimal effort.
Just don't overdo it. Sometimes a vacation is just what your body needs.