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Fitness on the Road: Six Ways to Stay Healthy While Traveling

Updated: Jul 24, 2020

We’ve all been there: elbow deep into a 12 week workout program, when all of a sudden, the spontaneous weekend trip pops up, and before you know it you’re on the road to the promise of a much needed respite from the stresses of grown-up life…but hours away from the gym.

It just happened to me, actually.

I recently returned from running a half-marathon in China, when not four days later I was scheduled to drive to Toronto for a conference, then down to Pittsburgh to pick up my dogs who have been staying with my in-laws while I was away. My itinerary included:

1 night at Aloft Hotel in Syracuse (halfway point between NYC and Toronto)

2 nights at an AirBnB in Toronto

3 nights in my in-laws home in Pittsburgh

Lately I’ve been spending quite a few weekends traveling to see friends and family, and what I have noticed is that I have been packing the same core items to keep on track with my fitness program. Here’s my list:

1. Jump Rope

Why pack it: This unsung hero of the sporting goods realm is my #1 and it goes where I go. With a piece of cardio equipment weighing in at less than 1lb and taking up the amount of space as a pair of socks, this guy can be stuffed into a purse let alone a carry-on bag You can “skip” anywhere you have about 10 square feet of space, which means rainy days and flight delays won’t be a good enough of an excuse anymore!

A Workout For You: Jumping rope is a cardiovascular exercise that also helps tone the arms, and can burn more than 10 calories a minute. This means you can get 200 calories torched in two 10 minute sessions…that covers your morning latte and can help you lose weight on the road! You can also bring it to my FREE&LIVE HIIT workout classes! Sign up here

2. TRX Suspension Trainer

I’ve traveled with TRX bands since 2010 and these days, they’re one of the best tools you can use to stay in shape away from home.

Why pack it: Similar to the jump rope, it’s a total body workout solution anywhere, anytime. They come with an over door hook to use indoors, or you can sling them over a tree branch or attached to a fence post (I’ve done all these things).

A Workout For You: Using the straps, you can hit every body part for a total workout. Weighing in at under 10lbs, the carrying bag takes up the same space as a pair of shoes, and will keep you on course away from home.

3. Supplements and Snacks (pre measured if needed)

Why pack em: nothing ruins a trip like realizing you left your pre-and-post workout items at home. And if you’re like me, you hate spending extra money on things you already once paid for, especially if you planned the trip on a budget.

Solution: All of those to-go containers! Pack one extra serving of protein powder, and pre workout powder than you think you need. Crammed for space? Stuff the baggies into a shaker bottle! It will take less space, and keep the powders from accidentally exploding in your bag.

Depending on your training program, a few Cliff bars or lean protein bars can keep you from caving in to hunger and going for fast food.

Prefer natural food solutions?

Fill a mini cooler with ice and fresh fruit, organic chocolate milk singles, and Greek yogurt. Bananas and single serve nut butters make great snacks as well as pre-workout meals.

Depending on whether you have a co-pilot, try planning meal breaks with gas fill-up and walking breaks for longer trips. A failure to plan is a plan for failure!

4. Have a Hotel Workout Plan

Does the hotel have a gym? Does the friend have a membership? Is there a cool fitness studio you’ve been wanting to try?

Why plan it: A 30 minute workout is 2% of the day…saying there’s no time in your itinerary isn’t a excuse. So, getting a rough plan of the trip ahead of time, and communicating to the host that you’d love to stay on track could end up sparking an additional way for you to bond!

When you’re in a gym-less hotel and you’re flying solo, pull up your favorite online workout video and go at it in your room with whatever you can find. When you come prepared to stick with your plan, you’ll most likely even inspire those around you and they’ll start asking YOU for advice!

5. Coffee/Tea

Why pack it: this one is for the caffeine lover or just anyone who enjoys a particular beverage while traveling.

Are you a bit of a coffee snob?

Have you added on upwards of 30 dollars to a trip simply because hotel room coffee won’t cut it?

Stuff a few Starbucks VIA instant coffees or favorite tea into your travel bag…similarly into an insulated mug to conserve space.

Most hotels have hot water and cream/sweetener in the room, lobby, etc. And this way you will be able to get a quality cuppa without the temptation of spending more money and getting a calorie-heavy mocha caramel whatever as well.

Tip…most coffee shops will fill your cup with hot water if you simply ask nicely. Less cost+less waste=happiness!

6. Meal Game Plan

Why do it: knowing how many meals you will be going out for can help you plan your day so that your diet doesn’t fly off the rails.

Like me, do you have a hard time counting a salad as a dinner? Get your daily veggies in by ordering a big salad for lunch when dining out. Just be sure there’s something green on your plate at dinner, such as broccoli, green beans or asparagus.

Maybe you tend to get overwhelmed when there are too many choices and end up picking something unhealthy in a panic. Same here. Study the menu ahead of time so you can put your healthy armor up and make a good choice without caving in last minute.

A bit about me: I’m also a simple breakfast person, as in, I’m not too hungry first thing. When I traveled to NYC check out neighborhoods to move to we stayed at a hotel that I knew had “continental breakfast.” These usually aren’t the healthiest, but I did know they would have milk for cereal.

So, I packed individual servings of Wheaties mixed with raw pecans and homemade granola, which was what I had been having every day. Added a banana or orange, and breakfast was simple and super inexpensive.

In summary: Work with what you know you’ll have at your disposal, and just keep in mind the question, “What would this look like if it were easy?” There is always a simple, good solution that will keep you on track with little effort.

On your journey, you won’t have any fun counting calories the whole time, nor will you feel great after bingeing on everything. The happy medium is to stick with your fitness goals, plan ahead for success, and give yourself permission to enjoy the occasional ice cream or bagel guilt-free. Whether you’re traveling for work or fun, you want to enjoy the whole included.

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