How To Stay Fit While Traveling

 

As someone who loves traveling around the world, I can totally understand it getting in the way of your health and fitness goals. This past summer was a hectic season for me. In those three months I have:

-Visited Sweden in mid-May. Spent three days in Stockholm, three days in Lund, one in Copenhagen and another final day Stockholm before flying home.

-Returned back to Hong Kong (where I’m from) in July for a week for the first time in 20 years. The entire time I was seeing family and exploring as much as I can with them.

-Traveled to NYC beginning of August for the first time as part of a business mastermind coaching group.

-Ended up in Poland at the end of August for the first time, sightseeing Warsaw and Krakow for three days each.

While traveling is one of my favorite things to do, it definitely gets in the way of staying on a fitness routine. It’s hard to train consistently and eat properly when you’re away from home. By the time my travels were over, I just wanted to stay home for a long time to focus on my own health and fitness.

I also work with many clients who have to travel for work. They’re constantly either driving off-site or boarding a plane to get somewhere across the US or another country. When they’re at their destination, the food situation can be unpredictable with what they have available depending on their location and if work provides anything for them.

When you’re always on the run, it’s hard as hell to get in shape and eat healthy.

Between switching time zones, being in a new city, not sleeping in your own bed, dealing with jetlag, having unpredictable schedules and not knowing when or what you’ll eat, it’s tough to manage it all. So how do you stay fit while traveling? Let’s break it down:

Training

When trying to figure out your workouts during your travels, the most important thing is they need to be simple and doable. The idea is to not lose momentum with your fitness and to get something in fast which will help you maintain what you have. The workouts should be full-body and works every major muscle group.  

As soon as you get to your destination, immediately get a workout in. You’ll burn some calories, loosen up your body from sitting on the plane and you’ll get your body clock adjusted into the new time zone. And as soon as you wake up in the morning, get active and knock out a workout. Your time is going to be limited during your travels so you want to maximize it by getting it done first thing.

Depending on your lodging, you’ll have several options. Let’s go through them:


Commercial or Local Gym

If you’re traveling somewhere in the US and you’ve got a gym membership at a national chain such as Planet Fitness, LA Fitness, or 24 Hour Fitness, then go ahead and continue your normal routine. You can also look at gyms nearby where you’re staying at and buy a day or week pass and train there.

Hotel Gym

When planning your stay, pick a hotel that has a gym in it. Now a lot of hotel gyms usually aren’t well equipped, they usually have light dumbbells and some cardio machines. But occasionally you’ll have a decent one where there’s some heavier dumbbells, a barbell and some machines.

What you can do is call the hotels you’re thinking about staying in, and ask them what they have available. Here is a pic of the hotel gym I used at the Hotel Novotel Warszawa. Their dumbbells went up to 25kg, and had a barbell along with some machines.

 
This gym also has a lat pulldown, chest press, leg curl and leg extension, I got in some solid workouts during my stay here.

This gym also has a lat pulldown, chest press, leg curl and leg extension, I got in some solid workouts during my stay here.

 

With your workouts, you can either do the exercises for reps as a standard workout or you can do them for time, which is fantastic as a metabolic circuit for fat loss. Timed sets are also great especially if you don’t have much time to do a longer workout.

Hotel Gym Workouts


Workout 1

A1. DB Goblet Squat – 3x10 reps
A2. Lat Pulldowns – 3x10 reps
A3. DB Bench Press – 3x10 reps
A4. Hollow Body Hold – 3x30 seconds

Perform A1-A4 back to back with no rest. Once you’ve finished all 3 sets, move onto B1-B4.

B1. DB Row – 3x30 reps each arm
B2. DB Reverse Lunges – 3x10 each leg
B3. Pushups – 3xAMRAP (as many reps as possible)
B4. DB Curls – 3x12 reps

Perform B1-B4 back to back with no rest.

Workout 2

A1. DB Goblet Squat – 3x30s
A2. DB Shoulder Press – 3x30s
A3. DB Alternating Step Ups – 3x30s
A4. Decline Plank – 3x30s

Perform A1-A4 back to back with no rest. Once you’ve finished all 3 sets, move onto B1-B4.

B1. Pushups – 3x30s
B2. Machine Row or Bent Over DB Row – 3x30s
B3. Alternating Lateral Lunges – 3x30s

Perform B1-B3 back to back with no rest.

Don’t have a hotel gym or staying at an Airbnb? What you can do is find local fitness classes to attend around your area whether it’s at a yoga studio or bring some bands with you and use them along with your bodyweight for a quick conditioning workout.

Here are two bodyweight and bands workout for you to do. One is done for reps, and the other one are the timed sets.

Workout 1

A1. Squats - 3x20 reps
A2. Band Rows – 3x15 reps
A3. Pushups – 3x15-20 reps
A4. Reverse Lunges – 3x8 reps each leg
A5. Band Pullaparts – 3x15 reps
A6. Plank – 3x30 seconds

Perform A1-A6 back to back with no rest.

Workout 2

A1. Pushups – 3x30s
A2. Band Rows – 3x30s
A3. Split Squat – 3x30s each leg
A4. Band Reverse Fly – 3x30s
A5. Burpee – 3x30s

Perform A1-A5 back to back with no rest.

If you don’t have any bands, you can do the following bodyweight workout:

A1. Pushups - 3x10
A2. Bodyweight Squats - 3x20
A3. Side Plank - 30 seconds each side
A4. Bench Dips - 10-15 reps
A5. Single Leg Hip Thrust - 10 reps each leg

Perform A1-A5 back to back with no rest.

Nutrition

Whenever I travel to a new city, I want to immerse myself in the culture and enjoy the best foods that they have to offer.

During my trips over the summer I ate reindeer meat along with berries in Sweden, bomb ass dim sum in Hong Kong, pizza and bagels in NYC, and pierogis and pączek in Poland.

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Now you can definitely still enjoy fine cuisine wherever you may go without doing much damage, you just have to be strategic about it.

If you have a long flight in the morning, eat a large meal at home consisting of protein and veggies to fill you up so you’re not hungry and won’t be tempted to eat any junk at the airport or high-calorie airplane food.

During your flight, stay as hydrated as possible. We lose about 8 ounces of water per hour on a plane and you need to be drinking at last half of your bodyweight ounces in water each day. If you weigh 150lbs, get at least 75 ounces. So skip the booze and juice and ask the flight attendants for water throughout your flight.

Incorporate Intermittent Fasting (IF) – Depending on your travel schedule and when and where you’ll be, intermittent fasting can be the key strategy which will prevent your waistline from growing.

Intermittent Fasting is a style of eating where you’re alternating between a phase of eating and not eating (fasting). The most common style of IF is 16:8, where you fast for 16 hours and eat your meals within an 8 hour time window.

There are many health benefits to fasting, such as improved insulin sensitivity, resetting of hunger signals and autophagy of cells. It also gives you structure and freedom on when to eat or not to eat.

If you’ve got a short flight, you can start fasting the night before, drink a cup of black coffee in the morning along with plenty of water to curb your appetite. After your 16 hours are over, you can have your first meal. An example would be to stop eating the night before at 8pm and then have your first meal the next day at noon.

For longer flights, you can simply fast until you arrive at your destination. It sounds a bit nuts, but this can be what you need to avoid being stressed out over making the right food choices. If you're on a long flight across the country or to another country, you might be seeing what your food options are and feeling worried about making the right healthy decisions.

By choosing not to eat, you build dietary discipline, avoid decision fatigue, and save yourself from eating extra unnecessary calories. Who wants to eat 500-1000 calories from crappy airplane food anyway? If I’m going to be eating, I want my calories to come from tasty food.

So by the time you arrive to your destination, you’re going to be able to enjoy the fine cuisine of wherever you may be, which is what I did on my travels.

Prepare With Protein – If intermittent fasting doesn’t sound like something that will work for you, then protein will be your goal. This will be helpful especially if you’re traveling for work. What you’ll do is load up on protein to stay satiated and not be hungry. By having enough protein, you’re ensuring that you feel full and won’t be tempted by any treats or unhealthy food your work site may be providing.

Bring healthy high protein snacks with you such as protein bars, protein powder, beef jerky, Greek yogurt, or light string cheese to hold you over. If you’re traveling for fun, make sure each meal that you eat has a serving size (size of your palm) of protein in it and your portions on everything else are controlled.

By implementing these nutrition strategies, you’re able to enjoy the cuisine of your destination or survive your work trip without having to bust out your stretchy pants.


Bon Voyage

When traveling, conditions will never be perfect with your diet and workouts. However, with proper planning and good decision making you’re going to be able to stay fit while still enjoying your trip. I believe these strategies can work for anybody. Implement them and you’ll manage to stay lean no matter where you go.

What’s been your favorite destination to travel to and what strategies did you use to stay in shape? Let me know in the comments section.