Today’s post is from Flashpacker, a wonderful company that can help you have the adventure you’ve always dreamed of without scarificing comfort.
Eating well, working out and long term travel don’t traditionally go well together. Many first time, long term travelers are surprised to find the body they come home with is different from the body they left with. It can certainly be difficult to maintain an exercise and diet routine while you’re on the road, but just because you’re living your travel dreams doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice your health. Here are our top tips for staying fit and eating well while traveling long term.
The simplest thing you can do to stay in shape while traveling is walk! Not only will you get to see and take in more, but you’ll save money instead of always using public transportation. Any time you’re going somewhere less than a mile, absolutely walk it if possible. And besides, one of the best parts of being a long term traveler is not being in a rush.
Understandably, it’s not always possible to walk everywhere, especially when you’re trying to see sites that are a bit further away. Renting bikes can be a fantastic way to get around quickly, and great exercise. A lot of western cities are increasingly bike friendly and if you’re more remote in Asia or South America, getting around on bikes can be extremely easy. You’ll get the same benefits as walking, but as a bonus, you can go further and get there quicker.
Stay somewhere with a pool or hit the local beach! Swimming is the perfect full body workout.
Exercise Like a Local
It’s surprisingly easy to find local gyms, and if you’re in backpacker destinations like Asia or South America, they’re always super inexpensive- most of the time around $1 for a day pass. This can be a little harder to do in places like Europe or North America because of the cost, but the majority of gyms offer day passes. Even though you won’t be able to go heavy like you’re used to at home, it will feel great getting some exercise with equipment you’re familiar with.
One added bonus while long term traveling is that you’re often in a city for longer periods of time. This makes it easy to get into a routine where you go to the gym each day – and it’s more affordable to get a week long pass.
But – don’t think working out only has to happen in the gym! We’re huge proponents of trying the local fitness trend. Take an intro to Muay Thai class while in Thailand, go cross country skiing in Norway, or learn to surf in California. Physical activities and specific sports are major components to cultures around the world; what better way to experience the one you’re in than through movement.
Make Exercise Part of the Experience
Find day trips or excursions that are physical activities. Climb the waterfall. Hike to the viewpoint. Go on the guided kayaking tour. You’ll likely be in a group, having fun, and experiencing the culture of your destination all while getting in a workout.
Be open to trying new opportunities and inevitably some physical ones will present themselves. While on a motorbike trip in Vietnam we stopped in a mountain town and ended up in a soccer game with a bunch of local kids. In Mexico, we got to know our guest house owner and were invited to his soccer practice. In Florida we played pick up basketball at the hotel with some other guests. Jump in!
In Room Workouts
A quick Google search of at home workouts brings up enough 30 minute Youtube training videos to keep you fit for years of travel. A cardio boost and some body weight exercises are all you need to feel great. Commit to doing an in room workout a few times a week, and when you don’t feel like it just ask yourself “Will I regret it when I’m done?”. I’m pretty sure I know the answer to that.
Moving while traveling can be the easy part, but most long term travelers struggle on the eating side. The food isn’t familiar and it’s often not as convenient because you’re constantly eating out. Here are some tips to help your diet keep up with your exercise;
- Get a side of veggies when you eat out for lunch or dinner. If you’re going to fill up on something, make it extra vegetables!
- Remember that the rest of the world does fast food right. Don’t go to McDonalds because it’s convenient and what you’re used to getting when you’re in a rush. If you’re outside of Canada or the US, fast food is cheap, delicious, and good for you. It’s as simple as street food and night markets in Asia, grab and go from every cuisine in Europe, and street vendors in South America.
- Try going Flexitarian. Monday to Friday make either lunch or dinner vegetarian. You’ll get to try new things, eat more veggies, and make a significant impact on your overall health and the planet.
- Watch out for the ‘treat yourself’ mindset. You can probably get away with splurging every night when you have one week at an all inclusive, but if that vacation mindset continues too long during long term travel you can run into trouble. It’s great to treat yourself but remind yourself that you’re not on a short term vacation.
- Cut back on drinking and snacking. One of the easiest ways to eat better on the road; drink less and snack better. Skip the beer with dinner or have a movie night in instead of going out for late night drinks. And opt for healthier snack options like nuts, fruit, or grab & go meals.
Keep Your Priorities in Mind
If fitness and maintaining your body is your top priority – that’s great! We’d encourage you not to be disappointed, though, when that conflicts with your long term travel goals. If you want to focus on being fit while traveling, go for it, but know you might be sacrificing some of the experiences that come with travel.
Conversely, if your dream is to travel long term then do that! You might not come home with the body you left with but that’s OK- if it made you happy and you stayed healthy.
Be OK With Just Moving
Your workout routine WILL change when you’re traveling long term, it’s almost guaranteed. So don’t get down on yourself because you couldn’t run as far as you’re used to, or felt heavy doing pull ups at the gym. As long as you moved, that’s a win. If you beat yourself up for not having great workouts, you’ll end up having no workouts.
Set Manageable Workout Goals and Make Them Fun
During a recent 7 month trip in Southeast Asia we made a commitment to swim laps every time we stayed somewhere with a pool. We started with 10 laps and agreed every day we would add 2. It didn’t matter how long it took, how terrible our form was, or whether we broke it up over multiple swims, but after a few months we were quickly approaching 100 laps a day.
Come up with simple and fun movement targets, and the lower the barrier to doing it the better.
Make moving fun each day, add in some small changes to your diet, and keep a positive but realistic mindset and you can stay fit and healthy while on the road! You might not come home looking the exact same as how you left but if you achieved your long term travel dream and maintained your health, then you’ve got nothing to worry about. Just remember, when you’re back home in the crowded gym after work, you’ll be missing your days where working out was hiking up a mountain in Indonesia, swimming in the Caribbean, or skiing in fresh powder.
Jason Kraemer is the co-founder of Flashpacker Co, a lifestyle brand aimed at helping the growing number of global flashpackers get the most out of their adventures. They do this by leveraging experience and resources to create high quality advice and curate a collection of high value travel products so that flashpackers around the world can create a new type of travel – experiencing more by sacrificing less. Follow Flashpacker on Instagram @FlashpackerCo and their website, flashpackerco.com