How to Stay Fit on Vacation

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Our family has taken several trips this past summer, including one that was an entire week long. Like almost every trip I take, I never put my health and fitness on vacation. No, it's not because I'm crazy; it's because it makes me a better, healthier person. Keeping up my running habit not only energizes me for a day of sightseeing, it also keeps me centered and happy.

How to Stay Fit and Active on Vacation

1. Bring a few supplies: and by supplies, I mean as simple as sneakers, workout clothes, a jump rope and resistance tubing. I don't want you to haul all your dumbbells and fancy schmancy equipment along. Keep it simple and packable. If you're bringing resistance tubing, you'll want to find some easy resistance workouts that you can do anywhere. For cardio, a good pair of running shoes and/or a $1 jump rope is all you need to get in a good sweat session. You can even add 1 minute of jump roping between each resistance tube move to knock strength and cardio out at the same time.

2. Get up early: and by early, I mean earlier than 10am. No need to get up at 5am like you do at home (unless you want to), but earlier than your travel companions. Then, sneak in a workout before you even get started with your day. It will be much easier to tackle if you get it out of the way first. You won't want to go for a run after a long day of sightseeing. Knock it out right away and feel that great feeling all day!

3. Scout out the trails, running routes and hotel equipment. Although hotel equipment can be pretty unpredictable (every treadmill is "out of order"), it can be a great option when it's storming or cold outside. Many hotels nowadays have a workout room at your disposal. Do some research beforehand to find out what's available and check customer comments about the conditions of the equipment. Even if you don't have equipment at your disposal, you can always run outside. Use the user-created running routes on Map My Run to see where the locals are kicking up dust. Or check out American Trails to locate nature trails in your vicinity. I found a running trail when we were staying in Port Washington that now is part of one of my most cherished memories ever. I saw two deer and shared the magic of lightning bugs with my son for the first time ever. It was beautiful.

4. Build active activities into your itinerary. Obviously, Mackinac Island is navigable by foot, bike or horse only. We did a ton of walking out of necessity, just like on our Crivitz trip last year where we walked miles of trails to see all the waterfalls. But we also like to kayak, hike, swim, snorkel, and so many other active things. We naturally build many of these things into our vacation days. Take a walking tour, rent a bike, take para-sailing lessons, swim in the local lakes, just get out there! Vacations should naturally have an element of fitness to them already, so take advantage.

5. Eat out only once or twice. In a previous post, I discussed travelling on a budget. One way our family does that is by bringing or buying most of our food from local grocery stores. Not only do we save cash this way, but we also save our waistlines. It is much healthier to eat this way. Yes, splurge while you're away from home, but only a few times, not for every single meal. Keep healthy snacks like bananas, trail mix and dry cereal with you everywhere you go so you're less likely to binge when you're suddenly stricken by severe hunger between meals.

6. Use what you have: in the Resources section below, I offer a link to a hotel room workout. It's possible to get a sufficient workout in with only a chair, a wall, a stick and/or your body weight. Put together or search for a workout before you leave that involves the "equipment" that you have available to you. There is no shortage of workouts tailored to these types of conditions.

7. Borrow your kid's portable DVD player: Peanut has a DVD player that I used in Chicago to do the Tracy Anderson workout that I picked up there. All I needed to work out was a chair! This is one super portable way to bring your home fitness DVD collection to good use out on the road. If you're lucky enough to have a DVD player in your hotel room or cabin, you could trim even more from your luggage. If you're bringing your laptop and it can play videos, you have yet another option.

Taking in sites on-foot is one of the best ways to navigate your destination. When you run through local parts of town, you will see parts of the city that you never would've noticed in a car. In Mackinaw City, I found some neat footpaths, took in gorgeous sunrises and learned the layout of the land much better during my runs. The trail below is one such path that I discovered while running. The city workers use it to get to their day jobs, but it made for such an amazing scenic running route. Peanut even went for a "run" with me on this trail. We had to stop a lot to track chipmunks;) Another beautiful memory.

It's hard to resist views like this on a run (Lake Huron, Mackinaw City):

I hope that these tips have made it easier for you to fit in fitness out on the road. It definitely is more than possible! Once you can find ways to eliminate the excuses for exercising, you can stay fit for life.

A few resources:

  1. I did this killer workout on YouTube while staying in Mackinaw City, MI. We brought our Google Nexus tablet and had free Wifi, so it worked out pretty swell. You could just do a search for "hotel room workouts," and get thousands of hits like this.
  2. I always use the Runkeeper app to track my outdoor runs, including time, pace and distance.
  3. I also use the Spotify app while I'm running to listen to tunes, if I'm not surrounded by the lovely sound of waves and birds.
  4. Rubber tubing routines abound on the internet if you do some searching, like this great do-anwhere routine. I also like this Chady Dunmore one from a recent issue of Fitness RX. If the bodybuilders are using it, then it must be good, right?

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