Travel and training are difficult to accomplish together as usually you either need to rest on vacation or you are busy on a work trip.
Most often, a trip requires a day of preparation, a day or two of travel, eating out at restaurants and staying in a hotel with inadequate fitness facilities. You’re often in an urban area where outdoor activities may be limited. There are many reasons we can use to forgo working out while traveling, but here are some ways you can still get your fitness on while traveling.
Some Tips to Help
The goal is to NOT get out of the habit of training even when you’re tired and have little time, or the facilities are lacking. At a minimum, wake up each day and walk for 10 minutes. Do the same at lunch, and after dinner. If you find yourself feeling better with more time, see the options below. Here is a list of some of my favorite ways to train when on travel, in hotels, or working with little equipment:
Calisthenics and Run. Get after it in the hotel room with jumping jacks, push-ups, crunches, squats, lunges and burpees. A classic way to fit this in is to see how many sets you can get in 20 minutes. If you have a place to run around the hotel, take it. Or if you really want to top off the legs, run up and down the stairs as many times as you can, stopping to “rest with squats and lunges.” You will not have to do this for long. Usually, 10-15 minutes is plenty for this high intense workout.
- If you can find a local playground or park with a set of monkey bars, you have a pullup bar you can use. Early morning is the best time for this, as most kids will not be playing before 6 a.m. Get one of the classics done — PT pyramid, superset, max rep set workouts.
- If you can find a local high school track that is open to the public along your running route, give that a shot and mix in some interval runs, bleacher runs, and goal pace running workouts.
Swimming. While some hotels have pools, most are not big enough for a serious swim workout. But they are great for treading water or doing mobility movements. Tread for 10 minutes, and do all the dynamic stretches you can think of in chest-deep water, especially if you are tired from sitting or standing all day. See mobility day.
Bonus: Hotel Weight Room. Sometimes, you find out your hotel has an awesome weight room, and it is like you struck gold. Having a real lap pool and free weights is like the hotel fitness trifecta! Here you can wake up with a morning swim before the day begins and then, if the days turn into working nights, get in a quick lift after dinner to help keep you awake and productive a few more hours.
Find a Real Gym. Bite the bullet, pay the extra money and get all the normal gym equipment you are used to having. It will help you stay on track with your normal training schedule. Some hotels offer a free day pass to local gyms. Ask the front desk.
Other Non-Fitness Related Tips
Stay on time. If possible, stay on your normal sleep time even if you’re in a different time zone. Obviously, this is impossible if the time difference is six or more hours, but you can make it work for anything less. Often, on cross-country trips, my normal wakeup time will be a few hours earlier if traveling East to West. Take advantage of this shift, and get your normal workout in if you’re a morning exerciser. The only downside is that your bedtime will be a few hours earlier as well. If you cannot stay on your schedule, try to get your normal range of sleep each night — or more if possible as sleep is our #1 recovery tool.
Good Food. Make sure all of your meals are not fast food or from a convenience store. Get a good meal in with a large leafy green/spinach-type salad with a healthy protein source on top (fish, chicken, lean meat, or other). The vitamins, minerals, proteins, fats, healthy carbs and fiber will help you with energy, as well as keep you regular.
Stay Hydrated. Often, traveling by plane will dehydrate you as the air is dry and recycled. If you’re traveling to arid environments (or humid), hydrate even more as you will either sweat and not know it (sweat will evaporate immediately in arid climates (desert) or sweat profusely if in humid areas. If you are going to buy something at an airport or convenience store, make it water. Lots of it.
Germs! Keep your hands washed and do not touch your face. When on travel, you encounter people from all over the world and their germs. Make sure to wash your hands and avoid touching your face, eyes, nose and mouth unless taking a shower. The last thing you need is to miss a few days of eating right, sleeping right and training, then come home with an illness. Sometimes it is unavoidable, but you can decrease the chances by adhering to the recommendations above.
Late Nights. It is part of the game on some business trips and vacation too, to go hard in the evenings with big dinners, lots of drinks, and staying up past your normal bedtime. That is fine — enjoy. But couple these nights with more water than alcohol, as your sleep will be affected. Drunk sleep is not restorative sleep. If you can, take a cat-nap in the middle of the day or late afternoon if you know you have a late night to follow.
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