The Best Ways to Stay Fit While Traveling

Mary Lucas, RN

Medically reviewed by Mary Lucas, RN

Written by Our Editorial Team

Last updated 7/12/2020

This world is a great big beautiful place, and we try to stay out in it as often as we can. Whether we’re traveling for business or exploring uncharted territories in another continent, we’re always try to make the most of the experience. Unfortunately, being on the road all the time means that staying on top of a fitness regimen can be damn near impossible. As it happens, things like regional cuisine, booze and lounging on the beach for hours on end aren’t really helpful. Who knew, right?

While staying healthy on the road definitely isn’t easy, it’s also not impossible. All it takes is the right mindset, a little dedication and a lot—a painful amount, frankly—of self-restraint. But you can keep up with your fitness routine no matter where you are in the world, and it’s important to keep that in mind. No matter where you go, there you are.

Here are 6 of the best ways to stay fit on the road:

Eat the Right Foods

This one sounds obvious, but if you’ve done any significant amount of traveling, you know that keeping an orderly diet on the road is like pulling teeth. The trick is moderation. Did you have a late night out around town? Stick to water, whole unprocessed foods and other healthy options the next morning. There’s no need to polish off a night of drinking with a room service order of eggs Benedict and bacon on the side (tempting as it is).

Additionally, don’t not experience the regional cuisine wherever you are. Hell, after all, it was Anthony Bourdain who famously said that food, culture and landscape are inseparable. But just because you’re in a new place doesn’t necessarily mean you have to eat too much, or too much bad stuff. You can always seek out healthier regional menu items anywhere you are. Unless, of course, "anywhere" is "the Tulsa State Fair." Then you get deep-fried butter.

But the point is, making the conscious effort to go easy on yourself and indulge in moderation will pay dividends later on. And make sure to pack a little nutritional insurance for your next trip. You'll thank us later.

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Drink More Than Just Booze

Speaking of indulging in moderation, don’t go crazy on the booze every night. The first reason here is more philosophical: Travel is about making memories that last. Alcohol only hinders your recollection. No one is saying don’t have some late nights out (or early mornings in) or some festive dinners, but definitely don’t turn it into a bender.

The second reason why you don’t want to go too whackadoo on the booboo juice is because it’s an excellent way to completely undo all the progress you’re making in the gym. Not only has it been associated with a decrease in muscle weight and lean body mass, but it can also slow your metabolism and recovery rate. It’s a lose-lose.

Do Some Shopping When You Get There

It might sound counterproductive to say that you should shop for food in order to stay trim, but the truth is, the rules at home still apply on the road: It’s a lot easier to watch what you’re eating when you’re in control of the menu. Eating out everywhere you go is a surefire way to constantly put food you could easily do without right in front of your face. Find a local market, grab some healthy essentials and eat out sparingly. You’ll thank yourself when you get home and your pants still fit.

It also goes without saying that not eating out every night and doing some grocery shopping locally is an excellent way to save money while you're traveling. 

Take Advantage of That Hotel Gym

Every hotel on the planet worth its salt will have at least some kind of “fitness center” for you take advantage of. Depending on where you’re staying, it can be little more than some dumbbells and an incline bench, or a full-on, world-class mega gym. You can always opt to stay in places with more updated gyms, but even if you’re on a work trip and the boss has you holed up in a Motel 8, it’s still not impossible for you to get a good work out in.

Hell, we’ve seen people move mountains with a kettle bell and a pair of trainers. Just make sure you’re getting there and putting in the work.

We also think it’s worth reminding all you latter-day fitness sinners that if you’re working out regularly on the road, you’ll likely find it easier to not “waste” calories on bull shit. You’re less inclined to go in on that Double Double Animal Style for lunch and dinner for the second day in a row while on your annual work Pilgrimage to the West Coast if you know it’ll cost you the five miles you laid down on the treadmill earlier that day.

Bring Your Gear With You

Even on the rare occasion your hotel gym is sub-par or non-existent, that’s still no excuse to not put the time and effort in. We understand more than most people that suitcase space is always limited, but even then, there are a ton of viable workout equipment options out there that’ll fit in damn near any carry-on bag.

All you really need to get an acceptable workout wherever you are—even without leaving your hotel—are your trainers, a set of quality resistance bands and a jump rope. The resistance bands will make up for the lack of weight training equipment, and the jump rope can be used for cardio if you can’t manage going outside for a run.

It’s the perfect setup with none of the bulk. No excuses.

Explore on Foot and Burn Some Calories

Finally, don’t underestimate the value of some good old-fashioned walking. The whole reason why we travel is so that we can go out into the world and explore the things happening around us. We want to immerse ourselves in these new and wonderful places, and there’s arguably no better way to do that than by traveling on foot.

Rather than shelling out dough for a cab (even if money isn’t an issue), try to get as much walking in as you possibly can. According to, a 180-pound person will burn, on average, 311 calories per hour when walking at 3.5mph.  That’s almost two martinis worth of calories! Think about that before you call for an Uber.

This article is for informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. The information contained herein is not a substitute for and should never be relied upon for professional medical advice. Always talk to your doctor about the risks and benefits of any treatment.

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