maintaining an Exercise program while travelling – Top 5 Tips

Planning your perfect holiday or making the shift to a travelling lifestyle is an exciting process. Locations, attractions, dining and experiences are all fun to plan, but it’s easy for exercise to get left behind in the itinerary. Maintaining an exercise program while travelling is not only important for sustaining a healthy lifestyle, it can also increase energy, boost mood, provide opportunities and lead to an overall improved travel experience.

Utilising some outdoor exercise equipment with a view, Funchal, Portugal.

An exercise program while travelling is a super beneficial tool in a number of ways. Better yet, it’s significantly easier than you might think. There is no “secret” tip or trick to make it all easy. Instead, shifting to a positive mindset as well as maximising time and opportunity will do most of the work.

I have 6 years experience working in the fitness industry and keeping it simple, honest and realistic is always important. When the fitness and travel worlds collide these factors are even more crucial. So this advice is no exception, here is some of my top tips for keeping up an exercise program while travelling as well as why it is so important to do so.

Top 5 Tips for Exercising While Travelling

1. Opportunistic Exercise

Utilising opportunistic exercise is by far the simplest and most organic way to maintain fitness while on the go. It doesn’t need to be planned, it doesn’t need to be intense and it doesn’t require putting aside any extra time to your already busy schedule. This is a tool that is beneficial to fitness at any time, but is specifically handy when travelling.

There’s no rocket science behind this one. Whether your preferred travel activities involve sightseeing, outdoors, shopping, dining or exploring, there is always exercise opportunities. Take the stairs instead of the elevator. Do a walking tour instead of a bus tour. Go to the top of every lookout point. Someone kicking a ball around while you’re at the beach? Join in. This will contribute to your fitness and ties in with social solo travel, the best of both worlds. If your mind is open to seeing it, you’ll find exercise opportunities all throughout your everyday.

Additionally, add some fitness driven experiences into your itinerary. If you’re visiting somewhere by the beach, head out for a swim. Touring a city? Look up the best viewpoint you can walk up to. Near the nature? Research the best hikes nearby. These experiences can improve your trip as well as keep you fit simultaneously.

Taking advantage of all of these opportunities takes up no extra time, is easy to find and can even contribute to an overall better travel experience. Keep your eyes open for every opportunity when you’re next on the move.

Getting out for a hike, Blue Mountains, NSW, Aus.

2. Pocket Workouts

The main reoccurring reasons for not exercising while out of a regular routine usually comes down to two things. Either a lack of time or lack of resources for training. But what if you could keep a workout routine without having to use up your precious exploring time or locate somewhere to train?

Realistically, a 20 minute high intensity work out is a quick, simple and efficient training option. Great results, even greater endorphins and in a super short time frame. A simple 20 minutes of your schedule 3 times a week will go a long way. Quicker than stopping off for a coffee or taking a shower & getting ready. Still convinced you don’t have the time? Check your screen time and cut 20 minutes off your social media or entertainment time, find the time!

What is even better than that? You don’t need the equipment or facilities that you might think. Body weight exercises can maintain a fantastic exercise program if utilised correctly and provide the ultimate flexibility: you can take them anywhere! On the beach, a patch of grass, hotel room floor, there is no limit to where you can exercise.

Once you have broken down the barriers of lack of time or facilities and equipped yourself with a ready to go attitude, you’re all set to start incorporating some pocket workouts into your day to day.

As touched on in Avoiding travel Burnout – Mental Health on the Road, keep it simple. We’re aiming for efficiency, not Olympic level. For guide, here is a simple example of a 20 minute workout that is easy to complete anywhere, anytime.

Portable 20 minute workout


  • Shoulder Taps. – 30 seconds on/10 seconds rest
  • Side to side crunches – 30 seconds on/10 seconds rest
  • Lunges – 30 seconds on/10 seconds rest
  • Mountain Climbers. – 30 seconds on/10 seconds rest
  • Scissor Kicks. – 30 seconds on/10 seconds rest
  • Squat Jumps. – 30 seconds on/10 seconds rest

-Rest 1 minute after each round. -Repeat for x4 rounds.

Find some floor space, queue 6 of your favourite songs, get your timer ready and go for it. 20 minutes a few times per week that will make you feel energised and sustain your fitness. Use this a start point for your exercise program while travelling, or try it out at home if you are reading from within your normal routine. Give this a go and leave me a comment how you went!

3. Explore Local Facilities

Getting out and making use of local facilities is a handy way to keep fit and experience fitness culture wherever you may be. If you are a regular gym goer at home, head to google or go for a walk to check out some local gyms. More than likely you will pay a slightly overpriced casual fee, so best to aim for 1 weekly session and squeeze in as much exercise as you have time for. But if you explain your situation you may find plenty of gym managers happy to provide you a deal.

1 big training session per week covering full body is significantly better for maintaining fitness than nothing at all and is a great base for your exercise program while travelling. Coupled with that, is a great experience in exploring a gym in another city or country. Different people in a different environment is interesting and always a cool experience.

This concept isn’t just applicable for hitting the gym. This can be taken and applied to whatever your preferred means of maintaining fitness is. Take the once per week principle and make an effort for one good session at a pool complex, athletics track, squash court, football pitch. Even if you aren’t involved in a regular training method in your home routine, now can be an enjoyable time to start. Travelling is always loaded with new experiences, so why not try out a new outdoor or exercise based activity for a weekly session.

Getting involved in an opportunistic volleyball game, Lake Titicaca, Peru

4. Accountability Buddies

Exercising with friends or with a personal trainer/coach is a huge driver for many people and having someone else to hold you accountable is a significant part of that. Working as a trainer, many of my clients are more inclined to hit their training goals with a weekly check in or some assistance in goal setting. Implementing this concept into your travel plans is a simple and beneficial tool.

If you’re travelling with friends, family, a partner or travel buddies, then this one becomes even simpler. Challenge each other to hitting exercise goals together. When you’re feeling unmotivated, having someone convince you to join a 20 minute workout or take the stairs is a big contributor. And you’ll be there to return the favour when you are the one feeling inspired. You may even find some healthy competition as a fun positive influence.

If you’re a solo traveller with no regular candidate for accountability buddy, don’t fear, this concept still functions remotely. The most basic method is to set some goals and share them with a close friend or family member that you contact regularly. That way they can keep a tab on your movements from afar. Alternatively, online check ins with a trainer or downloading an exercising tracking app are great options to keep accountable without a travel partner.

5. Aim to Maintain

This advice may be contradictory to what you read among other fitness advisors, but, don’t aim for the stars. Maintaining an exercise program is a vital part of a healthy lifestyle for anybody. It is also extra beneficial while travelling to help offset higher intake and a more than likely increase in alcohol consumption. But I always aim to keep my insight realistic, and this is no exception.

Travelling is predominantly a time for exploring and experiencing. There is a lot of transiting, a lot of activities and often your free time is preferred to be spent relaxing or planning. Setting your expectations too high around exercising leaves you more likely to not reach the standards and give up completely.

Following advice of manageable training load will keep you motivated and keeps your goals realistically achievable at all times. While on the road I absolutely follow my own advice and aim to tick off my 1 main exercise session, a few pocket workouts and as much opportunistic exercise as possible. Maintenance can be your friend!

A quiet beach is a perfect place for a pocket workout and a swim, 1770, QLD, Aus

An Overall Better Travel Experience

It may be easy to give exercise a backseat ride. But if you decide to capitalise on the benefits of incorporating exercise into your travel plans, you won’t regret it.

It will help you gain new experiences, increase your energy levels and prevent you from losing progress while enjoying your travels. If you’re travelling short term, you can return to your regular fitness routine without having lost much progress. If you’re travelling long term, it’s even more important to sustain fitness within the lifestyle.

Most barriers restricting you from exercise while travelling can be overcome with an improvement in mindset. Once you adjust to that you’ll find it’s much easier than you may have considered and you’ll be ready to reap the benefits of a healthy travelling lifestyle!

1 thought on “maintaining an Exercise program while travelling – Top 5 Tips”

  1. Definitely agree that a lot of it is about mindset!
    Love the photo of the volleyball and the portable workout, will give it a go!

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