Here’s a phrase that doesn’t make sense to me: “It doesn’t count, we’re on vacation.”

Um, about that…

Were you expecting your body to do something with the extra calories you just ate?  Did you increase your level of activity today?  Is that why it doesn’t count?

If you want to stay fit and healthy while traveling or on vacation, you have to change your mindset a little bit.  No more “oh well, I’m on vacation.”  Or the infamous “I’ll have to start exercising more when I get home.”  Deal?


You Aren’t Fooling Anyone, Especially Not Your Body

Okay, I’m not trying to be a killjoy here.  But I do want you to be realistic.

Your body can already be off kilter a bit when traveling.  Jet lag, weird hours, and less sleep can weaken your immune system already.  Adding junk food and not exercising is just asking for trouble.

You may not always be in charge of picking the restaurant if you are with a group, but you can usually choose your own meal.  It’s up to you to make a reasonable choice.

Remember, the same rules apply in any city: say no to consuming more calories than you need each day.  Try to eat balanced meals with fruits or vegetables.  Avoid MSG.  And yes, carbs are still for burning.


While Traveling, Your Goal Is To Stay Fit, Not Get Fit

It would be foolish to say that staying healthy outside of your normal routine doesn’t come with challenges.  But it would also be foolish to declare it a lost cause and not even try.

That’s why your goal is to maintain your current level of fitness.  Your goal is to not lose ground because of a business trip.

Don’t worry about losing weight on your trip necessarily, just make sure you don’t gain weight.

That should give you enough freedom to eat dessert to celebrate your anniversary, new client, or whatever.  But whenever you eat more, you have to exercise more.

Fair’s fair, right?


Ideas For Exercising Away From Home

Okay, so now that you’ve decided you’re going to do at least some exercise, it’s actually not that hard.

If you are staying at a house, you always have the option to do bodyweight exercises (such as pushups and jumping jacks) in your room (or in the yard, or at a nearby park).  Bodyweight exercises go a long way in helping you maintain your fitness level.  I find it’s easiest to do them when I first wake up or right before going to bed at night (or both).


I try to visit places with better scenery than I have at home

You also always have the option to run.  Use Google Maps to find a route since you may not know the city as well.  Make sure to choose walking directions, and Google will include running trails and additional paths that cars can’t go on.  You can memorize the route, print it out, or put it on your phone.  It’s nice getting new scenery in a new place.

If you are staying in a hotel, you have even more options.  At most hotels you can get a running map from the Concierge, and that can save you time trying to figure out a route if you want to run.

A hotel I stayed at a couple weeks ago actually had bikes you could check out for free, so biking might be another option.

Fitness Center

Not all fitness centers are created equal

Obviously you can still do bodyweight exercises in your room, but most hotels also have a fitness center.  That gives you more flexibility with your workout, since there are now machines and weights available to you.

And let’s not forget the pool — swimming laps is a great way to exercise (not to mention it burns a lot of calories).  If you go in the morning, you should have the pool mostly to yourself.

If you are staying downtown, or in a place where your destinations are close by, you can walk instead of drive everywhere.  Obviously drive if you’re dressed up for something.  But if you are going to lunch, or to a museum, try walking instead.

The last thing I’ll mention is to sign up for active outings.  Opt for the hikes and other physical activities when you can.  This is a great way to have fun while staying healthy.


A Few Last Thoughts

Obviously, you don’t have to do ALL of the things listed above.  Those are just ideas that you can work into your vacation plans to help you stay active.

Pro tip: Now that you know you will be exercising, you can pack some healthy snacks for your runs or hikes.  Bring some granola bars or power bars, whatever you like to eat when exercising.

If you drive somewhere, you can bring Gatorade too.  But if you are flying, you’ll have to leave the liquids and buy new ones at your destination.  It’s worth the effort to find a local grocery store, though, because it will be MUCH cheaper than the hotel lobby store.  Or the mini-bar, for that matter.  (Yes, the extra effort is worth savings, both physically and financially.)

If you stop writing off your vacations as black holes for health, you’ll probably find that you’ll feel better both on vacation, and when you get back.  I’m serious, your jet lag won’t be as bad.  Try it and see for yourself!


What else can you do to stay healthy while on vacation?  Leave a comment below!