March 9·5 min read

How to make travel and fitness fit together

With a little research and the right attitude, travel can become a chance to move in new ways.

Travel is often a welcome break from everyday life. But whether you leave home for business or pleasure, packed itineraries and unfamiliar circumstances can mean you’re also taking a vacation from your fitness routine. After days with no workouts and plenty of indulgent eating, going back home can feel like you’re going back to square one. 

It doesn’t have to be that way. In fact, it’s possible to not just maintain your fitness progress while traveling, but further it. All it takes is a little advanced planning, a mindful approach, and a willingness to make the best of imperfect circumstances. Here’s how to make working out in parts unknown work for you. 

It starts with a game plan.

If you’ve ever put together a vacation itinerary before, figuring out how to integrate exercise into your trip is both similar, and simpler. You just have to start with where you’ll be, and scout around for ideas and inspiration for where and how you can work out. If you’re staying in a hotel, check if there’s a gym. If not, look for nearby parks, running routes, or bike trails. If you belong to a big-name gym, see if there’s a location in the area. If not, many gyms offer free trial periods that range anywhere from one to seven days, meaning you can easily squeeze in a session or two (or more) at no cost. 

If you don’t love what you’re seeing in terms of workout spots, all is not lost. Save some space in your luggage for small equipment like resistance bands, which are an affordable way to take a workout with you no matter where you go. What makes them so valuable is the fact that these bands enable a wide range of exercises while taking up practically no space in your luggage. Throw them in the bottom of your carry-on, and you have everything you need for an effective hotel room or outdoor workout.

Take the time to find some time. 

Once you sort out the where, think about the when. Given your plans, how many days do you realistically think you’ll have time for exercise? Are there any windows of unstructured time you haven’t figured out how to fill? Combine that thinking with the location scouting you’ve done, and you can start to visualize how you can work up a sweat while making the most of your time.  making the most of your time. 

If you’re traveling for business, maybe it makes more sense to do a HIIT circuit in the hotel room to get an energy boost before a day full of meetings, or to go for an evening run to de-stress and shift out of work mode before dinner. On vacation, perhaps you want to push yourself hard in the gym before spending the rest of the day relaxing on the beach. Maybe it’s even just a matter of adding some movement to your day by walking between points of interest instead of taking public transit. 

Once you’ve picked a few workout ideas that mesh with your schedule, it’s time to get those plans on the books. For a work trip, block off exercise time on your calendar. If you’re a type-A vacationer, include descriptions of where and when you’ll work out just like they were any other element of the itinerary. Especially if you make your plans known to other people, you’ll create the sense of accountability that pushes you to get that exercise done. 

Even on busy days, you can still find some ad hoc time to move a little. Showed up to the airport early? Get some extra steps in before you’ll be stuck in your seat anyway. Not sure what to do with an awkward amount of time to kill before dinner? Squeeze in a quick core workout or use those resistance bands in your room, as even 10 to 15 minutes can make a difference. If you’re working with a remote fitness coach a la Future, you can ask for on-demand workouts fit for even the strangest circumstances, and get a variety of ideas that can keep you progressing even as plans change.

Balance good eating with healthy eating. 

If you’ve ever watched a show hosted by Anthony Bourdain or American culinary hero Guy Fieri, you already know that seeking out tasty, can’t-get-it-anywhere-else foods is what traveling is all about. There’s certainly room in almost any diet plan for that decadent meal you’ve dreamt of since before you booked your ticket. But if you treat every single meal of your trip like an episode of Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives, the calories can start to add up in a way that subtracts from your hard-earned progress. 

Whether you’ve booked the restaurant reservations yourself or you’re just along for the ride, balancing good eats and sound nutrition while away from home is a matter of preparation and moderation. If you know you’ve got a big client dinner at a steakhouse or you’re hankering to check a particular burger or pizza off your bucket list, plan to eat as healthily as you can over the rest of the day before or after that special meal. If you’re limited to what’s on offer at a continental breakfast or a buffet, make healthy choices within the confines of what’s available to you. There’s no reason to beat yourself up for not eating a perfectly healthy meal that was never on the menu in the first place. 

No matter where or what you’re dining out while traveling, it’s worth following some basic best practices that can help you balance your long-term nutrition goals and in-the-moment enjoyment. Some of that advice is applicable in a variety of travel situations. For example, hydration is king not just in a restaurant, but anywhere else food or drink might be served. Drink cart comes by on the flight? Grab some water. Time for happy hour? Have some H2O before your first drink, and before every round thereafter. You’ll be glad you did — especially if it’s a work trip. 

Speaking of add-ons like drinks and desserts, don’t be afraid to stick to your guns and say no. It may take some willpower the first time around, but it gets easier as you go — especially if you have a clear vision of what you’re gaining in the long run by making these kinds of short-term sacrifices. 

Don’t do too much, just make the most of it. 

Whether you’re home or away, changing your body for the better starts with adopting the right attitude. You already know you won’t be happy with the results if you stay sedentary throughout your whole travel experience. But putting too much pressure on yourself to work out hard every day, eat healthy at every meal, and enjoy your trip to the fullest can ruin your good time and knock you off your stride.

Instead of trying to do too much, focus on how you can create a sense of accomplishment within the context of your schedule. Squeezing in 30 minutes of movement per day (even if it’s just a long walk), visiting a gym or running every other day, or limiting yourself to one indulgent meal a day can still move the needle. Perfect is the enemy of the good, and doing even just a little something will always be better than doing nothing at all. With this approach, you can keep moving ahead without feeling too burdened or burnt out.

The other side of the vacation equation is to accept that plans change. Flight delays, bad weather, and other snags happen, and the last thing you need when things get hectic is the added guilt of “missing” a workout for reasons beyond your control. At the same time, don’t schedule every second of every day around your fitness and nutrition. You’ll remember a beautiful sunset over the beach a lot longer than a bodyweight circuit in your hotel room, so don’t let an obsession with routine force you to miss out on the moments that truly matter. 

If you want to take some of the planning out of mixing travel with exercise, working one-on-one with a dedicated Future coach can keep you on track before, during, and after your next trip. No matter how far off the beaten path you travel, your coach will use their knowledge of what drives you to create a customized regimen that takes you where you want to go. Whether you want a fleshed-out exercise itinerary before you go or access to nutritional advice in the moment, the connection you form with your coach is definitely something worth writing home about.  

If you love saving on flights by booking with miles, you’ll love the chance to save $130 on your first month of Future. Find your coach and pay just $19 for your first month when you sign up today. There’s no better way to make fitness a memorable part of your next trip. 

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