how to stay healthy while travelling

17 tips on how to stay healthy while travelling

It is easy when you are on vacation to fall off the wagon. To stop training and start to gain some weight. You’ll eat delicious food, have some awesome drinks, taste magnificent desserts and of course have an ice cream or 20! Before you know it your weight is out of control and all you’ve worked for is reversed. So here are our 17 tips on how to stay healthy while travelling!

Don’t despair, I’ve got you! We have compiled a list of 17 things we do in order to stay healthy while travelling. These tips are diverse and address a wide spectrum of elements. We really recommend you to eat healthy and eat enough protein. Try to hold back on the number of desserts, ice coffees, sweetened drinks, and icecreams. Find a hotel that has a gym and start the day with circle training to get that blood pumping. That will ensure that your body keeps burning calories throughout the day. Explore the city or country you’re in through walking or running. This is a great way to find those hidden gems. Go to a local gym or join the WOD at a CrossFit box. That way you get in a really good workout, but you might also get some tips on what to see and do, and maybe you even make some new friends! 

Some of the tips are more specific to Asia or South America but most of them are really generic. They will help you even if you are travelling in other parts of the world. We will go through some tips and tricks for both to get you to keep working out but also how you could eat more healthy and more nutritious food.

Working out – is important if you want to stay healthy while travelling

One of the things that often goes down the drain while you’re travelling is working out. I think one of the main reasons for that is that it’s hard when you’re always on the move and you don’t really have the equipment nor a gym that you’re used to. 

Therefore we have gathered a lot of tips and tricks that you could do to help yourself out or to set yourself up for success and tay healthy while travelling.

1. Hotell gym

If you have the economy for it we really recommend that you book a hotel with a gym. 

Most of the sites where you can find hotels have a possibility to only show hotels with gyms. 

This is something we often do to find the ones that actually have a gym. 

The hotel gyms aren’t always that great, but if you tap into your imagination and get a little creative it will do the trick. 

One thing we often do is some kind of circle training. There we go from machine to machine or dumbbell to dumbbell to try to get in as many exercises as possible.

2. Track down local gyms

Stay healthy while travelling
Stay healthy while travelling

Another great thing to do is to track down a local gym. Not only will you get a workout done, you’ll have a cool, different and often fun experience. People will almost always show you around, and it’s a great place to meet locals that can recommend things to see or do.

For the most part, the gyms are a bit different so they will give you a unique and memorable experience. Many of the local gyms are actually quite inexpensive as well. This is a great idea if you want to save some money but still get the work done

3. Visit a CrossFit box

Local CrossFit box in Cartagena, Colombia
Local CrossFit box in Cartagena, Colombia

Something that we often do is visit a local CrossFit box. CrossFit boxes are most often owned and run by westerners so they are often very happy to see other westerners. For the most part, they often let you workout for free. Especially if you are travelling through and will just hit the gym a couple of times. Sometimes the fee is buying a t-shirt or some other merch. PS. CrossFit boxes really love it if you bring a t-shirt from your local box, it’s a CrossFit thing ?‍♂️

Visiting CrossFit gyms is also an awesome experience and an opportunity to meet local people or expats. They are always very helpful and will help you find some nice healthy restaurants, tips on what to see and do, or tips on whatever else you’re interested in. 

When we were in Colombia we stumbled into a CrossFit box, ended up getting invited to a barbeque to celebrate their national holiday with them.

Another fun thing when visiting local CrossFit boxes is that CrossFit is still quite new in some parts of the world. Meaning that you might have a chance to finish that workout on top of the class. At least this is something I’m not very used to at my local box. Always great once in a while to feel that you’re at the top of the world ?

This is of course not why we workout, but it is really fun sometimes and gives you great motivation to continue working hard. 

4. Short workouts with no equipment

One thing you always have with you when you travel is your body and it’s quite amazing how much training you could do with just your body. Believe me, doing burpees, push-ups and air squats for 20-minutes could exhaust even the most experienced and well-trained athlete.  

Another great thing with just using your body is that you don’t need much space. So this is something you actually do in the hotel room or where you are staying. A park may also be a great place to get a bodyweight workout.

A very short but a killer workout is 7 minutes of burpees, as many burpees that you do in 7 minutes, it’s so easy but still so hard.

If you click this link we have compiled a set of workouts that require no or very little gear. 

5. Park gyms

Park gym in Colombia
Park gym in Colombia

Especially when travelling in hot countries and especially in Asia it is quite common to have some small outdoor gyms located by the street or in the park. 

Many of them are actually quite good so here’s a great opportunity to get some workouts done totally free. If you combine them with some bodyweight workouts you could get a really great workout. 

6. What to train

What you should train when travelling is a good question. I guess it comes down to your aims and goals, both with your fitness but also with your travels. For me, it’s important that the workouts are quite short. Because I am travelling to explore and then I don’t want to spend most of my time working out and seeing the inside of a gym. 

We mostly also walk a lot while we’re travelling, more on that later on. So doing a lot of endurance training is not something that we prioritize. Both because it takes a lot of time and we get some endurance training with all the walking. However, sometimes we go for a run and use that run to explore areas we are curious about. It could be parks or other places that we don’t prioritize visiting. 

We mostly do CrossFit workouts (metcons) or HIIT (high-intensity training) workouts to get the blood pumping and to get some high-intensity work. This is a great way to train your body in a very short amount of time. 

We also do some classic bodybuilding or strength training as well. This kind of workout gives you a long-lasting burn that will help you burn off, if not all, at least some of the calories from all that delicious food you’ll eat when you are travelling. 

It is also a great idea to put on some muscle mass if you want to eat more. Because a bigger body will need more fuel and this will help you not to gain weight even if you have an extra ice cream or two.

7. Walk

As I mentioned earlier, we walk a lot during our travels, it’s because it is a great way of transportation and exploring. While walking you will see and experience a lot, so this is a great way to really get to know a city or the place you visit.  

It also does wonders for burning calories, and it’s actually amazing how many steps you could fit in in a day of sightseeing, walking around and exploring. So if it’s possible I would suggest trying to stay away from buses, taxis, metros, and scooters. Instead, try to walk these distances. 

Many of the most exciting sites, places to see and restaurants I’ve actually found while walking around and stumbling on them. You’ll easily miss this if you were going full speed in a taxi or a bus.

8. Travel with backpack 

When you’re travelling you always need to bring your stuff and it’s easy to think that a bag with wheels is a great choice. I can’t argue that it is really nice to use and it is nice not having to carry anything. But a backpack is from a health perspective a much better choice, an extra 20 kilos on your back will do wonders. 

It will be hard at times and you’ll doubt your decision when you are walking in very hot weather carrying a 20-kilo backpack on your back. When you get home I think you’ll thank me when you see that you maintained your muscle mass. Maybe even lost some kilos or gained some muscle. 

Ida with her backpack in Bogota, Colombia
Ida with her backpack in Bogota, Colombia

Leave your bag with wheels at home and grab a big backpack, it will do wonders for you. 

9. Get a good workout in on long travel days

Sometimes when you’re travelling you will have these long travel days. It can be by bus or by train or maybe by plane. This will make you sit still for many consecutive hours. 

One thing I really think helps both my body and my mind is to try to fit in a nice long workout ahead of these long travelling days. 

Sometimes I actually sacrifice an hour of sleep to get that good workout before I leave. Because I know during the trip I could easily rest or even sleep and in that way catch up on some rest. 

Working out in advance also helps with the jetlag, so if you have a long flight coming up it’s extra important to try to fit in a workout in advance.

10. Morning run

I’m not a huge fan of running but I have to say that running in new places and seeing new scenery is something that really increases my running motivation. 

A morning run is a great way to see the new places and it’s actually quite pleasing. It’s a great way to get to know your surroundings. Maybe you even find some nice cafés, restaurants or other places you want to visit that you’re otherwise would have missed. 

It’s a good idea to go running in the morning before the other tourists get out and before the warms hits and it gets unbearable. Maybe you can end your run with a visit to one of those nice cafés you’ve spotted to have a cup of coffee and observe the locals going about their business.

11. Bring workout clothes

The most important thing in order to get workouts done while travelling is to actually bring your workout clothes and some good training shoes. If you don’t have that it will be impossible even if you find a nice gym or have a hotel with a gym. 

Even if I’m travelling light I always bring some workout clothes and my training shoes. If I want to travel extra light I sometimes grab a nice training t-shirt so if I end up not training I can actually use it as an ordinary t-shirt. 

I like to bring CrossFit shoes (Nanos or Metcons) because I think they are really multi-purpose, I can lift weights in them, I can run in them and I think they are great for walking and sightseeing. This is a great way to reduce or keep the number of things I bring low.

Healthy eating – is important if you want to stay healthy while travelling

But even more important than working out for staying healthy while travelling is eating healthy. So here are our best tips to eat to stay healthy while travelling. Also check out earlier posts on the topic of consistent eating healthy: 7 tips for a sustainable healthy diet and Losing weight without weighing your food.

12. Protein, protein, protein

One of the things that it’s really hard when you are travelling is getting your hands on some/ enough good protein sources, especially while travelling in Asia. Chicken it’s quite common in Asia and South America, but the portions are quite small.

One study shows that you will get a spontaneous reduction in caloric intake of 20% despite eating after hunger when you increasing the protein intake from 15 E% to 30 E%.

Multiple studies (1234) show that protein provides a larger feeling of fullness than both fat and carbohydrates. Therefore, if you replace a portion of fat or a portion of carbohydrates in the diet with protein, you will feel more full.

In other words, some extra protein will probably just do you good. 

It’s a good idea to get in some extra proteins while you can. If you are afraid that your protein intake will be too low during the day, what you can do if you’re staying at a place that has breakfast buffet is to eat some extra eggs, some yoghurt and have some milk as well.

Something that we always do is to track down steak restaurants, maybe an Argentinian one to both get a great quality steak and to get some extra protein in.

13. Greens

Something that you want to be a staple in your diet is always a lot of greens and vegetables. But it can be a bit tricky abroad, especially in countries that don’t have clean tap water. 

Fresh vegetables are often washed in tap water and therefore could be a source for food poisoning or other bacteria. Many times boiled or fried vegetables are a safer choice. 

The downside with fried vegetables is that they are often fried in a lot of fat and for the most part unhealthy fats. 

In better restaurants and cafés you should be fine to eat even raw vegetables, but if you are unsure stick to boiled ones. 

Fruit and vegetables with skin is also a good choice because then you could peel off the skin and the inside will (almost) always be safe to eat. 

A beautiful salad in Chiang Rai, Thailand
A beautiful salad in Chiang Rai, Thailand

14. Big breakfast

It can be hard to plan or even know what you can expect to find to eat during the day so it can be a good idea, as mentioned above, to stock up during breakfast. 

Try to eat as much protein and vegetables as possible. This will keep you filled up during the day and it will help you keep away from unhealthy snacks or other unhealthy eating habits.

When it comes to any kind of buffets it is a good tip to always start with healthy food and eat a lot of that because then you’re less likely to eat some of the unhealthy foods later on. Simply because you’re full.

15. Stay hydrated

When you’re travelling it’s often very hot and you are active so you will probably lose a lot of fluids so it’s a good idea to try to stay as hydrated as possible. 

Stay away from tap water, but for the planet and environment’s sake, plastic bottles aren’t very good either. Bring a refillable bottle, many hotels, restaurants and cafes often have taps with filtered or mineral water where you can fill up your bottle. 

A coconut in Thailand
A coconut in Thailand

Electrolytes will help you stay hydrated. A great source of electrolytes is coconut water. Coconut water is quite common in both Asia and South Americ. You could buy it more or less in every 7eleven or another convenience store. Almost everywhere you can also get a fresh coconut!

On hot days I aim for having at least one coconut water. If that’s a fresh coconut or a bottle depends on what’s available. If soda, soft drink, ice tea or lemonade is your thing that’s ok. But I would try to stay away from the sugar-sweetened ones and try to stick to the sugar-free ones. Often you have to specify that you want it without sugar. This can be tricky if you don’t speak the local language. If you stick to the bigger brands it will be easier to spot if it’s sweetened with sugar or artificial sweetener.

16. Alcohol

I think everybody agrees that alcohol is unhealthy, but when you are on vacation it’s nice to sit down with a glass of great wine or some other beverage of your choice. 

Calorie-wise and sugar wise I would say that wine is better than for example beer or a drink. Therefore it could be a good idea to stay with wine and try to control your intake.
Don’t drink too much too often. 

Cocktails are often made with sugar and sugary juices or soft drinks so here we have to be a bit careful. It’s an easy way to get a lot of calories and sugar in without even knowing it. So here as well I will recommend you to stay with wine.

Be aware that alcohol will also slow down your metabolism of other food sources, as your body prioritizes to burn and get rid of the alcohol (as it is poison to the body). Alcohol will also dehydrate you, so be aware of this when travelling in warmer places. 

17. Control your ice cream and snack intake

I think the hardest one is to try to control your ice cream and snack intake. It is warm and you are constantly on the move. It is easy to grab something, take an ice cream or ice coffee to cool down. 

You have to be a bit careful because it’s easy to lose count of how much you eat. It’s a great idea to set up some boundaries and rules in advance. In advance decide on if one ice cream or one dessert is enough. 

It is easy to have a dessert with every meal, maybe some ice cream and ice coffee in between. Before you know it you have eaten a lot of things that you, in reality, didn’t need and maybe shouldn’t have eaten. 

A hack that we always make is we order americano in ice, in Asia and South America they are actually really good at making these. The first time it will taste a bit bitter. But you’ll get used to the taste really fast, and then sweetened iced coffee will just taste too sweet. Just try it, trust me.

That was my last tip, and I hope you can use them to stay healthy while travelling. 

If you’re able to get some of these tips right I promise that you’ll feel a lot better while travelling and when you get home. It’s all about maintaining that awesome lifestyle you have created for yourself. 

These steps have personally helped us a lot, and we use them every time we travel, and I think there should be some great value in them for you as well. Happy travels and good luck with staying healthy ?

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