The truth is it's hard to stay fit while you're traveling abroad; hard, but not impossible. Now you probably won't come back shredded and ready for the next Crossfit Games, but you can most definitely avoid coming back with a little extra baggage around your mid-section. The key with staying fit while your traveling is not to focus on gaining, but maintaining. Now if you are going to be in one place for an extended period it's certainly realistic to become a regular gym-goer and keep up a regular routine. However, if your plans are to be ever-changing and never in the same place twice, then I've compiled a simple list of tips and tricks to help keep you body on point, while you let your spirit wander. So here are "8 Ways to Travel Fit":
8. Cook Your Own Meals:
This is a no-brainer for anyone who has every done a proper training program before. Eating out is expensive, and depending on where you're traveling (in Australia for instance, it's almost impossible to find a decent meal for under $20), and its usually loaded with other flavor-adding extras that are packed with calories and overloaded with fat content. When you're traveling the important thing is to eat a healthy and balanced diet, not necessarily an exciting one. I'm a TERRIBLE cook, but thank god for the internet there's millions of article loaded with easy cheap meals anyone can make. It's great to sample local cuisine and get a taste of local culture through food, but when traveling in expensive countries, eating out will tear a hole through your budget and your belt faster than anything else.
When I was in highschool I used to run 6-10 miles a day, every damn day... it's been a LONG time since then and I hate running now, it's probably one of my least favorite activities. But, it's effective, it's free, you can do it anywhere, and it's a great way to take some time for personal introspection. When you're on the road constantly moving it's nearly impossible to gain size or mass (well... good size or mass). Since the key while traveling is simply to maintain, cardio is one of your best weapons against building a gut from all the other fun that you're having. I still hate running but I make a point to do it at least 3 days a week, and when I'm not running, I walk, everywhere! Public transport is a great option and many places around the world have a much better system than we do in the U.S. but there's no better way to get acclimated to a new city then walking. Of course if you're traveling out into the country side or coming home late, public transit is probably your best option, but for simply getting around town, walking is a great way to get in your cardio without even trying.
6. Outdoor Park Gyms:
Certain cool, hip cities in the U.S. have started to incorporate outdoor park gyms, but in OZ they're everywhere. They're also super easy to find thaks again to the old Google. If you've never been to a park gym it's pretty much a variety of body weight resistence training exercises available for free to the public. Some are extremely basic and just consist of adult "monkey bars", but every once in a while you find one that offers a vast array of equipment you can use, that uses your own body weight as the counter balance (think Chuck Norris in the Total Gym). Now you can't get massive pumps here but you can do great high volume circuit training, perfect for cutting out pesky fat and keeping you nice and lean for your adventure.
5. Day Hiking, and other Outdoor activities:
Any place worth going in this world (at least in my humble opinion) has a few areas of selected land they've decide to protect and turn into a national park. Think Yosemite, but with all kinds of crazy plant life you've never seen or explored. The best thing about these parks and camping in general, is that you get to experience the beautiful outdoors and nature, but it's also a great way to get a free workout. Hiking is free anywhere you go, and by simply checking park websites you can find great trails and free activities in most National Parks. If you've got a little extra coin on you, you can also look into booking some paid activities, things like kayaking, canoeing, and white water rafting, a blast to do and a great workout at the same time.
4. Sports Parks:
Whether it's pickup basketball or pickup crickett (which I still don't understand), in most major metropolitan cities there's always free sports parks to play at. Outdoor, recreational sports are fun, free, and also a great opportunity to meet new people and make some new friends. It might be a little out of your comfort zone to just walk up to a group of people and ask if you can join, but in reality sports unites all of us. In my experience nothing is a better conversation starter than giving sports fans an open invitation to tell you all about their favorite sport. Whether you actually walk away with a grasp for the game is not really the point, the point is Rugby involves a lot of running, a lot of comradery, and playing sports is a fun, easy way to stay fit. If you have a sport you're already more passionate about, look online and see if there are any free (or cheap) rec leagues available in your area. Making sports a regular part of your routine on the road will keep you active, meeting new friends, and in tip top condition.
Every person on earth has their own personal gym built into their bodies. No matter where you are, you can always have enough space to do pushups and situps, and occasionally even find a make shift pull-up bar. If you make it part of your daily routine to incorporate a few hundred push-ups and situps throughout the day (50 here, 50 there), you'll create a habit that will hugely benefit you when you don't have time for a "proper" workout. There's a story I love about Legendary Running back Hershel Walker in college. When he first came to the University of Georgia, he would never participate in the teams group fitness training, because he had his own regimine. The coaches said either he had to come in or he couldn't play. Legend has it he came in for one training session, and shattered every weight lifting record in the school's football program. After that coaches agreed to let him continue on his own. Well, his training regimine included no weight lifting whatsoever, Hershel did over 1500 push-ups and 2000 situps every day, that was it, all calisthenics, and the dude was a beast.
2. Develop a Yoga Practice:
Yoga is not for everyone, but it's done wonders for me in my own life. I've always played sports, and lifted weights growing up, so for years I put a lot of stress on my joints and muscles without giving much love back. Since I began a regular yoga practice over a year ago I've seen a tremendous difference in both my physical and mental wellness. I still can barely touch my toes, and my balancing is "iffy" at best, but no gym session can compete with the feeling of overall health and well being I get after a 90 minute yoga practice. The problem with yoga studios, is they tend to be very expensive, but there's a solution. Almost all yoga studios offer an introductory rate for either a week, ten days, or sometimes even a month. If you're thinking about adding yoga to your fitness regimine, I implore you to take advantage of one of these offers. Go in and learn the basics from a certified teacher, see if it's something that speaks to you, then simply start a practice of your own. There's thousands of free videos online you can watch, and I even use a yoga app, right on my ipad for a private class anywhere in the world. While your out there seeing the world it's important to take some time to reflect on all these new positive experiences, yoga allows you to do that while also being a great way to stay toned and fit.
1. Be committed:
At the end of the day, fitness is all about the effort you put in. Remember you're not out here seeing the world and intending to come back with a chisled six-pack, but you also don't have to come back a fat slob. Use this list as a starting point, something to get you pointed in the right direction when you're on the road. Find something that works for you and that you're passionate about and stick with it. If that means you run every day, make the investment and spring for some new shoes. If you decide yoga is more your thing, look online for a cheap deal on a mat and take it with you wherever you go. The point is if you committ to something and make it a habit, then after a while it won't seem like work anymore, it will simply just be some "you do". So go out there, see the world, and just do it!