Keeping fit when you travel

Getting the most out of your destination often means lots of walking, lifting heavy bags and long days, so there’s no doubt that travel can be physically demanding. But if you’re taking a long holiday, or travel frequently, you’ll need and want to do more than everyday activities to stay fit. Not only is keeping fit an important part of general health, it is also one of the best ways to see more of a city, meet locals and push yourself in new ways whilst you’re on the road.

Stay safe, active and enjoy your break with these top tips and advice on how to keep fit when you travel.


For the novice 

Everyday exercise

Generally speaking, travel in itself is a great exercise. You might not realise it, although your body might let you know a few days later, but we do a lot of walking when we touch down in a new city. From exploring the cobbled and winding streets of European townships to hustling about bustling urban meccas, it’s easy to clock up plenty of kilometres a day from simply exploring. Walking and bicycle tours are a great way to soak in the sights and get to know the streets whilst keeping up general fitness, so the best way to start off staying fit on holiday is to be active and enjoy yourself!

Whilst you take in the city by foot, a fitting pair of sneakers or walking shoes will be crucial for you to avoid any discomfort or injury, so consider purchasing a new pair if you need to before you depart. It will be vital that you break these new shoes in, however, as you don’t want to develop blisters from new shoes on your holiday.


Workout wear basics

Along with appropriate shoes, consider packing other workout gear that will help you get out and about in physical form. A comfortable exercise shirt, pair of sports shorts, sunglasses, hat and sunscreen will ensure that you’re prepared for extended periods in the sun while you work up a sweat. A good water bottle will also be important, but if you’re concerned about space in your bag, you can always purchase one when you arrive. It might sound simple, but part of staying fit is having the right gear, which can help to avoid injury such as a twisted ankle, heatstroke, sunburn or dehydration. Being prepared ahead of time will make keeping fit a lot easier when you’re living out of a suitcase.


Fitness trackers

To make your daily walking a bit more interesting, you may wish to purchase an exercise tracker like a FitBit Charge HR, Garmin Vivosmart or Jawbone Up, which will help to track your paces, kilometres, elevation, and in some cases, heart rate. This can be an easy way to encourage you to take the more physical option when it comes to picking between the bus or walking tour. With each of these products you can also set a target number of steps so that your band will vibrate to remind you to be more active should you become passive throughout the day. Fitness bands are also fantastic ways to motivate children, just in case they get a bit bored of walking around all of those sites or galleries. Prices start around the $190 mark, but they are a good investment for when you get home too.


For the fit traveller 

Hotels and gyms

Travellers who already enjoy some level of fitness in their day-to-day lives can easily keep up their routines as long as they are prepared when they venture overseas. Start by being clever with your accommodation choices and opt for affordable hotels with gym and pool amenities. If you’re one to stick to routine, a hotel that costs a bit more may be worthwhile if you find yourself in the gym at least 3 times a week. Seeing as the average day pass to a gym can be $25 or more, you might as well contribute that money to also receiving better accommodation and service.

Alternatively, consider an international membership with a gym such as Virgin Active or Crossfit.


Travel with equipment

If you’ve got the space in your bag, instead of using a gym, there is plenty of portable equipment that you could take with you to stay fit. For example:

  • Skipping ropes
  • TRX cables
  • Boxing gloves
  • Yoga mat
  • Resistance bands, and
  • Foam rollers

Research outdoor spaces, parks and beaches which you can use as an early morning backdrop for your travel workout. Using bodyweight exercises you can easily complete full body workout including things like pull ups, push ups, crunches, lunges, dips, squats, jumps and stretches. Don’t be afraid to be inventive and use a park bench, wall or bus stop as your personal gym either.


Results and progress

One of the best ways to stay motivated is to track your progress. By marking your data you’ll be able to see where your biggest improvements have been and where you can improve even more. Smartphone apps such as Map My Run, the Nike + App and a whole host of others can help you track your exercise and present it to you in engaging graphs and tables.

There are also more comprehensive apps in case you need extra instruction or are looking for more than just data capture, such as the Johnson & Johnson Official 7 Minute Workout App and the Sworkit App. These apps (and many others like them) offer complete workout tutorials including instructional videos, articles, timers, verbal instructions and cues. You can also design your own custom workout on Sworkit in strength, stretching, cardio pilates or yoga.

All of the aforementioned fitness bands also have corresponding apps, which can also track your food, sleeping patters and set alarms according to optimal circadian rhythms. This means you’ll wake up fresh and pumped for your next day of travel.


For the serious fitness freak

Diet and budget

You might be a gym junkie at home, but when it comes to travel, diets can be a bit harder to contain. There’s no need to sap all the fun away when travelling, but a smart diet will go a long way to keeping you fit and healthy. You’re travelling to enjoy yourself, so don’t you dare miss out on that authentic gelato in Italy or those dumplings in China just because you’re worried about weight. Instead, choose healthy and nutritious snacks such as almonds or trail mix to keep you going throughout your day. Don’t give in to snacking on local junk food and instead save yourself for the cultural cuisine that will be most memorable.

The healthy option isn’t always the cheaper option, either, so you may want to allocate a greater sum of money to your food budget to cover this.


Partner up with someone

Keeping fit is as much a social activity as it is a physical one. If you want to meet locals, stay accountable and even learn some foreign tips and tricks you can try meeting up with local bootcamps and trainers. A great way to do this is the site Here you can find open groups and meet ups with like-minded people or ask strangers for advice on where to exercise. You can post in forums and chat to people in the lead up to the meet up and search different cities for different interests.


Worldwide assistance

With all Southern Cross Travel Insurance policies you have access to our renowned worldwide assistance network, which connects you to one of the largest international networks of medical and emergency services. If you’re serious about your training, you’ll be happy to know that if the unexpected occurs when you’re exercising hard that you can call us for assistance. We can direct you to the nearest hospital for that swollen joint, or muscle pain and can help you in the event of a serious accident.

Stay safe and enjoy a fun and active holiday with peace of mind and great cover.

The content of this article is general and provided for information purposes only. It is not intended to be medical advice. Southern Cross Travel Insurance (SCTI) doesn’t guarantee or warrant the accuracy, completeness or currency of any article.

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