The Complete Travel Fitness Starter Kit
So you’re traveling, on holiday (or vacation) and you want to stay fit but you don’t know how. As someone who has been on the road for over 6 months now, and kept fit and healthy without having to hold back, I thought I had a decent nugget of information to share on this topic. So, by the end of this article, you’ll be equipped with a huge range of exercises you can do on vacation to stay fit, and you’ll even get a free body-weight workout plan I made for my lazy ass brother who didn’t complete it.
Here’s a couple pictures of me so you can see the current condition my body is in and decide whether you want to continue reading or not. I’ve maintained this with 3 x workouts per week of 30 minutes.
Simple Vacation Workout With No Equipment
Here’s a quick workout plan you can do on vacation with no gym:
- Push Ups 3 x 10-failure
- Pike Push Ups 3 x 10-failure
- Squats/Jump Squats 3 x 10-20
- Lunges 3 x 10-20
- Good Mornings 3 x 20
- Body Weight Rows 3 x 10-20
- Sit-ups 3 x 20-30
- Bicycle Kicks 3 x 30-60s
Doing this will work your full body. It’s a good idea to research different variations of these exercises and swap them in and out for separate workouts so you don’t get bored and you’re targeting different muscle groups.
For instance, you can do a whole load of different Push Ups:
- Diamond Push Ups
- Wide Grip Push Ups
- Plyo Push Ups
- Military Push Ups
- etc. etc.
You can additionally do a load of different leg exercises and abs work. Things like planks, russian twists, crunches, floor leg raises etc. can all aid to building a more functional workout. Sumo squats, 1 leg hops, bunny hops and other exercises can also help to work your quads and hamstrings more.
I personally like the leg hops for calves, and bunny hops for quads + hamstrings and cardio included.
Maximising The Time You Have To Workout
The idea of body-weight workouts is to push yourself to your limit, because of the lack of gym equipment and weights to aid you. Additionally you usually have less time or don’t want to allocate as much time to working out when traveling or on vaction.
So, you’ll ideally want to up the intensity so that with each set, you’re reaching for failure to break down your muscles enough, so that they can rebuild and you can continue to put on mass or maintain your current physique.
So for instance, try to do lunges, then squats straight after, with a 30s-1min squat sit. This will destroy your legs and break them down enough to support proper muscle growth (provided you have your traveling diet on point too).
I also like to try and combine cardio and strength training in a single session to make stuff harder.
So this means doing circuits of the above strength exercises to get a HIIT cardio workout in, as well as strength training at the same time.
This maximises the short amount of time you’ll have while on holiday and allows you to get the most work out of your reps.
For instance, a common circuit I’ll follow is 6 reps for 3 sets of:
- 3 x Push Ups
- 1 x Diamond
- Jump between
- 1 x Plyo Push Up
- Jump between
- 1 x Wide Push Up
- 2 x Leg Work
- 1 x Explosive Movement
This will completely wipe you out after 6-10 reps, rest between and repeat. You can make your strength training into HIIT cardio with anything, so use the above example as inspiration for creating your own hybrid cardio and strength training exercise plan.
I additionally like to put mobility work into the mix too. Stuff like Good Mornings, and Pike Pushups can double up as dynamic stretch exercises to loosen your body. Pike Pushups can be done in a way that activates the same kind of stretching done in the Downward Dog stretch movement.
You can also add things like Hip Bridges in too for extra mobility strength building.
Maximising Your Hotel Room For A Full-Body Workout
Using Your Hotel Room Chair & Table
Your hotel room will have a chair, or some kind of table you can use to increase the amount of exercises available. You also have some very heavy luggage that you potentially bought with you on holiday.
You can use the furniture to do exercises like:
- Tricep dips – delts, triceps
- L-Sit – great ab hold exercise that will burn
- Chest dips – great for chest growth and shoulder growth
- Bodyweight rows – good for engaging your back muscles (not many bodyweight exercises from pull-ups are good for this)
- Decline Push-Ups – great for working lower chest muscles
Using Your Luggage
I personally use my fully packed bag for extra weight in my bodyweight workouts while traveling. It weighs about 10kg fully packed and adds a lot of resistance to things like pushups, and squats that otherwise wouldn’t be there. It also allows me to do exercises that I would otherwise need dumbbells for such as, curls to work my biceps and tricep extensions.
I find this essential to incorporate when I am in a location with no pull-up bar or that doesn’t have a bar strong enough to hold me.
You can additionally make your bag heavier by adding water bottles to weigh it down further, and feel like you’re getting a more difficult workout routine in.
It gives you a better overall workout, putting more resistance on glutes and thighs for lunges and squats, more resistance on chest for a more bench press-like experience, and can even be used for lower back exercises like bent over rows too.
Using Your Towel
You can use a towel to do exercises called towel pull-ups, these are a good substitute for pull-ups if you are no where near a pull-up bar or you can’t do bodyweight rows either. They are no match for the full thing, but it’s better to do these than to do nothing.
Additionally a towel can be lodged in your hotel door and then used for bodyweight rows too. These exercises combined can help to work your back a lot more without access to a pull-up bar or any other equipment and can be done with your hotel room towel.
As a bonus they’re also extremely good for forearm growth.
Lightweight Travel Exercise Equipment Perfect For Holidays, Long Term Travel & Home Workouts
The best way to get a good travel/holiday/vacation workout in, is to prepare before going and take some lightweight equipment with you.
The most useful pieces of travel exercise equipment I find to be are:
- A thick 20kg resistance band (or higher)
- Gymnastic rings
- TRX Cable system
- Wooden Paralettes (for calisthenics dons)
The resistance bands are useful for curls, tricep extensions, add resistance to squats, push-ups and even do rows for your back strength. This is the most transportable and lightweight out of the 3 I personally recommend taking.
Gymnastic rings allow you to get your pull-ups in anywhere there’s a good tree. You can do handstand push-ups, L-Sits, leg raises and a whole load more exercises which will work you a lot more than regular bodyweight exercises.
The added instability make things like chest dips so much harder than on a chair or a bar, so I’d 100% recommend getting a pair of gym rings.
The TRX Cable System allows for the same stuff, but minus the handstands and L-Sits, because of the upper limit the suspension system has. You won’t be able to do handstands, because there is fabric in the way, and things like L-Sits and other holds become difficult because of these reason too.
The Wooden Paralettes are good for extra depth on your push-ups, and additionally amazing for more gymnastic/callisthenic based exercises. They provide better wrist support and more control over movements, giving you the ability to complete some movements you wouldn’t be able to on the ground, and activate those muscles that need to grow to properly complete the exercise. These are the least important out of the list I recommend.
Top Tip: Try To Find A Pull-Up Bar/Metal Bar That Holds Your Weight
@wehatethecold Happy I found this #thailand #thailandworkout #thailandadventure #pattaya ♬ CUFF IT – Beyoncé
It’s hard to target your upper and lower back during a bodyweight exercise routine, without a pull-up bar. Pull-ups are incredible for forearms, upper and lower back strength training and most floor workouts can’t compete with the way they work you. For this reason, I suggest looking around the area you’re in. A lot more often than not, you will find a pull-up bar on the beach, or you’ll find a local park where people workout and pull-up bars as well as dip stations there.
The pull-up and dips bars open your horizons to so many more exercises that will give you much more focussed, strength training travel workouts.
Not only that, but usually you’ll find people to chat to and make friends while you’re on your travels.
Another great benefit of finding these places is that they’ll commonly have people playing sports, so you can ask to join in and get a great cardio workout, without it feeling like a chore.
Tips For Sticking To Your Diet On Vacation
Sticking to your diet isn’t always possible if you’re on holiday, and if you’re on holiday (and not traveling for work or something like that) it’s ok to miss out on a couple days.. you’re there to have fun after all.
The key here is to not go too overboard, because when you get back home it throws your whole schedule off and can affect sleep, energy, mood and a load more. If you wanna deal with the week of recovering after holiday, then by all means do it. It’s not like I haven’t done that before.
But if you want to stay on track, still enjoy yourself and not f**k yourself over when you get back to routine, it’s quite simple to follow.
Stick to 3 meals per day, with 1 item you consider a treat. If you’re drinking go with spirits and tonics or low-calories sodas.
I would altogether avoid alcohol, but you’re holiday mate, a few beers here and there isn’t going to ruin your life. A nice cold beer in the sun on the beach is f**king bliss, so have it if you want.
Just try stick to 3 meals per day, with some decent snacks inbetween. Doesn’t mean you have to eat all salad veg and stuff you don’t like. Go for meals with 1 x serving protein, 1 x serving veg, 1 x serving carbs. Have a dessert after if you like and make sure you get some fruits in.
You’ll feel better sticking to some kind of eating schedule on holiday anyway, and won’t have to deal with the aftermath.
I always find not limiting what I can have, but limiting the number of meals, desserts, drinks etc. give me a more enjoyable experience and more energy to go and explore places.
How To Build Your Own Travel Fitness Plan
I personally created a simple plan for people looking to grow their strength using only bodyweight exercises, while staying in shape on the move. This is a great plan to follow if you are on an indefinite travel right now.
Here’s how you can build your own travel workout plan:
- Choose 16 bodyweight exercises that hit all muscle groups
- Create an A&B exercise plan you switch every time
- E.g. Week 1 – A, B, A, Week 2 – B, A, B – repeat.
- Add rep ranges based on your skill level
- Include progressions to those exercises
- Move to those progressions once you reach your rep limit comfortably for all sets
- Complete 2-3 times per week
We’re Harry & Iris – and we were tired of the same old “10 best places I’ve never been but I’m writing about for some reason” blog posts. So… we’re two young travelers on a mission to travel the world and share our true, unfiltered experience, including all the gristly details. From packing our life into one bag for a year to traveling Vietnam by motorbike, to sorting out Visas for specific countries – we’ve done it all, are doing it all and only give our advice on things we have done – not regurgitated cr*p from another source *cough* most publications *cough*. So bear with us! This project will take some time to grow, and will take a fair bit of money. But we’re determined to make it the single best source of information about traveling on the internet.