Trying to fit in your clothes after a long trip can be maddening. It’s easy to give yourself a pass when it comes to your fitness the second you pass through security. The early flight left you no time to have breakfast and the golden arches are calling you. After all, you’re on vacation, what’s the harm? That first decision rolls into a snowball of poor health choices.
We sat down with fitness competitor, ER nurse and fellow travel enthusiast, Yomica Wolfe, to see what advice she has about staying fit on the road. She zeroed in on six main focus points to increase or maintain your stellar fitness while gallivanting.
The most important thing is to stay active. Whether travel is your vacation or your lifestyle, the best way to see and experience the country you’re in is to be active in it. If you’re in a place long enough, sign up for a local race and train for it (for you nomads). Or if you’re not a race person, pick out a challenging mountain to climb and work towards conquering it.
“I have run in every single country I’ve visited. From Italy and Greece to Egypt and Israel! Running has shown me so many local shops and neighborhoods I would have otherwise missed! There are plenty of times I’ve run into an art show or exhibit or something super fun I would’ve missed out on had I slept in or stayed at the hotel. No matter where you’re exploring, look into renting bikes, swimming, snorkeling, skiing, running, or hiking. Do whatever you can to stay active and dig deeper into the cultural and natural assets a place has to offer. By the end of the day you’ve had a complete workout and it didn’t take you away from enjoying the country!” ~ Yomica Wolfe
Plus, as you explore via bike and foot you move at a pace that allows you to absorb your surroundings. Riding in a car is like watching a movie in fast forward—you’re going to miss a lot.
“I always stay close to my low-fat low carb diet no matter where I am. When I splurge, It’s on alcoholic beverages, a liquid dessert.” ~ Yomica Wolfe
Whether you’re at the airport, on a train or road tripping in your trusty four-wheeled machine, think ahead about what will make you feel good and get the most out of your experiences. Foods high in carbs and refined sugars are going to make you crash and give you a sugar hangover. Most travel venues sell bananas, apples, grape and cheese cups, nuts, and various other healthy options. Also, if you can, pack a lunch with some healthy snacks. Your adventures will be better enjoyed and your friends and family will appreciate your lack of moody behavior that famously accompanies a sugar crash. Many people don’t know you are permitted to bring a brown bag onto planes.
Staying hydrated is everything. Flying in planes, altitude and humidity changes, and increased activity can each singularly dehydrate you. Together, they can annihilate you. Carry a water bottle with you and drink at least half your weight in ounces daily. While on the plane, drink a glass of water each time they bring the drink cart out. If you have a headache, drink more. The most common cause of headaches is dehydration. If your urine isn’t faint in color then you’re dehydrated: drink up!
Resting is important too. While being active is key, don’t overdo it by setting out to run a marathon every day, or pushing the envelope with the nightlife. Schedule blocks of time when you can do nothing, or something that will re-energize you such as: sunbathing, stretching by the ocean, meditating, reading, journaling, and anything else that sounds good to you in the moment. Let this serve as your “me” time. If you’re traveling as a couple or group, let this be the time when you break apart to do your own thing so that your needs are the only ones on your mind.
Everyone travels differently, but if you spend your entire time avoiding sleep because “you can sleep when you get home,” you’ll have one groggy and potentially grumpy experience. Try to get extra rest the first few days to accommodate the jet-lag you may experience. Then, make sure you get sufficient sleep each night. If you have trouble sleeping in a new bed, try playing a guided meditation from your smartphone off of YouTube. Pack earplugs in case your hotel ends up being too close to a disco-tech or you land a travel-mate who snores. Also, if nightlife is a big part of your desired travel experience, pack an eye mask so that you can sleep in a few extra hours to make up for the late night arrival to REM.
“I know a lot of people who travel with resistance bands. My whole routine is based on my outdoors runs no matter the weather: push-ups, high knees, sprints, and hill work (if it’s an option). I have one friend who even travels with his road bike.” ~ Yomica Wolfe
Your options to stay active and healthy on the road are as limited as your creativity. Figure out what you like to do and incorporate that into your travel experience. Even in the dead of an Alaskan winter, you could exercise to a P90X video you’ve saved on your iPhone or go snowshoeing if the weather allows. If you take care of yourself, your body will take your experiences to a whole new level.
Fun Fact: Did you know you can burn up to 40 percent more calories snow-shoeing than you do running or walking at the same rate?