When traveling around the world, chances are gyms are not in your immediate thoughts.
You'd rather spend your days exploring ancient temples, beautiful white sand beaches, and the quaint cobblestone streets of Europe.
Who wants to spend their days sweaty in the gym staring at a rack of dumbbells or a generic treadmill?
As much as you want to spend your days relaxing and exploring, exercise is essential for your physical and mental health.
Exercise has many benefits for your health, including weight loss, decreasing your risk of developing diseases like cardiovascular disease, and improving your mood.
While I'm not saying you should immediately put down that delicious chocolate croissant and run to the closest gym, I recommend blocking out at least 30 minutes daily to exercise.
Exercise can range from anything like yoga, running, and weightlifting to just walking around and own sightseeing. The best part? You don't need a gym to exercise!
I've worked with many clients who would use the excuse of “I can't get to the gym” not to do their workouts. I call bullsh*t every time.
You can exercise anywhere. In a hostel. On the beach. Anywhere! So now you have no more excuses not to work out on your trip around the world.
It's a common misnomer that you need weights to do strength training. While dumbbells, barbells, and squat bars are necessary for some exercises, your body weight is the best piece of equipment you have.
Using your body weight, you can quickly get a full-body workout on the road without equipment. Consider adding the best pre-workouts for an energy boost.
Burpees are the ultimate bodyweight exercise that every person loves to hate. People hate them because they are hard, but they're also practical.
Burpees are not only an equipment-free exercise that works your whole body, but they're also an intense cardiovascular exercise.
How to Do a Burpee: Start in a standing position with your feet hip-width apart. Lower your body into a squatting position and place your hands on the floor in front of you. Step or jump both feet back until you're in a push-up position. Complete a push-up. Jump your feet back to their original position, stand up, and then jump into the air with your arms above your head. Click here for a YouTube video of a burpee.
You'll need a wall for this exercise. Wall sits are a great way to work your quadriceps and hamstrings while on the road. Wall sits aren't complicated; they are just painful. Be prepared for some shaking and crying.
How to do a wall sit: Find a wall and slowly slide your back down until your thighs are parallel to the ground, almost like you're sitting in a chair.
Ensure your knees are directly above the ankles, and your back is pushed back straight against the wall.
Think about sucking your belly button right into your spine. Looking for a challenge? Grab some water bottles or rocks and do biceps curls.
Click here for a YouTube video of a wall sit.
Planks are one of the best core exercises. Skip crunches and sit-ups that add unnecessary strain on your spine, and do some planks.
Not only does a plank work all your ab muscles, but it works your shoulders and arms and improves your balance and posture.
Related: How to Beat Jet Lag in Six Steps
How to do a plank: Lie face down on the floor with your forearms on the floor. Extend your legs behind your body and rise up on your toes.
Make sure your shoulders are directly in line with your elbows. Keep forearms straight in an “11” shape. Keep your back straight, hips up, and tighten your core.
Hold the position for 30-60 seconds or as long as you can. Make sure you keep your head and neck in line with the rest of your spine.
Your triceps are those tiny muscles in the back of your arms.
While many people focus on their biceps, the triceps are just as important as they help extend the arm, which is essential when you want to drink your beer.
All you need for triceps dips is a chair or a large rock.
How to do a triceps dip: Sit on the edge of a chair or bench. Grab the edge of the surface with one hand on either side of your legs.
Slide your bottom off the chair and drop your bottom towards the floor right in front of the chair. Bend your arms until you come to a 90-degree angle and straighten your arms again.
For an easier dip, keep your feet on the ground. Straighten your legs and keep only your heels on the ground if you're looking for a challenge.
Click here for a YouTube video of a triceps dip.
Lunges are a great exercise to target all the major leg, butt, and core muscles.
Lunges are incredibly versatile and can be done with or without weight.
Lunges have many benefits, including improved balance, better hip flexibility, and a more toned bottom.
While there are multiple ways to do lunges, one fun alternative that also serves as a cardiovascular exercise is the jump lunge.
How to do a jump lunge: Start in the lunge position with the right foot forward.
Use your arms to propel you as you jump up into the air and switch legs landing in a lunge with the left foot forward. Repeat and continue switching.
Click here for a YouTube video of a jump lunge.
There are so many other bodyweight exercises that you can do on the road. These are just a few of my personal favorites.
Here's a quick exercise routine using the above exercises that you can complete in under 30 minutes, anywhere.
The 30-Minute Bodyweight Hostel Workout
5-Minute warm-up: You can run around the block a few times, do jumping jacks, or anything that gets your heart rate up and your muscles warmed up.
Complete for one round:
- 15 Burpees
- 30-60 second Plank
- 15 Lunge Jumps
- 15 Triceps Dips
- 30-60 second Wall Sit
- 30-60 second Plank
Rest for 30-60 seconds before repeating the round for a total of 5-8 rounds.
Cool Down: Walk or jog around the block and stretch.
Now that you know more about the different forms of gym-free exercises and workouts, you should also know something about post-workout recovery.
Exercise is good for the whole body, but sometimes, it can also lead to muscle soreness, fatigue, or even cause muscle pain.
When you're not traveling, consider using workout recovery tools like Exogun, an affordable percussion massager that effectively eases pain, speeds up muscle recovery and is trusted by many of the world's athletes.
Note: If you are starting an exercise routine for the first time, remember to consult with your healthcare provider. These exercises are done at your own risk.
Katelyn is a freelance writer, healthcare analyst, and solo budget traveler currently based in Portland, Maine (USA). Next winter she is embarking on her Great Escape around the world and landing in Australia for a working holiday visa. Outside of her professional life, Katelyn teaches spin and boot camp classes at several location gyms and is a competitive triathlete finishing Ironman Lake Placid in 2013. You can follow her adventures on Diaries of a Wandering Lobster.
Planning a trip? Go Backpacking recommends:
- G Adventures for small group tours.
- World Nomads for travel insurance.
- Hostelworld for booking hostels.
- Rail Europe for train passes.