So you wish to backpack around the world, yet don’t want to look like a person who lives off of airline food? Staying fit while traveling is not a myth–in fact, it is easier than you think! Follow these easy food and exercise tips to maintain (or even reach) top shape anywhere you go.
Staying Fit While Traveling
Make Simple Substitutions
Studying abroad on a limited budget made me creative. Eating from the supermarket might not seem attractive when visiting a new country. Yet, there you can find healthier alternatives to local favorites. Better yet? Even cheaper than at the local restaurant or deli!
Are fatty foods or dressings your guilty pleasure, though? Alternatives like the eggless Just Mayo by Hamptoncreek or reduced-fat Alfredo sauces allowed me to enjoy my favorite sandwiches and pasta on the cheap–while still making healthy choices.
Other easy substitutions for your health include always taking the stairs and exploring that new city exclusively by foot. It takes 30 minutes to get to that Monument by public transportation? Walk there instead. You have no idea how many hidden gems I discovered this way!
There might be some situations where food substitutions are pretty much out, though. What if you are invited to a local family's home? We know it is rude to turn down local food…
What to do, then?! Eat slowly.
It takes your stomach 20 minutes to tell your brain it is full. Thus, eating slower gives your stomach the time it needs to relay that message up to the brain. We hope your local hosts understand.
Control your Portions
Pick up the habit of eating small meals or snacks throughout the day. Eating small every three to four hours not only will kick-start your metabolism, but you won't feel deprived to try all those wonderful new dishes.
To put it into perspective: sucking down a liter of soda is the same as chugging 4-5 chocolate bars.
Soda is liquid candy, for lack of a better term. Avoid it. Save those calories and grams of sugar for a local dessert you haven't tried before instead.
A Deck of Cards = A Deck of Exercises
The only piece of equipment I need to exercise anywhere in the world is a deck of cards.
Here's how it works: give each suit an exercise i.e. clubs = sit ups; hearts = push-ups; spades = squat; and diamond = jumping jacks.
Then, each number equals one rep of each exercise, with “royalty” counting as 10 and Aces counting as 11.
What about the infamous Joker? Pick some real dastardly exercise you hate, but you know it's great for you (my favorite for Joker is 25 burpees. Owww).
Lastly, try to rest as little as possible between exercises and attempt to make it one card further the next day.
What's best about this deck of cards workout? You can adapt the exercises to whatever equipment or terrain is available to you at each location.
Even if you stick with the same exercises for a week, all you have to do is re-shuffle the cards and boom–an instant mix-up of different reps and exercises.
Make your Workout a Social Event
Nothing is worse than you working out–then looking over and seeing five to six people drinking and partying. Sucks the will right out of you.
Get creative with your workouts, making them social events. Invite everyone at your hostel!
Things we have come up with include:
- A travelers scavenger hunt, with the first team to complete certain feats and hit a predetermined bar (the finish line!) buying rounds for everyone else
- Rent bikes and race down a pre-drawn course–with the finish line being a local food stall you all wanted to try
You get the idea!
Having a partner or 10, even if for a few workouts, will make it easier to stick to your goal and work through those temptations–and burn them off in the process.
Bring them cervezas by the beach.
Have you been staying fit while traveling? Share your tips below!
Maria Alexandra Laborde is a serial expat, having lived and traveled extensively throughout 6 different countries and territories, including over 18 years in Latin America.
Also, Maria is the author of LatinAbroad, where she shares cultural experiences and advice after living in and traveling to over 30 countries across 5 continents. Follow her on Facebook, Google+, Instagram and Pinterest