There are two different pastries which catch your eye behind the counter of the cute little boutique restaurant you’d read about in the airline magazine. Rather than debating between the two, you shake your head and smile a little. “I’m on vacation!” you say, “I’ll have both.”
Let’s face it, when you are traveling, whether for business of for pleasure, it is difficult to maintain the same level of fitness that you have worked so hard on at home. You’re eating out, trying new foods, and your typically organized schedule has been thrown by the wayside as you spend your days seeing new things and meeting new people. These are many of the reasons why traveling is such a wonderful experience, but when you get home, that first workout back can seem awkward, stiff, sluggish, and discouraging as you silently curse your past self for not finding a way to exercise more.
However, with a little planning, optimism, and sense of adventure, you can not only stay fit while you are traveling, but add a whole new dynamic to your travel experience.
Though seemingly obvious, in order to workout consistently while traveling you have to bring the right equipment. Fortunately, basic athletic clothes can often pack pretty small, and a good pair of running shoes, when you are hurting for space, can double as a good pair of walking shoes as you explore new cities. Chose what type(s) of exercise you want to do and pack accordingly. It’s even tougher to workout if you don’t have the proper clothing.
Turn your workout into a destination
I first discovered using a workout as a destination while studying aboard in Scotland. I went out for a run, and several miles in I saw a sign for a castle and naturally had to check it out. Though it was February, and I was dressed in a tee shirt and shorts, running around the castle grounds and spending 30 minutes wandering around the castle ruins was completely worth it. Now, I run with my phone (for mapping and photo purposes), and I’ll often plan a route ahead of time that will bring me to new sights. As a result I see more of a city than most of my fellow travelers, have a better sense of where I am, and am able to turn a workout into not just exercise, but an experience.
If you plan on running or biking, go out with a sense adventure and look for places that you might otherwise skip on your tour of a city. Or, go out with a general idea as to which direction you want to head and make snap decisions about turning down roads because they look interesting. Some cities have running and cycling paths that stretch for miles, or if you happen to be in Budapest, a 2 mile path made of rubber track material around an island made just for runners. A note from experience though: always make sure you know how to get back to where you started.
For non-runners, or some cross training, many cities have outdoor gym areas with basic workout equipment free to the public in the middle of a park or by a beach; you just have to keep an eye out for them. If that’s not an option, mingle with the locals at the local gyms.
Even if you don’t track your workouts at home, you’ll find it very useful to keep a log while you are traveling. This way you can not only keep track of what you are doing, but can catch yourself early if you are falling off track, thereby keeping yourself accountable for the workouts that you are and are not doing.
If you plan ahead, make a workout more than just a workout, and keep track of it, you’ll see more, feel better, and most importantly, you’ll find it easier than ever to earn both of those mouthwatering pasties, that extra beer, and that extra scoop of gelato, and to not suffer the consequences when you get home.
Post by Stephanie Hutson (CLAS ’12)
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