Not only is it hard to eat healthfully while traveling, but exercising on the road can also be challenging. Depending on whether you like to use gym equipment, swim, bike, or run, there are many choices to keep yourself fit while on the road. I suggest using the Boy Scouts’ motto–“Be Prepared”–to enrich your exercise experience.
Best ways to exercise while traveling
Workout clothes are usually light and easily packed. I’ll often bring a jacket for potentially cold mornings when my exercising may take me outside. My lightweight running shoes are a must in order to keep the luggage weight down. Packing my sunglasses, water bottle, and phone holder may take up a little extra room, but having them makes for a more enjoyable workout when I am away from home. Of course, a swimsuit, cap, and goggles take up little space–just be sure to bring a waterproof bag should you need to pack a wet swimsuit for your return trip.
Most major hotel chains have some sort of fitness center. Equipment can be quite different from one hotel to the next, so look online before you go. Do they have what you need? If not, do you need to change hotels or figure out a different plan? When I arrive, I usually check out the fitness center to get an idea of the type of equipment offered. If I’m unfamiliar with it, I get on and try it out. I learn how to turn it on, figure out the specialized workout program, or how to work the program manually. This saves me time in the morning and I don’t have to waste 5-10 minutes trying to figure out the equipment.
How do I know this? On a business trip to Salt Lake City, I stayed at the Hyatt Place and wanted to use their bike equipment, but only the incumbent bike was available and I couldn’t find the “on” button. I fumbled around with it until I finally had to ask someone. (In case you’re wondering–you just need to pedal and it’s powered by your movement.) I felt a little embarrassed, but still got my workout in.
Swimming is a great way to exercise if you love the water. But again, “be prepared” and check the hotel’s pool before you go. If it’s not going to work or if they don’t have one, there are usually local YMCAs or community pools available for a daily fee.
How do I know this? On a business trip to New Orleans, my hotel had an outside pool. From the photos the pool looked like a good size, but in person, it was smaller than I realized and more square than rectangular. I ended up swimming corner to corner to get the longest “lap.” Additionally, despite New Orleans’ usual warm weather, it does get cloudy, windy days, and at 7:00 a.m., an outside pool can be chilly. I’m not sure whether I looked like a dedicated athlete or a person who had gone completely bonkers.
Typically, I stick with the stationary bikes at the hotel fitness center. In addition to a treadmill, most fitness centers will have the stationary bike of some kind. I have also looked into renting a bicycle and can usually find cruiser bikes (like ones used by tourists or leisure bike groups) in the bigger cities. This takes a little extra time, but can be worth it.
This seems to be the easiest form of exercise while traveling. Fitness centers, at a minimum, will have a treadmill. However, they are usually the first piece of equipment to be taken in the morning, so be prepared to either wait or do something different. Personally, I enjoy running outside. For example, the run from downtown San Francisco to the wharf if beautiful. You could even conclude your run with a trolley ride back to your hotel. I use the Endomondo Sports Tracker app and like the map view that shows where I went. Additionally, some hotels offer morning run guides and/or groups where they will take you on a mini tour while you get your run in.
A word of caution: As a female business traveler, I always make sure the area I am running in is safe. I do not run before sunrise or after sunset. I keep to the busy streets and usually do not hit the parks unless I know they are well populated.
No matter what type of exercise you prefer, there are many options when you are traveling. Just remember to “Be Prepared” and kudos to you for staying healthy.