How to Stay Fit and Healthy on the Road

By Nomadic Matt | Published August 7th, 2013

I’m not a healthy guy. Ok, I am a very healthy guy when I am home in my apartment with my juicer, kitchen, and nearby Whole Foods. On the road, it’s another story. Even with the high expectations and goals I set for myself a few years ago, I’ve failed at maintaining a healthier lifestyle on the road. While I make more health conscious decisions, I still go out too much, never sleep, and stuff my face with pizza because it is convenient.

Last month, I met up with my friend Steve Kamb, the legend behind Nerd Fitness, a site dedicated to helping nerds stay fit. Steve travels a lot too (we were recently in Vegas) and he knows how to balance the stresses of the road with staying in shape.

I sat down with him and interviewed him for this week’s video. It’s a long video (in the future, I will try to keep interviews to 10 minutes but we were having fun so this is twenty!) but if you really want to learn how to stay in shape, watch this video:

(Want more travel videos? I now update my YouTube channel each week with a new video. Subscribe here and get free videos!)

Here are seven tips from Steve on staying fit:
1) Make healthy living on the road a priority! Yes, you DO have time to exercise, you just need to make time for it. You can complete a workout in 20 minutes in your hotel room or hostel.

2) Walking for the win. Do everything you can to walk as often as possible. There’s no better way to explore a city than on foot: you get to exercise and

3) Playgrounds and parks are everywhere: use them. Check google maps for that green patch of ground and walk over there for your workouts; you can do pull ups on swing sets or tree branches.

4) Remember that your diet is 80% of the battle. Consider upping your food budget, even slightly so you can eat healthier. Bags of rice and/or pasta for every meal: processed carbs and very little else. Get some protein in there! Don’t be afraid to do a healthy ‘family dinner’ with hostel mates where you all split the cost.

5) Do the best you can. If you only have 10 minutes to exercise, exercise for 10 minutes! Every little bit adds up, and 10 minutes is WAYYY better than nothing. If you have to eat poorly at train station, make up for it the next day.

6) Employ the “Never 2″ rule. If you miss a day of exercise for whatever reason, don’t allow yourself to miss two days in a row. If you eat one bad meal, that next meal should be healthy. Never two in a row.

7) Have fun. Don’t be afraid to have late nights with friends or say yes to crazy adventures. Just make sure you get right back on track as soon as possible after so you don’t lose the momentum you’ve built up.

For more information from Steve, check out these links:
Website: Nerd Fitness
Key Article: How to Stay in Shape While Traveling
Twitter: Steve Kamb

comments 29 Comments

I like to keep fit when we’re at home with running and lifting weights. But on the the road, I don’t have as much time. So we just walk everywhere. We walk. A lot. I think our most we did was 15 miles in a day. Average 6 miles a day. I feel fit when we have a good walking route for the day :)

Great tips!

I agree with Nicole too, lots of walking! I like to get involved in dance classes too, you can always find dance classes whilst travelling and they’re a good way to get into the local culture too.

Or cycling round a city is one of my favourite ways to see a new (or familiar) place!

After I wake up and just before bed I do a few minutes of yoga followed by pushups and I’ve noticed a serious improvement in my health.

Great tips. Steve has an excellent website as well. There are many exercises available to travelers. Walking hits two birds with one stone, get where you’re going and burn a few calories!

I love to run when I’m home, so next time I’m on the road I think I’m going to bring my GPS watch and shoes along with me. Running is a great way to see a city!

Great tips! Indonesia has been doing a number on me… the food is so delicious and I’m finding most grab-and-go snacks at the corner shops lack anything healthy or without sugar (even the crackers have sugar on top of them!!). Regular trekking/hiking is my choice when it comes to exercising on the road :) Though there is a gym in the hotel we’re staying at now… might be feeling inspired ;)

I can attest how even your best of disciplines get challenged on the road. When I’m not traveling I include a lot of fruits and salad on my diet so while going places I try to find a reasonable substitute. If I have access to a fridge, I can get prepacked salads from supermarkets and fruits from a corner stall to get by for several days and to carry as snack in my day pack so I don’t end up settling for less healthy stuff (or at least be less tempted). As for exercise, I’ve always liked walking, and oftentimes end up walking more than I could care to admit.

Believe it or not, I’m actually healthier when Im travelling as I engage in outdoor activities that I otherwise wouldn’t be doing while at home. I detest the gym and the only ‘workout’ i do when at home is opening the fridge– i built bicpes on that!
On my last two trips, I have been snorkelling, freediving, diving, while eating probably Twice the amount of what I normally eat, and still I lost abit of weight. So the solution is – keep travelling! LOL. I wish!
It’s always much more fun to “workout” without really working out (like walking/exploring a new city/ hiking/ swimming)

Jan

Same here :-) The best work out is walking/exploring a new city!

What about traditional cuisine? Food is a big part of travel for a lot of people including me, and I want to eat as much traditional food as possible while in that country. Most include some type of carbs, no matter the cuisine. For example, asking for more vegetables instead of rice basically changes original taste.

By the way, in better hotels you can pay for one day gym pass. I used that often.

I went from certified Pilates instructor working out all the time to certified food tester and fried goodness eater in Southeast Asia. My issue is working out in that horrible humidity and heat. Not every hostel has AC. Would be interested on his thoughts on that.

Incredibly inspiring interview!

It is always challenging for me to stay in shape and eat right as I travel frequently.

thanks
Matt

Andrew

Pushups will do wonders, even if you don’t have much time. Most days all i do is a set of pushups when i wake up and a set of pushups before i go to bed and i keep alot of muscle tone. I usually do 20 reps each set, but do as many as your comfortable with.

I almost always more active while traveling, but sometimes when traveling with those who like to hang out at the pool bar things can be a little tough, so I always find time to walk.

Taking an apple to replace the salty peanuts while flying is a great way to add moisture and can be pretty filling.

There are some great tips here, thanks! When I was training for a marathon a couple of years ago, I was visiting Madrid and decided to take my camera and a printed map and run around the city. It worked really well. I definitely saw more than I would have otherwise. The only downside was not feeling like it would be appropriate to enter museums or places of worship in my lycra!

when traveling with children make sure all the health related issue and check everything before start your journey. If you are traveling international, ask your physician for a certification to confirm that you are able to fit for travel.

these are good tips. i so wish they were easier in practice!!

Olov Lindgren

Becoming vegan has been a huge health improvement on and off the road. I strive to eat vegan when travelling but in countries where vegan food is scarce I resort to vegetarian food. This diet combined with a lot of walking is a great way to stay healthy. Sure, I indulge in junk food and snacks on occasion, but eating primarily healthy means the damage of that kind of food is greatly reduced.

Another tip is to bring your running shoes with you when you travel. If your tight on space, bring a pair of Vibrams or go barefoot:)

Like some other commenters, local dance classes are my way of keeping fit AND having fun/meeting new people!

Sharalyn

Thank you ever so much for this great video, Matt! I am middle-aged and find the exercise thing a real challenge while on the road. The tips in this video were great and I really appreciate that Steve has a great balance with his life and understanding of what it is like on the road. When I travel, I choose to walk everywhere. I wear an “up bracelet” that tracks my steps and I average about 6 miles a day. Plus, I have a power yoga DVD that I bring along and try to do that 3-4 times a week. I travel with my yoga matt…when I use a backpack, I just strap it onto the side or I pack it in my suitcase. However, I am going to check out Steve’s 20 minute hotel routine for days when I feel a crunch for time….although I don’t see myself ever doing a pull-up :) Great post…thank you, thank you, thank you!

Hi Matt, you become more conscious of what you eat as you get older and taking regular exerciser. I find when travelling, staying at most hostels this can go out the window when meeting people, so this time I took a converted campervan around Spain, staying away from tourist areas, I found it easy to meet like mined people who liked walking and cycling and as you know the food is local and traditional. I lost over a stone and felt great!

Roberto

I think that in order to eat healthy and do exercise first it has to be a decision you make for yourself either you are at home or traveling. When you make that decision then, when traveling, you need imagination and determination, whichever comes first. Everywhere you will find fruits, vegetables, water, nuts, tuna, sardines (canned its ok), or local traditional food. Even in a gas station store you will find bananas but…have you the determination?

Hey Matt,
Currently in Thailand and loving the food. I wonder how healthy fried rice is all the time though! A bit of Muay Thai should counteract the belly but god damn the fried food is good out here!

Some great advice here, I like the never two rule, it gives you a chance to fuck up but jump right back on that horse again. That is often a problem with keeping a routine, people thinking that if they screw up once the routine is ruined and they might as well binge on a liter of icecream after the burger and pizza. But that’s not the case. Just keep at it!

I could add a few more tips but walking and healthy food are the most important.

These are all great tips. The biggest challenge in my opinion is watching the diet, especially if you are un-prepared for some destinations, such as cultural immersion trips where you survive on the local fare.

Great tips! But i think i have no time to think about fitness while i am traveling. Traveling is fun for me. No time to think too much.

I especially like the walking part. If one walks to every walkable destination during a trip – that fact alone will take care of all remaining fir requirements. It is also a lot more fun to walk in a destination that you are not familiar with than walking in your own city.

Great tips. Its hard to find time to exercise while traveling but we do end up walking EVERYWHERE. There’s no better exercise than walking miles with a big backpack on! We end up carb-loading as well, as having a big pasta dinner is often the easiest and cheapest. Good list.

Leave a comment