Last Updated: 7/8/23 | July 8th, 2023
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.
To try to change that, 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 and he knows how to balance life on the road with staying in shape.
We sat down together to talk about all things fitness and travel. Here are Steve’s top tips for staying healthy and in shape while traveling.
My Interview with Steve
For more travel and fitness advice, here’s an interview with Steve I did a few years ago. It’s full of helpful tips and advice and expands on many of the points above.
If you really want to learn how to stay in shape (both at home and abroad), watch this video!
7 Tips for Staying In Shape While Traveling
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 using basic exercises — and you don’t need any equipment!
Here are some simple and effective exercises you can do in your hotel, hostel, or even just a nearby park:
- Jumping jacks
Even just 5 minutes of these exercises will have you sweating. And you can literally do these exercises anywhere. Where there’s a will, there’s a way!
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 take in a lot more of the local life and it’s much easier to get away from the crowds this way. Plus, it’s cheaper than taking a taxi or paying for a bus ticket.
If just exploring at random isn’t exciting, sign up for a walking tour. Most cities will offer free walking tours that usually last between 1-3 hours. Not only will you get an insightful introduction to your location but you’ll get in a lot of steps too!
3. Playgrounds and Parks
Check Google Maps for a nearby park and walk over there for your workouts. Many parks have equipment you can use to work out with, though if they don’t you can do pull-ups on swing sets or tree branches. Get creative!
Also, check websites like meetup.com for regular workout groups. Most cities have running clubs that host weekly runs, yoga sessions in the park, tai chi, and other sports/activities. Check around to see if there is anything nearby that piques your interest and will help you stay active.
Don’t be afraid to try new things, either! Plogging (jogging and picking up trash), slacklining, tumbling, parkour — there are tons of unique options to be found if you spend a little time looking.
4. Diet is 80% of the Battle
As a budget traveler, chances are you’re working hard to lower your food budget. That likely means that you’re not eating well. Consider upping your food budget (even slightly) so you can eat healthier.
Get some protein and veggies in your diet! Don’t be afraid to do a healthy “family dinner” with hostel mates where you all split the cost. You can also try changing up your diet to better suit the local options. That way, you’ll be eating more fresh produce while supporting the local economy.
You can also make more drastic changes to your diet as well. It’s never been easier to travel with a plant-based diet and still stay healthy and energetic.
That doesn’t mean you need to cut out all the junk or cheap drinks. But your diet is the most important component when it comes to health and fitness.
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 better than nothing. If you have to eat poorly at the train station, make up for it the next day.
At the end of the day, it’s all about progress. Not perfection. Do your best. Lay the groundwork for better habits. Nothing happens overnight, but every step in the right direction will help you reach your goal.
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.
By employing the “Never 2” rule you’ll be able to prevent bad habits from taking hold. The odd day off or cheat meal? No problem. But when it comes to staying in shape, consistency is key. Try to keep your momentum going. You’ll see results much quicker that way, which will encourage you to stay on track.
7. Have Fun!
Don’t be afraid to have late nights with friends or say yes to crazy adventures. After all, that’s why we travel!
Just make sure you get right back on track as soon as possible afterward so you don’t lose the momentum you’ve built up. While it might seem challenging to balance fun and fitness, it just takes a little practice and effort. Once you get the habit in place, you’ll wonder why you didn’t start sooner!
For more fitness tips and information, check out Nerd Fitness. It’s a great resource for travelers and non-travelers alike who want to get fit and have fun doing so!
Book Your Trip: Logistical Tips and Tricks
Book Your Flight
Find a cheap flight by using Skyscanner. It’s my favorite search engine because it searches websites and airlines around the globe so you always know no stone is being left unturned.
Book Your Accommodation
You can book your hostel with Hostelworld. If you want to stay somewhere other than a hostel, use Booking.com as it consistently returns the cheapest rates for guesthouses and hotels.
Don’t Forget Travel Insurance
Travel insurance will protect you against illness, injury, theft, and cancellations. It’s comprehensive protection in case anything goes wrong. I never go on a trip without it as I’ve had to use it many times in the past. My favorite companies that offer the best service and value are:
- SafetyWing (best for everyone)
- Insure My Trip (for those 70 and over)
- Medjet (for additional evacuation coverage)
Want to Travel for Free?
Travel credit cards allow you to earn points that can be redeemed for free flights and accommodation — all without any extra spending. Check out my guide to picking the right card and my current favorites to get started and see the latest best deals.
Need Help Finding Activities for Your Trip?
Get Your Guide is a huge online marketplace where you can find cool walking tours, fun excursions, skip-the-line tickets, private guides, and more.
Ready to Book Your Trip?
Check out my resource page for the best companies to use when you travel. I list all the ones I use when I travel. They are the best in class and you can’t go wrong using them on your trip.