When you’re travelling, all the trappings of home seem far away, writes Kate Gibbs. Cue swapping that daily morning yoga session for a cocktail by the pool, and pounding the pavement in heels armed with a credit card instead of that regular healthy run.
I for one used to replace my evening Pilates class for a chance to max out the room service. But fitness doesn’t have to be one of those things you forego when you cart your suitcase to the waiting cab.
In fact, making fitness a priority when you travel not only gives you the ultimate post-holiday glow, but people who exercise when they travel have more fun.
If our jet-setting friends’ Instagram photos of a recent trip to the Maldives wasn’t enough, now there’s another reason to pack your bags and get out of town. Travel can completely overhaul your fitness regime and instil new healthy exercise habits for the rest of your life, no matter where in the world you are.
So here are some simple ways to transform your regular travel routine into a fun, fitness holiday.
1. Check out a destination's fitness potential
In fact, fitness potential is taking priority over destination for many, who take a week off to overhaul a sluggish exercise regime – newly defined abs are the latest must-have souvenir.
Gone are the days when savvy travellers would return to show off their tan lines. Drunken beach parties and a hangover are the last things on a growing number of people’s minds. More of us want fitness adventures, where the cultural sights are chased by one-hundred sit-ups and a run on the beach.
2. Exercise upon arrival
Many studies have highlighted the effects of exercise on jet lag. Those who exercise upon arrival to the destination recover from jet lag 50 percent faster.
Exposure to natural light also helps the body adjust to its new time zone. Dive into the pool or into your running shoes instead of that fluffy hotel bed for a nap.
3. Find the gym, immediately
Making health number one doesn’t mean you have to forgo relaxing and a little indulgence altogether, and a few healthy tweaks are all it takes to make a big difference. After all, less time spent sitting at your desk or arched over a screen means more time for activity.
Book into a hotel that has a gym. Make finding that gym a priority on arrival. If you procrastinate on your first workout session, you’re more likely to procrastinate during the whole holiday.
Get it out of the way within the first couple of hours of arrival, while your travel companions check out the mini bar and unpack, and start your holiday on a very high note.
If you’re anything like me, I promise I’ll do an hour’s exercise every day while I’m away, spend the entire trip saying I’m doing it later each day, and return home just a little bit heavier than when I left.
Getting into it upon arrival breaks that procrastination immediately, and sets you up with great holiday habits (that will hopefully hang around when you get home).
4. Embrace the service and facilities
A growing number of hotel groups are ushering in a new age of healthy travel. They swap out mini-bars stocked with candy and booze with water and healthy snacks, but also offer spa and gym extras such as run clubs, meditation and mindfulness programs, one-on-one and in-room yoga, bike rental and even plant-based menus with room service for late night snacking emergencies.
Because health for the mind is also important, some hotels offer adult colouring books and other stress-reduction tricks.
A few hotel rooms even offer some exercise potential themselves, for those trips when fitness won’t fit in the schedule. Think crunches at the end of the bed, lunges down the corridors and ab curls beside the mini bar.
5. Active adventures
For serious runners, travel is a way to up the game. The 26.2-mile run that is a marathon seems perhaps a little less painful when it’s down the streets of Paris or in the Napa Valley.
Thousands of runners pack their bags each year to undertake marathons in other cities, taking fitness travel to a whole new level. Paris, London, Boston, Sydney, they all offer new scenery to inspire some radical pre-travel fitness training.
If marathons aren't your thing, forgo the air conditioned gym and enquire about local yoga studios, a nearby hike and good running tracks. Or simply go for a very fast-paced walk or run on the beach.
6. Run, ride, walk
There’s nothing like yoga on the beach in the morning, but if you want to take health travel to the next level, runners and cyclists make more adventurous travellers. Downward dog by the pool is well and good, but heading out of the hotel allows the runners and cyclists to see more.
Donning your running shoes or a bike, you have access to areas that are off-limits to cars, and you’re more likely to access off-the-beaten-track destinations such as beaches, forests, the edge of a cliff overlooking the sea.
Exercise gets you out there in a way even the best-intentioned itinerary will never be able to.
Been bitten by the travel bug? Why not make it a career? Research a career in Tourism, Travel and Hospitality here.
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