How to Travel Without Becoming a Slacker

Nov 16, 2012 by

Dont be a slackerI love to travel.

Being able to experience new places, meet new people and learn about different cultures and ways of life is one of the most powerful elements of the human experience for me.

With all that said, traveling frequently (or at all for that matter) can certainly have its down side.

The major problem with traveling is that the break from your day to day routine makes it oh so easy to get derailed from your fitness and training regimen. To make matters worse, the road from here to there and back has the added double whammy of making it seemingly impossible to maintain a normal, healthy diet.

For many years I struggled, in particular with working out. My consistency would be rock solid for 4, 5 or 6 months in the gym, then I'd go on vacation and everything would fall straight to hell. I'd always PLAN to workout while away, I'd always PACK workout clothes and advance scout for a local gym at my destination and so on, but often I would only get it in once or twice - or perhaps not at all, then when I got home it would take a week or three (or sometimes even more, I'm ashamed to admit!) for me to fully get back into the groove of consistency that I had before I left.

These days, its a much different story.

For instance I recently returned from a wonderful trip to Costa Rica with my good friend Sonya Lowery of World Next Door TV and a group of about 25 other world travelers. Despite eating and drinking in a somewhat excessive 'all inclusive vacation mode' for a week, along with a nor'easter induced two days of travel and extended airport stays (both coming and going), I came home at exactly the same weight - and more importantly the same body fat percentage - as when I left.

After arriving back in the 'real world' without skipping a beat in my fitness levels, I had the chance to reflect on some of the best practices that I've developed over the years when it comes to traveling and taking care of these old bones while away from home and I thought some of you just may find my methods useful in your own travels:

1. Make moves, not excuses. The spa and gym at the excellent Hilton Papagayo Resort happened to be closed for renovations during most of our trip; it would have been really easy to say 'ah well, the gym is closed - pass me another drink amigo!'

Fortunately, I've already learned that lesson the hard way so now I know better.

It didn't hurt that my current routine (which I'll soon be sharing fully with you in an eBook that's now in the middle stages of production) uses all body-weight exercises and features brief yet very effective workouts, making it much easier to deal with any sort of fitness road block, whether traveling or not.

All I needed was a floor, some gravity, about 15-20 minutes - and me!

My workouts while away consisted of variations of a few simple movements - squats, pull-ups, push-ups & hill sprints. Generally I'd pick either a push or a pull and couple it with either a squat or a sprint, then perform the exercises back to back in superset fashion with minimal rest in between.

I warm up for about 5 minutes then do about 10-15 minutes of work sets and that's a wrap! Often I'll do a workout like this first thing in the morning and another at some point in the evening, but the key is to set aside at least one period of 15-20 minutes and just get busy with it 5 or 6 days per week.

2. Plan ahead. Airport and airline food might as well be prison slop. You have better luck winning the lottery than trying to find anything healthy to eat at your average highway gas/rest stop. You'd literally be better off to gnaw away on your seat cushion than to eat just about anything they sell in a train station. I could go on and on, the fact is it seems that practically any place which caters food for travelers knows they have a captive audience with few choices, so they want to give you profitable (read that: cheap) food which appeals to your eyes and your nose but definitely not your waistline or your health!

Take a look around at the food options available to you on the road and you'll see that its more or less all processed meats, deep fried foods, processed carbs and sugary drinks. None of the above is healthy and even worse, all of the above are absolute madness for anyone who's trying to lose weight or cut body fat.

And yet - one must eat, right?

The key for me is making smart choices and - since that only gets you so far considering the options that are usually available - packing my own food!

While on the road I will grab any reasonably fresh fruit I see, such as a banana or apple and also some bottled water. Of course if there is any real, unprocessed food like chicken and veggies or perhaps a good salad, I'll happily throw that down my throat instead.

You wont get any of that on a plane, so when I fly I like to pack my own snack. Maybe a couple of hard boiled eggs or a handful of mixed nuts, or maybe some berries and Greek yogurt, etc. 

Tip: if you find yourself on a flight with no snack of your own, always opt for the peanuts instead of the chips or cookies or whatever other junk food they are passing around!

3. Stay active. The reality is, workouts in and of themselves are often not enough, and if you intend to spend a fair amount of vacation or travel time sitting on planes, trains and automobiles, lounging by the pool, tanning on the beach or sitting on a bar stool chipping slowly away at the kid's college fund while making your favorite adult beverages disappear, then you're going to want to increase your general activity level in other ways as much as possible to offset your super sedentary vacation actions.

Traveling actually makes this easier because most major airports these days have a good amount of walking involved in getting from check-in to your gate or during layovers from gate to gate. In my case, its even better because I try not to check anything with the airline and instead carry my gear on my back like some sort of human pack mule.

This allows me to make mini workouts of the trek through airports.

The key, whether you have 40 lbs of gear on your back or not, is to skip the escalators, elevators and people movers and instead take the stairs or walk on your own power everywhere you go. Actually, I take my stairs two at a time, but you should do whatever your current fitness level allows.

What about once you get where you're going? The same principles still apply - keep it movin!

For instance on this trip to Costa Rica there was a beautiful, yet hilly resort to navigate. The Hilton offered a shuttle service to take guests from one area to another, but the farthest distance was never any more than about 1/4 mile through paradise - I figured, why not walk?

So I did.

Every time.

Finally, when on the road or on vacation, no matter how much relaxation time I schedule for myself I always mix in some active events to keep the blood flowing. Water sports, bike tours, a night of dancing, horseback riding and many others are all great examples of fun activities which also keep your body primed for fitness and counterbalance the lazy parts of your vacation nicely!

Hopefully these tips will help you avoid ever being offered a special 'super sized seat belt' on the plane or even having to buy two tickets because one seat just couldn't possibly handle all that extra junk in your trunk - think of all the money you'll save!

You can thank us later...

Our deeds still travel with us from afar, and what we have been, makes us what we are. 

-George Eliot 

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