A few weeks ago I wrote a post that basically summarised how my training was going 6-weeks into a backpacking trip around Asia. Unsurprisingly, I’d found that it can get really difficult to establish a good fitness routine when you don’t even know what country you’re going to be in in two days time- let alone what gym facilities you’ll have access too!
Towards the beginning I was much more concerned with finding ‘cool’ places to work out, whether that meant doing a hiit session on the beach or trekking up a mountain at 3am! But it didn’t take me long to figure out that actually it’s much easier (and not that much more expensive) just to research a local gym and pop along if and when you have the time.
Now that we’re settled in Sydney, I’ve had a chance to a) get my routine back and b) reflect a bit more on how to go about keeping up your fitness habits when you’re away from home for a long period of time.
So if you’re thinking of escaping the cold weather and going on a backpacking adventure this holiday season, have a quick look at my do’s and don’ts for keeping fit whilst travelling.
DON’T: take equipment that you’re not going to use. I know you have the best intentions with the resistance bands, slider pads and whatever else you may have stuffed inside your bag- but be honest with yourself. If you’re only going to use it a couple of times (if at all!) is it really worth the extra weight that you’ll be carrying around everywhere, potentially for weeks or even months? There’s a lot you can do with just your bodyweight, so don’t panic about bringing all that extra stuff if you think it won’t make it out the suitcase.
DO: take the time to plan your session. No one wants to waste time when working out, least of all when you’re in a new and exciting country that you want to go and explore. It’s worth taking that 5 minutes to plan your session. What exercises? How many sets? How long for? How many repetitions? This is particularly important for High Intensity Interval training. HiiT sessions are all about the timings and you don’t want to over-extend your rest periods because you’re too busy wondering whether to do burpees or squat jumps next.
DON’T: pay extra for a hotel with a gym! Seriously though. It’s just not worth it. Tom and I encountered this dilemma so many times when we were travelling about, wondering whether to fork out that extra cash because this hotel had a gym and that one didn’t. As convenient as it sounds, more often than not the facilities are terrible. Unless you’re loaded and are staying at some 6 star dream resort. Which we most definitely were not!
DO: do your research. Instead of paying extra for a shitty little gym, do a quick google maps search for local gyms. Nearly everywhere that we went Tom and I were able to find a decent gym within walking distance – usually for about £1 for a day’s entry. It meant that we could get some heavy lifting done with good equipment, air conditioning and often a nice swimming pool to boot!
DON’T: underestimate the heat. Obviously this is dependant on where you’re actually travelling, but if you ARE heading some place hot then make sure you never take the sun for granted! It takes a while for the body to acclimatise to different temperatures so you may find that you feel weaker and fatigue more quickly than at home. I know I did! It can be very frustrating and de-motivating but just make sure to take the time to let your body settle in to its new surroundings.
DO: drink plenty of water. Wear a sunhat. And suncream. Get a good amount of rest- and did I mention? DRINK PLENTY OF WATER.
DON’T: assume that it’s culturally acceptable to work out in public spaces. Something that you wouldn’t necessarily think about – but I met someone just last week who said that she tried to go out for a run whilst in Cambodia, but couldn’t make it as far as 5m down the road without motorbikes beeping and people physically trying to stop her. Remember that values and beliefs may be different to those of your home town, so be respectful in what you’re doing or what you’re wearing.
DO: make the most of any random activities on offer. This is a great way to experience the culture of a country at the same time as doing something fun AND keeping fit. A Muay Thai class in Thailand. Sea Kayaking in Vietnam. Trekking, paddle-boarding, swimming, yoga. Travelling is all about new experiences- so why not?
DON’T: feel guilty for not working out. It’s not the be all and end all, especially when it’s only for a limited period of time. Equally, don’t feel guilty for working out or going to the gym. Sometimes when you’re travelling in a new place you feel obliged to go out and do the tourist thing 24/7 when actually what you really want is a slice of routine, and normality.
DO: go hard or go home. If you do decide to peel yourself away from the beach and head to your gym of choice – make the most of it. You might not know where you’ll be the next week, or even the next day. So if the mood strikes and you want to have a sweaty workout session then you may as well do it- and do it well.