How To Stay In Shape While Travelling
By Charlotte Griffiths
Travelling for many girls is about doing something different. This could mean sunbathing on the white sandy beaches of the Whitsunday islands, swimming in the bath-like temperatures of the Indian Ocean, getting lost in Borneo’s orang-utan filled rainforests, or even Tokyo’s intricate subway system. Needless to say, it can be hard to find the time inbetween all of these wonderful options to practise healthy routines.
But for many Globelle gals out there, working out and keeping fit is a regular part of home life that they don't want to compromise. Just because you’ve cancelled your gym membership, it doesn’t mean you need to say goodbye to all of your hard work to stay in shape and feel healthy whilst seeing what our world has to offer. As always, this comes down to two things; eating habits and exercise.
Travel and healthy eating aren’t words that are often associated with each other. When on vacation, we treat ourselves to luxuries and splurge in areas that we normally wouldn’t, in order to make the most of the time off that we have earned.
Furthermore, food plays a great role in every country's culture. When travelling and exploring new lands; it is more than tempting to indulge in the opportunity to try new and unusual dishes whenever possible. Who would turn down that second lunch when it has the capacity to send our tastebuds into overdrive with exotic flavours?
But what happens when your travels extend past the period that we tend to make our splurges justifiable for? When the thrill of discovering the taste of that extra side dish has us loosening our waist belts a little more than we would like?
The convenience of fast food, instant meals and unhealthy snacks mean that many of us conform to the common “traveller’s diet”. When cutting back on costs, travellers on a budget may sacrifice proteins and vitamins for cheaper carbohydrate packed products, which is where an unhealthy diet and consequential weight gain often starts.
Fresh foods have a reputation for being expensive in Western countries and are therefore one of the first on the food list to be axed by many travellers unnecessarily. Asian, South American, and African countries offer a huge variety of fresh food at local markets and pop-up street-stalls at a reasonably low cost, which is well worth taking advantage of. From fruits, to meats, to spices; there is often plenty of fresh food at your disposal to choose from that will not contain the damaging additives that would otherwise add weight to our thighs and waists.
If you’re staying in the same location for a few days or weeks at a time, frozen fruit and veg is the next best alternative to ensure that you’re consuming the good stuff. It is easy to ration portions with, as you only need to use from the packet what you need in that sitting before returning the rest to the freezer. This avoids food waste – and more importantly – money waste!
Meat is another high expense on the food list, but eating processed meat is certainly a fast way to fall out of shape if resorted to at meal times regularly. Fish is often cheaper than meat and a great source of protein as an alternative.
If like me you’re a notorious snacker, then it’s honestly not a bad thing to treat and reward yourself, just remember that it isn’t going to curb your hunger or do you any favours if you overindulge! If you’re going to cave in, try dark chocolate with high cocoa content, or rice crackers instead of crisps to avoid the naughty additives and manufactured flavours. Quick fixes like those that crisps offer die hard, which is why it is better to eat frequently, in smaller amounts.
If you’re out on an excursion, some forward planning will go a long way; so pack some nuts, a yogurt, or some rice crackers to dip in to throughout the day until you’re able to cook yourself a meal back at your accommodation. (HQ: If you find yourself in a warmer climate, when planning snacks consider whether or not your chosen will survive the journey, that chocolate bar you might have been planning to help you celebrate the end of a hike? Not so nice in liquid form, all over your adventuring supplies)
If you find yourself travelling alone or in a small group, it is often well worth teaming up with fellow travellers to eat out. This is especially true when you do find yourself somewhere with a variety of dishes you love to sample, but aren’t looking for a heavy meal. Sharing dishes is not only a great way to build connections with fellow travellers, but also gives you the chance to sample more local cuisine in one sitting. It often works out cheaper too!
Alcohol can be your best friend followed by your worst enemy. We all know what it's like on a hot day when all you can think of is a nice cold beer or a fruity cocktail to cool off and relax with friends. Unfortunately, it's these very drinks that all too often un-do our hard work in keeping fit and lean.
Highly calorific, alcoholic drinks can lead to a bulging belly and a license to over-indulge at the end of the night or following day when we are feeling worse for wear. We all know how great that cheeseburger and fries tasted during our moment of weakness, or at least we would if we could remember it through our fuzzy recollections of the evening. It's important to watch your intake of alcohol for many health-related reasons but especially when trying to stay in shape whilst on the move!
Lots of travellers see much of their chosen destinations on foot, and this is a great way to start; not only is it the best way to see the sights, discover hidden gems, and save money on local transport, but it is also an effective method of low-intensity cardio which can help you burn calories.
It is necessary to note that low intensity cardio is performed at 40-60 per cent of your heart and therefore translates closer to a speed walk, but it is a simple calorie-combating tool that you can use every day whilst exploring foreign lands. An added bonus of low-intensity cardio exercise is that it can curb your appetite which is great for surpassing those urges for fast food or snacks that we have all fallen victim to at one time or another during our travels!
One of the greatest benefits we experience when we travel far out of our comfort zones and come across land unfamiliar, is the amount of beautiful open space and landscape that surrounds many towns, cities and corners of the world. With limited backpack space, it is unlikely that you have been able to bring with you a set of dumbbells, jump rope, or medicine ball.
Simple equipment-free bodyweight exercises are fantastic for keeping in shape and really burning off that bag of goon and super-value noodles that you digested last night in the hostel. High intensity training methods such as circuits are an ideal way to utilise 30 minutes of free time, especially useful when faced with a jampacked itinerary.
Performing an assortment of exercises into a circuit routine that works both cardio and muscle strength, combined with limited rest time in between, is the right way to speed up your metabolism, tone muscles, and keep fit. Whether it’s by the beach, at a botanical garden, up in the mountains, or even in your hostel dorm (space and room-mates dependent!!), it’s a super easy way to maintain or improve your shape; and a GREAT way to see more of the local area.
Yoga, and other similar practices, combine breathing techniques with flexibility and strength in order to optimise physical and mental well-being. Practicing yoga can bring dozens of health benefits, but most notable for us girls on our travels, there are two key benefits.
Firstly, coupling yoga with a healthy diet (as mentioned above) may improve our digestive system which in turn can relieve constipation, irritable bowl syndrome and acid reflux; common yucky problems that NONE of us want to face, but unfortunately do tend to run in to on our travels.
The other key benefit that performing yoga on our travels can provide us with is giving our bodies a longer, more lean appearance as a result of all that stretching and holding of postures and positions which lengthens muscles. Yoga requires even less space than circuit training so really can be performed anywhere you can think of on your travels (except Asian overnight-sleeper trains perhaps).
Keeping an eye out for free fitness classes advertised on local and hostel notice boards; many beach towns and cities notorious for drawing in fitness fanatics such as Sydney and the Gold Coast in Australia will often hold free taster sessions where you can work out and possibly meet other travellers with your same interest.
Being happy with our body shape is tough at the best of times, let alone when your schedule is anything but regular and you're constantly tight for cash. It's not easy, but if you're serious about conquering the vacation-weight-demons, then the above tips may help you stay in shape whilst also enabling you to see more of the great outdoors whilst the rest of your friends spend the afternoon sleeping off the jugs of beer from the night before. So don't leave those sweat pants behind, get out there and show the world what you're made of!
UK | 23 | Currently Exploring Christchurch, New Zealand | https://instagram.com/charlottelgriffiths