easy-to-pack workout travel essentials

postmod Travels : 5 Ways to Sneak In Exercise on Vacation

Cecilia Escobar-O’Dell

The first secret -- spoiler alert: it's actually pretty obvious -- to getting active on a vacation is always to bring a pair of workout shoes and clothes.  You never know when the opportunity will present itself and you want to be prepared if you're going to jump on it.


1.  Running (or jogging) is the easiest and most accessible form of exercise.  Running is not only a way to work out but also a way to see the place you are visiting from a new perspective.  I have found some of my favorite shops and restaurants while on a morning run.  If you are staying at hotel, ask the concierge if there are any running trails nearby, or if he/she can suggest a (safe) route.  Some hotels have already mapped out running routes and have the maps available right at the front desk.


2.  Tabata.  With sightseeing and other activities planned throughout the day, it might be hard to set some time apart to get to the gym or go out for run.  On these days a few rounds of Tabata can give you some much-needed adrenaline and energy.  Tabata is a short, high-intensity workout that requires you push yourself as hard as you can for 20 seconds and rest for 10 seconds until you complete 8 rounds, for a total of four minutes (you can do anything for four minutes, right?).  How you push yourself is up to you: just choose something you're comfortable with -- squats, push-ups, lunges, jumping jacks, etc., or a combination.  If you're super-pressed, just one four minute tabata will wake you up, but you can do a series of them (16 minutes, anyone?) if you have more time.  


3. Jump Rope.  I always pack one of these babies!  Jumping rope is an all-body exercise and it can be high- or low-intensity.  You can jump rope as a warm up or you can include it in your workout.  Try this: jump rope for 60 seconds, rest for 30 seconds, and repeat five times. Note to our mamas: Childbirth can leave our pelvic wall muscles quite sensitive to movements such as jumping jacks and jumping rope.  If that is the case, try working your way up once you are ready.


4. Resistance Band.  This is another must-pack; like the jump rope, it's light and cheap.  I pull mine out to work out when the rest of the family is sleeping or even when we are watching TV.  The bands are great for increasing the resistance of exercises such as squats, push ups, deadlifts, leg lifts, and so on.


5. Play!  Since our daughter was born, I feel as if I am always in search of the nearest playground when traveling.  Playgrounds can be a great place to keep the kids and yourself active.  Imagine your kids’ glee at seeing mom doing the monkey bars or chasing around in a game of tag.  Playground equipment can used for horizontal pull-ups or elevated push-ups; you can use park benches to do step-ups, push-ups and triceps dips. Also the bouncy ground is great for a few walking lunges.


Of course, sometimes the simplest route is just the hotel gym.  Many hotels are stepping up their game in this area lately: as you plan your trip, you might want to explore special complimentary amenities.  A partial list to get you started (check location for availability):  The Kimpton Hotels offer complimentary yoga mats and have partnered up with PUBLIC bikes to offer free bike rides. At the Westin Hotels you can get resistance bands, yoga mats, or even a treadmill in your room.  Talk to the concierge for a running map and you may find that the hotel has organized scheduled group runs.

And did you forget those workout clothes after all?  Rent them for $5.00.

Wishing you healthy, happy summer travels, mamas!  Keep moving!


FitBit / Resistance Strap / Jump Rope / Black top / Pants / Shorts / Shoes
Graphic by Cori Magee


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