Travel is the only thing you buy that makes you richer. You know the quote – it’s all over the Internet so it must be true! What travel might not always do, however, is make you fitter. All the calories burnt walking around cool, new places will soon be piled on the second you stumble upon that awesome street food market. Or discover the Happy Hour deals at the cool bar around the corner. I love to exercise when travelling but also love to indulge. So here are my 6 easy, cheap ways to keep fit while travelling so you can spend your cash on all the awesome stuff!
1. Free Walking Tours
Guided tours can be a GREAT way to get to know a new place, learn something new about its history and take the stress out of sightseeing. You will never catch me on one of those loop buses though! I find these tours impersonal, rigid and expensive! Before I arrive somewhere, I always make sure to look up free walking tours which are usually run by locals and give you a much more authentic experience. Not to mention some great exercise! Sandemans offer tours in many European cities and are always a great option but, chances are, you can find these in most cities around the world now. While these are free, you should tip your guide if you have enjoyed the tour.
If you are really serious about your fitness, city jogging tours are becoming a thing, too!
Now, I live in London and you couldn’t pay me to cycle here. London streets are scary to drive down, let alone weave in and out of bumper to bumper traffic on two wheels, constantly looking out for buses and angry pedestrians. Cycling is, however, great fun and I love getting on the bike when I am travelling. It’s a unique way of seeing places and lets you cover greater distances than you could on foot. Companies like Grasshopper Adventures offer awesome cycling tours – read about my Hidden Bangkok adventure here – and an active way to explore. Alternatively just hire your own bike and see where you end up! Cycling let you discover new places AND exercise at the same time – what’s not to love?
Oh, and if you are worried about having proper attire, don’t stress! Lycra is definitely not mandatory!
3. Bodyweight Exercises
You definitely can’t go wrong with these. In fact, if you know what you are doing, you don’t even need an expensive gym membership back home. While on the road, though, these can be a great way of keeping fit and staying in shape. Push-ups, pull-ups, burpees, dips…the list goes on but bodyweight exercises should never be overlooked. It can also be quite fun to get creative with your exercises when travelling as you look for places to turn into your gym. I’ve done pull ups on monkey bars in kids’ playgrounds, squatted with my backpack as a makeshift weight and performed dips between two hostel bunk beds. I always explore wherever I am staying to see if there are any workout opportunities. Yes, I have been told I am crazy…
I will post some example workouts in the near future!
4. Resistance Bands
Alongside my passport, camera and travel adaptor, these are an essential piece of kit on all my trips. They are cheap and can be used with a whole range of exercises for a full-body workout. Their versatility never fails to amaze me! They are super portable and, combined with bodyweight exercises, can enhance any workout. You don’t need a lot of space either and I usually exercise with these in the corridors outside any room I am staying in. They come in different levels of resistance too so you can pick ones that suit your strength and fitness needs.
This might seem an obvious option but I’ve met a lot of people who would shy away from jogging in an unfamiliar place, for fear of getting lost. However, I love getting outside and going for a run around the local area. This will help you familiarise yourself with your surroundings and spot sights, cool bars or restaurants that you could try and find later. It’s also a great way of blending in with the locals – tourists don’t often go for jogs! In some places, you can also avoid being hassled as it’s unlikely anyone would try and stop you to entice you to enter their restaurant or buy something from their shop.
You can download a fitness app and track your runs too – you could even get offline maps so you wouldn’t get lost while out on your run. And above all, running is great, free exercise!
Ok, so this is not always a) easy or b) cheap. Most gyms you come across will have a day pass option – which can range from just a couple of dollars to an amount that could pay for your accommodation for a week (I’ve come across both). The most I will consider paying is around £10 ($14-15) – but that is only if I haven’t worked out in a while.
A few tips: head to reception and say you are moving to the area – for work or study for example – and say you want to try the gym out. You will usually get a great rate for a multi-day pass or even a free workout! This worked in New York – I only paid around $10 for a 3 day pass!
Check terms of your gym membership back home! I am with Virgin Active and their memberships are valid worldwide! On my trip to Thailand this year, I used the local VA multiple times, not missing a single workout in the process!
If you want the cheapest option, head where the locals go! There will usually be small, independent gyms in most places. I have a fond memory of working out in a tiny gym with smoke-stained walls and rundown equipment in Miri, Borneo, chatting to friendly locals in between sets.
Hopefully these tips will come in useful next time you are looking for a way to burn off all that amazing food that you’ve travelled halfway across the world to taste! Let me know if I’ve missed anything out!