Fitness is a big part of my life. Not only does it keep me in shape, but I feel great and my mind is a lot sharper (and I need all the help I can get in that department!). Staying fit was one of my biggest concerns about travelling around Europe. Keeping up with the gym and eating healthy isn’t exactly the easiest thing to do while you’re living out of a backpack.
Throughout my travels, however, I’ve picked up a few tips on how to maintain a (pretty much) healthy lifestyle, while still enjoying all that a culture has to offer. And I can attest that at the end of my three-week travels, I felt great, and didn’t have a gut… So there’s always that!
Tip #1 – Make the time
The best thing about backpacking, fitness-wise, is that you’re walking all the time – so it’s nice to think of it as cancelling out a lot of the extravagant eating you’ll be doing while “sampling” a new culture. That’s why when I had downtime I tried to find good toning and strengthening exercises to keep my body from getting too soft.
It really isn’t hard during the afternoons or evenings that you have a few hours to yourself to fit in a quick workout in order to keep your body energized. Searching up a 10/20-minute ab workout on my phone via wifi, then heading back to my hostel room and throwing in a quick workout before I got showered and changed for the night’s activities was an easy way to keep up with some of my usual fitness activities.
Tip #2 – Find a gym
For the exercises/workouts that require equipment, you can’t exactly do these in your room… And I wasn’t really feeling carrying around a couple of weights in my backpack.
Many gyms offer a one-day pass to check out the facilities, and travelling is the perfect time to take advantage of that. It’s a great way to get access to equipment you obviously wouldn’t while on the go, and ultimately keep your muscles and tone from totally disappearing.
During these gym days, I stayed away from cardio – I’d been getting more than enough walking in through my backpacking adventures. So the gym days were mainly aimed at weight lifting, and using the machines to strengthen up and tone.
Tip #3 – Eat healthy
My main concern with eating healthy during my travels was not what I ordered while I was at a restaurant. One of the best parts of travelling is the cuisine – it’s exciting to sample all of the cultural delicacies each country has to offer… You only live once, right?
It was during my before mentioned “down time”, the times I was walking/traveling or resting up in my hostel or grabbing a bite before a night out, that I made sure to choose the healthiest foods I could.
I focused mainly on whole foods during these times – fruits, vegetables, even those pre-made salads you find in grocery stores. Quick, easy to grab-and-go, and inexpensive. It’s important to also grab a source of protein to keep you energized for your long travels. Nuts, trail mix, and even little bags of cheese were saviours for me – once again, very easy to grab on the go.
In the end, it’s not about sacrificing the enjoyment of a new culture in order to stay healthy, but rather just including healthy choices within your travels whenever you can.
Having said that, if given a choice between a boring salad and an exciting exotic dessert – choose the dessert. You can always work it off when you get back home! 😉
Obviously this is not a step-by-step guide, but just a few smart choices to keep in mind. Of course, it’s important to not overdo it! But just keep these tips in mind and, trust me, you’ll feel all the better for it.
Safe (and healthy) travels!