Having a training and eating plan is all well and good, but travel often ruins all plans. You no longer have a set routine every day that makes it easy to follow a preset plan. Traveling stops all routine and makes it difficult to continue with your goals. Learning to train and travel is tough. All the planning and preparation can go out the window.
How do you ensure that you stick with your plans even when you are traveling? There are some simple ways to ensure that your plans don’t fall by the wayside just because you are spending a week lounging on a beach in Bali.
Don’t Forget Your Goals
First and foremost it goes back to your goals. If you have serious goals that do not allow for any deviation, then you will have to remain strict even when traveling. However, if you are just trying to remain fit than training and traveling are not that important. By determining how much time you want to dedicate to training while traveling, you can enter with the proper mindset.The proper mindset allows you to train and travel with ease.
The length of travel is the next biggest factor. If you are going to be traveling for a month vs. a week, your approach to training will be very different. Even someone who wants to remain fit will have to stick to their nutrition and training if they are gone for a month. You don’t want to be the person who comes back from traveling and has to start all over again!
The hardest part about training and eating right on the road is that everything is new. You can’t fall into a routine ever day when you are waking up in a new location. Travel time and social interactions can highly limit the time you have to train. Eating right is tough when there is so much new and interesting food to try. How can you possibly keep a routine when there are so many new variables?
Italy – NOT doing training and travel right! More on this later.
The key is making a routine your only non-variable. This routine does not even have to be complicated. It could be that you will do high-intensity interval training (HIIT) every 2 days for 20 minutes. HIIT is the best bang for your buck since it burns the most calories while adding strength efficiently. This leaves more time to enjoy the new location you are in. Make it simple since you will likely not have access to a gym. You can maintain and build fitness easily with just your body weight.
HIIT = Quick Results and Quick Workouts
A simple HIIT workout to do is a 20-minute session where you rest when you need to for however long you need to. You do each exercise back to back until you need to rest. Rest for as long as you need before you keep going. Non-preset rest periods will keep you motivated to do the next workout. Repeat the round of exercises until you reach 20 minutes. Check out my post on strength training HIIT workouts that burn fat while being super-efficient (coming soon).
HIIT can also be used as speed work while traveling. These workouts are also quick and will often enhance abilities more than endurance training. A great and easy way to do this while traveling is sprints. You can sprint on a treadmill or outside. Sprinting at full effort gives the most bang for your buck in calories burned, and fitness added! Sprint for 1 to 2 minutes, rest and continue.
Remember not to combine too many HIIT workouts into a few days. They can be intensive. Your body needs time to recover especially when doing sprints (limit to 3 days a week at most). HIIT strength workouts can be done every other day depending on intensity. Listen to your body!
If you need to maintain your fitness when it comes to cardio (you’re training for a big race), then you either need to plan your training around the time you are away or add in the necessary training time while traveling. This will vary depending on the travel type, time, and goals you have.
You can work your training plan around a short vacation by making it an off week. Use this week to recover from higher efforts the week before. Make sure you do enough to maintain your fitness levels so they don’t deteriorate and you can hit the ground running (so to speak) when you get back.
Training as a FUN Part of Travel
If you are traveling for a long time or simply cannot afford to take an off week, you should find a way to schedule in training. I find the best way to do this is to work training into your travel. Instead of taking a car tour, why not rent a bike and explore the region. Get out into the city and explore while running. You can find out so much more about a place by exploring it on a bike or on foot. Make your plans around these activities! Train and Travel!!
You can also make your vacation a training trip in itself. Some of the best trips I’ve had have been biking tours or hiking trips. I find that I can connect with locals much more and explore larger areas. These kinds of trips have been some of my favorite.
Biking around Block Island, RI.
It is all well and good to get your training right on the road, but poor nutrition can ruin it all. Eating well while traveling is one of the hardest things to do even for me. During one of my first international trips, I went to Italy and enjoyed eating immensely (after all it was Italy). I even ran a little, but I still managed to come back home 10 lbs. heavier with heavily declined fitness.
For every meal, I was basically eating whatever I wanted so that I could “absorb the culture.” Sometimes this felt great, but was it really worth it? To me, it wasn’t, and since then I have been a lot more careful with food while traveling. However, I still enjoy the local cuisine. Just like anything it is all about balance.
The best way to combat poor nutrition while traveling is never to string together two “bad” meals in a row. Most people know what is good and bad for them. Stringing together the “bad” meals can create a cascade effect where the whole trip turns into poor nutrition.
Eat Better and FEEL Better
I follow the simple principle of eating well for at least 2 meals per day. Often this is breakfast and lunch since I enjoy having a larger dinner most days. I obviously won’t have a bad meal on purpose during these dinners, but it often happens. Start out with the 2 for 1 approach and adjust as you see fit.
If you are not really exercising besides a bit of walking on the trip, it is best to avoid starches in your two healthy meals. You will likely have a lot more at dinner, and you can enjoy them guilt free. Be sure to eat as many veggies as you can in these two meals (at least half your plate)!
Eating in Vietnam
Don’t let that one unhealthy meal bring down the rest of your trip either. Enjoy it and don’t worry so much! Traveling is about enjoying the local cuisine even if that means straying from your diet a little bit. Just remember to try to keep the majority of your meals healthy.
You can also hack your mentality by having a healthy meal first thing in the morning. This primes your thinking for the rest of the day. You will be more inclined to eat healthy when you start healthy. A great way I found to do this is to bring some veggie powder on the trip with you. Have a glass of water and the veggie powder right when you wake up!
Training, eating, and traveling is hard. However, with the right approach, you can make them fit together seamlessly. Try these steps to get your travel training game on point, so you feel better off than when you left:
- Figure out your goals for training (how much do you need to keep up with it)
- Plan for how long you will be traveling (more travel = more need to train)
- Create a routine that is the one non-variable for traveling
- Work in some HIIT for quick and efficient training
- Make your trip about training
- Have at least 2 healthy meals per day and don’t string together bad meals
- Start out your day with a healthy meal to hack your mindset
The most important thing to remember when traveling is to enjoy it. It is a luxury that a lot of people don’t have. Make sure you can take in the sights and food! Just don’t forget about your training goals. Learning to train and travel can make you a super hero on the road!
What do you find to be the most difficult parts of integrating fitness and travel? What are some ways that you have success training and traveling? As always let me know if you have any questions.