Can you really backpack and stay fit?
Back at home, I have my regular routine to keep my fitness levels up, typically gyms and dance classes.
Although I love my travel time, I do always wonder how I can backpack and stay fit. I don’t want to undo all the hard work I’ve done back home. So travel fitness is something I always take seriously.
There are tons of things you can do to keep fit while you travel and you don’t even need to step anywhere near to a gym.
The easiest way is to make fitness part of your everyday life while experiencing the country you are in.
These are my top 11 ways that I keep fit while travelling proving that it’s super simple to backpack and stay fit. Say bye-bye to the backpacker’s belly and hello to toned abs and lean legs.
11 SIMPLES WAYS TO TRAVEL AND KEEP FIT
1. Make walking your favourite mode of transport.
There’s no better way to get a feel for somewhere new than exporing by foot! Most hostels will have some sort of map of the local area. Choose some of the top spots, put on a pair of comfy shoes and head out. Or if you’re feeling energetic, jog a route early in the day before it gets busy,
Going by foot means you’ll be going at a slower pace than other tourists taking taxis or buses. This means you’ll have loads more opportunities to mingle and meet locals, get to see some of the more off-the-beaten-track, less crowded places and often a load of awesome photo spots that people travelling quicker will have missed.
If you’re a bit worried about going alone then don’t panic! Lots of cities offer free walking tours as well as paid-for themed tours. Check out the local tourist information centre or ask at your hostel. Sign up, turn up and get walking! meeting like-minded people along the way.
2. Attend a yoga class
The perfect way to embrace the culture AND backpack and stay fit at the same time, particularly if you are in Asia. Most likely you’ll not have to search far to find any style of yoga.
Drop-in style classes as well as full on yoga-retreats for 1, 2, 3 or more weeks of yoga are in abundance and a super easy (and relaxing) way to keep fit and backpack. Some of the more popular classes you do need to book in advance, others just pay on the door. In terms of money, they range from being free (donation based) provided by local hostels to pricier 5* Yoga retreat centres and of course everything in-between.
3. Get your groove on and hit the dance floor.
Probably one of THE most fun ways to keep fit and backpack and amazing for cardio fitness; dancing! If you happen to be in a Latin country then you won’t have to look too hard to find a local salsa venue; quite often you will hear it before you see it!
One sure thing is that the Latinos love to dance, love to party and are always welcoming to newcomers. If you’re not sure how to dance you can often book classes during the daytime; Salsa lessons were in abundance in Cuba!
The best way to find out where dancing is happening is by looking out for posters in the street, town-halls and asking your hostel. .
All that hip action and fancy footwork will definitely get the pulse racing! Or if you are feeling super ambitious, you could also try a pole dance retreat.
4. Take a hike!
Most countries offer fabulous hiking or treking opportunities. Two of the craziest and most memorable hikes I’ve done were up a volcano to toast marshmallows, and up Croatias most iconic and instagrammable rock!
Important Note: Follow local recommendations for hiking, sometimes you have to go with a guide. Make sure you have suitable footwear and other gear before heading out. If you do decide to hike solo, it’s also a good idea to tell your hostel where you are going, a loose itinerary and when you will be back.
5. Run on the beach
Another freebee way to backpack and stay fit is to go running. Quite often if you are near the beach or waterfront there will be a promenade or boardwalk to run and jog along.
Unless you are in a cool climate, running is best done very early in the morning or in the late afternoon to avoid the full force of the sun.
If you’re up for the challenge then run on the beach for the added resistance of the sand, although try and aim for where the sand is slightly damp. I have seen people running barefoot along the beach but just be really careful of sharp rocks, shells and litter. A lightweight pair of canvas shoes are a good alternative to full on chunky running shoes.
6. Go for a swim
As a bit of a water baby, swimming is my ultimate favourite cost-free way to backpack and stay fit. Easy on the pocket and an all over workout , swimming opportunities are always high on my agenda when I’m travelling.
I absolutely love being in the water. This can be (in some cases) the hostel pool, rivers with waterfalls, natural pools, or in the sea.
If you choose to swim in the sea make sure you look out for the safety flags and swim within the recommended areas. The same goes for deep rivers and waterfalls.
Read the safety notices to find out where is safe to swim and what the dangers are. If in doubt, ask the locals.
7. Do an online workout
If you are into your gyms in a big way, then doing your own little workout session will be perfect. HIIT, Tabatas, Circuits or Bodyweight workout can be done pretty much anywhere (if you don’t mind the funny looks!)
Most hostels have a communal area, a large foyer, outdoor space or if you’re lucky; space in your room, failing that a local park.
If you are stuck for inspiration, then there are lots of workouts online that don’t need equipment.
Squats, jumping jacks, burpees, press ups, planks, lunges and sit-ups all give a decent strengthening and cardio workout. If you want to up it a level, one simple piece of equipment to travel and train with is a skipping rope.
8. Try out watersports
I’m talking body-board, kayaking, paddle-board and surfing. All are fabulous for an all over body work out.
Depending on the location, an hour of body-board hire can cost as little as $5.
Surfing can vary in price, but for a total beginner I’d recommend getting at least a taster session. You can often find a local on the beach who will hire you a board and take you through some basics (anywhere from about $10 equivalent upwards) Or a book on to a beginner course at a surf school.
9. Or hit the rocks!
For a decent all over workout, things like Caving, Climbing, Abseiling and Canyoning all rank pretty high on ways to keep fit and backpack.
Word of warning, some of these aren’t for the faint hearted especially if you’re not keen on heights or enclosed spaces.
They can tend to cost a bit more that other activities but, if you’re a bit of an adrenaline junkie this is a perfect way to backpack and stay fit. Check out this epic trip I did in an underwater cave.
Important: Make sure you book any of these sports with a reputable company and don’t forget to check that your travel insurance fully covers you IF you have an accident.
The company should have up-to-date health and safety certificates, first aiders and insurance. A good indication of how legit the company is will be the organisation of it ( eg. do they give a safety briefing, is there someone who speaks good English, do they get you to fill out a disclaimer form and sign a terms and conditions notice).
Remember to check the quality of all the equipment you will be using and of course read reviews from previous customers experience.
10. Take a plunge into the deep!
Another activity up there with ‘my favourite ways to keep fit while backpacking’ is diving. There are snorkelling and diving opportunities all over the World, from beautiful exotic tropical waters, such as the Great Blue Hole to the freeze-your-tits-off Silfra dive in Iceland!
Snorkelling can cost next to nothing, especially if you have your own mask, snorkel and fins and it can be done offshore so no need to catch a boat. Scuba diving, on the other hand is a lot more expensive BUT the added bonus is that you actually to see a lot more stuff.
There are a load of different dive options, if you’ve never done Scuba before then I recommend a Try-Dive session before forking out a big wadge of cash to train as an Open Water Diver.
11. Get yourself some wheels.
Hiring a bike can be a handy way to get around a city if it’s a bit too large or spread out to walk. If you’re staying in a cycle-friendly area, then hostels often have the option of hiring bikes.
Cycling can be super cheap (especially if hired from the hostel). One word of warning from my experience of hire bikes (Cuba and Swaziland, I’m talking to you!). The calibre of bike you get usually aren’t exactly up to British Standards. Be prepared for gears that don’t work, shoddy breaks and chains that fall off – its all part of the adventure!
So YES! you can stay backpack and stay fit
With so many awesome and easy ways to stay fit while you’re travelling there,s no excuse to getting that dreaded ‘backpacker belly’.
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There are loads more ways to keep fit and not set foot in a gym while travelling. How do you keep fit while travelling? I’d love to hear from you.