No One Said It Would Be Easy…
While a handful of individuals may find it easy to squeeze in a few workouts while they are on holidays, for the rest of us it can be a rather challenging task. This is because exercise can feel a lot like work, and the last thing we want to do while taking time off from the weekly grind is more work. However, it is important that we don’t completely neglect our physical health in this setting, especially during extended holidays or if you are currently undergoing rehabilitation. Fortunately, I have some suggestions from personal experience that may help you prepare for your trip and find some success while you are away; I will break these into four points:
1) What Is the Nature of Your Holiday?
The first step in maintaining a fitness routine on holidays is establishing what type of holiday you are taking. This will give us a better idea of what type of fitness equipment you we readily have at your disposal, and what you may need to bring. We can separate holidays up into three different types:
- Staycation: If you are having a “staycation,” where you are taking time off work to relax in the comfort of your home, then this part will be easy! You can simply head to the nearest gym or use whatever equipment you already have at home. All you need now is to find the motivation to exercise!
- Vacation: I’ll define a vacation as a relaxing getaway; you are leaving the comfort of your own home to escape to the comfort of another place. For example, this could be the home of a family member or close friend, or even a resort in Mexico. In these situations, you may have access to a gym or someone else’s fitness equipment, but you will also likely need to bring a couple things of your own. It will probably be harder than a staycation to find the motivation to deliberately exercise, but it shouldn’t be too much harder to find the time.
- Travelling: I’ll define travelling as an adventurous holiday; you are going somewhere to explore and will be on the move more than you will be relaxing. Examples of this include the following: backpacking through several countries in Europe, biking around Iceland, or hitchhiking and couchsurfing around South America. This is the most difficult type of holiday to find time to go through an exercise routine (though you are likely getting some exercise in from the nature of the trip itself). You will have to find alternative ways to perform exercises, as you won’t have access to much workout equipment.
2) What Fitness Equipment Should You Bring?
Obviously this won’t apply to staycations, but for the other two types of holidays there is only so much fitness equipment you can fit into your luggage.
One of the lightest and most versatile items is a resistance band (or a series of them with varying levels of resistance). Resistance bands are essentially weightless and take up negligible amounts of space in your luggage, and they provide an endless amount of ways to challenge your body. This is an absolute must-carry for your holidays!
It’s also useful to carry something that you can use for self-myofascial release (i.e. self-massage). A foam roller would be far too large, but a small ball (tennis, lacrosse, RAD, etc.) and/or a hand-held massage stick are relatively compact options. However, if you had to choose between resistance bands or a self-massage option, the bands are far more valuable.
Last on the list is a fitness program – you need to have an idea of what exercises you are going to be doing before you leave for your trip. If you are currently undergoing rehabilitation or personal training you should request a routine that you can easily complete while you are away. A fitness program that utilizes bodyweight, cardiovascular training, and resistance bands would be a good start! However, if you are on your own and have no fitness professional to seek advice from, you could always search up some exercises and stretches online, or purchase a reliable fitness training book to take with you!
3) Finding the Time and Motivation to Exercise While on Holidays
The final step is actually setting time aside and motivating yourself to complete the exercises.
Finding time is the easier part – no matter how busy and intense your trip is, you will have at least a few minutes to spare to exercise. I would recommend doing them either first thing in the morning, or at the end of the day before you “unwind.” Of course, if you have a day where there is a big gap of nothing at some point, you could easily complete them then instead!
Finding motivation is the harder part – just remember that you got where you are now by putting in time and effort. There’s no sense taking two steps forward and one step backwards by completely abandoning your fitness program now. Enjoy your vacation, and even decrease the frequency and intensity of exercise, but work enough to maintain the progress that you have already built for yourself!