With the New Year only a few days ago, I figured this would be a good time for a post with a few tips on fitness and health on the road. Maintaining good health and fitness while traveling is a balance act between making time to rest and seeing everything, trying new foods and making healthy meal choices, and maintaining fitness with long sedentary travel days.
Tip 1: Make time to rest, even if it means missing something
Traveling 24/7 is exhausting and stressful (a good kind of stressful though), especially when you mix in outdoor activities like hiking and rock climbing. It is hard to rest when you have a new place to explore everyday, and you don’t want to miss anything, but regular rest is essential to good health and sanity. On the road, rest can easily be overlooked with everything there is to see and experience. A couple of times, exhaustion stopped us short in our tracks.
One way to incorporate rest days in long term traveling is to combine them with laundry days. On laundry days (which typically occur once a week), we would get laundry done, go grocery shopping, and rest after that.
Tip 2: Pre-plan and prepare your most of your meals
Eating while traveling is a lot like eating healthy at home: pre-planning and preparing your meals and snacks for the week keeps you eating healthy. Not to mention preparing your snacks and cooking your meals helps you save money for other things, like rafting down the river or getting a hotel at the end of the week instead of another campground.
There are some weeks when preparing and cooking your meals is going to be difficult or just doesn’t happen for one reason or another. Extended time visiting friends and family and weeks with lots of rain, snow, and wind (bad for outdoor cooking) can throw you off. Give yourself grace and get back to it when you can.
Tip 3: Try new foods in moderation
Most people told us that they had gelato everyday there were in Italy. That may be fine for two weeks, but not everyday for month. Trying different foods and drinks from different regions is one of our goals of this trip, especially in Europe, but it needs to be in moderation, especially when the new foods are high in sugar and fat.
Again, this isn’t an issue for a two week trip, but over eating for three months, will take a toll. While we had the campervan, KC and I limited eating out to a couple times a week, trying new foods and limited dessert (think gelato for Italy or macaroons in France) and alcohol to once a week, with the exception of Tuscany for food (we ate out three times that week) and Germany and Belgium for beer (we went overboard here). The rest of the time, we explored foreign markets and learned to cook with local ingredients.
Tip 4: Try to keep a fitness routine
A fitness routine isn’t easy on the road, with no designated workout space. As a result, I am no where near as fit as I was before this trip. When we originally planned this trip, we thought that we would be doing outdoor activities (rock climbing, hiking, rafting, and swimming) a lot more often, but the reality was that we spent more time on the road than being outdoors because we were over ambitious with how many places we wanted to visit. Besides the extra time spent driving, moving around that fast meant that everyday or every other day we needed to break down and set up camp, which ate up another two to three hours, leaving less time for enjoying nature. On long term trips, try to stay more than a few days in each place. You’ll have less time on the road and more time outdoors, enjoying nature.
Also, set a goal to do kinesthetic exercises (pushups, squats, lounges, etc) each day. Bust them out at your campsite, a rest stop along the highway, or, my personal favorite, along a trail or somewhere else out in nature.
Tip 5: Learn to love running
Besides helping to maintain cardio, running gives you thinking time. This makes running a great mental and physical de-stresser. If you are traveling with someone, this could also be a great way to get a little alone time.
Not only is it a great way to maintain fitness, but it’s a great way to see a region or city. We have explored many a city beyond the tourist zones while out for a run, seeing behind the scenes.