Looking to stay fit while traveling? Running is a great travel workout to help you stay in shape while on the road.
Travel fitness is a topic you don’t see discussed very often. However, the difficulty of staying fit while traveling is easy to understate. We tend to thinsuk of travel itself as a form of exercise, which it’s not. Yeah, you walk around a lot while traveling, probably more than you do at home, but you also probably eat and drink more. Additionally staying in shape requires a routine, which we often eschew while exploring new places and new cultures.
Whatever your chosen method of staying fit is, a bit of foresight is required to make sure you can indulge in your travel workout of choice. Personally, I love running. I might even be addicted to it. Thankfully, running while traveling is pretty easy to accomplish, since all I really need are my running shoes and an open road. There ARE, however, a few things to consider and plan for if you want to employ running as your method of staying fit while traveling.
Being that I have a bit of experience in both travel and running, here are 10 tips, in no particular order, to help those who want to run while wandering the globe.
Travel Fitness – Running While Traveling
Always Check Local Weather
I was in Phoenix once and had the chance to run midday. “Oh, it’s only 86 degrees, and it feels cool,” I thought. I was also in the desert. At midday. So I put on a little sunscreen, grabbed a small bottle of water and set out. I was thirsty well before I usually am – I made it back safely, but looked in the mirror and my face was so red it was purple. Long story short, I didn’t pay attention to the fact I was in the freaking desert and did not plan my run accordingly.
So if you’re in extreme weather, at altitude, or even somewhere you’ve never experienced the climate, be careful, be smart and let your body adjust.
Quality Over Quantity
So you’re used to running 4 miles, every day. You’re also used to your own pillow, knowing with whom you’re sharing living quarters, and being on Eastern Standard Time.
While traveling, things are going to be different, including your running schedule: a solid 6 mile run maybe twice a week when you’re rested, you’ve explored a city and you feel ready to head out, is better than a couple of scattered 2-mile runs after a late night, while jet-lagged or even in the middle of a hot day.
Plan accordingly to run, and make each run really count.
Be Realistic When Planning
You’ve chosen running as your travel exercise of choice and you can’t wait to hit the pavement/sand/trail. Well, not be be a downer but you’re not going to be able to run outside in every destination. End of story. Either it’s not possible, the air quality is extremely poor, or, it simply might not be safe. Before leaving on your trip, take this into account so you can adequately plan where and when you will be running on your journey.
Tips for Traveling Runners – Remember to Refuel
While traveling, money can be tight and you may just be eating less frequently than usual. Or you may be eating poorly, indulging in fatty foods. Fortunately, almost every place in the world has grocery stores: fruit and nuts are always cheap. Keep nuts and some form of protein bar with you at all times for immediate post-run nutrition, then venture out for local fare. There’s nothing like a cafe au lait, baguette with ham and cheese after a run around Paris, and if you find yourself in Germany…well, let’s just say that a beer is a great post-run beverage. Carbs, people.
Pack Light, But Pack for Diverse Weather
Any moisture-wicking material is ideal for people who need to rinse sweaty clothes…and go. To this, you should add basic but thin layers – one or two long-sleeved shirts – and be sure to buy a really good pair of leggings. They may be pricey, but you’ll only need one. Ditto with a jacket. And depending on said jacket, it can also double as something all-weather and wearable during the day, which will make the initial price seem less scary.
Get a Few Good Map Apps
Before I headed to Berlin, I downloaded an app that showed a map of the city and where I was offline. This meant I didn’t go crazy with a data plan and GPS, but I always knew where I was while out running, and to where I wanted to run. Do a bit of research and find the right app for you – and if you do have a data plan, then Google Maps will be your best friend.
Tips for Traveling Runners – Mind Your Surroundings
No matter how safe your destination is, you’re still in a foreign country. Therefore, the 2 am jet-lagged run might seem like a good idea, but in all honesty, it’s not. Try and run at times of the day when people are out and about – mornings and early evenings are great and, weather permitting, a midday run can really clue you in to how locals spend their day.
Never tried “trail” running before? Scared of hitting the sand? Being in a new environment gives you the chance to shake up your running routine. Work with where you’re staying, rather than sticking to the main roads all the time but, as always, find out from someone who lives there whether or not it is a good idea to run in the woods, or if that patch of beach is safe. When in doubt, do stick to main roads, always stick to populated areas, but use your new, temporary home as a chance to try something new.
One of the great things about using running as your travel workout is all the places your feet can take you. Every time I’ve been able to travel and fit in runs, I’ve seen more of the cities or countries in which I stayed than I would trying to comb the city on foot alone. Run to a different spot you might not choose to visit, use your run as an excuse to check out a local park, or even explore a different neighborhood. Just enjoy, and absorb your surroundings.
Tips for Traveling Runners – Listen to Your Body
Being injured at the best of times is no fun. Being injured in a foreign country without friends and family, health insurance or maybe even command of the local language is up there with Things I Don’t Fancy Happening While Traveling. If you do want to keep running and keep exploring, pay attention to how you’re feeling. Don’t run through a slight twinge. Don’t keep your 6 mile run even though you’re exhausted and jet lagged. And don’t forget to stretch and take rest days, maybe even doing some yoga too.
Being mindful of your physical state on a regular basis will surely help you keep running in many countries and locations to come.
Miriam Lamey is a New York-based writing, running, yoga practitioner, who believes in balance and embracing the moment. One day, she wants to visit Barcelona, Brittany, and Bali, perhaps in that order. She blogs at Within and Without and is on Twitter @mirseven.
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