After traveling for so long, I’ve found a nice regimen to stay healthy and fit regardless of the amount of pasta and pizza we eat in Italy or plantains we enjoy in Costa Rica. Living in different locations makes it difficult to maintain a specific fitness routine, so we live by these simple lifestyle choices because we can implement them everywhere we go. By implementing these habits we’ve successfully learned how to stay fit and healthy while traveling. Try to pick up one or two of these habits during your travels and see if it works for you.
- Drink lots and lots of water. When you’re traveling often, especially for long periods of time, it is very important to keep your body hydrated. It will help your immune system fight off the new toxins you’re exposed to while energizing you during those long days of exploration. Not only will it make you feel better, it will (almost) immediately alter your physical appearance. Your hair and nails will grow like weeds while your body stops retaining that water weight it stores thinking every sip of water is its last. When we rented an apartment in Granada, Nicaragua for a month it came with a water cooler. Yes, like the ones in cubicle filled offices. Refills of those gigantic jugs were only 52 Cordobas (a little more than $2). I was binge drinking water like nobody’s business! By the time we left my face was glowing, hair was longer than ever and I was ready to wear a midriff for the first time in a long time.
- Run! There’s really no reason to stop you from running. There’s no necessary equipment or environment, you can literally run anywhere in the world. We did take a break while we lived on an island in Panama, because there was only one road in the whole town and we tried our best not to always look like foreigners. Plus the sidewalk was completely uneven, I had shin splints just from walking (kidding). Running has always been great for our relationship, so we place it very high in our priorities. Unlike other physical workouts, running is just between your mind and your body. If you allow your mind to believe you are hurting, tired or need to stop, your body will eventually listen and quit. However, if you empower yourself with positive thinking, you can overcome all obstacles and talk yourself through all the pain. Crossing that finish line is just as much of a mental feat as it is physical.
- Go vegetarian, or at least take (small) breaks from meat. We have found great markets with fresh vegetables everywhere we’ve traveled. One day while we were in Costa Rica we abruptly decided to stop eating meat. If you haven’t noticed by now, we are completely into drastically changing our lives. It’s the best way to change yourself and understand that the way you are is not the way you have to be. It is definitely more difficult to find dinner options, especially when you cannot cook for yourself, but it was worth the challenge. We felt much more energized and balanced. As with most of our changes in diet, my husband lost all of his excess weight and slimmed down to his ideal weight in no time. Me? Not so much, but I did feel much better and eventually lost some weight, just not as fast.
- Find natural, cultural ways to enjoy exercise. Don’t think you always need a gym with shiny new equipment to exercise. Instead, use whatever you can around you and embrace the local fitness routines. While we were living in a suburban mansion in Cancun, Mexico we were secluded from everything, including gyms. There were no places for us to go to workout, but we didn’t let that stop us. One day my husband came into our room carrying two cement filled buckets connected by a metal pole and started doing arm curls. Completely confused I asked him where in the world he’d gotten homemade weights. Apparently it was common workout equipment and he’d borrowed it from our new neighbors. We’ve also taken to playing cards, which was always a fun hobby of ours, with the loser having to do 25 exercises of their choice.
- Opt out on the cab and walk the mile to the bus stop. Or opt out of the bus ride and bike the two miles to the market. Renting bikes is very accessible in many places and it is a great workout. In Granada we lived about two miles from the main grocery store, which seemed even longer when carrying groceries. Although we did most of our shopping at a local family market, we would need to hike to the grocery store once a week for dry goods and vegetables the family did not grow. Although I dreaded the walk, trying my best to hide from the sun under the canopies of the beautiful homes in Granada, that was some of the best exercise of my life. In Bocas Del Toro, Panama we would take an hour hike through the jungle to get to Wizard Beach as opposed to paying for a boat. We enjoyed the challenge of the hike so much that we would take all of our guests on the adventure while managing the guesthouse.
Traveling is a mental, and usually physical, challenge in itself. It is also a skill that you can grow better at with practice, encouragement and dedication. Push yourself to grow and develop to become better. Staying physically fit is necessary and will remain beneficial to you far after your journey ends. Use these habits to embrace how to stay fit and healthy while traveling. Set yourself up for success and come back from your journey better than you were at departure, both mentally and physically. How do you stay healthy when traveling?