What if travel is jeopardising your health?


It’s only a couple of weeks until baby and I make our first trip overseas, woohoo! While we are away I am determined to keep up my fitness regime and this weeks’ guest post written by Aisling is perfect from some mental preparation! 

What if travel is jeopardising your health?

You read the title, and your first thought was, ‘So what if travelling does make me a little fat? Pizza/pasta/tacos/fish-and-chips are totally worth it’. And, I hear you. Feed me pizza or pasta or tacos or fish-and-chips with a solid beer every day, and I’m one happy camper.

But, I am also a black belt in taekwondo. And while I’m not competing nationally anymore, I am always conscious of how important health and fitness really is – and what a drastic impact it can have on your body if you do or don’t put an effort into consider what you’re consuming, and ensuring that your engine’s running well.

Talking about segues – as you’ve probably guessed, this isn’t Hayley writing this week. It’s Aisling, from Travelscriber.

But, back to what I was saying. My point is that, while you don’t have to eat and train like a black belt would, you also shouldn’t pretend your health stops existing when you journey around the world.

The Problem With Fitness and Travel

If you like to travel, then you have a problem. That problem is this: embarking on regular travel overseas means you’ll be stuck without a regular routine. Now, for some, that’s a blessing. The whole reason some travel is to escape the drudgery of the 9-5. Routine can be a restriction.

But routine is also the perfect structure for forming habits. Poor habits, sure – but also an enabler for really positive ones, too. Like regular exercise, and healthy eating.

And there’s the clincher: travel, while a wondrous way to experience other cultures and societies, it is not conducive to maintaining your health and fitness.

Because despite the fact that you’re trekking your way through countries, 99% of the time that’s going to be counteracted by your diet of pizza and pasta and tacos and fish-and-chips, and every other local delicacy you can get your hands on.

Why do I know this? Because I’ve been there.

While those habits are fine on a short term-basis – I’ve said it before, holidaying is not the time to be berating yourself over your meal choices – the reality is that your health will begin to suffer unless you pay attention to it. And, being sick while travelling is no fun at all. Especially if you’re spending a truckload of money being in another country, just to waste it in bed coughing up your left lung.

So now we know about the problem you’re facing. The important question is: how do we fix it?

Fitness Travel

Some would say that fitness travel is the fix for this quandary. Not only do you incorporate exercise into your travelling, you base your entire itinerary around fitness activities.

In fact, fitness travel has become an industry in itself. While on the surface it would seemingly cater for fitness fanatics, some could argue that booking a fitness-based trip serves as motivation for getting healthier in order to take on the activities planned for the time away. Not all fitness travel packages are based around extreme sports or traditionally physically taxing activities. Fitness travel is about focusing on health, and this incorporates activities such as:

  • Yoga
  • Luxury spas
  • Snorkeling, and
  • Golf

Of course, this does not exclude gym visits and bootcamps and many other types of sweaty activities during your travels.

The biggest benefit to be found in fitness travel is that you are literally allotting an entire trip away from the everyday in order to focus on your health. Which is awesome – your health does deserve significant attention. However, much like binge drinking, the short term is only going to give you so much joy. And, also much like binge drinking, participating in fitness travel requires you to slowly work up to the crescendo of activity – go all out without preparation, and you’ll crash pretty quickly.

I should really stop comparing fitness travel to binge drinking.

As much as it’d be nice to think that building your fitness is as simple as going away for a two-week hike, the reality is that your health is something that needs long-term maintenance. This draws back to forming a routine that supports your fitness development. You should really only be considering fitness travel if you already have some interest in golfing or yoga or bootcamps or running.

Which brings me to another alternative to developing your fitness while you travel – and no, it’s got nothing to do with earning a black belt.

Fitness Apps

If you can’t have a personal trainer travel with you, why not invest in an app that can perform the same role? There are plenty of guides out there, for a minimal cost – and in some cases, free. Plus, purchasing an app for your smartphone is a hell of a lot easier to pack than a set of weights.

I have a few apps that I can recommend, which I’ve had the chance to use myself.

Nike + Run Club

This one is great for running enthusiasts, and people who like getting their motivation through social media. Made by the one and only Nike, the app requires that you create a login to save information like your physical attributes (i.e. your height and weight), the distance and time you run for, and the friends you are connected with across the app. You can compare your performance against your friends, track the fastest and the slowest points of each individual run, and receive verbal praise from your ‘trainers’ through every run. It even enables you to take a photo through your run, and post your results to Facebook!

Which of course, has the benefit of making your loved ones feel their own inadequacy at not having been for a run yet for the day. It’s like making that quintessential gym post for the day, without actually having to go to the gym. Plus, it’s a free app.

Pocket Yoga

Made for people who have never stretched in their life, all the way through to advanced yogis, Pocket Yoga is a nifty app for those of you who are interested in pursuing flexibility and calm. The app boasts around 40 different ways to customise your yoga session, based on your experience level, the length of time you would prefer to spend doing it, and the vigorousness of the yoga session you’re planning to do.

The only potential I see in the app has to do with sharing your yoga achievements either with friends or through social media. Additionally, Pocket Yoga could benefit from providing the ability to use your own music collection during the yoga sessions. Due to the nature of the app, you also may find it easier to do the exercises with a yoga mat, or pilates socks (Which is definitely the more portable option of the two!).

Lose It!

Lose It! is primarily designed for measuring caloric intake and tracking weight loss. It acts as a food diary, which can be filled out morning, lunch and dinner through manually entering in your meals, or scanning the products you’re consuming. Attached to a login, the app enables you to set weight loss goals over a long period of time, and share your successes through its own internal ‘social’ system. One of the big benefits that can be found from Lose It! is its ability to note patterns in your eating habits – I discovered that I ate less on days that I ate rice (Apparently it’s really filling!). Lose It! can also keep track of your intake of vitamins and minerals from the diet that you record – an especially important feature if you have your own specific dietary needs.

The app also shows you a set of achievements you can receive for your efforts, and gives you a news feed of health and fitness based articles to encourage further education around your activity and efforts. Lose It! also incorporates workout data and a ‘steps bonus’ (Read: if you’re walking enough, the app will recognise that, too) into finalising a record of your caloric intake for the day. While the app itself is free, if you want access to its premium features. 

Here’s hoping that you now have some tools to start with to incorporate fitness into your travelling habits. Or maybe you’re already a pretty active nomad? What do you plan to do to take your fitness to the next level while you’re travelling? Share in the comments section below!

Right now, Aisling is honing her black belt skills on a remote island. You can read her blog, Travelscriber, to get free, honest and researched travel advice.