Whether you’re taking a month this summer to road trip, heading out of town for a week-long business trip, or just going on a two-week vacation and don’t want to think about the three-times-a-week spin class that you’re leaving behind, you don’t need to give up all of those fitness gains you’ve been making. An occasional week off from working out makes perfect sense, but wouldn’t a vacation be more satisfying if you didn’t come home feeling bloated, less energetic, and terrified of getting back to the gym? With just a few minor tweaks to your “vacation protocol,” you can master the art of serious R&R without giving up your healthy habits and #wellness. A few experts chimed in on their favorite ways to stay sporty while taking some downtime.
Work fitness into the fun
Obviously, a sweet cruiser bike riding down the boardwalk makes for excellent Instagram fodder. But a few extra pedal strokes can turn the super-relaxing activity into a bit more of a workout. “It’s easy to be motivated to go out and explore by bike or by foot when you are traveling in beautiful and warm places,” says pro cyclist Allison Tetrick. So if the opportunity presents itself, pedal instead of driving. “In a new city for work and don’t want to leave without seeing that one famous site? Make it your excuse to jog there, or rent a city bike,” says Tetrick. “You will be happy you got to enjoy the new place and you could even multitask while doing it. My favorite thing is to explore a new area on a bike. You can just smell and see so much more than you can in a car.” (Walking an errand or walking an extra block to the beach is also good!)
Something is better than nothing
”When you only have 30 minutes to get your workout in, take that 30 minutes,” says Tetrick. The same applies for 10 minutes—even five minutes spent doing planks counts! “Even if it is short, you will still feel better later that you made the time,” she adds. There are tons of quick workout videos available out there, but even a quick mile-long jog or a quick set of push-ups will make you feel more pumped. While everyone pushes those quick video workouts, sometimes they can be a lot more hassle than they’re worth, when internet connectivity is an issue or you’re time-crunched. Just do the tried-and-true moves you know are going to make you sweat: jumping jacks, push-ups, planks, mountain climbers… Think back to sixth-grade gym class, put on a favorite pump-up song, and get to it.
This is pretty self-explanatory, right? But just in case: Drink water! Lots of it. It’s the best thing to do for every part of your body regardless whether you’re exploring or working out.
Eat a decent breakfast
Vacation is usually the time we overindulge throughout the day, and that’s fine… But start with a healthy breakfast like a scramble with spinach, mushrooms, and peppers and maybe even a sweet potato hash if you’re feeling fancy. That way, you’re getting a good dose of protein, plus a couple servings of veggies, enough fat and carbs to last you until lunch, and a meal that’s healthy enough to help counteract some of those ice cream-for-lunch days.
Do a few minutes of yoga every morning
Starting with a healthy habit sets you up for a better day—sounds a little corny (a lot corny), but it’s true. I’ve realized that my morning routine really dictates the healthiness factors during the rest of the day. Starting with a 15-minute set of planks and sun salutations (while watching GLOW on Netflix, not humming a meditative mantra, if I’m being honest), is enough to feel a bit more limber, sneak in some core work, and get a bit of a sweat before sipping coffee. Pro triathlete Katie Zaferes says she tries to do a full workout as early as possible. “That way, you don’t have time to make excuses or choose other more ‘fun’ vacation things to do during the day evening,” she explains. “Usually if I wait until later, it’s a lot more difficult for me to get motivated to do my workouts when other people are vacationing.”
Make wellness a goal
Your vacation isn’t going to be worth much if you come back feeling worse than before you left. And when work trips leave you drained, it’s harder to jump back into office life. “Make yourself a priority,” says Tetrick. “When traveling for work, it can be easy to become consumed with your mission there. Don’t forget to make yourself a priority to get active. Your body and brain will thank you, but maybe not at the moment that alarm goes off to give you those extra 30 minutes for your workout.”
Your checked bag may not make it. That’s why Tetrick never travels without a carry-on stuffed with her workout essentials. “If you lose your luggage while traveling, you will at least have a pair of running shorts, a T-shirt, and running shoes,” she explains. “You may not look fashionable, but you can go hit the streets, treadmill, or trails until your luggage arrives.”
Take time off
Staying fit also means knowing when to back off. “Keep in mind, though, that sometimes it’s worth skipping the training to enjoy quality time with family and friends,” says Zaferes. “Weigh the pros and cons, and if you don’t get a workout in, don’t dwell on it. Enjoy the moment that you have, enjoy the vacation, and enjoy time with others.” And a more exploratory or fun workout might present itself later in the day anyway: Even if you’re a runner who’s training for a 10K, a paddleboard session with your sister or a long walk with your significant other can be just as rewarding—and as good for you—as the sweat session that you had planned.