5 Travel Workouts: The Ultimate Guide To Get In Shape While Traveling

This LEGO knows all about staying in shape while he travels.

Ever said, “I’d love to get in shape, but I travel too much?”

If so, this guide is for you!

Today we’re gonna teach you exactly how to get fit no matter what type of business trip you’re on.

We’ll cover:

It’s time to get you a specific action plan that you can take with you on your next trip.

This is the philosophy we teach to all of our 1-on-1 Online Coaching Clients. Many travel quite a bit, so having “worldwide accountability” and a specific plan for travel has been a game changer for these Rebels.

Are you trying to learn a new exercise, lose weight, or build muscle, but find doing it on the road a challenge? Let us help you – click below to learn more.

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5 Travel Workouts You Can Do Anywhere

Where's this LEGO going? Will he workout once he gets there?

Without access to your favorite gym, it can seem like you are doomed to remain sedentary until you get back home.

Have no fear! These 5 workouts you can do anywhere and at anytime!

#1) THE 20-MINUTE HOTEL ROOM WORKOUT

Set the alarm clock to 15 minutes from now and see how many circuits you can do!

  1. Bodyweight squats: 20 reps.
  2. Incline push-ups: 15 reps (feet on floor, hands on edge of bed or desk).
  3. One-arm luggage rows: 10 reps (each arm, use your suitcase as your weight).
  4. Reverse crunches: 10 reps.

Click right here for more advanced hotel workouts you can try.

#2) BEGINNER BODYWEIGHT WORKOUT

No gym required for this workout!

If you have a body, you can do this circuit! If you’re a brain floating in a jar, email me. I’ll think of a workaround for you.

  1. Bodyweight squats: 20 reps.
  2. Push-ups: 10 reps.
  3. Walking lunges: 10 reps each leg.
  4. Dumbbell rows (using your luggage/laptop bag as a weight): 10 reps each arm.
  5. Plank: 15 seconds.
  6. Jumping jacks: 30 reps

Run through this circuit three times. If you don’t have milk in the hotel room for the rows, find something of roughly the same weight with a good handle. Your luggage might work perfectly.

3) THE PLAYGROUND WORKOUT

Throughout the world, you’re often never that far away from a playground or a park.

Get a workout in there!

  1. Alternating step-ups: 20 reps (10 each leg).
  2. Elevated push-ups: 10 reps.
  3. Swing rows: 10 reps.
  4. Assisted lunges: 8 reps each leg.
  5. Bent leg reverse crunches: 10 reps.

4) ADVANCED BODYWEIGHT EXERCISES CIRCUIT

Was that Beginner Bodyweight Workout too easy for you?

Then try out this more advanced circuit!

  1. One legged squats: 10 each side [warning super-difficult, only attempt if you’re in good enough shape].
  2. Bodyweight Squats: 20 reps.
  3. Walking Lunges: 20 reps (10 each leg).
  4. Jump step-ups: 20 reps (10 each leg).
  5. Pull-Ups: 10 reps [or inverted bodyweight rows].
  6. Dips (between two chairs): 10 reps.
  7. Chin ups: 10 reps [this might be tough in a hotel room, so try an inverted bodyweight rows with underhand grip].
  8. Push-Ups: 10 reps.
  9. Plank: 30 seconds.

5) THE ANGRY BIRDS WORKOUT

This is Nerd Fitness. There’s no way I’m going to miss including a nerdy themed workout.

  1. Bodyweight Squats: 30 reps.
  2. Push-Ups20 reps (or 40 knee push-ups).
  3. One arm rows: 30 reps (each arm).
  4. Planks: – 60 seconds.

How to Eat Healthy While Traveling

What should you eat when you travel? How about fruit (the non-LEGO kind)

Here’s what I do specifically while traveling:

#1) Skip meals strategically. I know that if I skip breakfast, it means I can eat a slightly larger lunch and have an extra drink with dinner and STILL come in under my daily calorie expenditure.

#2) Prepare for bad meals. I love me a good steak dinner with a side of mac and cheese and sweet potato fries and dessert and a few whiskeys. When I’m on vacation or celebrating, that sounds like heaven to me.

However, I know if I always eat like that, I’m going to pack on a ton of weight.

So I plan ahead for a big meal so that I can enjoy it guilt-free, and not see the scale budge. I eat protein and veggies for lunch, strategically undereating so that I can overeat for dinner – and not gain weight in the long run.

#3) Never eat 2 bad meals in a row. We have a big “never two in a row” rule at Nerd Fitness. Believe it or not, even being healthy just 50% of the time carries with it the tremendous potential for weight loss and a healthier life. So, if you eat a bad lunch, follow it up with a healthy dinner. Eat fast food for dinner? Cool! Make your breakfast healthy.

This is NOT “100% or nothing.” Every decision counts, every meal counts, so any decision where you are SLIIIIIGHTLY healthier than you would have been otherwise is a win in my book.

If you’re interested in the Nerd Fitness philosophy on proper diet, make sure you read our article “How to Start Eating Healthy.” It’ll give you 10 tips to kickstart your weight loss journey.

Curious on my default diet these days? You can read all about it right here. And here is the specific diet I followed – while traveling frequently – to lose 22 pounds sustainably.

Here are some other strategies for healthy eating.

#1) Ask your hotel for a mini-fridge. Fill it with your own healthy snacks – just make sure they don’t charge you for taking out the other foods! Fruit, sliced veggies, and some deli meat will provide you with some sustenance until you can order a proper meal.

Here is a post with some ideas for healthy snacks you can buy and store in your room.

#2) Travel with a cooler. If you know the hotel can’t accommodate a mini-fridge, or you’re on a road trip, no problem! Bring a mini-cooler or cooler bag. If you use a bag, it’ll fold up for easy packing.

Is it weird to travel with a cooler? Sure. But we embrace weird around these parts.

We like the weird at Nerd Fitness if it makes you stay in shape. Skating dog optional.

#3) Bring non-perishable snacks with you. I’ve eaten almonds forgotten in a backpack, months later, and lived to tell the tale.

Lots of dry food like nuts and jerky won’t spoil anytime soon, so store some in your travel bag. Munching some beef jerky is a much better idea than the pizza in the airport terminal. Here are some good almonds to purchase, and here’s some recommended beef jerky for you to try out.

#4) Focus on protein and fiber. When choosing meals or snacks, make sure the foods you pick are full of protein and fiber.[1] This will help keep you full, so you’re not tempted to eat the donuts waiting for you at your work conference.

What are protein and fiber-rich foods? Hard-boiled eggs will store well, and can be bought at many convenience stores. That’s a good protein source. Deli meat, jerky, and nuts will also do the trick for your protein requirements.

Fiber-rich foods? Fruits and vegetables for the win. Always bring an apple with you.

#5) All is not lost if you order fast food. There’s a common belief amongst our coaching clients, that the moment you step foot in a fast food store, you lost. You made a terrible decision by even walking in. Might as well order whatever, because you already failed.

This is 100% not true. What you order will make all the difference. For example, I eat a chicken bowl from Chipotle almost every day. To the point that it’s weird.[3]

Why? Because it’s healthier than anything I’m realistically going to make at lunchtime, given my schedule.

Remember, what you order is more important than where you order from.

Let’s dive into that last point a little more.

What Are Some Healthy Fast Food Options?

Can you eat healthy while traveling at fast food, like McDonald's?

Let’s outline an entire day’s worth of eating, provided by a drive-thru window (we cover this in our fast food article).

Most of these can also be found at your average airport terminal.

#1) BREAKFAST:

Location: Starbucks

  • Sous Vide Egg Bites, Bacon & Gruyere: A great protein source. Go ahead and order some black coffee with it too.
    • Calories: 310
    • Protein: 19g
    • Net Carbs: 9g
    • Fat: 22g

Location: Dunkin’ Donuts

  • Sausage Egg and Cheese Bagel (no bagel): Sausage and egg are a breakfast staple. Plus, cheese!
    • Calories: 370
    • Protein: 16g
    • Net Carbs: 3g
    • Fat: 33g

#2) LUNCH:

Location: McDonald’s

  • Bacon Ranch Grilled Chicken Salad (Use the Balsamic Vinaigrette): It’s mostly greens, grilled chicken and a little bacon. No customization required. Your salad comes in under 400 calories.
    • Calories: 320
    • Protein: 42g
    • Net Carbs: 6g
    • Fat: 14g

Location: Subway

  • Oven Roasted Chicken: Grab it with lettuce, spinach, tomatoes, onion, green peppers, cucumbers, and olives, with oil and vinegar as dressing. Also, feel free to add bacon and guacamole to increase your calories. Your nutrition info will look like this if ordered as above:
    • Calories: 490
    • Protein: 24g
    • Net Carbs: 11g
    • Fat: 35.5g

#3) DINNER:

Location: Boston Market

  • Three-Piece Dark: Lot’s of protein, decent fat, and no carbs.
    • Calories: 300
    • Protein: 37g
    • Net Carbs: 1g
    • Fat: 16g
  •  Green Beans: Keep it simple.
    • Calories: 90cals
    • Protein: 1g
    • Net Carbs: 4g
    • Fat: 5g
  • Fresh Steamed Vegetables: Following our “simple” strategy.
    • Calories: 60
    • Protein: 2g
    • Net Carbs: 4g
    • Fat: 3.5g

Location: Chipotle

  • Salad Bowl (with Carnitas): order it with Fajita Vegetables, Fresh Tomato Salsa, Sour Cream, Cheese, and YES for Guacamole.
    • Calories: 710
    • Protein: 34g
    • Net Carbs: 12
    • Fat: 51g

The above should help give you some ideas on what to order when you’re depending on fast food.

Want some more ideas? Check out our guide on healthy fast food.

How Do I Eat a Healthy Continental Breakfast?

What's a healthy breakfast for you to eat while you travel?

So your room comes with a free complimentary breakfast.

Might as well take advantage of it!

Pooh never passes up breakfast, especially when he travels.

Go ahead and load up on these:

  1. Eggs. We mentioned earlier to prioritize protein with your meals. Just about every hotel continental breakfast will have some eggs. The quality might be so-so, however. If they have some hot sauce around, this can make just about any scramble tolerable.
  2. Sausage. Continuing with our protein theme, if there is sausage at the buffet, grab some. Granted, it’ll often have some sugar in the form of maple syrup included. But we’re going with the best we can here.
  3. Bacon. We love bacon around these parts so much, we wrote an entire post on it. The fat in bacon will help keep you full until you’re next meal. Plus, if the eggs are crappy (the eggs will probably be crappy), you can mix in some bacon to bring up the tasty factor.
  4. Fruit. It can’t all be about meat. Go ahead and grab some fruit for your plate. Apples are relatively high in fiber, which is why they’re my go to. Bananas also have decent fiber, as well as vitamin C, vitamin B6, and potassium. Are there berries available? Grab some for their antioxidant potential (we talk all about berries and antioxidants in this article).
  5. Toast. I know, I know, we might be attracting the Carb Police on us for this one. But you can do a lot worse at a breakfast buffet than a little whole wheat toast. If you put some eggs and bacon on it, you have yourself a pretty decent breakfast sandwich with some fiber to help keep you full.

Alright, prioritize the above on your plate. Plus, stay clear of the following:

  1. Juice. If I could give you one single piece of diet advice, it would be this: try not to drink your calories. There’s a lot of arguments on diets, but this advice is widely accepted. An orange has plenty of vitamins in it, plus a lot of fiber to help balance out the sugar. OJ? Zero fiber, and it’s mostly just high-calorie sugar water at this point! Skip the juice and eat the whole fruit.
  2. Pancakes/Waffles. Don’t eat these, unless you are good at portion control! The high calorie batter itself will have sugar in it, plus it’s designed to have more sugar (maple syrup) poured on top. Stick to toast.
  3. Cereal. This breakfast food is often packed full of carbs, calories, and sugar. For example, the third ingredient for Cheerios is “sugar.” And that’s Cheerios. Don’t even get me started on Fruit Loops or Frosted Flakes. Again, stick to toast.

The above advice should get you started on loading up properly at a breakfast buffet.

How To Make Staying Fit A Priority on the Road

This LEGO is ready exercise, no matter where he travels to.

If you are trying to get healthy but need to travel frequently, I want you to make exercise your constant.

I don’t know if you were a Lost fan, but my favorite episode, “The Constant,” involved a character named Desmond who had to find the one “constant” in his life in order to stay sane.

Something Desmond could focus on as his mind traveled through time.

Desmond should have made exercise his "constant" when he traveled (through time).

You had to be there.

I’ve traveled quite a bit over the years: sightseeing countries, sleeping on buses, exploring temples, and visiting a new town seemingly every other day.

During all this chaos: exercise became my constant.

I knew that without a doubt, no matter where I was or what I was doing, every other day I would find a way to work out – no excuses. I might have had to add in an extra day between workouts maybe a handful of times.

What I’m trying to say is this: if you are serious about prioritizing your health, even while traveling, then start treating exercise like YOUR constant.

Make it a reliable, consistent thing in your schedule, no matter where you are in the world.

No matter what.

Sound difficult? Start by asking yourself the following:

“If I HAD to still get my workouts in, even if I am traveling or on vacation, how would I do it?”

Most answers will be something like this:

  1. “If I had to work out, it would mean that I need to wake up SUPER early tomorrow morning to hit the gym before the conference starts.”
  2. “If I had to get my run in, it would mean I could only go for a 20 minute run instead of my normal 60 minute run.”
  3. “If I had to get my workout in, that would mean I need to actually PAY for a day pass at a real gym, because I know hotel gyms are crappy.”

This is the most important question you can ask yourself before your trip: “How do I make this work for me?” 

Then, structure your environment and schedule to make it happen:

  1. Add it to your calendar.
  2. Set up a text reminder.
  3. Plan your schedule around it.
  4. Have your coach or friend remind you.
  5. Research the nearest gym or park.

Again, ask yourself – what if you HAD to work out, no matter what. How would you get it done? What would you need to change?

And then do whatever you can to make it your constant.

How to Overcome Jet Lag (and other tips)

This Merman wants to help you avoid jetlag.

We need to address a few final points: sleep, jet lag, and hydration.

All of these are going to impact your ability to follow the advice above. 

#1) SLEEP.

When I’m sleep deprived, I often don’t have the energy to exercise…when the reality is that exercise is often the thing that will give me energy (foreshadowing).

Also, if you’re lacking on shuteye, you’ll get hungrier.[2] When you’re sleep deprived, your brain sends signals for more energy, which means more calories. This is troublesome if you’re trying to hold out until you can order a nutritious chicken salad.

Prioritize sleep.

Two good tools to help with this are earplugs and an eye mask. Some hotels have a way of being bright and noisy.

Is Cinderella suffering from jetlag?

#2) HOW TO DEAL WITH JET LAG.

Even being able to go to sleep, is going to assume you are not suffering terribly from “jet lag.”

Jet lag is the phenomenon of traveling from one time zone to another, but still being stuck in the former time.

For example, you fly from New York to London.

It was night when you left New York. It is now morning in London. You may or may not have slept on the plane.

What time is it?

Your body can have some serious trouble getting back on track, because our circadian rhythms (our biological clock) is thrown off from the geographic change.

My solution: work out (click here for that section).

Studies have shown that a good sweat can help change your circadian rhythm, which might help you adjust to the local time.[3]

If you’re able to, work out as soon as you get settled to help combat jet lag. I’ve personally found this to be super helpful in adjusting to the local time. 

#3) STAY PROPERLY HYDRATED

Air travel dehydrates you.[4] The cabin’s air is environmentally controlled, with lower moisture than you find here on the ground.

  • Humidity on the good old fashioned Earth: 30-60%
  • Moisture in an average airplane: 10-20%

Yeah…that 10-20% is less than the Sahara desert.

On top of that, the pressurization of the cabin itself causes you to expel H2O.

Something something, physics. Something something, less water.

The low humidity and pressurized environment create a perfect scenario for you to lose lots of water. 

And if you’re dehydrated, it can make you tired, which can go back to that whole hunger and calories thing.

Drink water.

Above All Else, Preserve Momentum While Traveling!

No matter where you travel, keeping going like this man here.

Whatever you’re currently working on improving in your life, you can continue working on that while traveling.

You only fall off the wagon if you resign yourself to the fact that it’s impossible to stay fit while traveling!

Why not have the opposite mindset, and ask “How do I make this work for me?”

Batman is curious on how to stay in shape while traveling.

Millions of people manage to stay healthy despite a hectic travel schedule, and I want the same for you.

Here are some final tips to help you while traveling: 

  1. Travel day? Pack some healthy snacks with you in your bag – apples and almonds are my go-to.
  2. Going out to dinner with your company? Find the restaurant online, scour the menu, and “pre-order your dinner” in your mind so you know what to order when you get there. Order the “meat + veggie + potato” option on the menu, and ask for double veggies instead. Aim for something like steak tips, or grilled chicken, salmon, etc.
  3. Traveling with your family? Let them know that you’re making a concerted effort to eat better and that you’d like their support.
  4. Going out with friends? Let’s say you’re going out with buddies, and you have no choice but to eat fried food and drink tons of beer (I hate when that happens). Compensate by being extra diligent on the days before and after – no drive-thru meals, no late-night vending machine stops, no bad snacks while at the convention.

Pick your battles. Plan ahead. Make eating a priority.

Alright, that should help get you started. Now, your turn:

Do you travel for work?

Do you upcoming vacation this summer?

What struggles do you have while on the road? What kind of questions do you have about staying in shape and traveling?

Leave a question in the comments and I’ll help in any way that I can.

-Steve

PS – I want to again remind you of our Online Coaching Program. If you live from hotel room to hotel room, constantly on the go, there are still some things you can keep constant: your coach!

They can be right there with you, from any part of the world, helping you make sure you hit your fitness goals. Click on the image below to learn more:

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All photo citations can be read right here.[5]

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