30 Sneaky Ways to Fit in Fitness While Traveling

Staying active on vacation is simple with these easy tips.
Published May 6, 2018

Getting away from it all doesn’t have to mean forgetting to stay active. Whether you’re flying to a faraway city or road-tripping to the beach, these travel tricks will help you move more and feel great—without even noticing!

Strategic Sightseeing

Skip the Bus Tour

Ask your hotel concierge about walking tours instead. You’ll experience far more on a half- or full-day guided walk than you will on a quick hop-on, hop-off ride.

Don’t Just Stand in Line

While you’re waiting for your ride at a theme park, do some calf raises or toe taps—no one will notice.

Map Your Route

Stay motivated to move. The free MapMyRun app can track your mileage while helping you locate local tourist attractions. It’s available for Apple and Android devices.

Point, Click, Shoot

When you’re trying to get the perfect photograph, don’t be afraid to walk, climb, and stretch into all sorts of crazy positions. Or take a photowalking tour on which a guide will help you discover great photo ops!

Check Out a Botanical Garden

It’ll do your mind and body good. According to 2015 research from Stanford University, walking in nature may significantly decrease activity in a region of the brain associated with depression. Plus, thanks to wind resistance and varied terrain, you’re likely to burn more calories than you would if you were walking indoors.

Hit the Trail

Wherever you go, chances are there’s a trail nearby. The free AllTrails app (for iPhone or Android) locates hiking, biking, and running trails near you, and uses GPS to track you so you don’t get lost.

Find the Best View

Whether you climb a hill or the stairs, getting to the top of your vacation city can burn some major calories. Case in point: the 377 steps to the Statue of Liberty’s crown (reservations are required).

Get Some Guidance on Your Run

If you’re a regular runner, try booking a guided run with cityrunningtours.com or globalrunningtours.com. You’ll score some serious sightseeing while tearing through 500 calories or more per hour.

Don’t Miss the Museums

Whether you’re into art, aquariums, dinosaurs, or famous historical figures, getting a good dose of culture can involve covering a lot of ground (and let you rack up a ton of steps).

Enjoy the Toys

Buy a kite, inflatable ball, Frisbee, or paddleball set to play with once you get to your travel destination. When it’s time to head home, give the playthings to other vacationers.

En Route

Turn the Terminal Into a Track

Instead of just sitting at your gate while you wait to board, walk laps around your section of the airport.

Book the Aisle

That way, it’ll be easy for you to get up from your seat to stretch or circulate around the cabin, helping to prevent blood clots as well as relieving any aches and pains.

Carry On

Lug your bag onboard instead of checking it at the airport. You’ll build your biceps and save on baggage fees—plus you won’t have to wait around the luggage carousel.

Make More Pit Stops

During long road trips, schedule frequent breaks (every two to three hours) for walking, stretching, or doing a few exercises like jumping jacks or high knees.

Go For a Dip

Want an extra-refreshing roadside stop? Check out swimmingholes.org to find places you can enjoy getting into the water—or even hot springs—along your travel route. Just click on the states that you plan to drive through, and the site will give you a list of immersion options, along with all of the relevant maps, the driving directions, and, most important, the bathing suit requirements.

Finding Active Fun

Lead the Pack

When going on a hike, work to stay to the front of the group. It’ll help you pick your own pace rather than being held back by more leisurely hikers.

Try Zip-Lining

Shooting down a zip line is, in itself, a great core workout because of the way you’re strapped into the harness as you zip down the line. But most excursions also incorporate hiking, tightrope-esque walks between tree canopies, and rappelling—all of which provide their own excitement, calorie burn, and strength benefits. Read your own thrill-o-meter and choose the best fit.

Drop In

Find out what fitness studios are popular around your vacation spot and take a drop-in class. If you’ve always wanted to try an “it” workout like SoulCycle or Barry’s Bootcamp, that’s not available in your area, now’s your chance.

Play in the Water

There’s more to the beach than just lounging—check out fitness activities like stand up paddle-boarding, snorkeling, or kayaking. Many resorts offer equipment rentals (either free or for a small fee) and even classes for students of all levels.

Make a Bet

Compete for steps with your travel buddy. Whoever racks up the most steps each day gets treated to dinner, the souvenir of his or her choice, or whatever else you want to wager. Even if you lose, you've walked more.

Do Some Sunrise (or Sunset) Yoga

When you’re on the beach or out on a hiking trail, strike a pose. Practicing your asanas in nature will both relax and invigorate.

Where You’re Staying

Sleep Somewhere Central

Pick a hotel or Airbnb in a walkable neighbourhood or city centre so that you don’t have to take cabs wherever you go.

Reserve Some Distance

Request a bedroom farther from the hotel’s or resort’s dining area so you can burn additional calories on your way to breakfast. Every extra minute you spend walking can score you 100 steps or more.

Borrow Gear

If suitcase space is at a premium, look for a health-minded hotel that will loan you whatever fitness equipment or workout wear you need.

Tidy Up After Yourself

Tell your hotel’s cleaning crew to skip your room, and clean it yourself. You’ll burn extra calories, plus, some hotels give you points if you do.

Turn Off the TV

Make a “no TV on vacation” vow. You may end up sticking with it even after your return.

Pitch In

When visiting older family members (in-laws, grandparents) help out by doing yardwork and other tasks. Your reward? Their thanks—and, depending on the activity, you might torch 400 calories or more per hour.

Rough It

Stay at a campground to experience your own boot camp–style workout, complete with hauling water, carrying wood—and enjoying campfire-cooked treats.

Resting and Relaxing

Go Horseback Riding

Your steed won’t be the only one getting exercise. Simply staying upright in the saddle— which engages the core, legs, and entire upper body—can burn 149 calories or more in just 30 minutes for a 155-pound person. That’s the equivalent of walking a 17-minute mile.

Visit the Local Farmers’ Market

A leisurely 30-minute stroll through the stalls can burn 100-plus calories.

Rent a Bicycle

Feel the wind in your hair—anywhere you go. Cities around the world offer bike-share programs. For a small fee, you and your crew can pedal around town, taking in the sights (and incinerating calories) without boarding a bus or cab.

Go Shopping

Everyone expects you to come home with souvenirs, right? Browsing uses up calories, too.