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How to Keep Up Your Fitness Routine on the Road

Have you ever heard someone say they need a vacation after their vacation?

I love to travel. To me, vacationing is all about exploration and discovery. Searching out the local points of interest and uncovering hidden gems unique to the area. I’ve never seen the point of packing up all my stuff and traveling hundreds, or thousands, of miles only to sit around. I can do plenty of sitting right here at home. But as exhilarating as travel can be, it can also be grueling. One long day rolls into another. If you’re not careful, the cumulative effects of all that hectic activity can quickly run you into the ground.

I’ve found that I feel my best when I’m maintaining at least some form or rudimentary regimen of fitness and recovery while I’m on the road. I’m not talking all-out gym sessions here. After all, my top priority is to relax and enjoy my family vacation, not to spend hours in a gym. But engaging in just a little bit of low level work daily can help keep your body primed for adventure.

Here are some things I like to pack in my travel bag, as well as some simple tips to keep you up and running while on vacation.

Jump Rope

When is the last time you jumped rope? Maybe as a young kid?

Jumping rope is a universal activity that everyone has probably tried at some point. It is a staple in school gymnasiums and playgrounds everywhere. But once we reach adulthood jumping rope seems to fade away like obscure childhood memories. Jumping rope is still alive and well in certain circles – double dutch, boxing, Crossfit. But typically it isn’t given much thought as a regular piece of gym equipment.

I’d encourage you to give jumping rope another try. It’s a small investment with a huge potential return. You’ll feel your heart rate ramp up within a few short minutes. It’s almost as if every tick of the rope on the ground marks another calorie melting away.

A rope takes up virtually no space in your luggage, so it’s ideal for travel. If your lodging doesn’t offer sufficient space, you can always find room on a sidewalk or in the parking lot.

Not sure where to start? Here’s a good 10 minute beginner jump rope workout alternating between rope work and body weight movements.

Resistance Band

Travel can be tough. Often times just getting to your destination can be the most challenging part of the trip. Driving for hours on end, or sitting for long stretches in that torture device that airlines like to call a seat, can really wreak havoc on your muscles and joints.

Traveling with a couple simple resistance bands can really help you work through any discomfort brought on by the trek. And just like a jump rope, you can fit a set of bands in just about any piece of luggage.

I know…you don’t want to spend your vacation working out. But I’m talking about just a few short minutes of work to help get your body centered. Bands can help you drive tension out of tight musculature that might otherwise put a damper on your best laid plans. It would be a shame to miss out on certain vacation activities due to the lingering effects of travel.

Here is a 10 minute beginner band workout that you can do anywhere. The main focus of this workout is the shoulders and hips, which are particularly vulnerable to the rigors of travel.


I’ve become a big fan of rucking. If you’re not familiar with rucking, it is simply walking or hiking with some extra weight on your body, usually in the form of a backpack or a weighted vest. It’s an excellent way to get in a full body workout while doing something that you’re probably already doing anyway. You’ll notice the difference in your heart rate and the demands on the muscles in your legs, shoulders, back, and core with even just an additional 10 to 20 lbs of weight.

If you’re traveling with a backpack anyway, empty it out at your destination and give rucking a try. It can be a great equalizer while traveling, helping you burn a few extra calories to work off some of your food indulgences. Rucking isn’t always practical depending on the nature of your travel, but if you’re hiking or out sightseeing in nature load up your pack and give yourself a challenge.

I have a heavy rucking plate that slips into my pack, and while driving with it is doable, it is certainly not conducive to flying. I’ve done some light rucks on vacation with water jugs or whatever else was available.

If you really want to give rucking a go while on the road, you might want to give something like these saddlebags a try. These are easy to travel with, and when you get to your destination they can be filled with sand or rocks, so they would be perfect for a beach vacation. Although these particular bags are only rated up to 25 lbs, they are a good option to get you started and are way more affordable than a typical workout sandbag.

Foam Roller and Lacrosse Ball

These are staples in my evening routine and that holds true on the road as well. I love the feeling of rolling out tension or releasing tight knots at the end of a long day.

A week’s vacation can be pretty taxing on your body. By the end of 7 longs days you can be wound pretty tight, only to face the long return trip back home. Instead of letting all that tension accumulate, rolling each night can help you stay ahead of it.

While a lacrosse ball can fit almost anywhere, a foam roller can be more difficult to travel with. One good solution is to opt for a hollow roll. You’ll barely lose any extra luggage space if you pack your socks and underwear inside the roll. Sometimes you have to get creative! Be aware that a hollow roll is very firm. If you prefer a softer roll, you just might have to sacrifice some luggage space.

Here’s a simple 5 minute full body foam roller video.


You might want to think about traveling with a good electrolyte supplement.

If you plan on spending your vacation lounging around poolside or reading under a shade tree, electrolytes shouldn’t be a concern. But if you plan to spend long hours in the hot summer sun, especially if you’re even moderately active, supplementing with electrolytes can be a game changer.

Travel by its nature takes us out of our daily routine, and that includes our eating and drinking habits. Couple that with more exertion and hustle and bustle than we’re used to, and your body can become depleted pretty quickly. Low electrolytes can lead to fatigue, mental fogginess, muscle cramping, headaches, poor sleep, and more.

Electrolyte packs are easy to travel with. You could literally pack a week’s worth into one pocket. Open a packet, dump it into your water bottle, and you’re good to go! My favorite electrolyte supplement is LMNT. It is free of sugar, comes in a variety of great flavors, and the mix of minerals is optimized to replenish your body in the correct ratios.

Health and fitness is probably not the first thing that comes to mind when your think about vacation. But I’ve seen too many people return home beat up from their travels. Or worse yet, not even able to enjoy the trip. A little bit of planning and a minimal investment of your time can be the difference between wonderful memories or a week of misery.

Dr. Joe Tsai is a chiropractor and health coach dedicated to helping you live up to your maximum potential. You can contact him directly at