How many vacations start with the best of intentions: “I’ll finally have the time to work out like I’ve always wanted to; I can actually focus on eating well.” But one poolside margarita turns into happy hour, and the next thing you know, you’ve spent the whole week lounging around, indulging a little too much and abandoning your best laid plans for a healthier getaway.
There’s no reason your vacation can’t serve as an escape from the 9-to-5 and an opportunity to jump-start some healthier habits. We asked experts for their travel fitness tips, so you can make the most out of your vacation and return home feeling better (not more bloated) than before you left.
Consider your company. An active vacation calls for like-minded people. Are your college friends more into gin than the gym? Skip them this time. Does your mom love to hike? Make it a bonding trip. “Planning an active trip with travelers who are equally keen to both exercise and explore is a great way to get moving,” said Maria Eilersen, spokeswoman for Topdeck, a travel company that designs adventure trips. “You’ll feed off their energy and keep each other motivated.”
Taking a trip in which you invest in body, health and mind will leave you feeling renewed, refreshed and ready to take on whatever real life has to throw at you when you return.
Set yourself up for success. With more and more people forgoing the typical week away for a runcation or fitness retreat, hotels and resorts are catering to healthy-minded travelers. If you want to make fitting fitness into your trip easy, consider the amenities of your accommodations.
Westin offers concierges for a variety of activities, including running, tennis, golf, yoga, Zumba, cycling and hiking at select locations. The chain also has partnered with New Balance to rent guests workout gear for a small fee (so you won’t return home with a suitcase full of smelly clothes) and Peloton to offer guests access to indoor cycling bikes. Similarly, Hilton hotels have partnered with Wattbike indoor cycling bikes. Want to bust out of the fitness center? A variety of hotels and resorts offer bikes for guests to cruise around on.
If you don’t want to pedal, stroll. “If exercising outdoors motivates you, take a long walk and explore your travel destination,” said Jodi Sullivan, Hilton Worldwide’s senior director of fitness.
Get up early. Vacation days can get away from you, so if exercise is important to you, get it done first thing. “If you look at the time frame between 4:30 a.m. and 6:30 a.m., that is the exact time when someone feels like they have the most control over their day,” said Chris Heuisler, a Westin exercise concierge. Making sure you fit in some exercise — even if it’s just a morning walk — is your chance to start the day off on the right foot.
“And after that workout, I guarantee you won’t regret waking up early. Whatever it is, you won’t regret it,” Heuisler said. Besides, if you really can’t roll out of bed, you can always hit the snooze button. There’s no office to run to while you’re on vacation.
Find a healthy balance. Checking exercise off the list early means you have the rest of the day to do whatever you want, whether that’s exploring a new city or hanging poolside with a good book. Vacation is a time to give your body what it needs most — including that glass of wine. “Incorporating an active element into your vacation is not about weight loss but more about well-being — as well as a way to not feel guilty about all the local food you’ll want to try,” Eilersen said.
Don’t forget to relax. The whole point of a vacation is to unwind and de-stress. Heuisler has a rule to never raise his heart rate while he travels.
“Late taxi to the airport, plane is delayed, bag doesn’t show up, whatever it is, it will get there,” he said. “It offers me my own sense of peace and mindfulness. If you’re going on a trip, take a deep breath when you leave the door. Most things are out of your control now anyway.”