Want to travel cheap? Stay fit.

I think of budget travel as a sort of prolonged marathon.  There’s the constant walking of course—hours and hours of walking and the occasional sprint brought on by a train delay.  And the climbing.  If you love medieval hill towns as much as I do you’re in for a lot of uphill climbs.  (Pro tip: there are plenty of perfectly decent, well-located hotel rooms in charming European towns to be had cheap if you’re willing to climb up four steep flights of stairs.)  And naturally there’s the schlepping; your backpack, your water and your picnic supplies.  And then there’s the adventure:  let’s say you find yourself in a small Umbrian town and you hear that an 850 year old uncorrupted body of the town’s patron saint is on display in a church on the top of a mountain.  What do you do?  Scramble up a trail to the top of the mountain and view this miracle yourself.

I’m not the body police: people come in various sizes, ages and abilities and that’s a good thing.  All I’m saying is, if you want to travel cheap, stay in the best shape you can.  As a middle-aged uncoordinated sports hater, I’m hardly someone to turn to for fitness advice.  But despite my klutzy ways, I stay in shape to travel.

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Do I pay for a gym membership?  No way!

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Here’s my “gym”; an exercise mat, a yoga ball, a weighted ball, two ten pound weights, two eighteen pound kettlebells and one resistance band.  I have a binder of exercise instructions photocopied from library books divided into different types of workouts.  Some of this equipment was given to me as a gift, so I’d estimate I’ve spent about $100 or so total in exercise gear.  HOB, who is a rather more reluctant exerciser than me (don’t tell him I said that) also shares the gear,  so all of this has been an excellent investment.

Strictly speaking, all you really need is a mat and a good pair of walking shoes for your travel fitness routine.  Body weight exercises like pushups, planks and squats combined and daily walking and stair climbing will keep you fit for free.

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My passport has so many stamps, I can use it for biceps curls.

How do you stay fit to travel?

 

 

 

 

 

38 comments

  1. It is so true that travel, especially budget travel, requires a huge amount of strength and endurance! As someone who has trouble walking long distances due to long-term health problems, I often have to choose the more expensive accommodation or food option, simply because it is closer and requires less walking!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I like to pay a bit more for a centrally located room too, not because I mind walking, but because it saves time and I love knowing there’s a bathroom nearby. Sorry to hear about your health problems–good for you for still traveling!

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  2. I’m no spring chicken…and far from fit….but if I want to see it I’ll get there. The knees aren’t too happy about going downhill though….
    What is getting me in the last couple of years is the realisation that I just cannot manage multiple luggage any more. Last year’s extravaganza of walking miles through Madrid’s Atocha station with two huge wheelies, a carry on and a handbag – not a trolley to be seen – made me determine to travel as light as possible in future.

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    1. Oh exactly–packing light is essential too (and makes it easier on the knees when you’re wearing a backpack).

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Great post, I’ve been building up with some jogging and hand weights in preparation for travel in October, I think the fitter and stronger I feel can only make my travel more comfortable and also the benefits are psychological as I want to feel brave and strong for travelling alone. Hate that you look so bloody gorgeous and slim though, that’s just showing off 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Awww, you’re too sweet! 🙂 Have you tried those core strengthening exercises too? I find those to be particularly helpful.

      Jogging hurts my knees or else I’d try that as well. Wishing you a great solo trip!

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  4. I couldn’t agree more! I was never fitter than when I was travelling for cheap in Europe with my sister! We walked all day, climbed too many stairs to keep track of and also had quite a few mad sprints when trying to catch a bus or train! But the funny thing is, I never really noticed it at the time. After all, who wouldn’t want to walk around Paris or Florence all day? It wasn’t until I was back home that I realised how exhausting it had actually been on my body! I will definitely do some more cardio and strength training before going on my next adventure!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh yes–I think that walking is my favorite thing to do in Paris since the people watching is so delicious!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I agree! Best place to people watch. From tourists with their cameras to native Parisians with their perfect outfits…it’s such fun 🙂

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  5. I envy you body curves, you very dynamic, how to maintain fit in the trip, I think it is easy diet to walking or cycling instead of driving, the most important thing is to maintain a happy mood, do you think?
    Have a nice day!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Thank you for the compliment, Meihsiu. That is an excellent point and since I don’t own a car I always do a lot of walking.

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  7. The other bonus of walking everywhere when you travel is that you can eat and eat and eat to make up for it! I somehow manage to lose weight every time I am in Italy and you better believe it’s not because I’m skipping the gelato. 😉

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I would be so disappointed in you if you skipped the gelato! 😉

      Have you tried the pistachio flavor yet?

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  8. That’s great advice! Works for me the other way too. Budget travel makes me fitter because there’s no way I’m traveling 200 kms on a dusty road in a country like Nepal and NOT climbing that treacherous hill for a view. Hard on the knees at times and the back gets a bit of a battering but they’re better off than they were previously when they were slouching in front of a laptop.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Our bodies are not museum pieces–let’s give them a bit of a battering,

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  9. I too don’t pay for a gym membership (I mean, that expense could go to traveling!). I do walk, jog, lift weights, and do some stair workouts so it helps in the long run when I’m traveling and have to walk around an entire city, jog to catch a bus or train, carry a heavy backpack, and climb staircases to see some excellent views! All that exercise also affords the possibility to try some good (albeit sometimes unhealthy) local cuisine without feeling too guilty. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That’s always my filter too–could this expense go to traveling?

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  10. I’m impressed, and shamed. You go girl!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. No shame called for–it’s a pretty scrappy operation over here. (And thanks!)

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  11. So true! Backpacking is especially draining – I carry a 50L pack which is rarely full, but even with that I am constantly massaging my shoulders. I feel sorry for snails.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. What brand of backpack do you use? I’ve been looking into buying a new one, but it seems like what I want –a fitted pack that’s sized for airline carryon, extra points for waterproof–doesn’t exist.

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  12. I reckon you are right unless you are traveling through Germany, where we found the food to excercise ratio could not be balanced no matter how much we walked and we walked a lot!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s an occupational hazard traveling in Germany–there are sausages for sale everywhere and the public transportation is so darn efficient you hardly get a chance to walk!

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  13. I’d never thought about this, but you’re so right. I walk everywhere to stay in shape for journeys.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. And the extra muscle tone is a welcome side effect!

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  14. The blog is really great. Makes me wonder how thoughtful is this.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you andrewflower!

      Like

  15. Love the idea of a binder with different things to do in your workout. I’m a home fitness nerd (and traveler!) and I’m always googling things to do in my workouts when I get bored with my routine. Documenting them is such a great way to save time on that! I also find that I tend to lose weight/gain muscle tone when I travel even though I eat like a queen because of all the walking and I think that is the perfect trade off. All the delicious delicacies of a new country to go with my 30 minute walk to and from the restaurant!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I have a subscription to Oxygen magazine which is full of great workouts–I rip them out and put them in the binder too.

      My travel weakness is street food and cheese. I eat a lot of it and I’m not sorry.

      Liked by 1 person

  16. czfhubrich · · Reply

    The moment I started travelling everywhere, including long international trips with a carry on my life changed for the better! Going on an African camping safari, fitness and budget are my friends!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You can carry all your camping supplies in a carry on? I’m impressed!

      Like

  17. My parents say that their primary reason for continuing to exercise (besides all those “it keeps you healthy” rumors) is so they can continue to travel, and I love them for it. They’re going with my husband and I to Germany and Belgium this fall, and I know I don’t have to worry about avoiding stairs or limiting our sightseeing because of mobility issues. Being functionally fit makes traveling a million times easier.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That’s great you’re traveling with your parents! That mean when you’re their age you’ll still be going at it strong too.

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  18. Didn’t realise it but it is so true!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I think you’d realize it fast enough if you started traveling hardcore without being in proper shape!

      Liked by 1 person

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