young woman doing yoga meditation at airportYou’ve just gotten back into your fitness groove when yet again, it’s time to fly out for a business trip or a family vacation. How do you keep momentum — or at the very least, not regress – when travel throws off your routine, limits what you can pack, and lands you somewhere where you can’t exercise the way you’re used to? This is a dilemma many frequent flyers face, and without planning ahead, it can seriously sabotage fitness goals. Thankfully, there are many ways to keep fitness a priority even when you’re traveling.

Working (Out) Around a Flight

Plane rides mean spending the better part of a day moving very little, and don’t provide many options for exercise on route. One solution is to work out early in the morning prior to your flight, or fit in some quick body-weight exercises like squats, lunges, and wall pushups while you’re hanging out in the terminal. If you have time, briskly walk the airport halls to stretch your muscles and get in a cardio workout. If there isn’t enough time before your flight, what about when you arrive? Yes, sitting in a seat for hours can leave you feeling exhausted, but you’ll feel much better if you can fit in a quick walk, swim in the hotel pool, or jog on the treadmill before crashing in bed.

During the Trip

You may not be able to move, but don’t forget to take care of your body in other ways. The atmosphere of circulated air in a plane is dehydrating, so drink plenty of water (even if it means a few more bathroom trips). To reduce the temptation of unhealthy flight snacks, bring your own stash of protein bars and fruit/nut mix.

Fitness Gear You Can Pack

Moving ahead to your destination, there may not be always be a pool, fitness center, or even a place to jog, so you’ll need to take your fitness gear with you. Think about items you can easily (and legally) fit in your carry-on or checked luggage. Here are a few ideas:

  • A jump rope
  • Resistance bands and tubes
  • Fitness DVDs
  • Light (5 pound and under) hand or ankle weights
  • A deflated fitness ball

Two additional items you shouldn’t forget if you want to keep yourself accountable are gym shoes and workout wear. Place these items, perhaps along with your iPod and fitness watch, in a separate bag inside your suitcase so you’ll be ready to workout whenever you get a chance.

Where and How to Workout

The easiest place to workout when you’ve reached your destination is your hotel room. If the weather and area permits, take a quick walk to scope out any parks or open areas where you can use other objects as makeshift gym equipment. Use one of the items you packed, or make up your own full-body workout, including:

  • Pull ups and chin ups – if you can’t find a bar (or a playground swing set), find a sturdy table, and lay under it, gripping the edge and pulling yourself up from the floor – a move known as a bodyweight row. You can even use a chair for your feet to increase the difficulty.
  • Pushups – If you can’t do full pushups, place your body at an angle to the wall for better leverage.
  • Squats and lunges – these are some of the most effective lower-body moves, no matter where you are. To add movement, do walking lunges (with hand weights or water bottles) up and down the hallways.
  • Core exercises – planks, sit-ups, mountain-climbers, and other moves are easy to do anywhere.

Staying Accountable

Travel messes up our usual routine, so even if you don’t intend to forget a workout, it might happen if you don’t take deliberate steps to keep yourself accountable. Set a calendar reminder or alarm on your phone, and keep your gear with you as much as possible.

Travel doesn’t have to deter your fitness if you don’t let it. Be prepared and stay in shape, no matter where you go.