Taking a break from your regular exercise routine is a welcome change of pace on vacation—but if you’re gone longer than a week, the indulgent eating and extra umbrella beverages tend to catch up with the, ahem, waistline. Enter: on-the-road fitness. But if you’re usually deterred by exercise gear taking up too much suitcase space, or a last-minute decision to swap running shoes for Jimmy Choos, you may decide to skip this all-important step.
Rather than saying no to exercise because you can’t pack your preferred paraphernalia, we’ve assembled some of our top ideas for staying fit without the extra bulk—in your bag, that is.
Ditch: Bulky Tennis Shoes // Bring: Nothing
Ok, this isn’t an exercise hall pass, rather a challenge to choose a hotel that includes a complimentary set of sneakers (and clothes—down to the socks)! For example, Fairmont Hotels and Resorts offer complimentary top-to-toe gear to members of their free-to-join loyalty program (Fairmont President’s Club, or FPC). Having test-driven this program from California to Kenya, I’ve saved a ton of suitcase real estate, and had a Reebok outfit waiting in my room to sweat it up in locations like Dallas, Quebec, and Sonoma (for biking to wineries, of course). Insider Tip: If you’re a base FPC member, this program costs $10/stay. For top-tier members, it’s free.
Ditch: Multiple Sets of Exercise Wear // Bring: One Combo Set
I’m not sure about you, but on past trips I’ve made the mistake of taking two or three sets of stuff: running clothes, yoga clothes, AND biking clothes. This is not practical—especially in the era of ever-increasing suitcase size and weight restrictions! Now I just bring one versatile set that can take me from a waterfall hike to a downward dog. Yes, you may have to do a little in-sink laundry en route, but traveling without the extra pounds is well worth it.
Ditch: It All (Almost) // Bring: A Bathing Suit
Two years ago I spent a few weeks exploring the ABC islands (Aruba, Curacao and Bonaire), and in lieu of my bulky workout apparel, I saved space shoving a bathing suit and goggles into the nooks and crannies of my small carry-on. Wanting to make sure I supplemented my running or gym time with another form of exercise, I did laps at my hotels’ pools or the region’s crystal-blue bays. I didn’t miss my runners one bit, and I got to splash about in the sea. Find out if your destination has any swimming options; it’s a great way to break out of your routine from home.
While we could recount every ditch-this-swap-that scenario under the sun, getting creative with your vacation exercise options starts with an openness to pare down your packing, and at least try another form of fitness while you’re away (or do a hybrid of your regular routine). Examples: take windsurfing lessons in Bonaire, cycle with the locals in Copenhagen, or hike to a waterfall in Hawaii. Consider your destination’s landscape and what you can do, then pack accordingly with the bare minimum. Making a good sweat part of the day’s itinerary will even help you find trip experiences you never expected.