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While travel and exercise often end up at the top of most New Year’s Resolution lists, people rarely learn to combine the two — for some, a vacation even becomes an intentional break from the usual routine with no work and no workouts. While a nice hotel fitness center can be a convenient option when you’re on the road, here are seven tips for taking your workout beyond the hotel gym and making it an integral part of your next trip.
1. Go for a Stroll Around Town
A dependable day one activity when visiting any new city is a walking tour — you’ll learn the lay of the land, see the highlights, learn a little of the local history, meet other travelers and best of all, get several miles of walking in. I’m a big fan of free walking tours, especially Sandeman’s New Europe Tours, which operate in 18 cities worldwide — the walking tours are free but guides make their money from tips, giving them more of an incentive to be interesting and entertaining throughout. My golden rule: the more you heard a certain city during your high school history class, the better the tour will be — for me, nothing tops the three-hour history-packed walking tour of Berlin.
2. Go for a Run
If you’re missing mileage runs, why not just save yourself the exhaustion and settle for a regular run instead? Although I spent almost the entirety of 2016 traveling, I still managed to train for a marathon and an ultra-marathon, which required logging some serious miles in unfamiliar lands. Waterfront paths and forest preserve trails work best as they’ll have the least amount of things to distract you — like intersections and other traffic-related interruptions — and allow you to see parts of the city you might not otherwise get to see, like graffiti art under bridges or fall foliage in the wild. If you manage to find a path just off the beach, there’s no better — or more refreshing — way to end a run than by jumping in the water.
3. Grab a Bike
Rather than hopping on and hopping off those aptly-named buses, follow a bike tour or better yet, rent a bike for the day and go exploring on your own. Bike sharing systems have popped up in major cities across the globe with reasonable pricing — a full-day pass for Divvy bikes in Chicago starts at $10, for instance. Another great bike option is the 22-mile ride through San Francisco across the Golden Gate Bridge, where you’ll pedal past Sausalito, redwood forests, a floating houseboat city and end your ride in Tiburon to catch a ferry back across the bay.
4. Do Some Yoga
There’s no reason to miss out on your regular yoga practice just because you’re traveling. All you need is a hotel towel or a sarong — you can also bring along a travel yoga mat like I do — and a bit of space in a park, beach, rooftop, or pretty much anywhere with a nice, relaxing view. Flow with the sound of the waves crashing or trees rustling around you. Like always, you’ll finish your practice calm, recharged and ready to take on the day.
5. Dance Whenever Possible
No Cuban experience is complete without a sampling of some Salsa dancing (you should also try the Mambo, Rumba or Cha Cha Cha, which are popular here as well). Same goes for the Tango in Argentina, Samba in Brazil or even tribal dancing in Africa. Take a class or just show up at a club and learn from the locals — you’ll have so much fun you won’t even realize you had a workout until you find the sweat stains on your shirt the next day.
6. Try Some Water Sports
The oceans cover two thirds of the planet, and the natural resistance of water provides a great workout while you’re exploring its depths. An hour of SCUBA diving can burn as many calories as a light jog, while the slow, meditative breathing required during your dive can relieve the many stresses caused by the air-breathing world. If you’d rather stay above sea level, opt for an exploratory excursion on a kayak or stand-up paddle board instead.
7. Take a Hike
Great views are often the reward for a strenuous hike, the best of which can’t be reached by car. Many — like the Na Pali Coast in Kauai, pictured below — are just a day trip from your hotel, while others can be found in the middle of a big city. The Christ the Redeemer statue in Rio De Janeiro is a must-visit, but not many people know about the steep 90-minute jungle hike you can take to get there from Parque Lage in Rio’s Jardim Botânico neighborhood. The cable car ride to Sugarloaf Mountain should also not be missed, but I’d save it for just the way down. You can actually climb the back side of the mountain, but hire a guide because you’ll need climbing gear for one section of the ascent. After a hearty hike, your caipirinha cocktail at the top will be much more deserved.
Jogging on a human hamster wheel while watching news about the world you’ve come here to escape is not the ideal way to start the day while you’re on vacation. But if you follow these tips, you can enjoy an active trip fully — and guilt-free.
What are your favorite ways to stay fit while traveling? Tell us about them, below.
Featured image courtesy of the author.
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