6 universal etiquette tips for anyone who exercises while traveling

Oct 20, 2019

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Have you ever seen someone working out in the airport terminal? Or using the airplane as his or her own personal gymnasium? If you travel frequently, the chances are pretty good you have.

Fitness is a way of life for many people, including those who fly often. Many travelers struggle to find time to exercise and must get creative, so an airport terminal during a long layover might just do the trick. And there are plenty of leisure travelers who would never consider skipping a workout.

I love to stay fit while I travel. Exercise is part of my daily routine at home, and that doesn’t change when I’m traveling. But people who work out on the road need to keep a few rules of conduct in mind — otherwise you could find yourself on Passenger Shaming’s naughty list.

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Freshen up after a workout

That person you saw at the gate doing wall sits could very well be sitting next to you on your flight, so let’s hope he or she freshens up before boarding. Working out in the airport is a great way to pass the time during an extended layover, but you need to make sure you carve out time for hygiene. No one wants to sit next to a sweaty person on a plane, especially in economy.

Many airport lounges — including a handful of top Priority Pass lounges in the U.S. — have showers, so if you’re planning to exercise and have access to a lounge, take a post-workout shower. If that’s not an option, at least bring a change of clothes and body wipes with you. It’ll only take a few minutes, and your seatmate will thank you.

Be mindful of your fellow travelers

When working out, be considerate of those around you in the airport, hotel or anywhere else your travels may take you. Stay out of the way of people in a hurry to make their flights, especially if you feel the need to do lunges or air squats on the moving walkway in the terminal. (I’ve seen it happen.)

That also means keeping your shoes on (bare feet are just as gross at the airport as they are on the airplane); trying to avoid excessive grunting and other noises; and getting too sweaty. If you’re working out in the airport, for example, keep the intensity down a bit. I’m not saying you shouldn’t push yourself, but be aware of your perspiration. Shed some layers if need be, and make sure you’re not dripping sweat everywhere.

Don’t force your fitness routine on others

Let’s not force our workouts on anyone who isn’t interested. Many leisure travelers want nothing to do with physical exertion while on vacation, and that’s fine. Let them enjoy their vacation the way they wish to. If you can’t resist working out, do your thing. But don’t make others feel like they should be doing it too.

Keep the noise down

How would you feel if you were trying to get some sleep in a hotel room and the person directly above you was jumping around in their room?

Burpees, for example, are a great travel exercise. They’re very effective for everything from fat loss to muscle growth, and they require no equipment. But there’s a time and a place for them. That goes for jumping jacks, jump squats, jumping lunges or jumping anything. If it requires your feet to leave the ground, save it for when you’re on the ground floor.

The same thing goes for early morning and late-night workouts. We all deal with busy schedules when traveling, so you may have to exercise before the sun comes up or at the end of the day. That’s fine, but just remember that those burpees make a lot of noise and your neighbors might be sleeping.

And, again, no matter where you are, try to keep the shouting, grunting and yelling to a minimum. Also, though it may seem obvious, not everyone wants to listen to your hardcore gym playlist, so use headphones. Many hotel gyms even offer them for free.

Never wake your travel partners for a workout

A lot of fitness enthusiasts like to start their day with a workout. Whether it’s going for a run, swimming laps in the pool or using the hotel gym, many of us workout “junkies” are early risers. But when you’re traveling with others, keep in mind that it’s best to not wake them because you can’t find your running shoes.

If you’re staying in a room with others, here’s some advice: Lay out your workout clothes, supplements, headphones and anything else you’re going to use during your workout the night before. Set your phone alarm to vibrate and keep your phone close by (this has never failed me). Get up, make as little noise as possible, get ready for your workout and get out the door as quietly as you can.

Don’t treat the airplane like your home gym

Simple stretches are great for long flights, as are easy, unobtrusive exercises (think: taking a stroll around the cabin when the pilot turns off the seatbelt sign). Staying active on an airplane can make the flight more comfortable, and keep the blood flowing. But as a general rule of thumb, never block the aisle or disrupt your neighbors. That means you won’t be leading any yoga classes in the galley, using the aisle for walking lunges or practicing any stretches that involve banging into your seatmates.

Featured illustration by Abbie Winters.

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