Ever been afraid that taking time off from fitness to travel could affect your progress? Check out these tips on how to stay fit on vacation!

How to Stay Fit on Vacation

Raise your hand if you’ve ever thought “I can’t go on a week-long vacation without exercising because I’ll gain weight, or lose muscle!” Keep your hand up if you have then tried to squeeze in a run each morning of your vacation, or tried to get a good workout in the sad hotel gym, or turned down foods you secretly really wanted to try out of fear that they’d suddenly make you gain 20 pounds. You are not alone.

Now I know not all of my blog readers care about fitness. Period. Going on vacation doesn’t disrupt your routine because, well, it doesn’t exist. And that’s totally fine! In fact, give yourself a pat on the back: you get to go on vacation without stressing out about your workouts. But, this article isn’t really for you.

Actually, this is the article that I wish I had had several years. When I first entered the fitness world, it was with very little understanding of what being “healthy” means. I exercised religiously, ate only vegetables and lean meats, and stressed out whenever something like a vacation disrupted my normal training regimen. But because I love traveling just as much as I love being a gym rat, that kind of lifestyle simply wasn’t sustainable, and certainly wasn’t “healthy.”

Fortunately, I’ve come a long way since then, and have finally found that “#balance” in my life regarding traveling and keeping up with my training. But I know too many other people who love working out have a hard time fully enjoying their time off because they, like I once did, fear losing all of their hard-earned progress. So here is some advice that I have learned through research and trial and error on how to stay fit on vacation (and still enjoy yourself).


how to stay fit on vacation

First, let’s bust some common myths people have about taking time off from their fitness routines.


1. You will lose all of your progress in one week

Let’s do some quick math, shall we? Let’s say that you typically push yourself hard in the gym 5 days a week. There are 52 weeks in a year. Two of those weeks you take off for vacation. And let’s subtract one more week because life happens – you get sick, you have other things going on, for whatever reason you can’t make it to the gym. So that leaves 5 days for 49 weeks = 245 days of exercising in a year. That’s 245 days of hard work putting stress on your body and stretching your limits.

It’s not possible to erase 245 days of work in one week. In fact, the body is usually grateful to take some time off from the gym. After all, muscles are built while resting and recovery. If you never take time off, you risk burning yourself out or even injuring yourself. Don’t believe me? Then take the word of a professional body-builder. Or listen to the scientists: according to research in Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise, for athletes, “strength performance, in general, is maintained for up to 4 weeks of inactivity.” So don’t worry about your one week vacation.

2. You’ll gain tons of weight in one week

Unless you eat WAYYYY over your maintenance calories every day for your entire trip, no, you won’t. If you’re reading this article, chances are that you’re already committed to eating healthy a majority of the time and you have a gym routine. That’s your lifestyle. You aren’t going to completely throw that lifestyle overboard just because you go on vacation for a week. And that means that it’ll actually be pretty difficult to for you to overeat enough food to gain some drastic amount of weight.

A couple of pounds gained from eating unusual foods, sleeping less, and not keeping up your gym routine is to be expected, but once your back home and back into your routine, those will go away.

3. Fitness goals > travel experiences

Nope. Unless fitness is actually your job (like, an Olympic athlete in training, a competitive bodybuilder, etc.), your fitness goals should never take priority over actually enjoying your vacation. When you turn 90 years old, will you look back and say “gosh, I’m so glad I never ate any of that gelato in Rome because that would have been so unhealthy!”? Chances are that, nope, you won’t say that. Because life is meant to be lived, and that means eating the dang gelato.

how to stay fit on vacation

The best gelataria in Rome is Come Il Latte, btw

Now that we’ve debunked those common myths, on to the actual tips on how to maintain your progress and stay fit on vacation.

6 Ways to Stay Fit on Vacation:

1. Eat (and drink) whatever you want

Yeah, you probably won’t see this tip on other “how to stay fit on vacation ” lists….but I mean it! If you deny yourself the foods you want, you’re setting yourself up for failure. By only eating foods you deem to be “healthy,” you risk overindulging on less nutrient-dense foods later.

For example, does this scenario sound familiar?

8 AM: Egg whites and fruit

12 PM: salad, no dressing

2 PM: Black coffee

6 PM: Chicken breast and brown rice

10 PM: Ice cream, a bag of Doritos, and a Snickers bar

We have cravings for a reason. If we ignore them for long enough, eventually we’ll crack and just eat All. The. Food. That’s why you should eat what you want when you want it. Everything in moderation is ok!

Besides, not eating the fun foods is a guaranteed way to ruin your vacation. If you’re going on vacation to Italy, are you seriously going to avoid gelato and pasta because *gasp* they’re not healthy?!? No!! (Plus, if you’ve ever been to Italy, you may have noticed that many Italians are slim and fit looking – I don’t think pasta is the enemy!)

how to stay fit on vacation
Or pizza….you can’t go to Italy and not get pizza

2. Eat local

I went to Greece when I was in college with a group of other students, and do you know where a number of them ate dinner several nights in a row? McDonald’s!! In Greece, the land of feta cheese, lamb gyros, and spanikopita! Don’t be like them; don’t eat McDonald’s in a foreign country. (When I say “eat what you want,” I don’t mean eat McDonald’s when you’re in Greece. That crosses a line).

And not just because you can eat at McDonald’s almost anywhere in the world. But because, if you’re trying to stay fit on vacation, a local restaurant is the better option because it is more likely to use fresh and unprocessed ingredients. You can try foods native to whatever country you’re in without sacrificing your fitness goals for a fast food hamburger.

how to stay fit on vacation
Greece has gelato that rivals Italy’s, just FYI

2. Listen to hunger cues

The body is a lot smarter than we often give it credit for. Did you know it actually tells us when we’re hungry and when we’re full?! In a world full of calorie-counting and macro-tracking, that’s kind of a novel concept. But listening to your body’s hunger cues is a crucial way to help preserve your progress and stay fit on vacation.

Eat whatever you want when you’re hungry, but then stop eating when you’re full. There’s no rule that says you have to finish that entire bowl of Spaghetti alla Carbonara. Eat what you want, and stop when you’re full. That way, you’ll eat the number of calories your body actually wants and needs without overindulging.

how to stay fit on vacation
My mom and I put forth a valiant effort, but we were full long before we were able to finish the whole Bistecca alla Fiorentina!

3. Move

Staying active on your travels is a great way to stay fit on vacation. I never maintain my weightlifting split when I’m traveling, but I don’t lay around on the beach or stay in my hotel room either (but no judgment if that’s the type of vacation you like!)

My family likes to hike or spend the day on foot exploring new towns or cities. There’s kayaking, scuba-diving, and any number of activities that you can do that involve getting up and moving! Even just plain ‘ol walking does far more towards maintaining your progress than many people think.

how to stay fit on vacation
Take a hike!

4. Pack snacks

When you’re out exploring all day, hunger can strike at times when it’s not convenient to go find food. So instead of starving yourself until it’s time for dinner, bring along snacks! Protein bars (I love Clif Builder bars and Dive bars!), fruit, nuts, and chocolate are all easy-to-pack options that will keep you satisfied until you can get a real meal. That way, you won’t feel the need to order every item on the menu at dinner-time.

5. Vitamins and Supplements

When you’re on vacation, it’s not always as easy to eat the types of foods you do at home. Different countries have different types of cuisine and they use different ingredients, and trying all of those new things is part of the travel experience! But eating different foods that you’re not used to can wreak havoc on your digestive system. And not feeling well or ending up sick can really hamper your attempts to stay fit on vacation.

That’s where vitamins and supplements come in. A daily multivitamin is a cheap and easy way to ensure that you’re still getting the nutrients your body needs, even when all you’re doing is eating gyros and baklava.

Greens supplements are also great for traveling. They don’t replace actual fruits and vegetables, but they are a convenient way to get a hefty dose of antioxidants and nutrients when you’re on vacation. I personally use Juice Plus and 1st Phorm Opti-Greens, but there are a wide variety of options out there. (Just make sure to do your research because not all supplements are created equal!)

6. Have fun, do all the things, but try to get some sleep!

When you’re on vacation, it’s important to take advantage of all the opportunities you have and do all of the things you want to to do. But it’s also important to try and get at least some sleep! You don’t want to come back from vacation feeling like you need another vacation. And getting enough sleep will ensure you have enough energy to live each vacation day to the fullest, without needing to take a midday nap. Plus, sleep plays a huge role in keeping your body healthy; getting sleep is one of the best ways to stay fit on vacation.

how to stay fit on vacation

And getting enough sleep means you can get up early enough to catch the sunrise! (Tolo, Greece)

At the end of the day, a vacation is meant to be enjoyed – so enjoy it! The gym will still be there when you get home, and so will your refrigerator full of fruits and vegetables.

For more tips, check out this post full of more travel workout advice!

Did you find these tips helpful? Think I left something off the list? Let me know in the comments!

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Just because you're going on vacation doesn't mean you have to lose all of your fitness progress! Check out these 6 easy tips for how to stay fit on vacation #travel #fitness #exercise #vacation


Yes, you CAN maintain your fitness goals while on vacation (and still have fun!) Check out these 6 easy tips for doing just that #fitness #travel #exercise #gym #vacation

Categories: Travel


Riana Ang-Canning · December 7, 2018 at 3:24 pm

I love this so much! I was worried this would be a long list of all of these exercises to do and foods to avoid. But I love that you prioritized eating locally, having fun and listening to your natural hunger cues. And thank you for busting those myths at the top! So important!


Natalia · December 7, 2018 at 7:02 pm

The next time we go to Italy we definately will try gelato, which we avoided last time. The pictures look so pretty and teasing. We usually walk around 3-4 times more then on a regular day at home and come back to the hotel exhauseted. I didn’t worry about gaining weight, but we felt that we needed a vacation on the beach after vacation in Italy. Your tips are very useful. Vitamins and Juice Plus would be very beneficial. Thank you for reminding us about vitamins. When we traveled in Ireland we had to taste local cuisine every morning at a breakfast in every hotel where we stayed. It was delicious and kept us going thougout the day.

Kayla Marie · December 8, 2018 at 1:43 pm

That gelato looks amazing. I think it’s way too easy to beat ourselves up for falling off a routine while traveling, but what’s truly important is trying that gelato, pizza, and all the other amazing things that come only with travel! What’s the point if you can’t enjoy it? Taking care of yourself is what’s important over-all, but depriving ourselves is something we shouldn’t do when we have opportunities to enjoy new things.

Emmalene · December 9, 2018 at 12:05 pm

“Raise your hand if you’ve ever thought “I can’t go on a week-long vacation without exercising because I’ll gain weight, or lose muscle!”” – I almost stopped reading at this point because my first thought was “nope, I’ve never thought that” 🙂 Yet this post is chockful of sensible advice about enjoy enjoying travel without overindulging and that’s definitely advice I can get on board with!

Wendy Pappas · December 9, 2018 at 3:36 pm

These are great tips. I tend to walk more on vacation than anyother time, but I still stress about what I eat. I took a cruise and ate boiled eggs for breakfast and worked out everyday. Which is not the way to do vacation. I will put theses tips to work.

Jenny · December 10, 2018 at 5:29 am

This is great. We are leaving Friday for a week in NYC. I hope the weather is good enough to mostly walk. This is how I justify not exercising, just walk and stay active. My husband is the one who has to exercise every day!

Liz @ I Heart Vegetables · December 10, 2018 at 2:39 pm

I love these tips! I try to stay active on vacation but I always remind myself that missing a few days won’t hurt!

Jane Frith · December 11, 2018 at 10:04 am

Agree with this 100%: keeping a balance is everything. I think it is harder to keep fit when away from home and sometimes now I am away for three months at a time, but like you, I try to keep moving. I have to keep fit because I love skiing and if you don’t maintain a level of fitness, skiing can be hard work, not to mention dangerous. I don’t go to the gym, but hiking and biking are great ways of exploring new places. We also try to keep up our jogging, but when touring and in a strange place it is not always possible and this is the one thing I find most difficult. Fully agree with your thoughts on food also. Listen to your body. We were always encouraged to clear our plates as children, but as an adult I have come to realise that that is wrong. Stop when you are full. Eating local cuisine is an essential part of experiencing new places when travelling. Thank you. You have confirmed my thoughts completely. Happy travels!

Candy · December 11, 2018 at 8:07 pm

I can’t believe your fellow classmates in college ate at McDonald’s when they were in Greece!!! I went to Skopelos Island in Greece and the food there was fabulous. The best tomatoes I’ve ever had till this day was on that island 🙂

Heather · December 11, 2018 at 8:35 pm

Totally agree….with ALL of these! SOO true that you aren’t going to gain 10 lbs on vacation, you do need to eat locally and eat what you want and ditch the routine for those few days. Honestly, traveling helped me lose weight. I walk to explore cities, eat what I want and when I quit stressing over it, eating until I was full (not stuffed) and staying on the move, it fell off! But honestly, this is a great guide to follow!

Sab · December 13, 2018 at 2:27 am

This is really helpful, I used to struggle a lot with this, until I started with yoga, which i can do pretty much anywhere. Hotel buffets are my weakness, I try to load my plate with veggies and fruits first before I hwad over to the desserts…

Michael Hodgson · December 13, 2018 at 6:52 am

Absolutely NO reason not to keep your fitness up while traveling. Eat local (and in moderation), move (walking for sure, and Therese and I often go on running tours to explore the area), sleep and stay the hell away from the fast food … great tips.

Erica · December 13, 2018 at 11:25 am

Great tips here! I’ve found that I always lose weight travelling rather than gain. I’m always up for walking to see the sights over taxis or public transit, and I love to sneak some hiking in if there’s nature around. Despite eating and drinking to my hearts content, i think the constant motion balances things out. I also find that many Americans lose weight travelling abroad, simply because the quality of food is better!

The Travel Bunny · December 13, 2018 at 11:49 am

I love your tips and couldn’t agree more. I can eat like a horse when I’m travelling, but with all the walking and sometimes hiking, I end up coming home in better shape than when I left 🙂

Zac · December 13, 2018 at 1:18 pm

I can totally relate! I love to be active when I travel, be it hiking, swimming or some other kind of outdoor activities. Even if I’m spending all my time in cities, I find that I walk much more than I do at home. Because of all this I actually feel fitter when I return than when I leave, despite not watching what I eat (as you say, travel goals are wayyy more important than fitness goals so I’m not gonna turn down any food!)

Elaine Masters · December 16, 2018 at 10:54 pm

Great tips. I decided to cut back on breakfast when traveling and have been carrying a protein powder then using juice in a travel cup. I also add ground flax and have been taking Diatomaceous earth as well. Keeps me going to lunch and I also carry a few nuts for pangs.

Lauryn · January 11, 2019 at 9:39 pm

I LOVE THIS! Not only is it informative, but it’s attainable. Staying healthy while traveling is always difficult but we should never deprive ourselves (especially when gelato is involved)! This was a great read and I’m sharing this with all my friends 💕


La Vida is Belle · January 11, 2019 at 11:54 pm

Such great tips…honestly, a couple of years ago we went on a vacation to Dominican Republic and stayed at an All-Inclusive so the eating was just non-stop! The worst part is that we had just finished a three month program and diet with a nutritionist and we went crazy! Eating healthy on vacation is not easy, but your tips will certainly help for the future! Thank you 🙂

Louise Grace · January 12, 2019 at 10:12 am

I really need to take on board some of this advice, both home and away! I’m terrible at trying to stay healthy!

Amanda · January 12, 2019 at 9:47 pm

This is excellent advice! I can’t imagine traveling to countries with amazing food and NOT eating it just because I’m obsessing over counting calories. Being realistic about keeping up a fitness routine while traveling makes for much happier vacations!

Josy A · January 13, 2019 at 12:56 am

Such a good post! I love that a post about staying fit has so many tasty looking photos of ice-cream!

Linnea · January 19, 2019 at 6:20 pm

Loved your post! A daily multivitamin is so helpful when you’re traveling and always on the go! Sincerely a great tip, and more people need to pack them!

Jyoti · January 19, 2019 at 7:09 pm

I absolutely love your tips!! Eat local, eat fresh, move, enjoy and be happy. I’ve never gained an ounce on vacation and I haven’t even tried to control a thing. Maybe being vegan helps.

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