Maintain your fitness on the road with our hotel room-friendly workouts

Whether you are visiting family, taking a vacation, or going on a business trip for work, travel demands a lot. It can throw you off your routine, which includes potentially derailing your fitness regimen. Heck, keeping up with workouts even during the normal week can be challenging, much less when you are out of town.

That is why we have developed this comprehensive guide for travel workouts. Your exercise doesn’t need to take a backseat when you’re on the road. Follow our simple tips and use our trainer-built workouts to stay on track with your fitness goals.

Medical disclaimer: This article is intended for educational and informational purposes only. It is not a substitute for health or medical advice. For medical advice, contact an appropriate healthcare provider. 

Travel workouts statistics

Stay Active Wherever You Are

Staying active while you travel is a great way to remain dedicated to your goals and ensure your hard-earned habits don’t fall by the wayside. And apparently, most travelers agree; a study1 from Expedia found that 53% of those surveyed felt it is important to exercise while away from home. Additionally, physical activity can reduce jet lag and adverse side effects of travel, like sleep disturbances2.

Below are some easy-to-follow training options, including a 20-minute, no-equipment workout, a 30-minute minimal-equipment workout for the hotel gym, a family-friendly workout, and a list of handy stretches you can do while seated in a plane or car.

20-Minute Bodyweight Workout

This 20-minute bodyweight workout will challenge various muscle groups, build strength and stability, boost cardiovascular health, and can be done just about anywhere. Remember to focus on performing the movements with control, never sacrificing form for speed. 

Set a timer for 20 minutes and see how many rounds you can complete. 

20-minute travel workout

AMRAP 20:

  • 10 air squats
  • 10 walking lunges each side
  • 20 paces of bear crawls 
  • 10 bodyweight shoulder press
  • 10 cross-body mountain climbers 
  • 10 diamond push-ups

Air (Bodyweight) Squats

  1. Stand with your feet hip-width apart, your toes pointing ahead or slightly angled outward.
  2. Unlock your knees and slightly hinge at your hips to shoot your glutes behind you. Begin bending your knees and lowering your hips toward the floor. Maintain a straight back and engaged core. 
  3. Continue to lower until your hips are at or below parallel to the floor, then stand.

Walking Lunges

  1. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and your hands on your hips. Take a large step forward with your right leg, leaving your left foot in place. 
  2. Bend your left knee to lower your body toward the floor, keeping your back straight and your core braced. Continue lowering until your left knee almost touches the floor and your right leg is bent at 90 degrees. 
  3. Push through your right foot to bring the right leg back together with the left. 
  4. Repeat on the other side.

Bear Crawls

  1. Get on all fours with your knees below your hips and your hands below your shoulders. 
  2. Raise your hips, lift your knees off the floor, and extend your legs and arms, keeping your neck in a neutral position. Brace your core.
  3. Step your right hand and left foot forward simultaneously. Next step with your left hand and right foot. Continue alternating hands and feet with opposite hand and foot moving together each time. 

Bodyweight Shoulder Press AKA Pike Push-up

  1. Get into a downward dog position, hands and feet on the floor, bottom pointed at the ceiling. Your body should form a triangle shape with your head in between your arms. 
  2. Bend your elbows to lower your head toward the floor. Gently tap the top of your head to the floor before pushing through your hands to raise back into the starting position. 

Cross-Body Mountain Climbers

  1. Get into a high-plank position. 
  2. Bring your right knee toward your chest, twisting to bring it towards your left elbow. 
  3. Contract your abdominals to perform the movement, and then reverse the motion and place your leg back in the starting position. Switch sides and repeat. This is one rep.

Diamond Push-Ups

  1. Start in a high-plank position with your hands under your chest. Your index fingers and thumbs should touch to form a diamond shape.
  2. Keep a straight back and brace your core. Bend your elbows to lower your chest toward the floor until it touches the tops of your hands. 
  3. Push through your hands and extend your elbows to return to the starting position. 
  4. Make this exercise easier by leaving your knees on the floor or elevating your hands on a step or bench. To increase the challenge, place your feet on an elevated surface.

30-Minute Limited Equipment Workout 

You can do this 30-minute limited equipment workout anywhere so long as you have some dumbbells or kettlebells, a resistance band or two, and an elevated surface such as a step or bench. 

The first two exercises serve as a warm-up for this full-body workout, so go lighter with these before moving on to the following exercises. Use a weight that is challenging enough that you cannot perform more than 3 to 5 additional reps before failure. 

Also, keep in mind that you can always modify these exercises to make them easier or harder. For example, if weighted crunches are tough, do side planks or other core exercises. If the banded hamstring curls are difficult, you can do dumbbell deadlifts instead.

Limited equipment travel workout

Three Rounds for Warmup:

  • 20 banded pull-aparts
  • 10 dumbbell wood chops/side

Four Rounds:

  • 10 Bulgarian split squats/side
  • 10 banded hamstring curls/side
  • 10 squat thrusts
  • 10 floor chest presses
  • 15 weighted crunches or sit-ups
  • Rest 2 minutes between rounds

Band Pull-Apart

  1. Grasp a resistance band with your palms up at chest height.
  2. Pull the band apart, bringing the band to touch your chest while separating your hands.
  3. Squeeze your shoulder blades back and down. Maintain a tall posture and keep your ribs down. 

Dumbbell Wood Chops

  1. Firmly hold a dumbbell in both hands and stand with your feet shoulder-width apart. Keep your arms straight throughout this exercise.
  2. Lift the dumbbell toward your right side, above your head, while pivoting your body toward the right. 
  3. Twist your body, bringing the dumbbell down to the left hip, bending your knees, and lowering your hips to place the dumbbell near the floor. 

Bulgarian Split Squats

  1. Stand with your feet hip-width apart, a dumbbell in each hand.
  2. Place your left foot behind you on an elevated surface, such as a step or a bench. 
  3. Slowly bend your right knee, keeping the weight on this front foot until your left knee nearly touches the floor. 
  4. Push through your right front foot to come to standing. 

Standing Banded Hamstring Curls

  1. With your feet hip-width apart, place a small loop band around the top of your right ankle and step on the other end of the band with your left foot. 
  2. Place your hands on a stable surface such as a table.
  3. Lift your right foot behind you by bending your right knee. Keep your hips steady and level, moving only your right leg below the knee. 
  4. Continue lifting your right heel toward your glute to feel the contraction in your hamstring keeping your quads in line with each other. 
  5. Pause for a count of one when your hamstring reaches full contraction or at about 90 degrees, then slowly lower your foot to the floor with control. 

Dumbbell or Banded Squat Thrust

  1. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, either with a band under your feet with ends grasped in each hand or holding a pair of dumbbells above your shoulders. 
  2. Hinge slightly at your hips and squat, keeping your chest pointed forward. 
  3. Push your feet into the floor and extend your knees to stand up while simultaneously pressing the dumbbells or band overhead, fully extending your arms.

Dumbbell Floor Chest Press

  1. Lie on your back, bend your knees, and keep your feet flat on the floor. Raise a dumbbell in each hand directly above your shoulders, keeping your upper arms on the floor.
  2. Push the dumbbells straight up, pausing at the top to squeeze your chest muscles before slowly bringing the weight down to the starting position.

Weighted Crunches

  1. Lie on your back with your feet on the floor; knees bent 90 degrees, and a single dumbbell in your hands.
  2. Lift the weight over your chest. Lock your elbows with extended arms and ensure your lower back is pressed into the floor. 
  3. Engage your abdominals and gently raise your shoulders off the floor, bringing your ribs toward your pelvic bones using your abdominal muscles. 
  4. Hold at the top to feel the contraction in your abs before lowering back to the floor.

Family-Friendly Workout 

This fun, family-friendly workout includes beginner-friendly movements that will build strength, mobility, and stability. The first two exercises serve as a warm-up for your entire body, so be sure to take them slowly. Make sure you have a safe surface to move on since your hands will touch the ground. Perform each exercise for one to two minutes. Do as many rounds as you like.

  • 1 to 2 minutes of butt kicks
  • 1 to 2 minutes of inchworms
  • 1 to 2 minutes of bear crawls
  • 1 to 2 minutes of crab walks
  • 1 to 2 minutes of duck walks
  • 1 to 2 minutes of frog jumps

Butt Kicks

  1. Stand tall and brace your core. To start, jog in place.
  2. Bring your right foot up behind you to your right glute as you propel yourself forward. Repeat with the left foot when your right foot lands in front.
  3. Continue running and switching sides, kicking toward your glutes with each step.

Inchworms

  1. Stand tall then hinge at the hips to put your hands on the floor in front of you.
  2. Keeping your legs straight, walk your hands away from your body without letting your hips sag. 
  3. Stop when your hands are under your shoulders. Next, take small steps to walk your feet toward your hands. 
  4. Pick your hands up from the ground to stand up and repeat.

Bear Crawls

  1. Get on all fours, knees stacked below your hips and your hands stacked below your shoulders. 
  2. Lift your hips and knees off the ground, extending your legs and arms while keeping your neck in a neutral position and engaging your core.
  3. Step your right hand and left foot forward at the same time, then step with your left hand and right foot. Continue this pattern, switching hands and feet. Your opposite hand and foot move together each time. 

Crab Walks

  1. Sit on the ground and bend your knees with your feet flat on the floor and place your hands behind you with your fingers facing toward you. 
  2. Lift your hips by pushing through your heels and engaging your core. Your hips will remain lifted through the entire movement. 
  3. Step your right foot and right hand forward to move ahead then switch and move your left hand and foot forward. Continue alternating from your right to your left, keeping your hips raised. To move backward push your body back by pushing through your palm and heel of the same side, alternating sides to move backward.

Duck Walks

  1. Stand with your feet a little wider than shoulder distance and bend your knees, hinging your hips until you are squatting with your thighs parallel to the ground. 
  2. Keep your chest raised and your core braced. 
  3. Take small waddling steps just like a duck forward and backward for the desired distance. Bonus points if you quack while you waddle.

Frog Jumps

  1. Stand tall and take a step to the side with each foot until your feet are wider than shoulder width. 
  2. Hinge at your hips and bend your knees, pushing your glutes back to come down into a deep squat. 
  3. Keep your chest raised and explosively push through your feet to jump off the ground.
  4. Land on the balls of your feet softly back into a squatting position with your legs wide.

Movements For Planes or Quick Pit Stops 

Stretching during plane and car rides can increase blood flow, reduce aches and pains3, boost your mood, and help you feel more energized. Here are some movements you can do while sitting during travel or on a pit stop.

Stretching exercises for travel workouts
  • 10 chin tucks
  • 5 seated scarecrows
  • 10 calf raises
  • 10 cat-cows
  • 5 seated prayer stretch
  • 5 seated torso rotations
  • 10 seated side bends
  • 10 seated knee lifts

Chin Tucks

  1. Sitting with your back straight and feet flat on the floor, place your hands on your thighs.
  2. Bring your chin in towards your neck.
  3. Hold to feel a gentle stretch in your neck and upper traps.
  4. Slowly reverse to the starting position.

Seated Scarecrows

  1. Sitting in a chair with your feet grounded and your core engaged, lead with your elbows to lift your arms out and up away from the sides of your body. 
  2. When your upper arms are parallel to the floor and your hands are pointed toward the ground, elbows bent at 90 degrees, take a breath and hold the position. 
  3. Begin to rotate your upper arm to move your hands forward maintaining the 90-degree bend at your elbows. Keep rotating to bring your hands up until they are at head height. 
  4. Pause for a breath here and then return to the starting position with control.

Seated Calf Raise

  1. Sit toward the front of a chair with feet shoulder-distance apart on the ground.
  2. Slowly lift your heels so that you are on your tiptoes, and keep elevating your heels to feel a stretch in your calves. 
  3. Hold for one to two breaths before slowly lowering down to the starting position.

Seated Cat Cow Stretch

  1. In a seated position with your back straight, scoot forward so your back does not touch your chair. Place your hands on your kneecaps. Plant your feet hip distance apart.
  2. Slowly draw in your abdominals and round your upper back pushing your spine out behind you. You can pull gently with your hands on your knees to further stretch the backs of your shoulders, upper back, and neck muscles. 
  3. Hold the stretch for a few breaths before releasing slowly to unfurl. Push your chest forward creating an arch in your back while pulling gently on your knees with your hands to deepen the stretch. 

Seated Prayer Stretch

  1. Sit with your feet firmly on the floor and place your palms together under your chin with your fingers pointing straight upward. 
  2. Press your palms together and lower your hands down toward the middle to lower chest so you feel stretching and your wrists and forearms. 
  3. Hold for 20 to 30 seconds while breathing deeply before releasing.

Seated Torso Rotations

  1. Sit toward the front of a chair with your feet firmly planted. Position your hands on the front of your chest crossed at your wrists. 
  2. Rotate your torso to the right, not allowing your glutes to lift off the chair. Keep your torso upright throughout the movement. 
  3. Continue to rotate until you feel a gentle stretch in your mid and lower back. Brace your core and hold this position while breathing deeply before returning to the starting position and repeating on the other side. 
  4. Make sure you do not twist too far, as this should be a light and gentle stretch.

Seated Side Bends

  1. Sit toward the front of a chair with feet shoulder-width apart. 
  2. Lift your right arm to your side and over your head until your bicep is next to your ear and your fingers are over your head. 
  3. Lean to the left to create a stretch along the right side of your body. 
  4. Hold here for one breath before reversing the motion and repeating on the other side.

Seated Knee Lifts

  1. Sit toward the front of a chair with feet hip-width apart.
  2. Reach down and hold on to your seat if you can, beside your thighs. This is optional but may provide better bracing for you. 
  3. Maintaining a straight back and engaged core, lift your right knee toward your chest. You likely will only be able to elevate your foot about 6 to 10 inches off of the floor. Use your abs to lift your knee and feel the stretch in your glutes, hamstring, and hip.
  4. At this point slowly reverse the motion to lower your foot back to the floor and repeat on the other side. 

Pack For Success

Most people carefully plan their travel to ensure a smooth trip, whether mapping a route, booking accommodations, or setting up get-togethers with old friends. Take the same care when incorporating your fitness goals into your trip planning by making a list of what to pack for your travel workouts, deciding on healthy travel strategies, and finding local resources and activities to support physical activity.

One way to accomplish this is to pack smartly with travel-friendly workout gear.

  • Athletic wear: Choose lightweight, well-fitting athletic wear that will suit the climate you’re traveling to, such as a few pairs of leggings or shorts, athletic socks, tank tops, sports bras, sweat-wicking briefs, swimwear, and breathable T-shirts.
  • Shoes: Packing a couple of pairs of shoes is ideal, depending on your activity. For instance, you might want hiking shoes, cross-training shoes or running shoes, along with your everyday footwear.
  • Resistance bands: Bands fold and provide excellent resistance for your strength training workouts so you can build muscle on-the-go. Include handles, ankle cuffs, and a door anchor for more versatility.
  • Supplements: If you take supplements, pack them in smaller containers in portions you’ll need. Consider taking protein powder, pre-workout, creatine, or anything else you feel supports your training success.
  • Suspension trainer: Suspension trainers are another lightweight, small-footprint, versatile piece of gear that provides hundreds of options for increasing the challenge of bodyweight exercises, making them perfect for travel.
Person biking by water

Tips for Staying Healthy While Traveling

To give you the best chances of keeping some pep in your step during and after your drive or flight, plan some strategies for preventing the worst effects of travel.  

Stretch

Do some stretches and active mobility work before, during, and after a long flight or road trip. If you can get out of your seat, try more active movements like side lunges, bodyweight squats, arm swings, hip circles, and overhead reaches.

Drink Water

Stay hydrated to help lessen the effects of jet lag, as dehydration increases the effects of jet lag. It’s also a good idea to avoid alcohol and coffee, which can increase the chances of dehydration, headaches, and sleep disturbances, so you might opt to pass on those tiny in-flight wine bottles.

Rest

Prioritize sleep and rest. Leading up to your trip, practice good sleep hygiene by getting enough quality sleep. For long flights, some hacks can help ward off the worst effects of time-zone changes and subsequent jet lag. 

For instance, if you’re traveling eastward, getting to sleep an hour earlier than usual for three or more days before your trip can help. Conversely, if you’re traveling west, go to bed one hour later for a few nights. Remember to adjust your wake-up times as well, aiming for at least 7 hours of sleep per night. It’s also wise to eat your meals around the same times you will be at your destination.

Packing items such as earplugs or earphones with some sleep-inducing soundtracks or mediations, a small pillow, and wearing comfortable clothes can help you catch some Zs on the plane or as a passenger in a vehicle.

Pack Healthy Food

Pre-planning your snacks is an excellent choice to help you avoid the heavy feeling of fatty, sugary, or low-nutrient airport food. You’ll also save your hard-earned dollars by packing your food. 

If you are traveling by plane, you can typically pack solid food items that are not liquids or gels. Quick grab-and-go snack recommendations include apples, protein bars, granola, whole grain crackers, nuts, protein powder to mix with on-flight water (may be inspected), dried fruit, popcorn, oatmeal cups (to add hot water or milk on the flight), low-sugar, high fiber cereal.

people hiking

Resources to Consider for Staying Active 

Use these ideas to help you make the most of sightseeing and exploring your local environment while being active. 

  • Look into hiking trails nearby using a resource such as All Trails. If you are exploring nature during your trip, hiking provides impressive views while getting deep into flora and fauna of the area you visit. Remember to pack hiking-friendly footwear and a backpack, and practice trail safety by researching and following all local laws and regulations.
  • Search for local fitness classes. Check for free trials, one-time passes, and resources such as Class Pass that will allow you to attend local fitness classes as a visitor. For extra travel flair, try to find a class incorporating local cultures, such as dance or martial arts.
  • Bike rentals or ride shares are excellent for active sightseeing. Take a ride and explore the area you are visiting in an efficient, fun way. Biking is faster than walking, helping you cover much more ground while still keeping you moving.
  • Research local parks or fields where you can exercise. Some parks will have outdoor fitness equipment like calisthenics bars for pull-ups. Other options include tracks, trails, and hills for sprints. Parks with trees and benches provide surfaces for setting up resistance bands or suspension trainers. If it is hot or humid, check for shady areas and water fountains for safety, and don’t plan a high-intensity workout.
  • Check for a swimming pool in your residence or nearby. Swimming4 is an excellent form of exercise, providing cardio, resistance, and stress-relieving5 benefits. 

Why Maintain Your Routine? 

Consistency is the basis of all success when it comes to your health goals. No matter how well-designed your workout routine is, you won’t see the results you want if you don’t do it regularly. Routines are the foundation of any long-term habits, but sticking to routines when traveling or being away from home is challenging unless you plan and prioritize them. While you don’t have to stick to your regular exercise schedule or intensity, including some exercise in your routine when traveling can help keep some consistency and maintain your healthy habits. 

For instance, a longitudinal field study on the role of self-control in habit formation from 2020 published in Frontiers in Psychology6 revealed a large increase in habit strength over three months in those who were consistent with their goal-supporting habits. In other words, to be successful, consistently performing the actions and behaviors that support your goal will lead to the greatest chances of reaching that goal.

Likewise, a study in The Journal of Behavioral Medicine7 that followed 111 new gym members revealed that the more frequent gym-goers who exercised four times per week or more on average were more likely to keep their exercise routines past 12 weeks of the study. Conversely, those who exercised less than four times per week began to lose their routine after about six weeks.

If you are on a business trip, your days are probably packed with meetings, meals, and perhaps entertaining clients, which may leave you with little time to yourself. These days can be very draining, and you may feel like skipping your workout. However, getting in even a little physical activity can combat feeling drained and stressed from work8 commitments. Aside from exercise boosting energy9, studies have shown that it also can make you more productive10, which will, in turn, help you fulfill your work commitments. 

Final Takeaway

Including workouts in your travel plans will help you explore your surroundings and can provide several benefits, such as combatting jet lag, de-stressing you, and helping you stick to your workout routine to avoid breaking your hard-earned habit formation. You don’t need to hit the gym (unless you want to), because you can do burpees and jumping jacks literally anywhere. 

Incorporating physical activity into your trip, whether it’s walking or an intense HIIT routine, will improve your mood, sleep, health, and help you stay on track toward your goals.

References:

  1. Expedia. Training And Travel: Global Expedia.Com “Fitness Breaks” Study Examines How And Why People Exercise While Traveling. Feb. 2017.
  2. Youngstedt, S.D., Elliott, J.A., Kripke, D.F. Human circadian phase–response curves for exercise. J Physiol. 2019;597(8):2253-2268. First published: 19 February 2019
  3. Holzgreve, F., Maltry, L., Lampe, J., et al. The office work and stretch training (Ost) study: an individualized and standardized approach for reducing musculoskeletal disorders in office workers. J Occup Med Toxicol. 2018; 13: 37. Published online 2018 Dec 17. doi: 10.1186/s12995-018-0220-y
  4. Lee, B.A., Oh, D.J. Effect of regular swimming exercise on the physical composition, strength, and blood lipid of middle-aged women. J Exerc Rehabil. 2015; 11(5): 266-271. Published online: October 30, 2015 DOI: https://doi.org/10.12965/jer.150242.
  5. Chen, C.C., Kuo, Y.W., Hung, K.T., et al. The effect of swimming exercise on life stress relief. Int J Phys Educ Sports Health. 2015;1(5):51-53. May 2015.
  6. van der Weiden, A., Benjamins. J., Gillebaart, M., Ybema, J.F., de Ridder, D. How to form good habits? A longitudinal field study on the role of self-control in habit formation. Front Psychol. 2020;11:560.
  7. Kaushal, N., Rhodes, R.E. Exercise habit formation in new gym members: a longitudinal study. J Behav Med. 2015 Aug;38(4):652-63. doi: 10.1007/s10865-015-9640-7. Epub 2015 Apr 8.
  8. Sharma, A., Madaan, V., Petty, F.D. Exercise for mental health. Prim Care Companion J Clin Psychiatry. 2006;8(2):106. 
  9. Golen, T., Ricciotti, H. Does exercise really boost energy levels? Harvard Health. July 2021.
  10. Coulson, J.C., McKenna, J., Field, M. Exercising at work and self‐reported work performance. Dugdill L, ed. International Journal of Workplace Health Management. 2008;1(3):176-197.

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