7 ways to stay fit while backpacking

Staying fit while backpacking can be difficult. A change in routine is one of the biggest perks of travelling, but it can also wreak havoc on your good habits.

Kayaking in Canada

Even if you start with the best of intentions, it’s easy to suffer from major FOMO while on the road- no one wants to miss out on an amazing local meal or skip an adventure to ensure they’re getting in those 10,000 steps.

If you find yourself struggling to keep up with your fitness regime while backpacking, then hopefully this article can help you get back on track.

Try these 7 tips to stay fit while backpacking without having to give up the fun or the food!

1. Walk everywhere

Walking sounds like such a simple solution, but it’s one many people overlook.

Osprey Quasar 28 In Action

Backpacking offers plenty of opportunities to walk (when it’s safe to) rather than rely on buses or taxis. Additionally, walking the streets allows you to immerse yourself in local culture, taking in the sounds, smells and scenery you might otherwise miss out on. 

Even when other methods of travel are necessary, make sure you get up and walk around from time to time. Many phones and watches can now track steps, so use this for motivation! The more steps you do while you’re waiting in the airport, the better you’ll feel when you arrive at your next destination.

2. Give cycling a try

Cycling is becoming easier and easier thanks to online apps that offer communal bikes for rent.

Lime Bicycle Rent

Some companies, such as Lime Bikes, even offer electric options. Bike riding is a great way to experience a new place and get in a workout at the same time. Pair this with a great daypack like the Osprey Daylite Plus, and you’re good to go. 

Plus, there’s no need for a designated driver if you decide to indulge yourself a little bit. (Or -in some cities- not having to worry about crazy taxi drivers!)

3. Do. All. Of. The. Activities!

Why do people travel? To see new places, meet new people and do new things, right? So go out and do them!

Surf Boards in USA

You won’t check off any of those boxes by sitting in your room playing video games or watching Netflix. Backpacking offers a world of adventure, and most day trips require some degree of physical activity. 

If you’ve chosen a hot, sunny destination, then there’s plenty of ways to stay fit while backpacking. Get a group together for some beach volleyball, or try your hand at windsurfing. Too cold? Hit the slopes or give cross-country skiing or snowshoeing a try. Even if shopping is more your jam than sports, you can still make it active by walking to the market instead of taking a bus or taxi.

4. Search for fitness retreats

Recently, there’s been a heavy increase in the number of low-budget retreats targeting travellers and backpackers.

Yoga Fitness Retreat

If you’re considering your next vacation, a yoga or surf trip might be a great option. Check out our list of top summer destinations for a couple of ideas.

A lot of retreats, particularly those in Central and South America, even offer combination packages. These include itineraries such as Spanish lessons in the morning and surfing or yoga in the afternoons. This allows you to not only learn a new skill set but also put a focus on your health and well-being.

5. Start HIIT workouts

If taking on local activities and adventures isn’t cutting it for your fitness goals, you may wish to add a targeted workout to your routine.

HIIT Beach Training

Taking the time to search out a local gym and signing up for a free trial can be a pain- instead, it’s much easier to do a workout from the comfort of wherever you’re staying. 

So, how do you go about doing this with no equipment? Easy! Do a HIIT workout. Online apps such as Down Dog offer unlimited access to different types of workouts such as HIIT, barre, and yoga, with no equipment necessary.

Choose how long you want your workout to be, at what level, and even which body parts you want to target. This makes it easy to stay fit while backpacking by squeezing in a workout whenever you have the time.

You could even purchase a small set of travel resistance bands to level up. 

6. Stay Hydrated

…but not with copious amounts of alcohol!

Lifestraw Water Bottle

If you want to stay fit while backpacking, make sure to get in enough of your old friend water. Get a good, durable bottle to keep in your pack and refill it whenever possible.

Sometimes water conditions won’t be ideal, so if you suspect you’ll be travelling through an area without good drinking water, it’s best to plan ahead. A LifeStraw is a great shout – this bottle filters out bacteria, parasites, and microplastics without batteries or extra parts.

If drinking alcohol, try to alternate with water in between to help minimize both the after-effects and the bill! 

7. Watch what you eat – but not too much!

We don’t want to be the bearers of bad news, but if you’re backpacking long-term, it’s important to pay attention to what you’re eating.

Healthy Eating Acai Bowl

Sticking to your budget is important, but this can sometimes lead to eating cheap, fast food instead of food that will properly nourish your body. 

One easy solution is to eat local. Often eating local also means eating cheaper, and allows you to experience new dishes and ingredients. Be sure to eat well-rounded meals, putting a focus on eating a variety of vegetables and lean proteins. If you give in to temptation and overdo it a little, don’t beat yourself up. You’re on the trip of a lifetime, after all!

How to stay fit while backpacking

When travelling it’s easy to lose motivation and give in to the many temptations along the way. Instead, try to embrace all the opportunities that allow you to mix adventure with physical activity.

Just because you aren’t going to the gym, doesn’t mean you can’t get in a great workout! Get out there and walk, hike, bike, kayak, climb, or whatever you feel like doing. To stay fit while travelling, all you need to do is get outside, get involved, and have fun while doing it.

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