travel tips

How to Stay in Shape on the Road
Wednesday, September 26th, 2012


As I started planning my career break, I struggled with how I would manage to stay in shape on the road without a gym to go to every day.

I had been looking for a theme to keep me sane in my travels and thought what better challenge to keep me motivated than trying to stay in shape while traveling around the world?

Searching online for how other travelers dealt with this dilemma yielded little useful advice. Sure I could just run every day but that would quickly get boring, not too mention the pounding my knees would take.

Pulling what I could from crossfit sites and conversations with trainers, I started to assemble a word document of body weight exercises and routines that I could do on the road.

From day one of my trip, I have been committed to doing some type of exercise each day. This has continued despite my fair share of travel days and spending three weeks in Tunisia and Egypt during Ramadan.

My 5 pieces of advice for working out successfully on the road:

1. Find exercises that require a minimum of space – not having a gym nearby or sharing space at a hostel often means space is at a premium. Luckily body weight exercises like pushups, squats, sit-ups and burpees can be done almost anywhere. If you keep going long enough I promise you will get a good sweat going. And don’t worry if you think you look ridiculous. On several occasions people have come up to me in the middle of a workout to ask what I’m doing to see if they can do the same thing at home!

2. Keep it creative and fun – finding exercises that can be done in confined spaces encourages creativity. Be on the lookout for anything that can be used as exercise equipment. I have used pull up bars in neighborhood parks, a gas canister used to heat a kitchen stove for bicep curls and bedposts for dips. My backpack also serves as a great way to weight train nearly all of my muscles. And if you don’t enjoy what you’re doing then it will never become a habit. There are always opportunities out there to go on a long bike ride, spend an afternoon hiking or even find a local gym. So reward yourself with activities that you like.

3. Schedule exercise for a similar time each day if you can– this one is tricky on days when you’re traveling or have scheduled activities but penciling in my workout each morning gives me the energy to start each day with a sense of accomplishment. Think of the word routine as something to look forward to rather than with a sense of dread. That’s why its so important that you find workouts that are fun.

4. Keep an exercise log – documenting my fitness activities has allowed me to monitor my progress and serves as motivation for exercising each day. Incorporating this into weekly posts on my blog motivates me to push myself even more knowing that my friends and family can see what I’m doing.

5. Run or jog as a way to get acclimated to a new place – I love to go jogging whenever I arrive in a new destination. There is nothing better for helping you become oriented to a place and allowing you to see things you might otherwise miss. Plus in my case it’s been pretty cool to jog along the Nile in Egypt, up the steps of a Roman theater in Tunisia and along train tracks in Sicily.

Working out on the road is a great way to stay in shape and blow off some steam. Some of my best ideas for my blog and in planning my trip come during my workouts, which is the one time every day I know I will have all to myself.

Five years out of college, Matt Sussman could no longer ignore his constant itch to travel. Leaving his stressful financial job in New York behind, he is following his dream of traveling the world. Meandering solo since July, Matt loves exploring new cultures and meeting new people all the while continuing to find time to exercise. You can read about his adventures and follow his workout routines at

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