3 Tips to Be a Fitness Freak When Traveling

In this episode, I’ll give you three of my personal Quick and Dirty Tips you can work into your own travel routine.

Ben Greenfield
4-minute read
Episode #305

I just returned from a three-day conference.

While there, I was shocked at the number of conversations I overheard and the number of people who mentioned to me (perhaps knowing I am a fitness “guru”) how much fitness they lose while traveling, participating in multi-day conferences, and jetting to and from in planes, trainsn and automobiles without access to their normal daily workout routine or health club.

But I beg to differ. I’m not saying this to brag, but rather to give you a personal example. As a guy who is on the road for an average of two weeks out of every month, I manage to:

-Maintain 3% body fat at 180 pounds of mostly muscle

-Compete in some of the most difficult races on the face of the planet

-Get sick an average of once every 3 years

-Squeeze 60-90 minutes of exercise and movement into every busy day

-Return from many days of travel across multiple time zones with zero jet-lag

You get the idea. So how do I do it? 

1.    Make the Airport a Gym

No, you don’t have to drop and do push-ups outside the Delta lounge, or perform head-turning, embarrassing burpees at the gate while waiting for your plane to depart. Instead, you can try a few of my personal tips:

-Don’t sling your bags across your shoulder. Instead, hold them in your hands to work on grip strength.

-Duck into the stall of the bathroom and do 50 body weight squats

-Take stairs. Always. No escalators, ever (unless there aren’t any stairs)

-Don’t sit while waiting for your plane to board. Either walk, stand or find a quiet corner and do calisthenics like jumping jacks and body weight squats or stretches that move lymph and blood flow, like arms swings and leg swings.

-While standing in line at security, to board the plane, to get a coffee, etc. always be doing toe raises, arms curls with your bags, knee dips or squats and any other movement you can muster. Don’t worry: there will be plenty of time waiting for your plane to leave the ground for you to do any last-minute phone checks.

2.  Exercise Upon Arrival

Exercising when you get to your final destination is one of the best ways to beat jet lag and establish a normal circadian rhythm (the other ways are via exposure to natural light and eating at the set meal time for the destination you’re traveling to).

And yes, I’m just like everybody else: I find exercise to be difficult when I get done with a long day of travel. My body is stiff, my eyes are tired and all I really want to do is flop on the hotel bed and flip on the TV.

But here’s a few of my key secrets to making exercise happen anyways:

-Get through the first 2 minutes of exercise and it all gets easier from there, probably due to the fact that 2 minutes is about how long it takes for your body to switch from an anaerobic non-oxygen utilizing mode to an aerobic oxygen utilizing mode. So I suggest beginning with something relatively passive and easy that tricks your body into getting through those first 2 minutes, such as jumping jacks, walking on a treadmill, treading water in a pool, etc. Trust me, starting with heavy squats or burpees is much more difficult than easier options.

-Have a plan. On the plane, for example, I’ll jot down on a piece of paper what I will do when I get to my hotel, such as:


All content here is for informational purposes only. This content does not replace the professional judgment of your own health provider. Please consult a licensed health professional for all individual questions and issues.

About the Author

Ben Greenfield

Ben Greenfield received bachelor’s and master’s degrees from University of Idaho in sports science and exercise physiology; personal training and strength and conditioning certifications from the National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA); a sports nutrition certification from the International Society of Sports Nutrition (ISSN), an advanced bicycle fitting certification from Serotta. He has over 11 years’ experience in coaching professional, collegiate, and recreational athletes from all sports, and as helped hundreds of clients achieve weight loss and fitness success.