The Nomads Guide to Staying Fit
Travel is my jam. And if you're reading this, I'm guessing it's your jam too. Whether you're a van lifer, chronic road-tripper, or always looking for your next jet-setting destination, you've likely encountered the common conundrum of attempting to stay healthy while on-the-go. On one hand, you want to enjoy your experience to the fullest! This can become the narrative we tell ourselves as we get our second drive-thru meal of the day. But the reality is, the more nomadic you are, the more problematic this becomes. You'll also likely find that you just don't feel that great when you're not following any sort of health routines, making your travel experience actually LESS enjoyable.
I am a personal trainer, avid exerciser, and run my own digital fitness business. But I also live in a van and spend most of my time out of a "routine" going place to place. But even before I made the transition to vanlife, my fiance and I were literally always on the go, using weekends as opportunities to roadtrip and adventure. Along the way, we've had to make some adjustments so that we can remain fit and feeling our best while living this nomadic lifestyle we love so much! So today I'm going to share with you my top tips for staying fit and healthy while constantly on the road.
Tip #1: Change your mindset
The vacation mindset. You know the one. Indulging at every opportunity, saying "hell no" to anything resembling exercise, and basically just giving yourself an automatic free pass to skip out of all your typical wellness rituals. And hey- I totally get this if you take one vacation every year. But for us nomads, that mindset just won't fly. There's a BIG difference in saying "screw it" for one week per year and saying "screw it" 3 or 4 days out of each week!! What you do the MAJORITY of the time will determine your trajectory with anything in life, fitness/health included. So shifting away from the "vacation mindset" is absolutely crucial. Notice that tendency and try to stop it in its tracks. The more consistently you are traveling/on the road, the more important it becomes to treat how you approach fitness/health just like normal life. It all starts here- so be sure not to miss this first step!
Tip #2: Figure out what health habits you can keep up with while traveling
Once you start treating your travel like normal life, you then need to start bringing your wellness rituals along with you! This may not be doable for ALL your healthy habits, but take a good hard look at which ones may be doable while traveling. Here are a few examples:
If you typically workout 5x per week, strive to do that while you travel! Workout around the same times, in the same ways if you have the means to. If you don't have the equipment you'd typically use, vary your training and try doing some bodyweight workouts, going for hikes/runs, doing hill sprints, or crushing a HIIT workout at the local park. It may not look perfect, but trying to keep up with your routine as much as possible is the goal.
Follow a similar eating schedule as you would at home. Just because you have new food options all around you doesn't mean you should eat out 3 meals per day when you aren't even hungry. Not only will your body feel out of wack, but your bank account won't likely be too happy either!
If you have daily habits of meditating, yoga, walks, avoiding alcohol Monday-Friday, etc, then continue those as you travel! Find ways to prioritize the activities that allow you to feel your best!
Tip #3: Find your healthy go-to foods
Depending on your means of travel, you may not have the ability to cook all your typical healthy recipes. This is where it can be extremely helpful to have some healthy zero-cooking-required recipes/go-to foods up your sleeve! Here are a few tips/ideas;
If you were unable to bring food with you, locate the closest healthy grocery store. Places like Whole Foods, Sprouts, Luckys Market, Natural Grocers, etc will have awesome, healthy to-go options. Even the most basic grocery stores typically have some good pre-prepped options you can grab.
If you're road-tripping, bring a big cooler with you! Stock it with things like bagged salad, grilled chicken/turkey, pre-cooked rice/grains, fresh fruit, yogurt, or your other favorite healthy items you typically keep in your fridge. Bring items with you that can easily go together in a meal without any cooking required.
If you find yourself eating out, look for the healthiest possible items on the menu. It may not be ideal depending on where you are, but just do your best. Remember, not every meal needs to be the most exciting meal of your life. Have your mind made up before you even go that you are seeking a meal that aligns with your health goals. Bonus tip: only look at the healthy page of the menu. Don't even let your eyes wander to all the other options!
Tip #4: Remember that something is always better than nothing
A lot of travel will teach you that your circumstances will rarely be ideal or perfect for staying healthy. You'll have tons of temptations, you'll face inconsistency, and you'll typically lack what you may consider to be the tools to a healthy/fit lifestyle. This is why it's crucial to remember that something is ALWAYS better than nothing. Only have 20 minutes to do a workout? Do it anyways. No equipment? Do a bodyweight workout. No space to workout? Go for a jog. No time for a formal workout? Spend the day being active outdoors. No super healthy food options available? Just find the best option you can. This can seriously change the game for you, nomad. Don't wait for perfect circumstances, just do what you can TODAY.
My top healthy roadtrip/plane snacks:
Seasoned almonds or pistachios
Protein bars: my favorite brands are Think Thin, Luna Protein, Pure Protein or Perfect Bars.
Banana + almond butter packets
Planters P3 Portable Protein Packs
*Usually gas stations will also have items like greek yogurt, hard boiled eggs, oatmeal packets, fruit, turkey/chicken, and ready-made salads. Rather than getting all non-perishable items, look for items like these when possible*
BONUS TIP: HAVE A PLAN!
You are SO much more likely to stay consistent with your workouts even when life gets inconsistent if you have a roadmap to follow. Looking for workouts to do on the road?
My Fit for Hiking programs include daily workouts that range from dumbbell workouts, bodyweight, HIIT, conditioning, and aerobic cardio to get you in amazingly well-rounded shape so you can feel your BEST doing the activities you love. Even if you have to switch around the days based on what you have access to that day, having a general program will keep you on track.
I hope this helps you feel confident that it IS absolutely possible to pursue health/fitness goals while always on the road! Have some extra tips?? Drop them in the comments!
Thanks for reading and happy trails!