woman exercising at home

Travel Fitness Starts at Home: Tips From a Professional Trainer

Learn how to stay fit with simple, at-home workouts so you're ready to conquer anything!

Travel fitness and exercise options can help you whether you’re on the road or at home preparing for your next big trip. Certified personal trainer and health coach Becki Rupp offers plenty of advice so you can stay fit for your next adventure. She’s also a Wanderful member so you can get extra insight from her in our members-only app!

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Full disclosure – I am a workout junkie. If I go more than a couple of days without a workout, I get a bit cranky. Exercise helps me reduce stress, have the strength and stamina to do the activities I enjoy, and fit into my clothes after enjoying all kinds of cuisine. 

That said, I realize not everyone jumps out of bed in the morning, puts on leggings and a sports bra and heads for the gym.

I used to travel for my job as well as for fun, so I also know how it feels to come home from a trip exhausted. It can be difficult to get back into a routine, especially the exercise part.

Yet exercising consistently when you aren’t traveling will improve your strength and stamina for when you are on the road. I’ve pulled together a few of my favorite strategies for staying active and fit while you’re home, so you can make the most of your next trip.

Travel Fitness Starts at Home

Explore Near Home for Fun and Exercise

One of my favorite things to do when I’m traveling is explore the neighborhoods and parks in my destination. I can walk for hours through alleys and streets, finding fun shops, discovering tucked away courtyards and glimpsing half-hidden gardens.

I’ll get up early in the morning, put on my sneakers, leave a note for my husband saying when I’ll be back, grab a map and head out.

Health coach Becki Rupp standing in a narrow lane in Sevilla
Becki loves to explore the alleys and streets in her destination, like this narrow street in Sevilla, Spain.

And I love to walk at home, too. Sometimes I’ll head for a neighborhood or park that I haven’t been to yet, and other times I’ll go back to a familiar favorite.

Either way, I keep an eye out for interesting landmarks – an unusual sign, a fun yard ornament, the architectural details of the houses. There’s a distinctive screen door on many houses in my hometown, and I swear I see it on a different house every time I go walking!

Walking is excellent exercise and a relatively simple way to stay in shape. Experts say that 10,000 steps a day is ideal. So consider taking an extended walk in an area that you haven’t been to before, perhaps one that’s not especially popular.

Check with your local parks and recreation department – you may be surprised at how many open spaces and trails are tucked into nearby neighborhoods.  

Or just take a new view of a place you visit often, and delight in what you discover!


Read next: Yoga for travelers


At-Home Fitness: Step It Up

Some of my favorite travel experiences have involved steps and stairs – climbing up the Caracol Mayan ruins in Belize, hiking the Inca Trail in Peru, and going to the top of the Brunelleschi’s Dome in Florence. 

Travel fitness tips from Becki Rupp allow you to climb the many steps to the top of the Brunelleschi Dome in Florence - pictured here in a skyline view
Getting to the top of the Brunelleschi Dome requires climbing more than 400 stairs – the view is worth it!

And some of my least favorite travel experiences have involved stairs! Think: carrying a heavy suitcase up multiple flights at a B&B.

The more stairs you climb at home, the easier it’ll be in other places. I know the popular tip of getting off the elevator a few floors early to take the stairs can be less than inspiring.

So, find a building in your area with interesting stairs! Many buildings from the 1800s and early 1900s have cool staircases. Check out older libraries, town halls, and museums in your area.

Becki Rupp near the bottom of the stairs of a Mayan ruin
Climbing the steps of a Mayan ruin in western Belize led to views all the way to Guatemala

Try Live Streaming Home Workouts

In the winter when the sidewalks and trails by my house are snowy and icy, and I’m bored with riding my stationary bike, I fire up online exercise videos.

I’ve used both Daily Burn and Beachbody on Demand, and one of my friends swears by Les Mills. They all feature a wide variety of classes at levels ranging from beginner to expert, which are led by professional instructors and have high video quality.  


Head into our members-only community for virtual yoga and workout sessions!


The instructors offer verbal as well as visual cues, and often point out modifications, which are usually demonstrated by class members. This is especially helpful if you’re new to the type of exercise featured in the class.

These services are fairly inexpensive – less than $20 per month – and offer a free trial period. You can also access them anywhere with a mobile device – bonus! You can find reviews of several options here.

Yes, there are lots of free workout videos available on YouTube and elsewhere online. Some of them are led by highly qualified fitness professionals. Some are not. Some have high-quality lighting and video that allow you to see what the instructor is doing. Some do not. 

If you want to go the free route, do a little checking on the person featured in the videos. Find out what qualifications and certifications the person has related to the fitness routine.  

Looking for online or video classes featuring a specific yoga style, or a killer high-intensity interval option? Crowdsource! Ask fellow Wanderful community members which services and instructors they love. 

Becki Rupp hiking the Inca Trail - travel fitness tips so you can conquer anything
The Inca Trail includes miles of steps over the Andes Mountains in Peru to Machu Picchu.

Super Easy Travel Fitness: Get on the Band Bandwagon

As I mentioned before, for years I had a corporate job that involved a fair amount of traveling. Some hotels either didn’t have a gym, or the gym was so nasty that I didn’t dare use it.

When that happened, I pulled out the resistance bands that I’d tucked into my carry on and did my workout in the hotel room. 

I use resistance bands at home, too! They’re great for all kinds of exercises, and I like to mix up my workouts with different equipment.

Flexible tubing, resistance loops, and similar options are great for exercising at home or while traveling. They’re inexpensive, lightweight and get the job done for building strength and flexibility.

Look for bands made of high-quality materials, and check them for tears before you use them, especially as they get older. The last thing you want is a band to snap and whack you in the face!

Yep, that’s happened to me, lesson learned.

You can find some resistance band recommendations here.

Some come with print and/or video instructions for use. Definitely take advantage of those resources. You’ll be amazed at the variety of moves you can do and muscles you can work with bands! 


Read next: Wanderful ways to travel without leaving home


Use Common Household Items

Years ago I lived in a small apartment in the Outer Banks of North Carolina, and even if there had been a gym nearby, I wouldn’t have been able to afford it.

So for my workouts, I used what I had on hand – I got creative with gallon jugs of water and my backpack!

If you don’t have access to a gym, or funds to join one, you can still make do at home by using items you have handy. For example, that suitcase that you take on your travels! When you fill it up and use it for exercises at home, it’ll be easier to maneuver when you’re on the road again.

I’m developing a series of travel fitness videos showing how you can use common household items – such as cloth grocery bags, backpacks, gallons of water, canned goods, books and more – to build strength and stamina.

Check it out, gather some items you have at home, and get moving!

 

Travel Fitness Reflects Reality

Those who love to travel always choose different places to explore unfamiliar areas. So I’m pretty sure I’m not unique in my love of variety, especially when it comes to working out.

Doing different types of exercise has benefits beyond relieving boredom. You’ll also be better equipped for the range of conditions and situations you’ll encounter when traveling. 

So while doing at-home workouts, aim for a mix of activities. Try the following to mix it up:

  • Walking or some other cardio exercise 3-4 days
  • Strength building workouts 2-3 days
  • At least a couple of yoga or similar sessions per week

If this sounds like a lot, or you haven’t been doing much exercise lately, start with just one type of workout per week.

Aim to do 10-15 minutes to start, and build gradually. Experiment to find the types of activities you like best to help you stay motivated.

Having an exercise buddy or even a virtual accountability partner (hello, Wanderful friends!) can also help you keep it up. 

Then on your next trip, enjoy the extra energy and confidence you have!


Read next: Wanderful is going to Antarctica!


What are your favorite travel fitness tips? Resistance bands, suitcase deadlifts, taking the stairs everywhere, or something totally new? Let us know!

Feature image by Jonathan Borba on Unsplash.

All other images courtesy of the author.

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