Exercise While Traveling – Maintaining a Fitness Regimen
While I wouldn’t consider myself a fitness fanatic, staying in shape is important to me. At home, I try to maintain a regular fitness regimen (i.e. working out certain number of times per week, including a mix of cardio, strength building and stretching exercises, etc.).
When our family travels, I continue to look for ways to stay active; however, I relax my regimen quite a bit. For me, a key part of our family vacations is taking a break from our daily schedules, routines and obligations. An equally important part is discovering new experiences and having fun. Both these mantras influence how I (and our family) stay active during our travels.
Many of my friends complain that it is hard to keep up with exercise while traveling or on a family vacation. I can understand the difficulty, but I firmly subscribe to the “if there is a will, there is a way” philosophy.
The two most often cited reasons for not exercising during travel are: (1) lack of childcare and (2) lack of easy, motivating fitness options. As a parent who has been traveling quite frequently with her family for over a decade, I have some tried and true suggestions on how to easily address each of these challenges.
Let’s start with childcare. I admit that finding childcare can sometimes be a challenge even at home, let alone while on vacation, especially with younger children. Here are some easy solutions that have worked well for our family during our past travels:
Take Advantage of Kids Clubs
Many hotels and particularly resorts nowadays offer this service for their younger guests, usually free of charge for families who vacation with them. Take advantage of it! Not only will you be able to exercise with peace of mind (and perhaps even get a massage after your workout), but also the chances are that your kids will love all of the activities and beg you to let them stay longer. I speak from experience!
If you have not used Kids Club programs previously, you should know that they are usually extremely flexible. Feel free to drop off your child(ren) for as little as 30 minutes to an hour until you and they feel comfortable. Remember, it’s vacation, not school.
Swap Kid Watching Duty
Sometimes Kids Clubs are restricted to a certain minimum age or your kids might not yet be comfortable staying apart from Mom and Dad. An easy solution is to simply swap the child supervision duties, something my husband and I did often when our children were younger. This worked well for our family as I love to exercise in the morning, while my not-a-morning-person husband, tends to be at his best in the afternoon/early evening. We both got our workouts in, just not at the same time.
With older children, provide entertainment and a safe environment
While your oldest child may not yet be ready for a full night of babysitting back home, consider whether a short stint in charge of his/her siblings can work on your vacation. This option largely depends on the age and maturity of your children and your comfort with leaving them unattended for a short period of time. Only you know if this will work for your family.
Now that my children are older, I am personally very comfortable leaving them in our hotel room (not by the pool!) for 30-40 minutes watching a DVD or a children’s television show, while my husband and I go for a quick run. For us, this is often first thing in the morning, and it actually works well as a gentle wake-up transition for our kids.
Get Exercise as a Family
One way to avoid childcare issues altogether is to bring your children with you. This is a great option that allows you to spend time and have fun together, and it works well for families with both younger kids (hiking with a toddler on your back counts as a double workout!) and older kids.
There are so many options — biking, hiking, swimming and much more! Equally important, including exercise while traveling allows you to instill the importance of a healthy lifestyle in your children from an early age. For my suggestions on tackling the second challenge I mention above, see my other article, Exercise While Traveling – Great Options, to find easy and motivating ways to fit fitness into your vacation.