Tips for backpackers on staying healthy and active on the road

ralph lauren

With Thanksgiving behind us, and the holidays just a few weeks away, we all know that it’s finally that time of the year where we can wear our much anticipated holiday sweaters with pride, buy large quantities of alcohol without being blamed for being an alcoholic, and decide where we will strategically place our mistletoe…

One thing most of us tend to forget during the holidays is how easy it is to gain weight, especially when it’s so hard to resist homemade pie, or stuffed turkey, or eggnog…

For those on the road, it can be especially difficult to stay healthy and active, given that traveling, especially backpacking, almost always requires a lifestyle that’s largely void of schedules and routine. The place we arrive to in the morning isn’t necessary the one we’ll remain by sunset. Add in the never ending parties, copious amounts of alcohol and high carb foods, it’s easy to lose the months of dedicated cardio workouts and high protein/low carb meals we’ve worked so hard for to get those abs pre-travel.

Therefore, now is a great time to start thinking about how to stay healthy and active on the road, right before the holiday season begins!

Drink lots of water
Keep in mind that we’re supposed to drink a minimum of eight glasses everyday. Water helps to rid our body of toxins, makes us less tired, gives us better skin, and helps us to lose weight. And above all, it’s free! I usually bring a water bottle with me on my trips and fill it up with tap water. I hate disposable water bottles since they create so much havoc in our environment, and the cheap plastic is filled with toxic chemicals. For travel in developing countries, I would recommend investing in a good purifying water bottle.

“eat us!”

Take multivitamins 
It can be really hard to eat our recommended daily servings of food on the road. Especially when it comes to backpacking, we tend to buy cheap, filling foods such as bread and pasta, and sometimes forget  to eat as much vegetables as we should. That’s why, multivitamins are a great way of making sure we get all our nutrients everyday.

Get some sleep
When you’re traveling, there’s so much happening every single moment that we don’t want to miss out on anything. I know that feeling of getting of the plane, and although jet lagged, I would hardly sleep because of all there is to do. Obviously we’re young and want to live in the moment, but getting some beauty sleep is important so that we’re actually awake enough to have fun. You’re not missing out on much if there’s a party every night.

Being active daily
This shouldn’t be a problem for most backpackers, especially since most of the ones I know have a deep love for sports and adventure. Whether it’s soccer, hiking, surfing, skiing or even mountain climbing, every country has an abundance of energy pumping sports. The trick is of course, making sure we’re active daily. Some sports such as skiing, may be too expensive to do regularly, but exercises (albeit less fun) such as jogging is free and you can do it virtually anywhere. If you have a laptop and internet, youtube is also a good source for workout videos. The “8 minute series” (abs, bum, legs and arms) are quite popular.

shorts from Lululemon

Bring your gear
I feel nothing guilt-trips you as much into staying active, as simply bringing your gear with you, whether it’s a surf board or a yoga mat. The fact that you’ve found space in your luggage to put it in, and lugged to another country is pretty motivating in itself. Having nice gear also helps. For instance, a nice set of workout clothes will encourage you to put it on (and show it off to your cute foreign workout buddy).

Have a goal
Having a goal makes everything that much more attainable. If you’re goal is to live a healthy lifestyle, then great. Most of us however, have more superficial goals, which is okay as well. A goal’s a goal right? So what if our fitness aspiration is to have abs like David Beckham or Gisele Bunchen? If that makes us run that extra mile, all the better for us.

Have lots of (safe) sex
30 minutes of sex burns 90 calories (it adds up!) and it’s a lot more fun than doing crunches!



  1. November 28, 2011 / 8:05 am

    This post is great – and very necessary! It's sooo difficult to stay healthy when traveling, but it's important!


  2. November 28, 2011 / 6:34 pm

    These are great tips. I really need to work out and do some sports, it feels like my body is getting behind. Surfing is one of my favorites I need to get back to it. 😉

  3. December 6, 2011 / 8:02 pm

    This was a great post! This is something I battle with all the time when i travel. However, I find that the best way to explore a new city is to go for a run! Its amazing all the little details you can miss while being stuck in a car or on a tour bus. Keep up the great work!

  4. December 9, 2011 / 6:42 pm

    These are great tips. I'm having a hard time getting that sweater out of my head.

  5. December 22, 2011 / 1:49 am

    Jenna – Thanks! 🙂

    A Party – It is! haha

    Rita – I've never surfed but it's one of the top sports I'm dying to learn. It's pretty cold here now, so time for some skiing for me 🙂

    Boundforadventure – I agree! I love going on runs…although I'm not a morning person so I usually do it in the evening, haha

    Nomadic Samuel – Haha it is getting pretty cold!

    DebbZ- Thanks! 😀

  6. July 15, 2012 / 11:44 am

    Great post, I’m going away in 8 week and I’ve been wondering about this. I assumed nobody exercised when backpacking! X

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