When one is backpacking round the world there’s all sorts of sights to take in, adventures to have, cuisines to sample and of course the endless amount of transport to take. Often the backpacking lifestyle involves a lot of loitering about waiting for buses, wandering night markets choffing down exciting looking and unpronounceable local delicacies whilst still wanting to look as hot as possible in all those beach pictures and not becoming a puffing red mess on a short hike to the local monastery on the hill!
Staying fit on the road can be a challenge especially if you’ve never been that dedicated to a fitness regime in life before the backpack. Here are a few simple tips that can help you to keep on top of your waistline and ensure your fitness doesn’t totally desert you en route.
1. Walk everywhere.
Now this might sound ridiculously simple, but I do mean everywhere. Don’t get a taxi or a bus into town, this will certainly help you stay fit while you travel. Explore those city centers top to bottom by your own humble foot, stroll briskly along that seafront end to end, pull on those trainers and get your mooch on. Chances are that not only will you be cranking out a bit of cardio but you’ll also take in a lot of scenery, possibly interact with the locals and of course stumble about off the beaten track, and who knows you might even find a stellar establishment the locals haunt which isn’t covered by the guidebooks. Then you’ll be the toast of the hostel that night too!
2. Don’t just tan – swim
Ok admittedly this might not be possible for all backpackers at all times, however a healthy amount of those with their possessions strapped to their backs contain swimming costumes or shorts because, yup, most of us go to the beach, a lot. Well that’s great. Swimming is a low impact form of exercise that works on your whole body. Plus if you’re at the beach of course it’s a free work out, and you will still be tanning, all that glare from the sun on the sea, just remember to suncream up and you’re a winner. Try to do some snorkelling, there’s heaps of great spots like this little one called the great barrier reef.
3. Cook your own meals
When on the road the easy and tempting route can often be to just buy your meals on the go. Sure those $5 pizza meals can be interpreted as a bargain, £1 for your dinner at an all you can eat night-market stand of fried something and noodles smells great. However this is a slippery slope and one that can actually end up costing you a lot more money in the long run. If you’re staying in the one place for a few days the cost of some bread and tinned tuna for lunches or fresh veggies and pasta for dinner or even a whole roast chicken from the supermarket with some trimmings can end up costing you far less money, feeding you for longer and of course, ends up being much less calorific and easier to walk off in town the next day!
4. Pedal power
Bicycles are becoming ever more popular these days. From Boris bikes in London and similar hire schemes in most European capitals and major cities to rickety hire bikes at your hostel in Asia to mountain bike hire in adventure capitals and bicycle tours of different towns worldwide. Pedal power is a great fun often cheap form of getting around somewhere new whilst seeing a whole different side of a place than through a bus window or from a tour guide with their microphone at the front of the coach. Often bicycle tours will also allow you to interact with locals and access areas that you wouldn’t be able to get to on foot, again opening up your experience of an area whilst limiting the amount of sedentary time you spend on your travels.
5. Adventure tours
Travel and sight seeing can be often be quite “static” and sometime you need to fire up and do something physical whether it’s swimming or hiking. Snorkelling in the great barrier reef, surfing lessons, explore Fraser Island, the options are limitless. The key is find something that you want to do that involves you getting your body moving.
6. Get the free gym trials
There are gyms the world over, the majority of them are all in competition and try to lure you in with various different offers but by all means the most common one is the ‘free trial’ day. Well why shouldn’t you as a backpacker boldly go forth and take your free trial day? There are no rules on who can and can’t do this. Chances are after a nice work out and refreshing your senses with a bit of MTV or local music videos you’ll massively enjoy soaking in the spa afterwards, because let’s face it, how many affordable hostels have Jacuzzi’s these days?
7. Heft that backpack
Chances are that your life possessions in that bag aren’t going to be the weight equivalent of a few feather pillows and three pairs of pants. Therefore the backpack itself is actually a workout aid. Sling it on and walk up and down the stairs of the hostel a few times in the morning or at night. Ok people might think you’re a bit odd but it’s a free form of exercise and at least you won’t get rained on. Plus you can jump straight into the shower afterwards or feel smug at the hostel bar whilst others have been watching you secretly wishing they had more motivation.
8. Start an ab programme
This is one of the easiest things to do. There are tonnes of apps you can download for this or you can simply start of by doing a set number of sit ups – lets say for arguments sake 20 (depending on your initial fitness) and then crank it up by 5 or 10 each night. You can easily whip out a few sit ups in your room before starting the day or before eating dinner at night, it takes barely any room, needs no equipment and you can keep track of your efforts, the speed in which you’ll soon be in the 100s will be astonishing. A good rule of averages is to do four days in a row and have the fifth as a rest day.