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Vacation Exercise: 8 Items to Pack on Your Next Trip to Squeeze in Workouts

You plan to exercise when you travel, but somehow it never works out. Packing these items can help you stick to your fitness routine when you're on the road.


A positive attitude

You’re ready to set off on a trip–business, holiday, or family–and you tell yourself you are committed to continuing your fitness regimen. So why do you feel that you always fail? Linda Melone, CSCS, certified trainer, founder of, says it’s all in your head–literally. “Your whole mindset changes when you’re on vacation and/or traveling,” says the Coto de Caza, California-based fitness expert. “You’re out of your regular routine, for one. Plus, you’re likely focused on enjoying yourself, which makes it easy to put aside exercise.” Pledge to regularly exercise when traveling and take along the following easy-to-pack items to help you stay on track.


Fitness tubes and bands

Fitness tubes and bands attach easily to doorknobs and hinges and can be used for just about any body part. “They’re inexpensive, weigh next to nothing, and can be folded up and around your clothes in your suitcase,” says Melone, the co-host of The Bowflex Burn radio show and podcast. You can find an array of the bands at various retailers including Amazon; prices range from about $5 up. Visit the Mayo Clinic website and watch free videos to show you exercises.



When you travel (especially by plane) it’s tough to pack hand or free weights in your luggage. A solution is Aquabells, weights and dumbbells that you fill with water. Take them and you can do your usual free-weight strength training right in your hotel room. If you’re a kettle bell enthusiast, try a portable kettle bell with a water bladder. (Here’s how to tone your tush, no gym required.)


Jump rope

Remember how much fun jumping rope was when you were a kid? It also torches calories and a takes up minimal room in your suitcase. “Skipping rope is an inexpensive and convenient way to burn a relatively large amount of calories in a short time,” says Toronto-based personal trainer Kathleen Trotter. “Plus, it tones your arms and shoulders, strengthens your bones, and you can do it virtually anywhere.” Of course there are a few caveats. Make sure you’re not disturbing people staying in the room below yours. Also, if you have joint or bone issues–think osteoarthritis–make sure you can jump rope without injuring yourself. And there’s the boredom factor, too. “Consider sandwiching it between other cardio, such as jumping jacks, high knees, or jogging,” Trotter suggests.


Athletic shoes

For anyone looking to workout while out of town, packing a pair of good-for-your-feet fitness, running, or walking shoes is a must. Morning walks and jogs are a fun way to tour your city without the hustle and bustle of daytime crowds. Read on to find out if your shoes are the cause of any foot pain.


Portable foam roller

You know those aches and pains you get after a workout? Those seem to especially strike when you mix up your work out during travel. New York-based Fitness expert Anastasiya Craze says a portable foam roller will help you heal quicker. “I recommend using it before and after every workout. By slowly rolling a foam roller over different areas of your body, you help to work out the knots in your muscles and speed up the recovery process after the workout,” she said. “For especially tight spots, I recommend applying constant pressure and holding it for at least 30 seconds. You should slowly start to feel the muscle releasing and the discomfort should lessen.” You’ll wake up read to go the next day.


Travel yoga mat

Even if you aren’t a regular yogi, this is a wise investment, said Kaese. No one wants to get down on a hotel or other public carpet or floor. Plus, the padding will be more comfortable–and motivating–than a towel. (Here are 10 wonderful things that happen when you start practicing yoga.)


Mini pillow

This sounds like an extravagance, but they really help with lumbar support during a core work out, reminded Kaese. They also do double duty, cushioning your head on the plane or during other relaxation. Find out fool-proof tips for falling asleep on a plane.

Reader's Digest
Originally Published in Reader's Digest

Nancy Dunham
Nancy Dunham is an award-winning Washington, D.C.-based journalist who specializes in writing about personal finance, automobiles, insurance, and lifestyle topics. Her work appears in People magazine, Automotive News, MoneyTalks News, Fortune, US News & World Report and Mental Floss. She also has written for corporate clients including Nationwide Insurance, Hartford Insurance, Johns Hopkins University, and the National Automobile Dealers Associaton.

Dunham also writes feature stories on musicians, television, pets and travel. That work has appeared in USA Today, Gannett, The Washington Post, Rolling Stone and many other publications.

Before moving to full-time freelance work in 2008, Dunham was a managing editor of several business-to-business and healthcare publications. She was also a daily newspaper report for Gannett Newspapers.

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