Best Portable Exercise Equipment for Travel
Maintaining a travel workout routine can be difficult.
Jetlag, busy schedules, lack of access to gym equipment. It’s easy to make excuses or let your fitness slide when we travel – Not anymore!
The good news is, you don’t have to put exercise on hold while you travel, even if you plan to travel light. Some of the best travel exercise equipment on the market is more lightweight and portable than you might think. Now you can grab a workout anywhere, even without leaving your hotel room.
The Challenge of Balancing Travel and Exercise
In over four years of full time travel, we have learnt how quickly you can get out of shape when faced with changes in time zones and jet lag, different climates and of course, the temptation of new cuisines. It could be the thrill of a new and exciting destination distracting you from your regular fitness routine, or it could be the busy schedule of a work trip.
Not every destination may be suited to your style of work out either. In SE Asia; chaotic traffic, dodgy sidewalks and sometimes high levels of pollution make the idea of jogging very unappealing. When travelling in South Africa, it was either crime or wild animals that kept our usual walking routine to specific times and places. You may not be staying in accommodation with a gym and don’t have the budget for casual gym fees.
Find the Right Workout Equipment for Travel
We could have accepted any of these as good enough reason to put a healthy exercise routine on hold, but we knew it wasn’t viable in the long term. So, we changed the way we exercise by finding portable exercise equipment for travel so we could work out no matter where we were.
In this guide, you will find the best portable fitness equipment options for staying in shape while you travel, even in hotels and small spaces. These are just some of the travel exercise solutions we have come up with over the years and thanks to their size, weight, and portability; they are all suited to those who need to travel light.
You’ll also find some great tips on how you can incorporate a workout into your day and stay fit while you travel.
Features of Good Exercise Equipment for Travel
When thinking about the best fitness equipment to buy for your travel fitness routine, consider the following:
- Is must be lightweight.
- Portable fitness equipment shouldn’t take up too much space – Will it fit comfortably in your bag?
- It should be easy to use and if required, assemble.
- Is the equipment suitable for your fitness level or skill?
- Is this an item you will actually use in your travel workout?
Quick Guide: Compare the Best Portable Exercise Equipment for Travel 2018
You can read a more in-depth review of each peice of exercise equipment below.
The Best Portable Exercise Equipment For Travel
Swimming is one of our favourite ways to stay fit when we are travelling. It takes no room to throw a pair of goggles and a swim cap in your bag, and you’re ready to go anytime you are near the water or a pool. You might be surprised at the countless opportunities to get an aqua workout when you travel.
Take advantage of the hotel pool. It doesn’t have to be an Olympic size pool to get some decent laps in, many hotels have pools large enough to be suitable for laps.
Try Swim Gym or Aqua Jogging: If your hotel pool isn’t big enough for laps, a swim gym or aqua aerobics style workout can be just as good, if not better. Aqua jogging is another great workout that can be done with little or no equipment. We know of people who always travel with an aqua jogging floatation belt although it can be done just as easily without a floatation device.
Find the Local Pool – If your hotel doesn’t have a pool, it is often worthwhile scouting out the local pool. For a few bucks per visit, you can get an excellent workout in, and some public pools even have a gym attached.
Head to the Beach or Local Lake: If the weather is nice why not take advantage of any beaches or lakes near you that are suitable for swimming.
Exercise Hula Hoop for Fitness and Weight Loss
A fitness hula hoop is a surprisingly great cardio workout perfect for core strength and weight loss. You can burn over 500 calories an hour with a simple hula workout!
I first started to use a travel hula hoop when we were in Vietnam for an extended period. While we had access to a gym, getting outside for a cardio workout like jogging or walking wasn’t always possible because of the terrible pollution and traffic.
I’m not going to lie, it took me a bit to master “hooping” as it’s called these days, but once I got going, I really enjoyed the workout. The beauty of hooping is you can do it anywhere including a small hotel room.
What to Look for in a Travel Hula Hoop
A good travel hula hoop will either detach into eight pieces or fold in half for easy storage or packing. I have the detachable hoop shown here, and it packs nicely in the bottom of my suitcase without taking up too much room or weight.
Hula is a really simple and fun way to work out, burn fat and get a slim waist.
Here’s a quick introduction to Hula for fitness exercises.
Skipping is one of the best cardio workouts around. It is a high-intensity cardiovascular workout that requires balance, strength and agility. Much like hula, skipping can be done almost anywhere and you’ll be very surprised at how quickly you improve and how quickly the results show.
Proven to burn more calories than running, skipping is great for working out legs and arms, especially if you use a rope with weighted handles. It is also an excellent exercise to improve balance and coordination.
You can always find a space at a hotel or even at a close by park to fit in a skipping work out. And, if you get really good at it, you can always skip on the run.
We only really came across resistance bands as a great addition to your travel workout kit after an injury left me needing some long term physio. I needed to rebuild muscle and work on my strength and flexibility but was not able to lift heavy weights. Starting with mini resistance bands to regain movement and working up to a full suspension trainer, they proved to be a great full body and core work out especially for frequent travellers.
While no substitute for traditional weight training, resistance bands can substitute most exercises you would do with dumbbells –
- Bicep curls
- Shoulder Presses
- Overhead triceps extensions
- Bent-over rows.
Dry Bag Dumb Bell/Portable Kettlebell
If resistance bands are not going to quite cut it for your weigh training workout, consider packing a portable sand kettlebell or a dry bag dumbell.
What I love about this travel workout equipment is its versatility as a travel item. When you are not filling the dry bag with sand or water for your work out, you can use these as a regular dry bag to store your stuff.
These type of dry bag trainers are great for traditional barbell and kettlebell workout movements such as
- Bent-over rows
- Even ab work
Don’t be tempted to use just any drybag for this type of workout. These bags are designed with strength and durability in mind, so the won’t split. They also come with removable semi-rigid soft grip handles to ensure the bag doesn’t unfasten during a workout or bite into your hand.
Good Training / Running Shoes
Perhaps it sounds a little obvious, but get yourself a pair of good, lightweight running shoes. Emphasis is on the lightweight. We always try to go for a pair of running shoes that we will happily double for sightseeing shoes. Again, versatility in your travel gear is key. There are some great designs on the market these days that will look equally good on the streets of any European city as in the gym.
Taking an early morning jog or even a brisk walk around a new city is a fantastic way to explore a new destination and see a different side of a city. Early morning is also the best time to exercise when you travel, before you get distracted with sightseeing, eating and drinking. If you have a good pair of runners with you, your more likely to get active.
Tip: On the back of free city walking tours, some cities now offer free city jogging tours. A great way to sightsee and exercise at the same time.
Fitness trackers are great for tracking your activity and providing a motivational tool for increasing activity and steps you take each day. Wearing one when you travel helps keep you motivated to get active even on those sedentary travel days. Even a few laps of the aisle on the aeroplane counts towards your daily activity.
A fitness tracker will also help you monitor your overall health and well being by monitoring heart rate, calorie burn, breathing, even quality of sleep patterns. Something every traveller struggles with at some time or another.
Guided Workout Cards
Mix up your workouts with this deck of illustrated exercise playing cards. The cards feature illustrations and instructions in three difficulty levels using all types of equipment. Or, as with the Bodyweight deck – no equipment at all, perfect for travellers. Create a new workout every day by simply shuffling and dealing yourself 12 cards and work through the entire routine.
Guided workout cards are also available as an app, but with the cards, you don’t risk the distraction of the phone.
It goes to show, you don’t need much to stay in shape when you travel. There are so many innovative ways to combat the bulge while not compromising baggage weight allowances.