10 Easy Tips to Stay Fit While on Vacation

It’s a conundrum faced by vacationers all over the world: how do you stay fit while on vacation?

Whether you call it a vacation, holiday, or constitutional, getting away from your daily routine for even a few days is cathartic. The spirit is rejuvenated, the mind is revitalized, and you feel better about yourself and your life. That is why we take vacations; to give us a renewed sense of purpose.

But getting away from all of our routines means a total disconnect from our lives, and that can have consequences we might not appreciate when everything returns to normal. For instance, maybe you recently bought a new Ninja grill or one of the best rice cookers, but you eat nothing but fried food the whole time you are on vacation.

This mindset on vacation defeats the purpose of healthy eating and makes your investment for ways to cook healthier meals seem like a waste. But you paid for the food on your cruise or beach holiday already, so shouldn’t you eat it? Even if you didn’t pay for food upfront, shouldn’t you let loose and enjoy yourself?

Many people see vacations as a getaway from everything, including their diet and exercise routine. They figure that if they don’t indulge, they will feel like they missed out. It’s up to you whether you want to indulge in all a vacation has to offer. But the upside of vacation, even with prepaid food, is that you’ll always have the choice to eat and be healthy.

And cruise ships and resort hotels almost always have fitness centers and pools, running paths, walking trails, and even excursions to hike or mountain climb. There are ways to work off that big meal, however, it is easier when the meal consists of better things like lean meats and steamed vegetables.

Staying fit while on vacation means pairing your dining with your workout, just like you would at home. All vacations end eventually unless you are a professional traveler, and reality will catch up with you. If you are using your holiday as an escape, always keep in mind your motivation to stay fit is to live a long and healthy life and take many more vacations in the future.

It’s okay to indulge a bit, just make sure you don’t completely drop your health routines. Here are 10 tips that will help you stay fit while on vacation that also won’t cost you a ton of money.

Tips to Stay Fit

If you already live a healthy lifestyle and have the right balance between your diet and your fitness regimen, you likely already know how to stay fit while on vacation, and straying from your routine doesn’t even compute for you. But for those who are still wrestling with the potential for regret from not overindulging, here are some tips to stay fit while on vacation that require any sacrifices from your fun.

1. Get Moving

It doesn’t matter if you are vacationing on a tropical island or a cruise, walking as much as you can will greatly help you stay fit while on vacation. This one is a simple choice that can also save you big money on your vacation. Eliminating the need for a rental car and/or reducing the need to pay for rideshares could save you hundreds.

If you cannot get somewhere by foot, then a bicycle is a good back up plan. Anything without a motor is an easy way to stay fit and save you money.

2. We’re Going Up

Stairs are another great exercise option, and they are everywhere. Cruise ships have elevators, but by design, for safety, they are required to have plenty of staircases, and you can use them all the time. Mountain hikes, man-made ladders, stairs built into rock faces; all are great for cardio, for burning calories, and strengthening your legs.

Even if you don’t go out looking for a demanding hike with elevation gain, simply changing your routines to take the stairs whenever you can is a great way to help yourself stay fit while on vacation.

3. Know Your Meal

It is rarely wise to eat something you cannot identify, although often it is quite tasty. When picking a meal, make sure you know a little something about the ingredients. This is wise for two reasons: you don’t know if you might be allergic, and you may not know if it is a healthy food option or something that might sit in you like a lead weight, ruining your routine and your trip.

Often, vacation destinations have buffet-style eating available, and while a fun option, it’s important that you make good choices. Some tips for dealing specifically with buffet’s are to take a little of everything you want (so you don’t fill up on one or two things), choose mostly healthy options, and stop yourself when you begin to feel full. You don’t want to make yourself sick just to “get your money’s worth.”

It is possible to both indulge and eat healthy while traveling.

4. Cook It Up

There is no such thing as a free trip, but there are ways to reduce your cost. Cooking the majority of your meals is not only one of the ways how to stay fit and healthy, but to keep your wallet in good shape, too. Cooking your meals versus eating out all the time gives you the luxury of always knowing exactly what will go into your body. And it is less expensive than the markups at most restaurants.

The same goes for snacking. Having healthy snacks on hand will help you save money and reduce your overall food intake.

If you do choose to go out, use these tips to save money when eating out.

5. Yoga for Focus

It might not seem like one of those exercises to stay fit, but yoga has a number of great benefits such as helping you to limber up before hitting the trails, helping to align your body to digest food more efficiently, and giving you a clear sense of purpose, which helps you stay true to your goals.

Yoga is not only great for both the body and the mind, it’s an exercise that can be done almost anywhere. You can watch videos with your smart phone or other device and practice yoga in your room, next to the pool, out in nature, in the hotel gym, or anywhere else that is comfortable.

6. Stress Avoidance

The point of a vacation is to decompress and relax, but that isn’t always the case when traveling. This one might be especially tricky when thinking about how to stay fit during the holidays.

Family is often a point of stress for many people, and one way they cope with it is to overeat and sleep a lot. If you are planning to have family over or go to someone’s home, plan ahead for ways to get away and destress. Go for a walk, do some yoga or deep breathing, read a book, or some other activity that helps you calm and clear your mind. Make sure to regularly schedule these things, especially if you know the trip will cause you stress.

7. Bring Your Own

If you go somewhere you know for sure will have limited fitness potential, bring along your gear. Heck, even if the place you’re staying has a fitness center it may be a good idea to bring along some personal equipment to make sure you can do your workouts.

Workout bands are thin, easy to pack but can be useful for many exercises. It is also a good idea to bring your protein bars or powdered supplement. Bring some goggles and turn the pool into a fitness center. Even if you can’t do laps, water exercises are a great way to workout without putting a lot of pressure on your joints.

8. Agua Por Favor

Unlike some of these tips that will save you money, this one you will need to spend a little on. All fitness gurus will tell you that one of the best ways to stay fit is to hydrate continually, which means plenty of water. By volume, about a third of your body weight in ounces will do the trick to keep your liquids balanced. That means if you weigh 150 lbs., then you should drink no less than 50 oz. of water a day.

Many hotels will offer complementary water bottles, but other venues will not. One way to ensure you can access plenty of good water without having to pay for it is to invest in a reusable water bottle, like a hydroflask. If you want to be really cheap, you can even use a plain old water bottle and refill it.

While many places won’t provide bottles of water, most do offer fresh iced water in the lobby or if nothing else, a drinking fountain where you can refill your bottles.

9. Take a Long Snooze

Have you ever heard the phrase “I need a vacation from my vacation”? The body needs to recuperate and repair after a day of hiking or walking through hilly roads to distant souvenir shops, and sleep is how that happens. This is a fitness tip that everyone can appreciate.

Be sure to get your 8 hours every night. It will be tempting to tear up the town, but if you are serious about staying fit, call it a night early or sleep in late. Or, if you really must jam-pack a long itinerary into your vacation, try to plan an easy day or two in between. An alternating schedule of one day out and one day in will go a long way to ensure your body has the necessary down time to stay healthy.

10. Prepare Thyself

The best way to stick to a routine while on vacation is to first establish one at home. While the tips above will help you to stay fit while on vacation, you won’t suddenly establish a healthy fitness routine on your trip if you don’t do some of these things already at home.

Establish a few healthy routines at home, such as eating healthy and practicing mindfulness before taking them out on the road. Once you’ve prepared your mind and body by locking in a daily regimen while at home it’ll become much easier to maintain while having fun on vacation.

Beware the “Trap”

There is a thing we have already discussed, and that is the “trap” that helps you to justify undoing all of your progress. It tells you to eat another slice of cake, sleep more than you need, and avoid walking when the bus is right there. The trap is not your friend and is the devil on your shoulder. Be steadfast in your resolve. It doesn’t have your best interests at heart.

While it’s okay to let loose a bit on vacation, make sure you have a balance so that you don’t end up doing more harm to your body than good. You don’t want to feel run down, or worse, get sick or injured while on vacation.


Go on vacation and have fun. No one is stopping you. Just remember that fitness is not just a choice. Proper exercise and dieting is a lifestyle. Use that to help you stay on the right path so that you can stay fit while on vacation. Your body and your mind will guide you, especially if you’ve already established healthy routines at home. Enjoy yourself but do so while remembering that the check always has to be paid.

Now it’s your turn. What are your favorite ways to stay fit while on vacation?




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Tawnya is an elementary special education teacher by day and co-blogger at Money Saved is Money Earned by night.

She holds an Honors BS in Psychology from Oregon State University and an MS in Special Education from Portland State University. She has had a pretty successful writing career, first as a writing tutor at the Oregon State University Writing Center, and in recent years, as a freelance writer.

Tawnya and co-blogger Sebastian have a wealth of knowledge and information about personal finance, retirement, student loans, credit cards, and many other financial topics. They teach people how to save money, make money, and understand money.