Travel hacks for staying fit

Goodbye abs of steel, hello bingo wings – travel takes us out of our routine and, let’s face it, you’d much rather be savouring a gelato on the promenade, rather than running along it.

Your inner sloth may be fighting the battle to stay in shape when you’re footloose and fancy free in a different city or country, but that’s no reason to ditch good habits, say the travel experts.

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“I always carry a skipping rope as you can do this activity anywhere,” says Flight Centre Travel Group Product and Marketing Manager Sue Garrett, who also enjoys running, when she’s in a foreign town or city. “Skipping is easy to do at the hotel, either in your room, in the gym, on a tennis court, or even beside the pool area.”

The skipping rope ‘hack’ gets as second thumbs up from Kagiso Dumasi, Commercial Manager BCD Travel. “If the hotel doesn’t have a gym, I skip in the room for about 30 minutes in the morning before my day starts. I also use the fire escape stairs if they’re open and run up and down the steps for about 30 minutes. For strength training, I do sit-ups, lunges and push ups as they’re easy to do in the room,” says Kagiso.

App assist

Channelling her inner Yogi, Trafalgar South Africa MD Teresa Richardson, says she has a great app called Mind Body that shows travellers where all the yoga studios are around them, as well as their special deals and timetables. “It’s easier than ever before to get out and enjoy a class of yoga.

“My yoga towel is my latest travel companion. No need to lug a yoga mat, as the towel is non slip and can be used on practically any surface and over a yoga mat if you end up hiring one.”

Walk it off

Walking has similar benefits to running in that it’s a great way to exercise, clear the mind, conquer jetlag and discover the area in which you’re staying, says Simmy Micheli, Manager Sales and Marketing Travel Insurance Consultants.

Here are their favourite fitness destinations for 2019:

New York

Sue lists her favourite fitness destination as New York, and specifically Central Park, which she says is filled with other runners at all times of the day and year, even if it’s raining! Great news for runners is that cars have now been banned and that there are a range of loops of different lengths that are ideal for runners. A full loop will take runners almost 10km through the park, but there are shorter trails for fitness fanatics short on time, or who want to experience different parts of the park and its varied terrain. Consider taking a guided running tour of lower Central Park or check out the events run by New York Road Runners that may coincide with your stay so you can pound the pavements with the locals.


“I spend a lot of time sitting (in lounges, on the plane, in meetings, etc.), so when I travel I like being in the sunshine and out in the fresh air,” says Kagiso, who travels extensively across Africa. Her favourite fitness destination in Africa is Kigali. “It’s quaint, beautiful, clean and safe. I ran around for about 10km past some of the city’s most historical places like the Hotel Mille de Collines (the infamous Hotel Rwanda).”


For Simmy, there’s no better place to stay fit than Italy, which she recently visited. “I walked between five and 15km a day and kept track of my journey on a mobile app.” You’ll understand why the Italians stay so slim despite their mantra of “first we eat, then we do everything else”. Head to Florence and climb the 414 steps up Giotto’s Capagnile for magnificent views of the Basilica. For the best views of the city’s skyline, walk across the Ponte Vecchio and up the Scalea del Monte alle Croci to Piazzale Michelangelo.

Cape Town

What better way to balance body, soul and mind than channeling your inner yogi on a beach, park or mountain in Cape Town? The Om Revolution in Cape Town hosts classes on Signal Hill, Chapman’s Peak, Clifton Beach and Blouberg Beach, among other locations. There are even classes on top of Table Mountain with Cape Town Yoga Experiences.

Wherever, whenever

Last, but not least on our list are the tried-and tested Parkruns, held in a city or town near you. No matter how old or unfit you are, anyone’s invited. As they say, it’s about running, not racing. Check out the Parkrun website for a full list of the countries in which runs are organised, lace up your shoes and embrace healthier travels.

Author: Pedro van Gaalen

When he’s not writing about sport or health and fitness, Pedro is probably out training for his next marathon or ultra-marathon. He’s worked as a fitness professional and as a marketing and comms expert. He now combines his passions in his role as managing editor at Fitness magazine.

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