Travelling with your family is one of the most rewarding experiences life has to offer. For some, this is a way of life. For others, it’s something to indulge in during commitment-free periods. Either way, it adds a richness to the family’s connection and makes for wonderful memories.
There are challenges to be encountered while travelling with family, of course. One such challenge faced by fitness-conscious parents is how to stay fit while travelling with their kids. It can be tough to find enough time to be alone for a while in order to concentrate on such personal activities. However, there are ways to go about this so that fitness levels can be maintained.
Check out the below guide on ways to stay fit while on the road with your family:
1. Indulge in some beach activities
For those times when you’re fortunate enough to be spending time by the beach, you can use it as fitness opportunity too. If there are two parents present, you could take it in turns to jog along the shore, or go together as a family. Seek out beaches that have watersports options and the whole family will have plenty of fun while you keep fit.
Surfing is a great activity for keeping fit, as it takes a lot of effort to push through the incoming waves and try to stay afloat on your board. You don’t need to be a pro either, and many beach resorts offer surfing lessons for groups of all ages. Kayaking and rowing in general can keep your arms in shape while you take in the sights; other fun water activities your kids might be interested in are snorkelling, diving, wakeboarding and windsurfing.
2. Go on family hikes
Hiking is surely one of the best ways to explore the local area when travelling with the family. It’s something that you can do as a group, and even if you can’t carry a lot of hiking equipment, you should be able to hire it in some places.
Choosing hikes that feature a few hills will keep the whole family fit and healthy, and you’ll get them into the habit of exercising regularly without needing to put any attention on that fact. The fresh air at higher altitudes is also incredibly invigorating and helps to cleanse the blood. Kids will love the chance to run around in new terrain, spotting wildlife and looking out on beautiful vistas. Hiking is one of the easiest ways to keep the whole family fit and healthy!
3. Alternate parental care
There are times when you might just want to do a fitness activity alone, like weight lifting or gym sessions. If you can find a local gym, leisure centre or class in the towns you’re travelling to, it might be an idea to plan ahead so that you can attend these now and then.
Even if the kids can’t or don’t want to join you for that kind of thing, you could try alternating care between parents so that you’ve got an hour or two free for regular fitness training.
4. Plan your fitness around nap times
Another way to keep fit is to plan your workouts around the times your kids take a nap. If you’ve got particularly young kids, they may go to bed early enough for you to get your workout in while the sun is still up.
If it is the case that you can’t get away from the accommodation for a while, you can probably carry a yoga or fitness mat and do a workout of some kind at home. This was a tip mentioned to me by Sam Ross the Hammock Hombre, and although it may seem obvious, it hadn’t actually occurred to me before then. It’s all about the best ways of utilising your precious free time when you’re travelling with kids.
5. Do short stints of high intensity exercise
You don’t need any props to stay fit on the move. Your own bodyweight and a couple of work out plans are more than enough. Even if you don’t have a lot of time spare, you can do short bursts of high intensity interval training (HIIT) to keep the fat burn going off for extended periods while optimizing cardiovascular health.
For example, a workout routine like this can be done in between 15 and 30 minutes:
- 25 body weight squats
- 10 lunge jumps per side
- 10 side plank rotations
- 10 squat jumps
- 10 burpees (squat thrusts)
- 25 kick outs per side
- 25 jumping jacks
- 10 push ups
- 25 sit ups or crunches
- One minute plank
- One minute squat hold
6. Play games with your kids
There are so many games and sports that the whole family can get involved in. Carry a football or buy one in a town on arrival and head to the park for some high-energy family fun. Another good addition to your travel kit is a Frisbee, which you can also play in a local park or anywhere that has enough space.
Swimming pools will probably be a prominent feature in your travel destinations, so incorporate fitness into poolside days by doing a few lengths and encouraging the kids to do the same.
Even simple play can keep you fit: if you’ve got young boys, play fighting and wrestling works a treat to get the heart rate going. Kids often love a playful tussle as it’s so much fun. All of the above are great ways to tire the kids out so they have a proper night’s sleep at the end of the day too.
7. Cook your own meals as often as possible
Fitness isn’t all about physical activities. What you’re eating each day is also a major factor. As far back as 1826, Anthelme Brillat-Savarin said in Physiologie du Gout, ou Meditations de Gastronomie Transcendante, “You are what you eat”. He wasn’t wrong, but nutritional care can feel like a minefield at the best of times.
When constantly on the move, it’s even harder to maintain consistent nutrition; you may regularly find yourself grabbing meals where you can. Although this can be fun, it’s harder to properly regulate what you’re putting into your body. One way to counter this issue is to plan ahead by finding local produce sellers and stocking up on arrival.
Make sure you stay somewhere that has decent cooking facilities, and consider carrying a few staple products with you if you can, such as healthy cooking oils and spices – these might be harder to find in each new location.
8. Join in local group exercises outdoors
Although you might not be able to find this everywhere you go, in some countries it is a common thing for locals and travellers to congregate in local parks for fitness activities. For example, in Asia it’s common to see people doing Tai Chi in the park in the early evening. Park yoga is another common fitness activity taking place in parks around the world. Often these activities are free (or at least a lot cheaper than local fitness centre fees), and there’s no reason why the whole family couldn’t join in.
This is a great way to develop a new hobby or just do something a little different while meeting local people and other travellers. If you’re not sure how to find these kind of groups, a first port of call would be local Facebook groups – most major destinations have these for expats and travellers. Another option is MeetUp, on which people advertise group activities happening all around the world.
9. Walk or cycle instead of taking public transport
Walking long distances tends to raise some objection from kids but you can cover relatively short distances this way and save money on transport costs while you’re at it. Family bike rides can be a fun way to explore your destination too, and lots of towns have bicycle hire options at cheap enough prices.
Aside from helping to maintain or build up your fitness levels, wandering from place to place on foot or by bicycle has the added benefit of slowing things down so that you take in lots of the small details you would otherwise have missed.
About The Author: Cal Bailey runs Mountain Leon – a travel blog he started after two years on backpacking around the world. If you want to learn more about life on the road or his blogging, you can read his latest blog posts.