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The Importance of Being in Shape While Traveling

Are you preparing for a backpacking adventure? Besides buying a guidebook, packing your bag and booking your flights, your travel preparation checklist should also include working out.

Let’s face it; while traveling is a lot of fun it is brutally hard on the body. Jet lag numbs your brain, cramped airplane seats stiffen your muscles, strange food confuses your digestive system and heat, humidity and sensory overload leave you exhausted at the end of the day.

Being in shape while traveling will help your body to handle the rigors of travel and enable you to enjoy the experience more.

(By being in shape I don’t mean that you have to be a body builder or an Olympic athlete. I’m talking about a decent level of cardiovascular fitness, strong muscles and a healthy body weight. )

Here are some of the reasons why being in shape while traveling will improve your next worldwide adventure:

Advantages of Being in Shape While Traveling

Carrying Your Stuff When You Need To

You arrive at the train station in Paris, London or Rome and it is a 35 minute walk to your hostel according to Google maps. Could you walk the entire way carrying your backpack without collapsing on the sidewalk in exhaustion? If not, you will have to wait in the queue for a taxi and pay some of your hard earned travel money to get where you need to go.

Not only will staying in shape while traveling allow you to walk comfortably for long distances while carrying your backpack and save you money on taxi and bus fares, it will also mean that you have the freedom just to get moving instead of waiting for a ride.

Running For Last Minute Transportation

“Okay, which bus are we supposed to be on? Let me check the timetables… Number 14… and it leaves… RIGHT NOW!”

There are moments in your travels beyond your control when you will need to move like the wind at short notice in order to catch a train, bus or plane. Your stopover flight in Zurich might arrive late, requiring you to do a mad dash through the terminal to catch your connection to Rome. If you can’t accelerate to a full-out sprint from standing still, you could end up with a lot of missed travel connections.

A Strong Body Means a Stronger Immune System

According to several studies, being in an exercise routine actually improves your body’s immune system. Working out kick starts your T cells into action, a type of white blood cell that protects you from infections.

This is good news, because when you are traveling there are many opportunities to get sick, as you are in tight proximity with coughing strangers in transit and exposed to different illnesses in other countries than you would be back home.

How Do You Stay in Shape While Traveling?
How Do You Stay in Shape While Traveling?

More Energy and Stamina for Travel Adventures

If you only have two or three days in an amazing city during your travels, you want to make the most of every moment. However, you can’t enjoy a full day of sightseeing if your legs are tired by 2pm and you just want to go back to the hostel and rest.

Working out and staying in shape while traveling will build your stamina and enable you to do more for longer, so that you will be running around from ancient ruins to museum to restaurant to beach like an Energizer bunny without missing a single moment of the fun.

You’ll Look Better in Your Photos

Last but not least, besides all of the practical reasons, staying in shape while traveling will also help you look healthier, stronger and fitter in your travel photos. You might only visit Paris, Rio de Janerio, or Bangkok once in your life and you will look at your photos and share them with people for many years, so don’t you want to look your best?

About Kelly Dunning

A Canadian freelance writer with a love of art, culture, literature and adventure, Kelly loves exploring foreign lands and expressing her experiences through the power of the written word.


  1. Note-worthy tips guys! Staying in shape while traveling is a must but I sure do need this checklist. I remember bringing medicines while on travel on a cruise and it was not fun at all, I was there basically sitting down. Being unhealthy puts limitation to what you can do and it separates you from the enjoyment. A 15 minute exercise every day makes a big difference.

  2. I cannot agree more with this article. My personal travel experiences have led me to the same conclusions. I remember a three week backpacking adventure I did in Central America. We did a lot of walking with our backpacks, and by the end of the trip, mine was completely stuffed with souvenirs. I wasn’t in the best shape physically, and some days it was a huge struggle to walk in the sweltering heat from a bus depot to our hostel, often uphill on rough terrain. It would have made a huge difference to have started the trip with a higher level of fitness. I’d love to see a follow up post with some ideas and strategies for specific workouts and exercises that could benefit travelers on a busy schedule!

  3. Well, your Usain Bolt impression is good, but your demonstration of flexibility is impressive. You’ll be great at limbo dancing whenever you visit a place where limbo dancing is called for !

    Seriously, it is kind of irresponsible to travel if general fitness and stamina levels are not reasonable. As you say, it’s not necessary to be a body-builder – but be fit enough to carry you own stuff and chase your own bus.

  4. The other benefit of regular exercise is the added sense of wellbeing. You’ll feel better about yourself, more positive & more relaxed.

  5. Wow you are flexible! I agree with you on being in shape. But I think it’ll be hard for me since I like to try many different foods while I’m in a different place. Don’t get me wrong though, I do workout and watch what I eat but when it comes to traveling, I guess that’s my cheat day or days lol. I don’t look forward to weight gain but at least I can say that I tried something different and that the extra weight was worth it.


  6. Looking better in photos is probably my biggest motivation for staying fit. Having stamina and strength are always bonuses. When you get home though people don’t see the stamina that it took to see so many sites in such a short time. But they do see the pictures of you are those sites.

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