A quick Google search of “how to exercise on vacation” will result in thousands of articles. Most of them say the same things. Most of them are liars.

First of all, if you don’t have kids with you on vacation then I’m not sure you need an article to tell you how to accomplish your workouts. Just do them. Whenever.

Second, some of the “suggestions” are downright ridiculous, like this one from Active.com:

Carry A Load:  Instead of packing one large suitcase with rollers, try distributing your luggage between two smaller suitcases. Then, balance the weight of the two cases on each side of your body as you carry your bags through the airport. Your upper torso will feel the burn.*

I cannot believe this idea was even published. However, it gave me a better one – – the boys weigh exactly the same,  so one could just carry them though the airport terminal. Better yet, I can set up a stand outside the airport and rent them out. Let me know when your flight leaves and I will have them ready…

*Fun fact: the author of that article is the inventor of Jazzercize

100 pounds of airport workout just waiting for you!

100 pounds of airport workout just waiting for you!

[Tweet “Why you should take my #twins with you if you want to exercise on #vacation.”]

Since I’m headed out of town once again, and this is at the forefront of my mind, I thought it best to make fun of and therefore make myself feel better when I’m struggling to get my workouts done while traveling with the boys. And by “boys” I’m including my husband.


1. Set Your Expectations

Myth: Know that you will not be able to train as you normally do but 20–30 minutes is better than nothing.

Reality: Unless you make huge sacrifices like waking up early, skipping part of a beach day or opting out of the Friday night clam bake, you will most likely not be able to cram in a long workout. Plus, you will be so overtired from dealing with your kids, sand, water, sugar and adult beverages to even think about going for a run. Good luck.

2. Extra Steps Count

Myth: Set a goal of walking 10,000 steps per day as you walk along the beach or though various tourist destinations.

Reality: Extra steps count only if they really are extra. Most active people are probably already walking 10,000 steps a day in addition to their workouts. Plus, on vacation I’m guessing you may eat and drink a tad more than usual. Walking will probably help with digestion but not much else. Is it better than not walking more? It’s a toss up.

A rare moment of the boys “helping” with my workout last summer on Lake Winnipesaukee:

3. Get Adventurous

Myth: Rent a bike, kayak or surfboard and try something new!

Reality: So who is watching the kids while you surf, kayak and/or bike? And, if you’re thinking, “my kids can kayak and bike with us,” then, if they are under the age of 10, try that and let me know how it goes. I’m guessing your cardiovascular system will get the most workout from equal parts yelling and the numerous stopping and starting, not to mention near heart attacks you are sure to suffer, as you see your offspring in open water or biking on a busy road. Good times.

I was able to kayak with one son at a time in Lake Winni last summer because my entire family was there. The boys would usually stay in the boat for about 10 minutes and then I would drop them off with someone and go back out. #Intervals

I was able to kayak with one son at a time in Lake Winni last summer because my entire family was there. The boys would usually stay in the boat for about 10 minutes and then I would drop them off with someone and go back out. #Intervals

4. Carefully plan out your travel schedule and make note of any gaps in your itinerary that can be filled with an exercise routine.

I did not make this one up. It came from this article on wikiHow.com as in how to never get anything done.

Myth: Find a quiet space (for an entire day or two) and carefully plan out every aspect of your vacation.

Reality: I do not know anyone who has time to do this (maybe you Jess but now you have a baby so…) and I really don’t think anyone is going to actually “fill in gaps” with exercise. Most likely, exercise will happen spontaneously or by formulating a quick plan for an early run, right before passing out into bed the night before.


Losing Fitness

The good news is that even if you did nothing but walk from your beach chair to the cooler for a solid week, you would not really lose that much fitness.

According to this very realistic and refreshing article on VeryWell, “taking a week off probably won’t make that much of a difference…”

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From ACSM guidelines on Maintenance of the Training Effect

[Tweet “Taking a week off from #training on #vacation is fine…for everyone else. #train4life”]

The Bottom Line

I am the biggest proponent for relaxing and enjoying your vacation and having exercise be secondary. However, I’m four weeks out from triathlon nationals and I need to keep this flame lit! I know from years of experience, in order to get my workouts in, I need to do the following:

  1. wake up early and get it done before anyone even rolls over in bed
  2. plan my training with my coach so the days I’m on vacation are part of a rest week
  3. keep the focus on fun and know that if I miss a workout, I’m probably giving my body more of what it needs in terms of relaxation and sleep
Cheers to vacation with chocolate in your martini.

Cheers to vacation with chocolate in your martini.

I’m taking yet another week off. See you back here next Wednesday, July 20th!

How do you handle exercising on vacation?

Where is your go to workout on vacation? It’s ok if you don’t have one. That means you’re normal.

Tell me about your upcoming travel plans…