Ultimate guide to staying fit and healthy while traveling
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Staying fit and healthy while traveling is important for globetrotters who don’t want to fall behind on their progress. The necessity for retaining our health is more important than ever with the current COVID-19 pandemic holding entire countries hostage. The coronavirus is particularly dangerous to those with already-compromised immune systems. Every step we can take to maintaining radiant health makes a difference!
A packed schedule during vacation might make you less interested in exercise – especially with delicious meals and relaxation calling your name. There are easy ways to keep up with your routine, like staying at health-forward hotels, choosing better snacks on the go, and…working out in the airport, or even your hotel room? You bet!
Remember, you can use the points you earn from the best hotel credit cards to cover the entire cost of your stay.
Of course, being active might be the whole point of your trip, like kayaking, hiking, or swimming each day you’re away. Staying fit doesn’t have to cost anything extra. I’ll share tips for staying active while traveling.
Health and exercise tips while traveling
Depending on your destination, you might not have access to the same fitness facilities and equipment you have at home. But planning ahead and adapting to your vacation environment can help you stay on a workout plan. Here are easy ways to stay fit when you take a trip.
Stay at fitness-friendly hotel brands
Many major hotel chains have fitness centers on premises — but the quality and type of equipment can vary a lot. Here are hotel brands or specially-designed hotel fitness programs ideal for folks who like to workout.
There are currently 13 EVEN Hotels, which are part of IHG. Each hotel has athletic studios, group classes, and in-room exercise zones — important for those who want to practice quarantine from the easily-transmitted coronavirus. You don’t even have to leave your room! Plus, you can ask for specialty equipment like Pilates mats, yoga balls, or resistance bands.
Though there aren’t many locations, you can use IHG points to stay free when your travel plans allow. For example, rooms at EVEN Miami Airport cost 35,000 IHG points per night.
You can use the IHG® Rewards Club Premier Credit Card annual award night certificate (good for a stay up to 40,000 points) for a complimentary stay. The card also currently comes with a welcome bonus of 140,000 bonus points after spending $3,000 on purchases within the first three months of account opening.
Fairfield Inn & Suites by Marriott
If you like Marriott hotels, consider Fairfield Inn & Suites, which has 950+ locations around the world.
Each hotel has:
- 24/7 fitness center on site
- Ergonomic desk and chairs
- Free Wi-Fi
- Free hot breakfast each morning
Many Marriott hotels have fitness centers, but these are better stocked with more specialty equipment. Plus, there are many locations.
You can get an award stay with cards like:
- Marriott Bonvoy Boundless™ Credit Card – Free award night (up to 35,000 Marriott points) after every cardmember anniversary
- Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card – Free award night (up to 50,000 Marriott points) after every cardmember anniversary
Hilton’s Five Feet to Fitness Program
I like Hilton hotels. 13 Hilton locations have the Five Feet to Fitness program that provides in-room workout equipment, an exercise bike and a monitor with hundreds of custom-designed classes and routines.
You have to specifically request a room with these amenities. If you’re passing through a city where this program is available, give it a try! You won’t have to leave your room to stay on top of your workouts.
If you like Hilton hotels, paying with the Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card will help your Hilton points balance grow so you can stay for free. You’ll even receive Gold elite status, which comes with free breakfast at nearly every Hilton hotel.
Hyatt hotels throughout North America and the Caribbean have the Hyatt StayFit program that offers guests yoga mats, fitness apparel on demand, and Life Fitness workout machines. To find a participating hotel, check the list of hotel amenities. You can see which hotels have a fitness center, and each individual hotel will note if they have StayFit service available.
You can reserve free rooms at these hotels with points earned from The World Of Hyatt Credit Card, which also comes with a free night certificate each card anniversary, valid at a Hyatt Category 1 through 4 hotel.
TRYP by Wyndham
At TRYP by Wyndham hotels, you can specifically request a Fitness Room, which comes with an elliptical, bike, or treadmill, and an exercise mat.
At Westin brand hotels, which are part of Marriott, you can pay $5 to rent New Balance running shoes and clothing to work out. This means you can pack lighter if you plan to exercise. And their fitness studios feature 24/7 access and TRX training equipment.
There are 240+ locations, with 140+ in North America. They’re fairly easy to find, especially if you plan to travel domestically.
Get free stays with hotel credit cards
Stay for free by earning points for award stays with the best hotel credit cards, which include:
|Card name||Best for||Best perk||Annual fee|
|IHG® Rewards Club Premier Credit Card||Best for IHG hotel stays||Every cardmember year you'll get an anniversary reward night valid at hotels costing up to 40,000 IHG points.||$89|
|The World Of Hyatt Credit Card||Best for a balance of value and comfort||Category 1-4 free night award every card anniversary.||$95|
|Marriott Bonvoy Bold™ Credit Card||Best for no annual fee||Automatic Silver Marriott elite status and 15 elite night credits each year.||$0|
|Marriott Bonvoy Boundless™ Credit Card||Best low annual fee||Anniversary award certificate (valid at hotels costing up to 35,000 points) each year you keep and renew the card.||$95|
|Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card||Best for businesses||Transfer points to three different hotel chains.||$95|
|Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card||Best for Marriott hotel stays||Up to $300 annual statement credit for eligible purchases at participating Marriott Bonvoy hotels, including room rates. Terms Apply.||$450 (see rates and fees)|
|Hilton Honors Aspire Card from American Express||Best for top-tier hotel elite status||Up to $250 Hilton resort credit each card-member year and up to $250 airline fee credit with your selected airline each calendar year. Terms Apply.||$450 (see rates and fees)|
|Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card||Best for families||10 Priority Pass airport lounge visits each year and automatic Hilton Gold status. Terms apply.||$95 (see rates and fees)|
|The Platinum Card® from American Express||Best for prepaid hotels||5x points on prepaid hotels booked on Amextravel.com. Terms apply.||$550 (see rates and fees)|
The information for the Hilton Aspire card has been collected independently by Million Mile Secrets. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.
Check the hotel calendar for fitness schedules
Many resort-style hotels offer group fitness activities, which are included in the price of your stay. For example, I checked the schedule at Hyatt Regency Maui Resort & Spa, and there are daily classes for yoga, water aerobics and group training.
You might have to pay extra, but check if your hotel has sports equipment for rent, like kayaks or stand-up paddle boards. These activities can be a fun way to get in a workout.
Attend classes at boutique fitness studios
If you like group fitness classes, like cycling or Pilates, you might sign-up for a program like ClassPass. With a membership, you can attend workout classes at studios in 2,500 cities around the world.
There are other popular fitness studios with memberships you can use at multiple locations throughout the U.S., including Barry’s Bootcamp, PureBarre, and SoulCycle.
Use fitness apps for workout routine inspiration
With a smartphone, you can download a fitness app for workout ideas while traveling. It’s like having a personal trainer in your pocket. You can choose an app that fits best your situation.
For example, you might have access to a hotel fitness center with dumbbells and cardio equipment. So an app could show you a customized workout with the equipment available to you.
Or you can find an app that guides you through a yoga session without leaving your room. And you can always get your heart rate up in your hotel room by doing classic exercises like jumping jacks, push-ups, and sit-ups.
Our favorite fitness apps include:
- 7 Minute Workout
- Nike Training Club
- Yoga Studio
Plan active travel excursions
Instead of booking a bus tour to explore a new city, you might select an active option. For example, you can take free walking historical tours in Budapest and Warsaw.
Even if you’re not on a tour, you could walk instead of using rideshare services or public transportation.
Depending on your travel destination, you can also take advantage of local culture to try something new and healthy. While in Finland, one of our team members learned of the health benefits of spending time in a sauna — so he embraced this integral part of their culture during his visit!
Eat healthy on the go
When traveling, folks tend to eat whatever’s convenient. Often, that means packaged foods, airport restaurants, or grab-and-go items. The best way to eat in new environments is to replenish your body’s vitamins by eating lots of fruits and veggies. Packing an apple or banana, or putting sliced fruit in a small container, makes it easy to pass on the pastries and cookies and give yourself a healthy energy boost.
Plus, if you can pack a refillable water bottle (I love the Hydro Flask brand), you’ll keep yourself hydrated all day. Not drinking enough water is the easiest way to fatigue, and of course dehydration. Airplane cabins are less humid than the Sahara Desert (seriously).
And while you’re adding extra nutrients to your diet, give yourself food for thought by meditating or reading during your journey. It’s an easy and free way to clear your mind. Many airlines have free in-flight entertainment. Next time you flip through the channels, see if you can find a guided meditation.
Work out in airport gyms and lounges
You can even work out AT the airport. This might not be for everyone, as it takes planning to arrive earlier – especially if the facility is in another terminal. But if you have a long layover, or your local airport has fitness options, why not?
For example, there’s a full-service gym at Baltimore airport. Many hotels attached to airport terminals have fitness centers that offer day passes, like in Chicago and Detroit.
Dallas-Fort Worth and San Francisco’s airports even have free yoga lounges that are open all day every day, and supply mats you can use. And at the airport serving Minneapolis-St. Paul, you’ll find the concourse walkways are marked every 0.1 miles, so you can get in a long-distance walk and satisfy your step requirement for the day.
See if your airport has anything fitness related, like a gym, spa, yoga lounge, or a hotel in the terminal offering access to their weights and machines. It beats sitting at the gate when you can get your workout done along the way!
Your fitness routine doesn’t have to take a vacation when you travel. There are many ways to stay physically active and healthy when you’re away from home.
Here’s how to exercise while traveling:
- Stay at fitness-friendly hotel brands
- Check your hotel’s calendar for fitness activities and classes
- Attend classes at boutique fitness studios with a ClassPass membership
- Download a fitness app for workout inspiration
- Plan active travel excursions, like hiking, cycling, or kayaking
- Fuel your body with fresh foods and plenty of water
- Check if the airport has a fitness facility
How do you keep up your workout routine during vacations? We’d love to hear your tips! And subscribe to our newsletter for more travel tips like these.
For rates and fees of the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant, please click here
For rates and fees of the Hilton Honors Aspire Card, please click here
For rates and fees of the Hilton Honors American Express Surpass Card, please click here
For rates and fees of The Platinum Card from Amex, please click here
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Editorial Note: We're the Million Mile Secrets team. And we're proud of our content, opinions and analysis, and of our reader's comments. These haven’t been reviewed, approved or endorsed by any of the airlines, hotels, or credit card issuers which we often write about. And that’s just how we like it! :)