Do you want to lose weight? Tone up? Become and be fitter, stronger and healthier version of you than you are now? Do you want to do all of that whilst travelling the world and hopping from country to country at the same time?
Like the sound of that? I thought that would get your attention.
Take a moment out from your busy day and try to imagine a life where you are travelling around the world, backpacking independently to every country you have ever wanted to visit and seeing and doing all the amazing things that you have ever dreamed of. Now imagine a life where you are leaner, fitter, stronger and healthier than you are now. Now imagine both of those things happening at the same time!
Sound awesome? It is! And you have the power to make it happen.
Living A Healthier Lifestyle.
Most people have similar dreams and aspirations in life. Some want to travel more, many want to lose a little weight or get a little healthier. There is a reason that these things top the resolution list every January – before of course they are suddenly abandoned quicker than the latest nonentity celeb fad diet DVD in February – they are universally aspirational ideals. Be well, be healthy, see the world. These are things that almost everyone dreams of or aspires to at some point.
Yet despite the fact there is a lot of inspiration out there from people who are living healthy lifestyles when travelling, many travellers and backpackers struggle with the reality of living a healthy lifestyle on the road, either the concept or the practicality. Even those who live a generally healthy lifestyle at home can throw their routine out of the window when they travel, and for those who want to get healthy and aren’t used to exercising or living a healthy lifestyle, the thought of starting whilst travelling just doesn’t work for them. The thing is, every single one of these aspirations are easily achievable for everyone! You can travel the world, you can lose weight and tone up, you can get fitter and stronger and you can live a healthy lifestyle all at the same time.
Health As A Priority.
By adjusting your priorities and focusing on what your individual health and fitness goals are, you can easily incorporate that into your travel lifestyle too.
Before you start laughing and piling on the excuses, just remember there are plenty of people doing just that right now – myself included – and there is no difference at all between you, I or them. There is nothing at all stopping you from achieving your dreams of world travel and your weight or health goals at the same time.
How Do I Do It?
For anyone who knows me well, they know that travel is a huge part of my life. It has been for a long time now and I can’t imagine that ever changing. I do my best to inspire and encourage others to travel all the time, and through my own experiences I try to show people just how easily it is to travel independently through this website and my book series. My style of travel may have evolved slightly over the years, the places I visit and things I do are obviously different each trip, but one thing that has never changed throughout all my travels is my healthy lifestyle.
I make a conscious choice to live a healthy lifestyle no matter where I am. I make that conscious decision to improve my physical health as well as my mental and spiritual health day after day.
The trick is in your mindset. This isn’t about making and following some pointless New Year’s resolution or going on a crappy fad diet for a few weeks before giving it up. This is about making conscious decisions to improve your life holistically. It is about is about having the right mindset to live your life in a free, healthy and self improving manner.
Sound a little too new age for you? Fair enough. Don’t worry I’m not expecting you to throw on a tie die Kaftan and a wrist band. This isn’t about that. This is about living your life the way you want to live it. This is about creating the person you want to become and making the right choices in order to do that.
Just ask yourself who you want to be. Imagine for a moment the two extremes of the person you can become. An unhealthy, overweight slob who can’t walk up a flight of stairs without collapsing, with far too much body fat, bad skin, and looks like they are on death’s door, who never travels and only ever leaves the house to go down to the local bakery. Or the other extreme, the better you, the one who is fit, strong and healthy, the one who moulds their individual body into the best shape it can be. The one who is well travelled and can be found doing a spot of yoga in a mountain retreat or swimming in the warm ocean of a tropical paradise!
What Version Of Yourself Do You Want To Be?
And the thing is, it isn’t difficult to do this. In fact I have always found it much easier to maintain a healthy lifestyle backpacking around the world than when I have been at home! The trick is to know how.
Imagine getting your cardio workout by jogging in the desert or trekking through a jungle to (re) discover an ancient temple, imagine doing yoga on a peaceful retreat or deserted beach instead of a dingy gym studio or getting your relaxing sauna and massage under a waterfall in a tropical lagoon. It’s a bit more appealing than your local gym, isn’t it? The many ways I find to exercise on my travels aren’t always the same, I may have a gym session at the occasional hotel or take a local martial arts class. I may simply go for a run when nothing else is available, go for a swim in the ocean or head out on a hike even. I have used bags of bottled water as replacements for weights or done simple body weight exercises.
Even some of the activities that travel gives you the opportunity to do are in and of themselves fantastic forms of exercise. Try going on a mountain hike or jungle trek, both are fantastic for cardio exercise as well as giving your leg muscles a fantastic workout, the steeper the terrain the better. Or how about taking up a simple bike ride to explore the wider countryside of the places you are visiting.
It doesn’t matter what it is you do, just do something!
The possibilities for the type of physical training you can do really are endless, some of which I talk about here, but there is always some way I can find to pursue my fitness goals alongside my travel ones. It doesn’t matter where I am, what country I am in or what terrain I am on, I can always find some way to exercise. And just as importantly, I can find ways to rest and indulge in a little wellness too!
There really is nothing more invigorating or refreshing than a natural spa under a waterfall in the middle of a tropical lagoon!
And if you want to talk about eating healthy? Then there is no better time than when you are travelling to get rid of any temptation to eat nothing but junk food and unhealthy snacks. Western fast food chains and chocolate bars for quick snacks are always available when you are travelling of course, but you often have to specifically go looking for them. More often than not you will have a much larger choice of healthy, fresh, local cuisine thanks to the sheer abundance of fresh, sweet fruit and good, healthy meals from street stalls, vendors, food courts and small eateries.
Don’t get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with having the occasional treat or two. The word diet isn’t about following some ridiculous fad nonsense you read about in the crappy gossip magazines and starving yourself. Diet is about ensuring everything you eat contains all the nutrients your body needs to be strong and healthy, with the majority of your intake being full of proteins, carbs, vitamins and minerals, and the odd treat thrown in to make it all enjoyable.
Make eating a full, healthy, balanced diet a priority. And when you do indulge a little, just exercise to compensate!
The good news is it is much, much easier to find and choose healthy, fresh meals when you are travelling than it is when you are at home. It is easier and more convenient to grab a healthy bowl of noodles from a street vendor or a fresh sliced mango in season than it is to find a 7/11 and grab a chocolate bar. It is easier to choose the catch of the day, freshly cooked with a portion of rice and vegetables at a beach side eatery than it is to find a crappy fast food chain. The added bonus is that – dependent on where you are travelling of course – it is quite often much cheaper to eat a healthy, balanced diet when you are travelling too.
Set Your Goals And Stick To Them.
It doesn’t matter what your individual fitness goals are – some people want to lose weight, others improve their cardio fitness, others still want to improve muscle mass – as long as you set goals for yourself and you stick to them. Providing you do this you can push yourself to stay motivated wherever you are.
Remember Why You Are Doing All Of This Work.
I’m not going to lie to you, there is no quick fix or magic bullet here. You can’t just get on a plane, throw on some yoga pants and turn into a godlike superhero overnight. Getting and staying fit and healthy takes work, sometimes a lot of work, and doing it when travelling the world requires commitment. But just remember exactly why you wanted to start on this path in the first place. Remember that extreme version of you, that overweight slob who watches daytime TV and never follows their travel dreams. Remember that you never want to be that version of you.
One of the many reasons I travel is to improve and expand my mind and my soul, to learn, to explore and hopefully continue to grow into a better, more complete person than I am today. But improving the mind and spirit is nothing without improving the body too, and another huge part of that endless pursuit of perfection is the moulding and shaping of my body into the absolute best it can be. Or at the very least trying to! I’m far from perfect of course and there is always room to improve and make myself better, but what I am right now is healthy, and I love that!
I love living a healthy lifestyle; exercising, eating well, being as strong, fit and as healthy as I can be. It makes me feel amazing, pushing my body to its limit and constantly breaking the barriers in front of me, constantly realising that no matter how far I have come I can always push that little bit more, achieve that little bit more.
Travel Well, Live Healthy And Be Awesome!
The same is true for travel. Once you start travelling the world independently you realise where your limits are, what your strengths and weaknesses are, and then you use the experiences you gain when travelling to smash those barriers and limitations down and breeze past them as if they were nothing. You grow as a person, become stronger mentally and spiritually, you expand your mind and realise just how much you can achieve and that nothing is impossible.
There is nothing more personally empowering as that!
And when you combine the two, when you improve yourself mentally and spiritually through world travel, then improve yourself physically through the right diet, exercise and lifestyle, then you have become the full package. When you are well travelled, world educated and an all round awesome backpacker, and then live a fit and healthy lifestyle and are lean, strong and healthy on top of that, then guess what? You’re a damn superhero! Do all of this and tell me you aren’t awesome!
It doesn’t matter whether you had a relatively healthy lifestyle before you started your travels or if you had never exercised in your life, it is so easy to maintain or even start living healthy and getting some exercise on your gap year. So easy in fact that once you start eating and living healthier and getting up and doing more exercise, it will become second nature. You will do it without even realising it, so why not take that next step and make it official?
Backpacking around the world or taking a gap year are life changing experiences in so many ways, so what’s stopping you adding a healthier lifestyle to that list too? You know you can do it!
Did you enjoy this article? I would love to hear your thoughts in the comments section below or on my Facebook or Twitter pages and please feel free to share it with any or all of the social media buttons. If you want to get more great backpacking tips, advice and inspiration, please subscribe to updates via email in the box to your right.
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Great tips here! I must admit although you’d never catch me eating fast food on my travels or chocolate bars, I am a bit partial to trying out local specialty sweet treats but I make sure I’m walking miles every day when I’m away or if I’ve been naughty one day, I’m mindful of my diet the next & that’s what keeps it sustainable for me!
Thanks Shikha, I know exactly what you mean! Indulging in the local cuisine and local desserts are one of the best parts of travelling! I always budget generously for food when I’m travelling, I just exercise for it as you say. Thanks for the comment. 🙂
Love this! Any advice to get rid of the weight I have been piling on with all the amazing street food here in SE Asia is more than welcome!
Thans Steph, as I say, a good healthy diet is great, just exercise too! Plenty of opportunities for a healthy lifestyle in SE Asia!
We just returned from Peru. Bearing in mind that most of the Inca sites can only be accessed via flights of very steep steps, I highly recommend it as a workout destination! Furthermore, their (super healthy) ceviche is so delicious it’s all you’ll want to eat.
Totally agree! (I loved Peru too!) But I have got so much exercise and burned off so much body fat from doing treks like that, and I agree the stairs are a major bonus!
Thank you so much for this article! I love the gym and exercise nearly everyday so I am freaking out about my backpacking trip in a couple months on how to keep fit! I like to jog outside, but the only thing I am worried about when I am in Asia is going for a jog and getting completely lost haha! Is the street food in Thailand healthy? I love food and want to try it all! I do think it is more tempting to eat crap at home, especially when you work in an office and people are forever bringing in buns and sweets etc!
I have been looking for an article like this for a while so I am glad i finally stumbled across your blog. I will be hooked now 🙂
Thank you very much Christina! Don’t worry about travelling, I honestly find keeping fit easier when travelling than when I am at home, just look through my articles to find just a few examples on how to do it. And as for jogging in SE Asia, if you get lost just keep a small amount of cash on you and it is the easiest thing in the world to catch a tuk tuk or taxi back to somewhere familiar. Or you could simply run up and down a stretch of beach or do laps of a park, there certainly aren’t shortages of those! And you can get healthy and unhealthy street food like anywhere, but the healthy food is SO delicious and so plentiful! It is easier to snack on fresh fruit and healthy snacks (vendors are everywhere) than it is to find an unhealthy snack.
If only it was that easy! 😦 I still can’t get rid of my stomach, and the street food in Thailand is so tempting!
It is Natalie, just do a bit more cardio, you’ll soon burn that body fat. There’s nothing wrong with indulging in Thai street food, it is AWESOME and you’ll be missing out if you didn’t, but there are plenty of places to go for a run or get your heart rate pumping there too.
Such great advice, thank you! You’ve inspired me to use my gap year to get a little fitter and healthier (and get a better bikini body too)!
That’s awesome Laura, take it a step at a time and I’m sure you’ll do fine. Enjoy your trip (and the new healthier you!)
great post! I love the idea of active adventures to keep you healthy..I went backpacking all through Peru and between the hiking and altitude came back home 2 pounds lighter despite eating whatever was available. But that doesn’t always work. I walked the entire camino Frances of the Camino Santiago, essentially hiking for 30+ days straight and came back 15lbs heavier. There is a saying, “you cant out train a bad diet!” and its true. What you eat and DRINK like beer is vital to your weight goals
Thank you Eric. That is definitely true, diet is a strong part of an overall healthy lifestyle, but I’m willing to bet a good portion of that extra weight after the Camino Frances was extra muscle in your legs! ;D Weight in and of itself isn’t really important, it is only ever a rough estimate. Body fat levels are far more important and that is what you should be measuring.
You should bring out exercise videos of great treks around the world! They’ll go viral!
Hahaha that is an awesome idea! I doubt anyone would want to see my mug on camera though! ;D
Love the advice! Thank you
Glad you found it useful! ;D
I agree, going hiking or trekking is a great way to stay fit! I have just been on a multi day jungle hike in Chiang Mai and it was so hard work but I swear I have dropped a dress size!
Haha I’m not surprised! That humidity will make you sweat!
I always find it much easier to live healthy when I am travelling, just from doing so much more and being far more active.
I know what you mean, I do too.
After a month in Spain, my husband, son and I all felt like we had lost weight despite eating and drinking our way through the country. The secret (I think): really healthy food in smaller quantities, healthy snacks throughout the day, walking, walking and more walking, climbing stairs, etc. The Spanish were proud of using fresh, local ingredients with few additives, if any, and making meals an experience to enjoy, not just fuel up. Nourish the mind, body & spirit! Anyway, thanks for your post!
I totally agree, I tend to find I eat so much better when travelling too, partly because of the abundance of fresh foods. I eat so much local fish when I’m island hopping!