7 Tips to keeping healthy and fit while you travel

The secret weapon when travelling is no different from your secret weapon to a successful workout program. SOMA Founder and expert coach Franco Atashi notes, “If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.” It’s all about the planning. 

Establishing a consistent workout schedule is key to seeing noticeable gains and changes in your body, and maintaining the good results all your hard work has achieved. It also helps you perform your best in your day-to-day activities, regardless of where you are.

But what happens when you have to interrupt your routine to travel, either for business or leisure? 

In this article, we’ll take a look at 7 tips to help you stay on track, feel healthy, and keep up with your fitness no matter where you are in the world. These can help you return home feeling energised and ready to get back in the gym.

1. Pre-travel prep is key to your health

The secret weapon when travelling is no different from your secret weapon to a successful workout program. SOMA Founder and expert coach Franco Atashi notes, “If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.” It’s all about the planning. 

Some quick wins are:

  • Book a hotel with a reasonable onsite gym, or research local fitness facilities at your destination.
  • Check out the local restaurants and whether you can easily access clean food options nearby.
  • Pack a few protein bars for snacks between meals.
  • Invest in some light quick dry workout gear.
  • Where possible, opt to book work lunches rather than dinners so you don’t end up at the bar in the evenings.

In the weeks leading up to your trip, try to push harder in your workouts. That way, you’ll start your travels in optimum condition. 

And lastly, set realistic goals. Keep in mind that the focus of fitness when travelling should be to maintain your progress, not to see incredible gains or transformations.

2. Fly smart to stay feeling great

Long-haul flights can affect both your body and mind. The most important thing to do when flying is to stay hydrated. 

This means: 
 – Drinking plenty of still water; and 
 –  As tempting as it is to say yes to alcohol (especially in Business Class, where that high-quality drop is a real tease and cocktails are flowing), say no. It’s going to dry you up much faster than when you drink on land, dehydrate your brain and organs, make you foggy and tired (in a bad way), starve you of clarity, and leave you feeling worse for wear. Rather, stick to good old H2O. 

During the flight, be sure to get up intermittently and do some stretching, take a walk up the aisle and get your blood flowing. This is important to avoid fluid buildup and in some cases DVT or deep vein thrombosis, which can be life-threatening if not treated in time.

To help you sleep, choose light meal options, bring your own effective earplugs and eye mask, avoid caffeine before and on your flight, and if you’re not in business, invest in a good quality neck pillow. Being able to block out sound and light sufficiently can have a big impact on your body’s ability to rest.

Let’s talk about jet lag on your health

Jet lag can be challenging to manage, especially if you cross a few time zones. It can make sticking to a fitness routine seem like a lot of effort, but understanding it will help you manage it more effectively.

The body’s physiological rhythm is controlled by the effects of light on the pacemaker cells in the part of the brain known as the suprachiasmatic nucleus or SCN. These cells act as the 24-hour clock of the body and create your circadian rhythm. This word means ‘approximately’ (circa) ‘one day’ (dia). 

Your bodily processes like digestion, hormone release, blood pressure, heart rate and brain states are all timed on this internal clock. Jet lag happens because this clock is synced up to your original time zone. When you suddenly step off the plane in a completely new time zone, that clock takes a while to adjust. 

Did you know? 

Travelling westward is less confusing to your circadian rhythm as it prolongs your experience of normal day-night hours and, on average, our body’s rhythm naturally tends to run slightly longer than 24 hours. Travelling eastward means you travel in the opposite direction of your internal clock and effectively ‘lose’ hours, causing your jetlag to be worse. 

Tips to combat jet lag

  • Get enough sleep before your trip so you don’t start out with a sleep deficit.
  • If you’re travelling west, in the 2-3 weeks prior to travel, try to go to sleep as late as possible so you can more easily adapt to your destination time.
  • Get out into the sunlight each morning at your destination to signal to your brain’s pacemaker cells the time of day.
  • You can also help it adjust by doing some light exercises.
  • Try to stay awake until the normal sleeping time in your destination when you arrive and again when you return.
  • Drink plenty of still water while travelling.

3. Explore local fitness options 

Even if your hotel doesn’t have a gym, there may be other options for getting your workouts in, such as day passes to local studios or gyms. 

Another option is to take your workout outdoors. Some places will have park or beach gyms that can be great for maintaining your routine. For the avid runners out there, start the day with a run on a local track or do some road running through the countryside. It’s a great way to stay fit while exploring the area. 

Ideally, speak to your SOMA PT a week before your fly out about a locational program, and get this loaded into your SOMA PT app to keep you accountable. If you don’t have a SOMA PT, get in touch!

4. Bodyweight workouts are your friend 

Even if you don’t set foot in a gym while on your trip, you can easily do some bodyweight workouts in your hotel room. You may not have access to weights for strength training, but by increasing your sets, reps and varying tempo, you can still challenge yourself and feel that satisfying burn. 

Coach Franco reminds us, “The magic is in the work you avoid – the hardest part of a workout is to show up!”

Options for bodyweight workouts

Follow an app

The best option is the SOMA PT app loaded with your personal program and monitored by your PT. Your SOMA PT can amend your program for this time to give you bodyweight workouts, and program these into your app. Otherwise, other apps are available with general programs. 

Commit to a program option, and log your progress into your app for accountability. Don’t forget to warm up and cool down, and stretch before and after your workouts. Fit tech can also help you track your movement and progress.


High-intensity interval training has been proven to give fast results in a limited time. It consists of doing short bursts of intense activity where you push as hard as you can, followed by a rest period. 
Your SOMA PT can help you set the ratio of high/low based on your goals. As a general example of a HIIT workout, try repeating the following set of exercises twice or three times, and give yourself a 20-second rest in between each exercise. If you’re really up for it, or if you’re reasonably fit, try a 2-minute rest at the end, and repeat the whole thing again.

An example HIIT workout might be: 

  • Squats (45 seconds)
  • Mountain climbers (45 reps)
  • Russian twists (20 each side)
  • Tricep dips (30 reps)
  • High knees (30 each side)


Tabata is a form of HIIT that is just a bit more intense and definitely more advanced!

The difference is that in Tabata, you perform one exercise for 8 rounds of 20s, with a 10s resting period between rounds. That equates to 4 minutes of one exercise (including your rest times) before you take 1 full minute of rest and move on to the next one. It’s torture, but it’s highly effective. It’s a good idea to download a Tabata clock on your phone to keep time.

An example Tabata workout might be:

  • Push-ups (4 minutes) 
  • Bodyweight Squats (4 minutes)
  • Burpees (4 minutes)
  • Mountain Climbers (4 minutes)

Do push-ups for 20 seconds at a high intensity. Rest for 10 seconds, and then continue with push-ups for another 20 seconds. Once you complete eight sets of push-ups, rest for one minute and move on to the next exercise.

Did you know? 

The Japanese scientist Dr. Izumi Tabata developed Tabata training alongside a team of researchers from the National Institute of Fitness and Sports in Tokyo.

He found that high-intensity Tabata training for a short period saw a much greater aerobic (cardiovascular) gain, as well as an anaerobic (muscle) gain than moderate-intensity training for a much longer period. 

5. Pack portable equipment

For a little extra help in your hotel room or park workout, consider packing portable and lightweight equipment, such as resistance bands, jump ropes, sliders and TRX straps. 

You can also find aqua or sand weights that you fill with water or sand for your workout and empty when you need to pack them away. 

Other essentials to remember are your headphones/earphones, gym gear, and a phone pouch for running or working out in a local gym.

6. Active sightseeing

If you’re travelling for leisure or your business trip allows for a bit of free time for sightseeing, opt for active excursions, such as walking or bike tours, hikes, or local adventure sports such as surfing, snorkelling, rock climbing or skiing. 

That way, you’ll get your workout in without even realising it, make the most of your trip, and earn yourself a few extra calories in local treats along the way. 

7. Don’t forget about nutrition

On that note, when you’re travelling, it’s easy to want to indulge in all the delicacies of an area.

A big part of experiencing a different country or place is sampling the food and you shouldn’t feel you have to miss out on that. Just remember that a healthy outside starts from the inside. If you eat only junk, you will feel like junk.

When you can, try to choose healthy options with plenty of protein and fresh vegetables, or have indulgences in moderation. To avoid temptation, make a rule with yourself that you won’t eat two unhealthy meals in a row. 

Be sure to pack healthy snacks and keep a water bottle on you at all times to stay hydrated and avoid reaching for a high-sugar fizzy drink. 

The homecoming

When you return from your travels, try to get back to the gym and into your routine as quickly as possible. That first day back is always the toughest, but if you maintained some level of fitness while you were away, it shouldn’t take you very long to get back on track and in the swing of things.

Your SOMA PT can help you with exercises and goals for travelling, set these up in your SOMA PT app, and help you stay accountable. 

The small things you do every day all add up to giving you the fit, healthy, alert and mobile body you want and need to perform at your best.

Reach out to our Founders, and expert coaches, Franco or Simon, for more tips.