Whether you travel for work, family, or simply for enjoyment, chances are your exercise routine goes out the window while you’re away from home.
It happens to us all! Being unfamiliar with the area, without a regular schedule (or perhaps on someone else’s schedule), or just being in “vacation mode” can make exercise a low priority.
But going running while traveling can be an excellent thing to do.
Keep reading to find out why, and to get our top running tips when traveling to stay motivated!
Why Go Running When Traveling?
Often, the worst part of traveling is the actual journey to get to your destination. Whether you’re taking a road trip or flying, it can be stressful and tiring.
Running might seem like something that only adds to the exhaustion. But in reality, it’s an excellent way of boosting your energy and getting back into a calm and relaxed state of mind.
Running increases the amount of oxygen in the body and brain, opens up the lungs, and stretches out the muscles. It may even be a way to overcome the symptoms of jetlag!
1. Do Your Homework
If you’re serious about getting in a daily run when you’re away from home, take some time before you leave to research.
Check Google Maps to give you an idea of the area. It may even be a good idea to research common running routes in the area or reach out to members of local running clubs to ask for advice or ideas of where to run. That way, you know you’ll be running on a well-used and safe route.
We recommend mapping out your runs ahead of time using a running app. If you use a running app like Map My Run or Strava, you’ll be able to set your running route in advance, so you can just choose it and go on the day.
Knowing your routes beforehand means you won’t have to worry about getting lost in an unfamiliar area!
2. Check Race Routes
When searching the area, check out popular race routes. If there aren’t races on at the time, you should still be able to run along the route. If there is a race going on, why not join in?
Research races in the area. You’ll most likely find a variety of distances, so pick one that suits you and go for it!
3. Run To/In Interesting Landmarks
It could be fun to check out local landmarks in your destination area. If you can, incorporate these into your running routes.
There could be a mountain or hill that has a reputation in the area. Maybe a large park, like Central Park. Beaches always make for fun runs.
If there are well-known landmarks, run to them and take a photo! This is also a fun way of spicing up your running journal if you keep one.
If not, it’s just a nice way to remember the runs you took while in the area.
4. Pack With a Checklist
Don’t forget all your running gear when packing! It could be a good idea to pack it separately from your regular clothes, especially if you’re going on a business trip.
Make a checklist of your gear when packing so you don’t miss anything. It should include everything you would normally wear when running at home, as well as other stuff that may be tailored to your destination. This should include:
- Shorts or tights
- Comfortable shirts
- A hat (for warm weather)
- A beanie or balaclava (for cold weather)
- Running gloves (for cold weather)
- Your travel running shoes
- Running socks
- Hair ties (if necessary)
- A light jacket
- Running belt
- Compression gear (for recovery)
- Reflective gear for safety
5. Take a Waterproof Bag for Sweaty Clothes
It’s an excellent idea to take a waterproof bag with you to store wet and sweaty clothing if you need to. If you have access to a laundry service or washing machine, then this isn’t as big a deal.
But if you’re aren’t going to be able to wash your clothes properly, a waterproof bag will keep your sweaty gear away from your other clothing.
6. Find a Bad Weather Exercise Option
Before you even head off on your trip, try to figure out what your options are if you can’t go for a run.
Maybe the weather will be bad the whole time you’re there. Or perhaps it’s just not safe to run in the hours that you’ll be available.
If you’re in a hotel, there may be gym facilities for you to use. You can still get in your daily run on the treadmill, or try some cross-training activities. If there’s no gym where you are, local gyms may allow you to train there for a few days, for a fee of course.
If neither of those are an option, you may need to stick to bodyweight exercises in your hotel room or bedroom. Don’t be despondent if you can’t run! There are other ways to stay fit.
A jump rope is an excellent tool to have if you travel frequently and want a way to get your heart rate up quickly and effectively.
You can buy one at almost any sporting store, they’re easy to slip into a suitcase, and you can use them indoors as long as you have enough ceiling clearance!
7. Move As Much As Possible
When you’re stuck in a car or on a plane for hours on end, your muscles and joints can take strain. When you finally set foot in your destination, you may be feeling stiff, sore, and not at all like taking a run.
Combat this travel stiffness by taking regular movement breaks. We recommend every hour, but if you can’t manage that often, then at least every 2 hours. Set an alarm if you have to!
If you’re traveling by car, take a quick stop every 2 hours or so so you can get out and move. Walk around, stretch your muscles, and get a bit of fresh air before you carry on driving.
If you’re on a plane, try to walk around every now and then, even if you aren’t going to the bathroom. Stretching your legs underneath the seat in front of you won’t quite do it!
8. Be Flexible And Alert
You should have chosen a route before you even get to your destination. It should be in an area with a bit of traffic, so you know there are people around if you need help.
Stay alert while running. It’s best not to listen to music (unless you’re using something like bone conduction headphones), as you won’t be as aware of the world around you.
Be prepared to change your route if necessary. Maybe there’s a road blocked off ahead, or you feel uncomfortable about heading into a certain area at the time.
Listen to your gut and change your route if necessary. It’s also advisable to take a look at your routes before running them so you have an idea of how to get back to the start if you do need to adjust it on the go.
9. Set a Goal to Keep You Motivated
If you’re worried about getting lazy while you’re traveling, set an easy-to-accomplish goal that you can tick off your to-do list every day.
- Run a mile every day
- Run a total of 10 miles for the week
- Go for 3 runs in the 5 days that I’m away
Anything that has a number to it and can be counted down or ticked off a daily schedule would be good.
10. Connect With the Local Running Community
You can do this as part of your route planning before you leave, or you can find the details of the local running club and go check it out when you arrive.
Even local running stores might be able to give you some good advice on who to speak to about running in the area.
You may find a running group that you can join for the few days or weeks that you’re in the area. This will help to keep you accountable and prevent you from getting lazy and not running at all.
And who knows, you may actually end up making a running friend that you keep in touch with over the years even when you’re back home.
11. Stay Hydrated
Don’t forget to hydrate! A water bottle can be tricky to fit into a suitcase, so you can use a regular bottle you buy at a local store. Or consider packing your hydration system.
If you’ve been jet-lagged or you have a busy schedule while you’re in town, staying hydrated is even more important than usual.
Making sure you’re drinking enough will help you feel great and have enough energy to do what you have to do and still run. On the other hand, not drinking enough will make you feel weak, sick, and may prevent you from running.
12. Get Out During Daylight
Avoid running at night in areas you aren’t familiar with. This is for your own safety!
You could be an easy target if someone knows you’re an outsider, and you won’t be familiar enough with the area to be able to get away.
Also, be cautious when running at dawn. It’s usually a lot quieter at this time, so if something does happen, you may not be able to catch someone’s attention to help.
Running at midday can be difficult when you have other things to do. Early morning when the sun has risen is a good time to go for a run, when the world is awake and busy!
Otherwise, running in the late afternoon while it’s still light enough to see everything is a good idea.
Don’t take chances with this! Rather take precautions and stay safe than be too nonchalant and regret it later.
13. Do a Digital Friend/Family Run
Just because you’re far away from family and friends, it doesn’t mean you can’t run with them! If you’re still in the same time zone, you can coordinate with your regular running buddies to still run at the same time and stay accountable to each other.
When traveling to a different time zone, it may be possible to still arrange to run together. You may need to run at a different time than usual, but you can still technically run with your usual people.
If you’re staying with friends or family, find out if one of them may be keen to run with you.
14. Don’t Forget to Stop and Enjoy the Sights
Don’t get so focused on running that you forget to stop and check out the scenery!
You’re in a new place with new, exciting sights. Make time for your run, but remember to take in the sights as you’re going!
15. Don’t Stress
Work travel can be stressful. Your exercise shouldn’t be. Running should relieve your stress and make you feel better!
Whatever your reason for traveling, your running should be a stress-relieving activity. You should prioritize your work or family interactions, but don’t neglect your running.
Just don’t stress yourself out trying to balance things. If fitting a run or two into your schedule is causing you stress, then don’t push yourself to include a daily run.
While exercise can help relieve stress, if fitting it in is causing you stress, then leave it.
Next time, try to prepare better before you leave. A lot of it is just about great time management!
Bonus – Staying Safe
Safety first! Finding time to run while you’re traveling is one thing. Staying safe is another. Here are our top tips to keep you safe while you’re running in an unfamiliar place.
- Learn some self-defense moves! You can use YouTube or join a local class.
- Contact local runners to find out the best ways to stay safe.
- Stick to well-traveled running routes.
- Use a running belt to store your valuables out of sight.
- Don’t wear new clothing or shoes that you haven’t tried before.
- Make sure your phone is fully charged when you go for a run.
- Avoid earbuds or only use one so you can hear what’s happening around you. Alternatively, invest in a pair of bone conduction headphones.
- Wear sunscreen and sunglasses.
- Keep pepper spray or something similar in your running belt or on a keyring.
- Take your ID (or a copy thereof) with you in case of emergency.
- Don’t wear jewelry while you’re out running.
- Take extra cash (well-hidden) in case you need it.
- If you must run in the dark, try to run with a local (preferably a friend or family member).
- Also, wear reflective gear if you’re running in low light.
- Let someone know where you’re going to run and when you expect to be back.
- Respect local culture and customs. Do a bit of research on what kind of clothing is appropriate in the area and be respectful of that.