How to Travel Fit
Life doesn’t stop because you are prepping for a bodybuilding competition or want to continue to be healthy while traveling. This article focuses on those traveling during contest prep on a low fat diet but, the overall points apply to anyone who wants to travel fit.
In this post:
- 10 things to think about when planning your trip
- Packing list
- Food for the car trip/ Plane ride
- Eating at the hotel or condo
- Mini fridge and microwave or a full kitchen
- Eating Out
- Drink lots of water
Here are some things to think about when planning your trip:
- Know the accommodation amenities such as a microwave, kitchen or workout room.
- Pack prepared foods and bring your meal plan.
- For longer trips, have a grocery list ready to go and a food scale. Know where the local grocery stores are.
- Have a general schedule of activities so you know how to plan meals.
- Remember, you have a cheat meal!
- Plan your exercise routine for the week.
- Find a local gym if need be.
- Let the people you are traveling with know what your goals are.
- Get your sleep. Read about getting your best rest!
- Drink water!! Read about how to drink clean while traveling!
* Side note, if you are not in contest prep, travel fit but allow a splurge once a day :D, you are on vacation. The key is to not go overboard (literally and figuratively).
January 2015, my husband, the kiddos and I embarked on a family vacation to Florida which included the in-laws, all during contest prep! When you are in prep (aka cut phase), you need to keep your diet on point and get those workouts in to lean out for your show. This can definitely be tricky. It can be just as tricky if you want to continue your healthy lifestyle while traveling for work or pleasure.
My major concerns: how do I get in my workouts and stick to my macros (protein, carbs and fat) while NOT annoying everyone in the process! Ugh!
The answer…. plan, plan, plan!
Some things to remember for your trip may be:
- Resistance bands
- Jump rope
- Workout clothes
- Water bottle
- Gym shoes
- Tunes + ear buds
- Prepped foods in containers
- Meal plan
- Workout plan
- Grocery list
- Food warming tote if there is no microwave
- Food scale –
I have a portable mini food scale. It is nice to travel with but it max’s out at 100 grams. This means I have to bring a light plastic bowl to weigh foods in. Some foods like sweet potatoes have to be split up and weighed in two parts. First 90g, then the other 80g for my serving size. It can be a pain but its better than hauling a larger digital scale and risk breaking it in transit.
My American Weigh Scale is 3.9 x 5.8 x 1 inches. Nice and compact!
What will I do for Food?
Make sure everything is pre-packed, portioned and ready to go whether it be snacks for travel day or an entire weekend worth of food for a short trip. Keep in mind, you may be eating some of those meals cold, especially if the people you are traveling with plan on stopping for a quick lunch at McDonald’s. Plan ahead and bring your food.
Car trip or airports:
pre-pack and portion meals and snacks
During the travel days when we are navigating airports and sitting on planes, I have snacks and meals in my carry on portioned in containers. My fav travel snacks to have on hand are Clif Builder’s Bars and Turkey Jerky
Packing list ideas for the car trip/ airplane:
- Clif Bar Builder’s Bars, Larabars, Quest Nutrition Bars, Power Crunch bar, Epic Bar
- Apples, bananas etc
- Dry cereal
- Fruit Snacks
- Turkey Jerky
- Tuna or salmon packets (my favs: https://amzn.to/33iwDAF)
- Protein powder
- Rice Cakes
- More Idea’s Here- 28+ Quick protein Snacks for the Busy Fitchick
Eating at the hotel and Condo
Mini fridge and microwave available:
Make sure to ask if your room has a fridge and microwave. If not, ask if they will move them into your room. I avoid microwaves at all costs in daily life but, for this, it is a must for a warm meal away from home.
For short trips: you can bring all your prepared meals in containers. If you bring a small cooler or a soft cooler bag as a carry on, make sure cooler packs meet the Federal Aviation Administration (https://www.faa.gov/about/initiatives/hazmat_safety/) guidelines.
Long trips: Plan on a grocery shopping trip once you get to your destination. Then you can buy prepared foods like a rotisserie chicken, turkey bacon, cooked brown rice, instant oatmeal, fruit, lettuce and dressing which will be easy to store and prepare with a microwave and a fridge.
Hotel with no fridge or microwave:
Ask if a fridge and microwave can be moved to your room. If this option is not available pack whatever food you can travel. Once at your destination, hit up a grocery store for non-perishable foods to keep on hand like rice cakes, crackers, beef jerky, protein bars and protein powder among other items that don’t need to be refrigerated or cooked. This gives you more flexibility for food options to have on hand. For longer trips, plan on going to places with healthy food option like whole foods or trader Joes for larger meals.
Prep your meals, freeze them, bring a cooler in your car or carry them onto the plane in a meal prep cooler bag :
Then I pack my Hotlogic food warming tote to warm up the meals I prepped and froze. It’s a hot plate that warms your food to one temp and will keep it there until you are ready to eat it!
Full kitchen available:
Its on! Hit the grocery store with your list grocery list and meal plan!
Destination Grocery list ideas:
- Almond milk
- Gluten free bread
- Soy sauce
- Romaine lettuce
- Rice cakes
- Fruit- dried or fresh
- Fruit snacks
- Low fat salad dressing
- Fruit: apples and bananas
- Oatmeal- instant
- Kerrygold butter
- Olive oil
- Raw milk cheese
- Natural almond or peanut butter
- Trader joes fully cooked brown rice
- Turkey bacon
- Turkey jerky
- Protein bars like Cliff Builder Bars or Power Crunch Bars
- Fully cooked chicken or turkey brats
- Gallon jug (fill this everyday to monitor water intake)
- Storage bags and/or containers
- Tinfoil and plastic wrap
Filtered Water Handy tip: the workout rooms in hotels always have a water cooler which is filtered. I try to avoid drinking out of the tap whenever possible. If you are on a short trip where a grocery store won’t be easy to get to, fill up in the workout room before heading out.
Most chain restaurants have nutrition info online or at the establishment. I like to plan what I will eat before getting to the restaurant. Keeps me focused. If there is no nutrition info available on line or in the restaurant, stick to something safe on the menu like a grilled chicken salad or a white fish dish with veggies. When I order salads, I usually ask for food toppings like, cheese, croutons, or dressing to be put on the side so I can gauge how much to put on. All of those things can really add up.
Remember… you do have a cheat meal as well. You can coordinate that around your vacation plans if you want to go to a fav restaurant and eat something super yummy!
Do your best and plan ahead.
- Find a local gym near by: Some gyms have a 1 week free trials you can utilize.
- Hotel Gym: These can be lacking. Call ahead to see what the workout room has available.
- Bring a jump rope, suspension bands like MostFit or resistance bands such as Valeo Stretch Bands or Resistance Bands
- Do bodyweight exercises
Over the course of a week, you are not going to lose all the muscle you just worked months to gain. If anything, it’s a deload week for you. But, if you are prepping for a show, you will need to keep up the calorie deficit in your plan. Doing cardio in place of your strength training is not ideal as excessive cardio depletes muscle tissue. If a gym isn’t available, I like to use resistance bands, suspension bands, body weight exercises and get creative at the local park and play structures!
There were several days of traveling when I had to fit in workouts on the beach so I wouldn’t inconvenience the rest of the group. I prefer to be outside enjoying the elements anyway!
I did a lot of resistance band and body weight exercises in the form of circuits to really get my heart rate up. Most of these exercises I did about 10-20 reps for 3-4 sets. I did not do all of these exercises all at once. They would be split up into days such as:
Day 1: Shoulders + 7 HIIT
Day 2: 10 min. of LISS + Legs and Abs
Day 3: 15 min of LISS + Back and Biceps
Day 4: Abs and 5 MIIT
Day 5: 15 min LISS + Chest and Triceps
Day 6: Beach plyometrics
Day 7: Off
Circuit #1 example:
Do 1 set of each chest and tricep exercise for 10-15 reps each, rest 1 min, repeat 3-5 times. Do these slow and hold at the point of transition (when bands are stretched and resistance is the hardest).
- 10 pushups feet on bench, hands on ground
- 15 kickbacks with resistance bands
- 15 standard push ups (on knees if need be)
- 15 bench dips
- Rest 1 min
- Repeat 3 more times
Then, Do a short cardio session
Circuit #2 example:
Using the pier, I did 10 pull ups, 20 jump squats, 20 deep squats, 20 walking lunges, rest, repeat.
For a full body circuit, ad some push ups, tricep dips, hand stand shoulder push ups and hanging knee raises or crunches
Keep scrolling for more exercise circuits
HIIT: Sprinted for 25 seconds, then slow jogged for 60, repeated 5 times
or find a nice long set of stairs! HIIT on these just about killed me….
A little disclaimer about this one: jumping onto the back of the bench is really not a safe thing to do. Stick to a box jump style from the ground to the seat of the bench.
Modified Handstand Push ups
Rear Delt Raise
Tricep Kick Backs
Bench Dips with feet up a chair
Standard and Clapping Push ups
Can also sit on ground with legs straight and place the band around your feet and pull
Resistance Band Workout: Circuit #3 Example:
Do 12-15 reps each exercise 1-8, rest 1 min, repeat
Resistance Band (RB), resistance should should be at a med-hard intensity. This should not feel easy.
- RB Chest Press
- RB Back Row
- RB Overhead Press
- RB Biceps Curl
- Dips using a chair
- RB squat
- Calf raise
Body-weight Circuit #4 example
Do exercises 1-8 then rest 1 -2 min, repeat the whole circuit 2-5 times.
- Jumping Jacks – 30 seconds
- Prisoner Squat – 20 reps
- Close-Hands pushup – 20 reps
- Walking Dumbbell lunge – 12 reps
- Mountain Climber – 10 reps
- Inverted Hamstring – 8 reps
- T-Pushup – 8 reps
- Run in Place – 30 seconds
The Park Workout example #5