How to avoid weight gain on holiday – and still have a great time

6 travel exercise tips for your next vacation by a physical therapist

Smiling attractive young woman doing push-ups on the beach
(Image credit: Getty Images)

There are many reasons people go on holiday, but usually, they try to get away from the daily grind, relax and indulge themselves. It's almost impossible to avoid weight gain on holiday, or is it? Do your future self a favour and follow the below exercise tips to stay lean while you're away – or at least not put on any more weight.

As travel restrictions loosen worldwide, travel agents and operators are reporting (opens in new tab) a significant increase in bookings, with travel expected to reach pre-pandemic levels soon. As many move away from a more sedentary lifestyle they may have become accustomed to over the past two years and return to their regular routines, fitness is as important as ever.

Here are some tips from Hila Glick, VP of Physical Therapy & Patient Experience at Virtual Physical Therapy Platform OneStep (opens in new tab), about maintaining your exercise routine during your next vacation.

Even if you take some of the tips on board, remember you are on holiday – so don't be too hard on yourself. If you are used to exercising regularly, a vacation is an excellent time to introduce some changes, including your exercise regimen. There are some great ways to do so even during your holiday that don't require special equipment or planning, as explained by Hila below.

1. Walk more

"Brisk walks are wonderful for your health", Hila suggests, "They reduce stress and tension, improve muscle endurance, help you lose or maintain weight and walking while travelling has the added benefit of allowing you to see and experience a new surrounding – be it a city or nature."

She suggests packing and wearing comfortable shoes for walking. Hila's pro travel trip: if you have a backpack, wear both shoulder straps to avoid shoulder and neck pain.

Woman running up stairs

No need to run – walking up steps are equally as good keeping your fitness in check when on holiday

(Image credit: Getty Images)

2. Use the stairs

"The hotel elevator may seem enticing but try to use the stairs any time you have a chance", hila says, "Walking up steps uses different muscles from walking on the street, and you should be able to feel those muscles working, and your heart will enjoy a different type of aerobic exercise."

Not to mention, stair workouts use the biggest muscle in your body, the gluteus maximus – a.k.a. your bum muscles – so working it will burn loads of calories. Instant weight loss results!

3. Visit the hotel gym

If you stay at a hotel, they probably have a gym for you to use. Go and visit, won't you?

"If you use the gym back at home, try switching things up with different equipment or exercises", Hila recommends, "Starting your day at the gym will give you more energy, focus and optimism for the rest of your day."

If this is your first time at the gym, remember to go safe: "Usually, there is no instructor, and the equipment can be confusing. Start with something easy like the treadmill and some free weights", Hila adds.

Apple Fitness+ class

As long as you have access to a fitness app on your phone or watch, you can work out easily, even on holiday 

(Image credit: Apple)

4. Short routines

You may have a jam-packed itinerary of site-seeing and activities, so look for a short exercise and stretching routine on your phone or TV.

"Fitness or physical therapy apps with personal instructors or physicians can also be utilised to personalise your workouts and adjust them to your travelling schedule," Hila says, "In any case, it is best to keep your workouts short and consistent. You can start your day with some strength exercises and end it with stretches, or vice versa. Ten minutes a day will do the job."

5. Try local fitness classes

"If classes are what you are looking for, finding a class you like – be it Yoga, Pilates or Boot Camp – is a fun way to meet new locals and experience something you and your body may or may not be familiar with", Hila suggests, "Some hotels have classes for guests, but if not, many classes have flexible drop-in policies. If you are travelling to a seaside location, a class on the waterfront is always soothing and energising."

Person walking away fro a car holding a backpack

Walking on holiday will make you look as cool as the gentleman on this picture

(Image credit: TUMI)

6. Don’t sit around for too long

One final holiday fitness tip from Hila: "If your trip includes time waiting at an airport, make sure you walk while waiting for your flight instead of sitting at the gate. Get creative with other workouts like rolling your suitcase with alternating hands or curling a water bottle."

"If you plan to spend long periods sitting in a car or a plane, plan periodic breaks for some stretching and short walks, either at a rest stop or in the aisles", she says.

It is important to keep your body active, but it's also important to enjoy your vacation. These are just a few ways to utilize downtime when travelling to keep yourself moving without using up precious luggage space or too much of your vacation time. 

Matt Kollat
Fitness Editor

Matt is T3's Fitness Editor and covers everything from smart fitness tech to running and workout shoes, home gym equipment, exercise how-tos, nutrition, cycling, and more. His byline appears in several publications, including Techradar (opens in new tab) and Fit&Well (opens in new tab), and he collaborated with other fitness content creators such as Garage Gym Reviews (opens in new tab).