5 ways to exercise during long-term travel, no matter where you are

My favorite ways to exercise during long-term travel that don’t require much space or heavy equipment. This post is sponsored by Physique57, but all thoughts, sweat, and fitness woes are most definitely my own.

Let me speak from experience: staying fit on the road can be a bitch.

Before we left to travel long term, I was an avid runner. Give me a good podcast and a sunny day and I could run for hours, no problem.

… then travel happened. We traveled through places where I had to run in hijab (ugh), where running outside could result in my being kidnapped (yay), where running outside as a woman was culturally taboo (lame). The odds were not in my favor, and my running habit withered and died.

After months of lethargy and a diet of greasy Central and South Asian food, I realized I needed to get back in shape. I was done with being breathless after climbing a flight of stairs!

Then a new problem arose: how was I supposed to get in shape if we’re always on the move?

I can’t sign up to a gym, weights are miserable to port around, and India’s mix of extreme heat, potholed streets, stray dogs, and lecherous men make running quite unpleasant much of the time. We also stay in impossibly tiny rooms, so if I’m exercising inside, my routine needs to take up minimal space.

It seems an impossible problem, but in the past months, I’ve found a variety of solutions. If you’re a long-term or frequent traveler looking for some minimalist ways to exercise on the road, look no further!


Staying fit during long-term travel can be challenging... but it doesn't have to be! Here are five ways to exercise while on the road requiring minimal equipment and/or space. Perfect for backpackers and frequent travelers, too!


5 ways to exercise during long-term travel, no matter where you are


Ways to exercise during long-term travel with minimal equipment - Running in sand dunes of Farahzad, Iran - Lost With Purpose

I went running in the hot desert around Farahzad town in Iran… in full hijab (long sleeves, long pants, headscarf). I love running, but I officially recommend you do not do the same.

1. Running

I know, I know, I said running is often out of the question. But that’s my situation, not yours! Running is above and beyond my favorite way to exercise, and the greatest way to explore a new place (one not occupied by hordes of angry street dogs). If you can, do it.

You don’t need much to go running—a good pair of shoes and some loose clothes will do the trick! If you’re in the market for new shoes, I swear by Mizuno running shoes. They’re high quality and extremely light (and colorful), which make for fun running and easy carrying in my backpack.

I recommend: Mizuno running shoes – $40+


Ways to exercise when traveling long-term, with minimal equipment no matter where you are - Physique57 saves me from running through the streets of Hyderabad - Lost With Purpose

Having the option to work out in my room saves me from having to figure out how to run through madness like this.

2. Streaming video workouts

Workout videos are a godsend to me. I can do them in the safety of our room where no one can see how much I sweat when I exercise. I’m also terrible about remembering exercise routines, and there’s something about having an exceptionally fit Adonis/Venus shouting at me through a screen that makes me feel guilty about quitting halfway. In short: they work. For me, anyway.

It can be difficult to decide which workouts will suit you best… so don’t. Over the past few weeks, I’ve used/become addicted OnDemand Physique57. It’s an online streaming service offering dozens of different workout videos, covering everything from cardio to yoga to barre to strength training. You can filter by length, type of exercise, and level of difficulty (I’m still at noob level). The important part: many of their videos don’t require any equipment, and you can stream them on a phone, tablet, or laptop.

I recommend: OnDemand Physique57 – 14-day free trial


Ways to exercise during long-term travel, no matter where you are - Too hectic for running on the streets of Lahore, Pakistan - Lost With Purpose

Running wasn’t an option in hectic (and hot) Lahore… so I went out and bought a jump rope instead!

3. Jumping rope

Jumping rope was the first solution I stumbled upon in my quest for cardio in confined spaces. I can’t always jump rope in the rooms we sleep in—like I said, tiny—but I can often find space on the roof of the hotel, or just outside our door.

You’ll find plenty of jump rope routines online to match your fitness (or coordination) level. Just be careful not to jump too loud in places with thin floors and walls—your fellow guests might not be so entertained…

I recommend: Premium jump rope – $10


Ways to exercise during long-term travel no matter where you are - Snowy mountains in Kazbegi, Georgia - Lost With Purpose

Resistance bands helped me stay fit enough to go hiking in Georgia, despite not being able to run because of the snow.

4. Resistance bands 

As we were leaving to embark on our grand journey, one of our dear friends gifted Sebastiaan stretchy resistance bands in the hopes that one day he would build up some kind of muscle.

Spoiler alert: he didn’t…. but I put the bands to good use! I was dubious at first, but realized they’re a super versatile and lightweight option for adding more strength training to your travel fitness routine. There are different thicknesses depending on how fit (or in my case, not fit) you are, and an endless number of ways you can incorporate them into an exercise routine.

I recommend: Resistance loop bands – $13.97


Ways to exercise during long-term travel, no matter where you are - Chaos on the streets of Delhi, India - Lost With Purpose

There are plenty of exercise opportunities even in chaotic Delhi, if you know where to look!

5. Fitness Meetups on Meetup.com

One of the struggles of staying fit is motivating yourself to actually do something. I like relying on others to get me off the couch/bed/comfort object, but that can be tricky to do while on the road.

I’ve used Meetup.com for everything ranging from language classes to fitness, and it’s an excellent resource, though it generally only works in metropolitan areas. If you find yourself in a big city, look and see what kinds of Meetups are going on nearby. You’ll find groups of people doing everything from marathon training to rock climbing to badminton, and it’s a great way to meet locals in the area!

I recommend: Sports & Fitness Meetups on Meetup.com – Varies by activity


What do you suggest?

I’m always looking for new ways to stay fit on the road. Variety is the spice of life, or so they say. These are my go-tos… what are yours?


Staying fit while traveling can be challenging... but it doesn't have to be! Here are five ways to exercise while on the road requiring minimal equipment and/or space. Perfect for backpackers and frequent travelers!


If exercising in hot places is in your near future, don’t miss our tips on surviving while traveling in extreme heat!


Yay transparency! There are affiliate links in this post. If you buy something using our links, we’ll make a bit of change at no extra cost to you. It’s how we cover the costs of running the blog!

Alex Reynolds profile picture

Alex Reynolds

American by birth, British by passport, Filipina by appearance. Addicted to ice cream. Enjoys climbing trees, dislikes falling out. Has great fondness for goats which is usually not reciprocated.

More about Alex

8 thoughts on “5 ways to exercise during long-term travel, no matter where you are

    Carolin says:

    Hey Alex, thanks for sharing this info. It’s comforting to read that others are facing similar problems to mine 😉

    The struggle is very real. glad you found the article useful.

    Alina says:

    TRX- about 2 pounds and it will give you a great work out. You can secure it with a closed door.

    Sebastiaan says:

    Thanks for the tip!

    The one thing we struggle with when travelling is exercising it’s so hard to motivate yourself!!!! Your posts are really informative!!! We have just started a blog, feel free to check it out!!!!

    Sebastiaan says:

    Hi there, glad to hear you liked the article. That’s what we do it for in the end!

    P.s. I’ve deleted the URL in your comment, as it’s not relevant to the topic.

    Anywherewilldo says:

    Yes, the struggle is real. I like to tell myself that running around with a backpack trying to catch trains/busses/find accommodation should count for something. However, if you spend a week a month in cafes eating cakes and working online, my non-exercising excuse just won’t hold up. I’m going to try joining Meetups! I do try to stretch every morning/do some yoga (not so intense that I turn into a tomato and some of it can be done in bed, in case of tiny rooms) and when anyone walks into the dormitory and I don’t feel like exercising in front of them, just pretend to be reaching for something on the floor.

    Love reading your blog!

    Alex says:

    Smart tip about pretending to be all nonchalant when caught exercising 😛 I definitely need to join you—when I wrote this I was on the ball with exercising, but these days I’m also hanging out and eating cakes all day. Ack!

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