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19 Inexpensive Ways to Stay Fit on the Road

A recent Pew Research Center study revealed that in nearly half of American two-parent homes both the mother and father work. (1) Stressed, pressed for time, anxious parents just can’t seem to find the time or money to fit fitness into their busy routine. If travel is cutting into your ability to workout, here are 19 inexpensive tips to stay fit on the road.

1. Map out the destination before you arrive

Before landing in your destination be sure to check local maps for parks, trails, and bike routes. Parks are great for finding secluded areas to shred some muscle. Monkey bars can be used for pull ups, dips, and knee ups. Open fields provide great areas for burpees, broad jumps, and wind sprints. Almost every outdoor park known to man is absolutely free, so it’s an easy way to skip gym fees and still get shredded.

2. Use calisthenic parks for bodyweight training

Aside from traditional parks, many urban areas continue to build specific calisthenic parks. This website contains a directory of many popular calisthenic parks across the country. Common elements in these parks include gymnastic rings, parallel bars, Swedish walls, and ab benches. Popular exercises include leg extensions, incline push ups, and plyo dips. Again, no charge for fun here.

3. Find local hiking/walking trails

If body weight training doesn’t tickle your fancy, try locating popular hiking trails in and around the city. Hiking is a great way to relieve stress and build muscular endurance. AllTrails is a great website to start looking for top notch trails across the world. Maybe you don’t have a full day to spend hiking. This website lists popular walking trails in different cities as well to really free up your schedule. All for free of course.

[READ: How Hiking Transforms Both Mind & Body]

4. Bike instead of drive

If hiking isn’t your scene, many U.S. cities rent bicycles for cheap. RentaBikeNow allows you to reserve a bike in advance for as little as $40 a day. Biking is a great alternative to running because it places less stress on the joints.

Cycling can increase muscular strength and flexibility, does not require advanced technique, and reduces stress. (2) Adding hills or increasing speed while biking means you can still get an intense workout in a short amount of time. Many simple apps (Strava, Cyclemaps, Map My Ride) help you compete with others and track your distance/time.

5. Use the stairs

Stairs are a great way to build powerful leg muscles. Aside from just using the stairs instead of an elevator, challenge your body with a stair workout and burn some serious calories. A 150-pound person can lose over 500 calories just by climbing stairs for an hour. (3) Even if you don’t have an hour between meetings, 10 minutes of interval training a couple days per week for three weeks can lead to high aerobic fitness levels similar to daily running. (4)

6. Drink plenty of water

Every rational human being instinctively knows they need water. It’s almost like telling people they need to breathe. And yet, according to recent reports, 75% of Americans choose to live their lives in a state of constant dehydration. (5) Dehydration can cause a whole slew of common maladies, from the less severe headache to gut wrenching kidney disease. Long story short, plan to drink plenty of water. Bring a water bottle with you for easy access to free drinking water.
Every rational human being instinctively knows they need water. It's almost like telling people they need to breathe. And yet, 75% of Americans choose to live their lives in a state of constant dehydration.

7. Shop local food

Shopping local food is a great way to stay fit on the road because it forces you to slow down and think about what you are putting into your body, much like you would do if you were at home eating dinner on the couch. Plus, going to the grocery store instead of fast food restaurants can cut your food bill in half. (6) Not to mention the number of choices available at local grocery stores is certain to be more than at any restaurant (fast food or not).

8. Use small outdated hotel gyms

This one is simple. Most every hotel these days contain a small under equipped gym, usually next to the undersized pool area so you can lift and do laps twice as fast as usual. Staying fit while traveling can be as simple as waking up and taking the elevator to the fitness area before work.

9. Go on a walking tour of the city

For those interested in history, walking tours of popular U.S. cities are a great way to stay fit and learn something new. Plus, these tours are available in most major cities. Free Tours by Foot is a great company that offers guided tours in NYC, Chicago, San Francisco, and Boston to name a few. They hire freelance guides so there is no upfront charge to take a walking tour. You pay what you think the trip was worth.

10. Ice skating rinks in the winter

Many towns have ice skating rinks, and while this option may not be the quickest, it’s certainly worth the visit for those with a little more time. Popular ice rinks include the Rockefeller Center in NYC, Ice at the Galleria in Houston, and the Blue Cross RiverRink in Philadelphia. Ice skate rentals are often less than $20 a day.

11. Swimming outdoors/indoors

This one depends upon the location of your travel and access to an indoor pool. If you have access to water go for a morning or evening swim during off hours. Science proves that water resistance can be 44 times greater than air resistance. (7) Swimming is a great way to strengthen your muscles without gym membership fees. Assuming your company pays for travel, swimming in a hotel or at a local beach/lake can be totally free.

12. Go on a long run

Another activity that costs you absolutely nothing. There are numerous reasons why individuals should making running a healthy habit. A study published by the University of Missouri found that running helps increase bone density more than almost any other sport (including resistance training and cycling). So do your bones a favor and hit the ground running. (8)

13. Download workout apps

Thousands of free workout apps exist in both the App Store and Google Play for Apple and Android phones. And the types of exercises they cater to is virtually limitless. My favorite fitness app currently is Nike+ Training. It allows me to choose a workout based on my available equipment and amount of free time I have. Plus it tracks how many workouts I complete, which can be geared to an overall workout program if you choose (usually 4-6 weeks).

14. Get plenty of sleep

Recent research from the National Sleep Foundation shows that adults (26-64) need somewhere between 7-9 hours of sleep. Think of it this way. We spend practically a third of our life in bed. We humans need our sleep. (9)

And yet the ever constant buzz of technology and pressures from work cause us to continually miss this mark. I don’t know about you, but it’s time to start taking sleep more seriously. Getting into a routine and sticking to it on the road helps you get the sleep you need.’s free and always will be. Unless your boss doesn’t pay for travel. Then you're on your own.

15. Pack running shoes

Sometimes we forget to pack an extra pair of shoes as we head out the door. There is probably no quicker way to derail a nice run than trying to book it down the street in a pair of loafers. If that’s your style then all the more power to you. But if not make sure to pack those running shoes before it’s too late.

16. Use resistance bands

Resistance bands are a great lightweight, inexpensive option for frequent travelers. For as low as $9, you can incorporate the front squat, lateral walk, and chest press into your daily routine. Additionally, these bands offer different levels of resistance (light, medium, heavy) for beginning and more advanced workouts.

17. Try gymnastic moves with parallettes

Parallettes come in a variety of forms, from wooden to steel to plastic. Depending upon the type you choose, these typically cost about $50 a pair. The nice thing here is that they weigh very little and are almost always less than 12” high. You can make your own set for much cheaper if you have the time and resources. Common exercises include l-sits, v-sits, and planches.

18. Pack a jump rope

Very lightweight, easy to find, and super cheap. Jump ropes are a great way to build aerobic fitness and endurance. Jumping rope can also help you lose weight. The average person burns 10-16 calories per minute while jumping rope. (10)

19. Try yoga

You can find yoga mats at most department stores for as little as $5. And with a wealth of free yoga videos on Youtube, it should be no problem finding a decent workout for absolutely free. Yoga helps protect the body from injury, relieves stress, and increases flexibility. (11)

These inexpensive travel tips are just the tip of the iceberg. Be sure to follow me on Twitter for the latest fitness tips and guides for healthy living.


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