Seven Ideas for Exercising on Vacation (Hint: It’s Not the Gym)

Getting out of your routine to visit someplace fresh helps the whole family—after all, there are health benefits to even the most basic vacation. One way to sabotage the goodness of vacating, however, is to neglect exercise during your trip.

The solution to exercising on vacation is not to overcompensate, though. Strike a cool balance of relaxation and activity by finding ways to integrate walking into your holiday. Walking is easy, helps you maintain a healthy weight, and improves your mood and balance, as stated by Mayo Clinic. Try it (more) on your next vacation the following ways.

Eat Progressively

Eating dinner throughout the evening is the perfect alternative to a lazy meal that leads to a lazier night. Start by locating your destination’s most popular restaurant hub, and enjoy healthy appetizers at the hot spot of your choice. Then walk to another restaurant for your group’s main dish, but don’t stay for dessert. Instead, hike to a local coffee shop for tea or a small treat. Progressive dinners are nothing new, but as a vacation exercise, you put a fun spin on a traditional evening that gets you milling around more of the town you’re in.

Go off the Beaten Path

When choosing sites to visit, look for the ones that are a little harder to get to. My family’s favorite memories came when we took the long road, finding ancient artifacts and visiting lesser-known exhibits prior to the final spot.

exploring off the beaten path

Many historical sites have lookout towers that are easy to skip in favor of the more accessible venues. Taking on these obstacles not only gets your heart rate up; you also get the satisfaction of catching the harder-to-reach attractions.

couple getting exercise on vacation

Join the Resistance

When on vacation, look for outings that add a resistance factor to your walk. Beaches, for example, offer a stimulating foot workout that increases the intensity of what otherwise would have been a typical stroll. Sand is also considered a natural exfoliant for the skin on your feet, according to the Huffington Post.

use sand as resistance

If there’s a boardwalk, “cool down” on this surface after you’ve wandered the surrounding beach. When shopping, add resistance by carrying your purchases in a backpack instead of pulling the car up to load them in before you’re done perusing.

Find Interactive Attractions

Historical markers and wordy exhibit signs are cool, but both kids and adults are more likely to hoof it to the next experience if it’s interactive. Petting friendly sheep, making cookies the colonial way, or crafting roof shingles by hand are encounters that can motivate all the walkers in your family to hustle—boosting heart rates and making memories in the process. How many hands-on demonstrations can you hit in a day? It depends on how quickly you walk, of course!

girl baking

Join a Walking Tour

Every tourist destination has an informative bus tour, buggy ride, or train route, but to get the most activity for your time, go for the walking tour. If you’re in a city, eschew the cab and even walk to get to the starting point.

vacation walking tour

Not only does this burn calories and get the blood pumping, but it also lets you see (and smell) things people on the bus can’t—like the underbelly of the resort’s famous stingray mascot. For a cool twist on the traditional route, check out a walking “ghost tour,” where guides tell of reportedly creepy sightings that line up mysteriously with local historical events.

Purpose to Have No Purpose

One of my favorite things to do in a new city is to explore on foot with no destination in mind. Getting (safely) lost on purpose may sound silly or cliché, but some of my family’s best memories have been made this way, and now it’s a tradition. It ultimately gives you a gentle but long workout in before an evening of progressive eating (remember?) and unwinding. Put a stretch of walking around and “doing nothing” on your calendar so you can make sure to meander.

man wandering over bridge

Live Like the Locals

Every destination resort is surrounded by permanent residents who don’t get the luxury of cab rides to dinner or ferry trips to sight-see. Instead, they’re hitting markets and dives, and not calling a car to do it. Take an old-fashioned walk, run some errands, and while you’re out, stop a local to ask for the best-kept secret in the area rather than relying on a brochure. Maybe even go on your own walking tour of mom-and-pop establishments.

You don’t have to spend your whole vacation in the hotel’s gym. Walk your way to a healthier holiday by choosing one of these activities for each day of your trip.

Going away soon? Snap selfies of your group exercising on vacation and share it with us on Facebook!

Image source: Bethany Johnson

This article was brought to you by Tom’s of Maine. The views and opinions expressed by the author do not reflect the position of Tom’s of Maine.

Few things are as good as the chance to get away for a little bit. One of those is being able to stay active while on an otherwise well-deserved vacation. Incorporate walking into each day of your trip, and you'll enjoy the benefits of a holiday coupled with the feeling of fitness while you take a break from the daily grind.