Now is the time of year we Northeasterners are plotting our escapes from the cold, gray days of February or surfing the web for spring break deals.

Are you planning a winter vacation?  If so, there is no need to throw your fitness intentions out the window, returning home with a bit of a sunburn and a twinge of regret.

It is totally possible to incorporate exercise into your travel plans.  Here are a few tips to help you stay committed to a healthy lifestyle while on the road:

1. Most hotels and resorts have a gym.  My first tip is to act like a Boy Scout and be prepared. OK, this may seem obvious, but you can’t exercise if you don’t have the right gear.  If you’ve lugged your workout clothes and running shoes 2,000 miles across the country, you will be more likely to use them.  If you’ve packed the running shoes, you’ve got no excuses.  The best way to explore a new environment is on foot!  I’ve jogged through Hyde Park, along the foothills of the Rockies, around Lake Champlain and up the Pacific Coast.  I even toured ALL the Washington monuments at a 6.0 pace (although not on purpose…I got lost!)  

2. If you are planning an off-the-beaten path getaway, you may need to do a bit of research and get a little brave.  Two years ago I spent two weeks living with a local family in Guanajuato, Mexico.  Google + MapQuest + iPhone left me with no excuses for not getting to a Mexican gym.  Underfit (an unfortunate name for a health club) turned out to be about a 5 minute walk from our house.  They offered Zumba, spinning and yoga classes.  Mexicans like to work out, too!  

3. Set expectations.  Give your travel companions and vacation hosts a heads up on your exercise plans.  Let them know you are dying to try out the beach boot camp class at the resort or that you will be fitting in three training runs while staying at their lake house.  If you expect resistance, initiate the conversation right after you offer to make dinner one night or take the whole family go-karting.

4. Make it a family affair.  Include an afternoon or two of active fun in your vacation plans. You can rent bicycles almost anywhere and find parks and hiking trails.  The kids will love it!  Sign up for a tennis lesson with your significant other or rent a sea kayak.  Fun!

5. Get up early.  Set your alarm to wake 30 – 45 minutes before the rest of the crew plans to get up.  I know that vacation = sleeping in for many of us, but it’s not such a big sacrifice to get up early 2 or 3 times.  You’ll feel energized after you get your sweat on.

6. Skip the breakfast buffet.  If you choose not to be an early bird, then hit the hotel gym while others go down to breakfast.  They won’t miss you – they’ll be distracted by the bacon and Belgian waffles.

7. Adapt.  If your typical workout routine includes three days of cross fit or Zumba classes, recognize that you will need to adapt your plan.  Going out of town, rather than hindering your fitness, can re-vitalize your exercise routine by providing the opportunity to try something new.

Stay curious!  Get active.  Have fun!

~Elaine Morales

Elaine Morales, Health and Lifestyle Transformation Coach, helps frazzled and frustrated women gain freedom from food drama, ditch yo-yo dieting and emotional overeating, and achieve their ideal weight in a way that is healthy and joyful. To learn more about Elaine’s pleasurable approach to realizing the body and life of your dreams, check outwww.jumpstartwithelaine.com.

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