Maybe you're planning a trip for your vacation or holiday. Or maybe your digital nomadic wanderings put you in more physically demanding situations than when you were doing the 9-5 gig. Either way, it's better to be physically fit when you travel.
Here's a list of eight reasons, based on my own vagabondish experiences, that I'm working on getting into better shape before my next big trip. In no particular order:
- Even simple, basic travel can be physically strenuous. Whether you're running to catch a connector flight, or doing all that extra walking that doesn't occur so readily in more suburban areas, the day-to-day rhythms of travel just tend be a lot more active than when you're not on the road. And that just covers the basic, ordinary physically-challenging elements. A growing list of places I'd like to go one day includes strenuous hikes. I'm much more likely to consider - and enjoy - these trips when my body is in better condition.
- You open yourself up to more sponteneity. When your travel plans go light on the planned-out itinerary and heavy on the "let's just make it up as we go," you'll want to be open to whatever comes your way. I've discovered that a lot of interesting people I meet when I'm on the road are active, adventurous people. Which increases the likelihood that somebody is going to suggest an activity that requires a heightened level of fitness. You don't want to miss out on these adventures. When some Seattle friends invited me along on their paddle boarding adventure, part of the reason I decided not to go was because I had plans with other friends in the area, which included a different set of options. After a frenzy of activity, we were looking at some low key ways to spend the day. But if I'm honest? The other reason I didn't consider it for very long, and invite my other friends to come along for the day? It's because I wasn't sure I was up to the physical challenge. Note to self for next time, eh?
- You'll like yourself better in pictures. If you’re the kind of person who takes a lot of photos, you’ll wish you had more shots of yourself. Or at least your friends and family will want to see more. Being more comfortable with your fitness level at least increases the possibility that you'll enjoy looking at all your images when you return home... even the ones that include you in the shot.
- Sleeping in a tent is easier. I'm telling myself this, anyway, as I gear up for more camping out in my future. The three nights I recently spent sleeping on the ground were each very different from the others. As a result, my experience of sleeping on the ground differed from night to night. What didn't change is the basic fact that in order to get into a tent, your butt is in the air at least part of the time. That's actually the least of your worries with tent sleeping, but maybe you don't want to ignore it.
- Changing clothes in a car is easier. This goes with the one above. Maybe you don't expect to find yourself in a situation in which changing in the car is ever necessary. Then again, maybe you'll want to be prepared for the possibility. Getting into the kind of shape that would make it easier to move around comfortably in tight spaces is something you'll want to consider. Changing clothes while sitting down in a little seat will make you notice your general level of flexibility. Not to mention the possibility that someone could walk up on you before you get it all on.
- Healthier bodies are less likely to get sick from the rigors of travel. Intense travel is likely to affect your health. Sleep patterns are often disrupted, whether by rising earlier or going to sleep later than usual, and also by the possibility that you'll experience occasional insomnia brought on by having to adjust to yet another sleeping arrangement. If your career is very sedentary and, like me, you often spend hours in front of a computer, the increased likelihood that you'll be "on the go" can have a real impact on your body. It seems best to give your immune system a leg up by being physically prepared for the changes.
- Sometimes you'll eat healthy food. Sometimes you will not. After a couple of friends jealously remarked that my trip sounded like it included The Great Restaurant Tour of '10, I reflected back upon the range of dining choices I made while away. I'm happy to say that I ate quite a lot of yummy, good-for-me food. And sometimes? Not so much! That travel is meant to be completely enjoyed, and if you want to go out to brunch at the place where hollandaise sauce and begnets are likely to be put in front of you, then go for it! Just don't eat 'em every day. If you're already in good shape, an occasional indulgence of this kind will affect your overall health much less than if this is the way you've been eating all along.
- Smaller clothes take up less room in your bag. Quite simply, it takes less fabric to make a pair of size 6 jeans than it does to make a pair of size 14s. When you're working to decrease the weight of your checked luggage, or you're trying to fit just one more thing into your carry-on, that extra fabric is something you can't ignore. Every ounce matters. If you're overweight, you're not just carrying around more body weight, you're also carrying around more weight in your bag!
What about you? Do you have other memories or suggestions about why travel could be better if you're healthier when you start your trip? Add your reason(s) in the comments below. I'd love to hear from you!
Related: One of the ways I've hit upon to help me with my fitness goals. Note, that was several days ago. My streak continues!