When I co-founded Yonder with my friend Ryan, we already had plenty miles abroad under our belts. But we had to put our heads together to figure out how to stay healthy on an upcoming trip abroad. Oftentimes when you’re on the road, it’s difficult to plan workouts or even meals — now add being overseas. How can we win?
Let’s be honest here: when we’re exploring new places, the last thing on our mind is working out. There is so much to see. And then before you know it, you’re out of shape. We’ve all said it and we’ve all been there. I can remember when I was in the UK for a couple of weeks, I was looking for places to train and had no luck. So what did I do? Nothing but eat, drink, and become merry. Well, the end result was that I came back 14 pounds heavier than when I left. I loathe cutting weight or going on “diets.” So I needed to figure something out for exercise while I travel abroad.
As a competitive powerlifter, I had a hard time finding a gym that had either enough weights for me to use, or would even let me lift like I do — you know, the “meathead” lifts like squat, bench, or deadlifts.
I take all of these with me when I travel, even if I’m gone for three weeks to a month. These are non-perishable items, or at least last a long time before going bad.
Lenny and Larry Cookies (Delicious)
Vegan Friends: Sprout Squeeze packs of baby food — I actually love these, although I get weird looks from people at Whole Foods when I have six cases of them in my cart. Oh well.
Drink water, lots of water. A lot of times we think we’re hungry, but we’re simply just dehydrated.
Vega Sports bars
While in your destination:
Ask where you can find good meat. You know, the animals that have four legs. Make sure that you know what meat source you are eating. I’m not kidding. I had a cultural experience in Thailand: I ordered fried chicken, and I found out later that it wasn’t chicken — although it had four legs. Let’s just say it barked before it became food.
For vegans, find out where you can get fruits and veggies. I don’t claim to be an expert here, but I have plenty of vegan friends, so I asked them: “What the heck do you eat when you’re overseas?” They all said they look for rice or thick-skinned fruits. In Asia, it’s sticky rice. I tried it and actually loved it. It was made with coconut milk and it was yummy.
In some countries it’s a bit risky to eat their green leafy veggies. Be aware of where you are. Depending on where I’m going, I will buy some Kale chips to take with me to make sure I’m getting my veggies — like Mom used to always say.
Walk if you can. All too often we hop in an Uber, taxi, tap tap, etc. But if you’re a couple miles from where you’re going and can walk there, well then walk. Take a camera with you and snap a couple of photos along the way — you may discover some new scenery.
Hike. Hiking is one of the best ways to get some cardio in. And the bonus here is that you get to explore what God has created, His finest masterpiece.
Swim. Sometimes it’s fun to frolic in the ocean. Be a kid again and splash around like you’re carefree.
In South America, you can always find someone playing soccer. If your skills are lacking, just get out there and run around like you know what you’re doing. Plus, you may make a local friend and that’s always good. Sports have a way of connecting people cross-culturally.
One of my closest friends, Danny Vega (above), is a contributing editor of 10/20/Life and Columbia Grad in Exercise Science. He wrote me a road workout to help keep me fit anywhere in the world. Here are samples of a few different workouts:
Full-body Workout Example
In circuit fashion, perform these exercises until you have finished the specified number of reps. To add more difficulty, perform each movement for all the reps specified before moving to the next movement.
1-legged deadlift (bodyweight) – standing on one leg, break at the hips and lift the other leg backwards while reaching the other hand down to touch the leg you’re standing on. 5 reps per side.
V sit-ups x15
10 sets total
Upper-Body Workout Example
1 push-up, rise to your knees, and perform 1 bodyweight shoulder press
Keep adding reps on each until you are fatigued and then pyramid back down. For example, 1 push-up + 1 shoulder press, 2 push-ups + 2 shoulder presses, etc.
Lower Body Workout Example
Squats + pause squats: Perform 10 bodyweight squats and pause the 10th squat rep at the bottom for 5 seconds. Repeat this sequence for 10 sets or 100 total reps.