What to Pack and How to Train While Traveling
So I was sitting there in an airport lounge. I was enjoying my final minutes of freedom before being stuffed into a seat designed for a guy about two thirds my size for the next half a day while I travel to the United States, and I started to think about all the training I’m about to do over the next few weeks.
One of the benefits of my job is that quite often my work trips involve large amounts of exercise, but I recognize that isn’t the case for everyone. If you’re like most business travelers you know that it’s not as glamorous as everyone thinks it is - particularly if you have to travel internationally for work. You’re always trying to take the smallest amount of stuff with you and you need a plan that is barebones simple, yet does the job of maintaining fitness.
My goal when I travel is always the same - arrive home no worse than when I left. Travel is not the time to plan on making big gains, unless you’re heading to a training camp. Your plan needs to be spartan and able to be done anywhere.
Here’s what I pack for fitness when I travel:
While I do own one of the kits I travel with just a single piece of my TPTherapy arsenal - the calf roller. It’s small, light, and allows me to keep working on my calves all the time. With all the running I do, it’s essential to keep the calves as free of restriction as possible.
I also have waiting for me at my hotel one of the brand new Geminis from Rogue and MobilityWOD. It can be used like Bak Balls, which allow you to do some work on the thoracic spine to reset yourself after hours of sitting hunched at a desk or in a plane seat. (And you’ll also see that one of the TPTherapy kits has a similar tool).
I had also planned on buying one of MobilityWOD's new balls called the Super Nova, but they are out of stock, so I have brought my old stand by favorite with me. Forget Lacrosse balls, golf balls, or tennis balls - all have drawbacks. From being too big or small or too soft, I have never really gotten along with any ball the way I do with my dog ball. It’s called a Kong Ball and is meant to be a dog toy. It’s very hard rubber yet has a little give and is a perfect size - not so small that it can only be used in spots like the bottom of your foot, and not so big that you can’t get enough pressure on it. Easily the best twenty dollars I have ever spent on self care as mine is now about ten years old.
4. Running Shoes
Every hotel has a treadmill, so even if I am nowhere near a decent trail to run on I can get in some hills and speed work. Keeping in line with my goals for maintaining my fitness, I won’t put in marathon sessions while away, just short 3-5km runs to keep my fitness and legs.
Keeping my focus on bodyweight strength is easy while travelling and I am going to keep working on my skills from Handstand One and Foundation One from the good folks at Gymnastics Bodies. Apart from a couple of rowing or pull up variations, I can do all the skills anywhere with zero equipment. Given that some of my travel includes externally loaded training, I’ll just hit some extra core work back at my hotel in a separate session that involves doing some extra mobility work. That’s the great thing about Primal Move, stretching and bodyweight training - if you know what you’re doing you can do them anywhere with zero equipment making continuing training easy.
One item you can’t pack, but that I always look on a trip that is three weeks long is a supplement store where I can buy some protein. I’m not a huge fan of supplements and generally don’t use them much. However getting enough food, particularly vegetables, while staying in hotels is difficult so I look for a store where I can buy some quality whey protein and a greens supplement.
There’s no reason to stop training while away from home, but you do need to be smart about it. Don’t rely on needing equipment to get in your training, or on needing much space. The key is to find a way to train that you can do on your own in your room. Pay attention to keeping your body working right via self-therapy, as the time spent sitting on planes or working in your room can take its toll quickly. If you look after yourself and get in some solid bodyweight strength sessions and a few short, hard runs you’ll return home in the exact same shape in which you left.