How to Stay Active While Traveling During the Holidays

With the holidays right around the corner, many of us will be traveling a lot in the coming months. Staying active is key for me when traveling so I don’t arrive home feeling like a total hot mess, especially when indulgent holiday meals are thrown into the mix. Here are some tips for enjoying your holiday travels without letting fitness fall by the wayside. 

How to Stay Active While Traveling During the Holidays

1) If you’re spending the holidays on a vacation away from home, try active sightseeing and fitness-related excursions.

Rent a bike to explore a new city, go scuba diving or surfing, go snowshoeing or skiing, or simply walk! Matt and I will be ringing in the new year on a cruise with Carnival; we plan on picking some fun and active excursions (and checking out their gym and fitness class offerings, too)! I also love running around new towns, as you all know – such a great way to tour a new place quickly. Remember my awesome Paris Running Tour this summer?

stay active while traveling

2) Sign up for a holiday race or walk!

I love a good holiday race, and sign up for Turkey Trots and Jingle Runs in whatever town we’ll be in for the holidays. Not only are holiday races a lot of fun, but they are a great way to stay motivated to train during the busy holiday season. Most cities and towns have gotten on board the holiday race bandwagon; and are good resources for finding races near you. Not finding any that work? Host your own “race” with your family! Bonus: you’ll work up an appetite for those holiday dinners!

holiday road race

3) Try out a new-to-you fitness studio.

I love using travel as an excuse to try out fun new-to-me workouts or studios. It can be a great way to mix it up from your normal workout routine and try something different! Even better is that often studios will offer “first class free” drop ins. To find a class near you, a site I love is

4) If studios aren’t an option, design your own workout! Bring resistance bands, a jump rope, and other portable exercise equipment with you, and utilize whatever other equipment you have on hand. You might have a hotel or home gym full of weights and balls, but if not, get creative – use chairs for step ups and dips, turn soup cans into light weights, etc! If you need some inspiration, pack your favorite workout DVDs or try a fitness app.

hotel gym workout

A couple free fitness apps I love:

  • Nike Training Club – a huge variety of workouts – you can select intensity and time, and there are workouts available that don’t require any equipment, too.
  • The Scientific 7 Minute Workout – this is the online version but there’s also an app that will guide you through it – just search for it by name! I usually do it a few times in a row – it doesn’t require anything but a chair.
  • Hot5 – 5 minute workouts for those that get bored quickly. From abs to yoga to HIIT workouts and more! Sadly only available for iPhone – can’t wait til they come to androids.
  • Sworkit – a big variety of workouts, including strength training, stretching, cardio, pilates and yoga – and no equipment is required. I also love their tagline: “Get to Swork!”

Pinterest is also a great resource for at-home (or hotel room) workout routines.

travel workout equipment

5) Incorporate fitness into your family time.

I love taking family walks and hikes during the holidays. And remember that fitness doesn’t just mean organized activity – embrace your inner kid and build a snowman, go sledding or ice skating, or play tag!

family hike

All of this said… be realistic, too! You won’t be able to 100% stick to your normal workout routine during the holidays and that’s okay. It’s a time to recuperate and relax a bit, as well! Be kind to yourself – stay active in ways that are fun to you and incorporate built in fitness into your day to day activities (walking, taking the stairs), but don’t stress yourself out if there are days when a workout simply doesn’t happen.

How do you stay active while traveling during the holidays? Has anyone else signed up for holiday races already? I’m doing the Alexandria 5 Mile Turkey Trot on Thanksgiving morning with Matt and my brother – pumped! Hoping to find a jingle run to do in December, too, either here in DC earlier in the month or during Christmas week up in Pittsburgh! :)

And for those who cruise often — any tips for me and Matt for staying active while cruising over the new year? I haven’t been on a cruise since college!

This post was created as part of my collaboration with Carnival. As always, all of the opinions, thoughts, and ideas in this post are my own.


  1. 1

    My husband & I took a cruise with Carnival this past May. The boat we were on was the Breeze and they had a great gym – good selection of equipment. They also had a track on the upper deck with equipment to do circuits. Another thing I liked about the cruise was that there was lots of healthy food choices so even if I didn’t get a workout in I was able to make healthy food choices so I didn’t feel too bad about missing a workout.

    I worked out in the gym on the days we were at sea and got in lots of walking & activities on the days we were at ports so I didn’t feel the need to do an organized workout.

    • 2

      Great tips, thank you! I love the sound of the outdoor track with equipment to do circuits. Always prefer outdoor running to treadmills. :) Did they have any fitness classes at the gym or just equipment?

      • 3

        They had some group classes that you paid extra to attend – yoga, pilates, etc. If you know the name of your ship you can go to their website to see what is offered on your boat. And, now that you’re booked you can create a profile on their website to see what activities are available for each port you stop at (you can also book online as well) and other activities that are available for you.

  2. 5

    These are great tips, Anne! I will be in NYC over Thanksgiving and I’m hoping it’s not TOO cold so I can get out and walk a lot.

    I recently wrote a post about how to not gain weight when cruising, check it out:

  3. 7

    Good tips! I try to stick to my normal routine around the holidays, but exceptions always have to made for travel. Thanks for sharing!

  4. 8

    Bo and I just signed up for a holiday race in Atlanta on December 20th! It’ll be fun to see some of our favorite neighborhoods and do a 5k in a city we haven’t done one before!

  5. 10

    We took a cruise with Carnival in March (on the Pride) and they have a really nice gym, an outdoor track, and spin and yoga classes. It was awesome to head there instead of the unlimited buffet once and awhile. Plus we looked for a couple excursions that allowed us to be active and spent a few hours kayaking with the manatees and dolphins in Florida.

  6. 12

    I’ve signed up for the Annapolis Turkey Trot on Thanksgiving morning. Will be nice to get out and do my run/walk. I’ll be in Pittsburgh for xmas and now I am going to look for a 5k race on xmas day. Maybe I’ll see you! Keep us posted, I’d love to cheer you on while I am doing my run/walk!!

  7. 14

    Pacers has a Jingle 5K in DC on December 7. They usually host an 8K, but road closures shortened the race a bit, but still a good opportunity to get some miles in while dressed like an elf :)

    • 15

      I’ve done the 8k a couple times before – I saw they just changed it to a 5k. I might look for a slightly longer one but Pacers does put on a good race!

  8. 16

    Have so much fun on your cruise! I’ve never been and want to go on one so badly!

    The 7 minute app is a lifesaver for me. It’s quick, equipment free, and can be done almost anywhere!

  9. 17

    These are great tips! The biggest thing I do to stay active when visiting family over the holidays is go on long walks (bundled up of course) or just get out of the house and run errands!

    I’ve been on 3 cruises and most have pretty nice gyms! You’d be surprised by how much walking you end up doing in a day between walking around the ship and also getting off at the various destinations. Even though I was always surrounded by good food, I tend to lose a little weight on cruises because I’m SO busy! Have a great time!!

  10. 18

    I find that when I’m on vacation my walking/exploring is enough working out for me. I generally walk a lot more than I would when I’m at home, plus I’m not willing to take time out of checking out new things to spend time in a hotel gym.

  11. 19
    Leslie Riley says

    Hi Anne,

    Have fun on your cruise. We weren’t on Carnival, so can’t speak to that, but if the ship has tennis courts and you play, that works out really well. My husband played every morning with a regular group of people (several years ago, some still good friends!) and it included the ship’s doctor and his wife! In addition, they did have a gym with some organized classes, or you could just do weights and stuff. Also laps on deck. We did our own thing on shore, instead of opting for the expensive shore excursions, and that’s great if you are comfortable doing so. You’ll have a ball!

  12. 21

    A cruise sounds like an awesome way to bring in the new year. If you find any cool races to do in Pittsburgh during Christmas week, let me know, I’ll be in the area also!

  13. 22

    I love signing up for holiday races/fitness events! I think its good to ask for fitness related gifts too- new fitness gear is always motivating!

  14. 24

    Really enjoyed this post and the tips you had! I try to workout early in the morning when traveling for the holidays. I am use to getting up early during the work week, and I find that if I get my exercise in before most people are up for the day, I get a good sweat and feel good while not really sacrificing any family or social time. Love the idea of a Turkey Trot race. Thanks for providing easy websites to look up races. It would be cool to get the whole family involved.

  15. 25

    Anne ~
    There is a Jingle Bell Run on December 23rd on the North Shore in Pittsburgh. The course is around PNC Park & Heinz Field :) It will be my first winter 5k & I can’t wait!

  16. 30

    It’s important for me to stay active during the holidays too. Luckily, when traveling to visit my parents in December they have a great at home gym and running trails around their house. I LOVE Pinterest for their at home workouts too.

  17. 31

    When I’m flying, if I have enough time during a layover, I’ll just walk the terminal. Phoenix even has a fitness path through the airport. Even if I get just 15 or 30 minutes in, it feels good to stretch and get some exercise on a cross-country journey.

  18. 33

    Love it! Great inspiration here…

  19. 34

    Just catching up on your recent blog posts… haha! We typically only travel to our hometowns for the holidays – I love getting to run in the park in my hometown, for the nostalgia as much as the great trails. My husband’s hometown has a beautiful greenway as well that I enjoy when we’re in town. I also try to drop in at a local CrossFit affiliate for a WOD or two, depending on where we are and how long we’re staying. One of these days, we’ll make time to go to a ski resort which is on our route up to Indiana – that’s a fun workout too! After spending so much time stationary in the car (or on a plane), you gotta do something to get those muscles going again, right? :-)

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