A shot from a hike in Las Cajas, Ecuador, a very unique landscape with lots of hiking
With This Complete Guide
Table Of Contents
- Who Wrote This & Why Should You Trust Us?
- The Foundation – Building A Regimen
- Diet & Food While Traveling
- Exercise While Traveling
- Top Spots Around The World For Outdoor Activities
- Exercises You Can Do (Nearly) Anywhere
- Find Your Balance
- I am partnered with Maja and Revity, and the links in this article to Revity are affiliate links. I am an active user on their app, and I firmly believe in their mission. If you’d like to sign up for Revity using the links here, that’d be great. If not, that’s totally fine too.
- Neither Maja nor I are doctors while we’ve been in this lifestyle of health and traveling a long time, please consider consulting a specialist before making any changes to your diet.
- I understand there are many different opinions on nutrition, and health and I don’t pretend to hold all the secrets, I’m only speaking to what has worked for me. If you disagree with me please comment on as many Instagram posts of mine as you can telling me how wrong I am, get your friends to do the same too. If you really want to tell me off, comment on my youtube videos explaining how inaccurate my article is. You can also write articles about me and link back to my website. Man that would really piss me off…
Who Am I? And Why Should You Trust Me?
Hey! My name’s Loren I started traveling internationally 11 years ago, and have switched over to a digital nomad life 3 years ago. If you’d like to learn more about me, check out my full story here.
During all of my trips I set the goal of returning from them in better shape than I was when I left. Check out my solo bike ride from Greece to Istanbul here. Do I always return from trips in better shape than I was when I left? No, but in my 11 years of attempts I’ve learned a lot.
While writing this, I realized that I still lack quite a bit of knowledge around staying active & healthy while traveling, so I brought in Maja from Revity to help fill in the gaps.
About The Co-Author – Maja Mazur
Hey! I’m Maja and I’ve been a nomad for two years now, but I’ve also travelled extensively before. My first sabbatical was in 2011 when I landed in Beijing and being “wide eyed” does not quite describe it.
I’m an entrepreneur and a lawyer (which nobody ever believes when they meet me – probably a good thing). I absolutely love discovering new places and exploring them in an active way.
I am now building Revity – the app helping digital nomads and remote workers build a more active lifestyle and make friends on the way, wherever they are. It’s because although I met plenty of incredible people on my travels I have found that actually keeping them as friends, updating each other and finding new activity and adventure buddies is really hard when you lead a location independent lifestyle. So, I set out on a mission to change this.
The Foundation – Building A Regimen
For me, the foundation to staying fit at home or traveling is to have a regimen. This regimen isn’t an all-or-nothing thing. Where you either eat 1,750 calories exactly everyday and work out 2 hours, or you eat cake and sleep all day. Think of the regimen as more of a blueprint, an aspiration for your days. If you hit it great! If you only hit 80 – 70% of it, that’s totally fine too. It’s much better than not doing it at all!
What do I mean by a regimen?
In this case, I’m referring to a plan on what you’ll do for physical activity, for food & a rough outline of what your day will look like.
An Example Regimen
The first night or the next morning I try to figure out a rough outline for how I’ll tackle my days, with an emphasis on what I’ll be eating, what physical activity I’ll be doing & what I’m planning throughout the day. I’m currently writing this from Paris and I’ve been going to French classes, so this is my rough blueprint for weekdays. I keep Saturdays and Sundays pretty flexible, and reserve one of those days to eat whatever I want and even just lie around the room if I want.
- 6 – 6:30am – Wakeup
- 7 – 8:30 – Weight Lifting
- 8:30 – Ride my bicycle to the cafe near my French school
- 8:30 – 9:15am – Write in my journal, go over my mental, physical, career intentions for the day. How I’m feeling, etc. (I’m writing an article now on how I journal, follow me on Instagram @officialdigitalnomadlifestyle to get notified when that goes live). If I have extra time, either answer urgent emails, or work on one of my articles. Have some fruit juice (if I’m feeling low energy) sparkling water and a coffee.
- 9:15am – 11:30am – Morning French Classes
- 11:30am – 12:30pm – Respond to emails (or just end up talking to my fellow classmates 😂) may have a second coffee or hot chocolate here, depending on how much the caffeine from the morning has affected me.
- 12:30 – 2:30 – Afternoon French classes
- 2:30 – Eat first meal of the day. Go to Fanprix, load up on food from the salad bar (beets, quinoa, tabbouleh, beans, rice, etc.) get some hummus and (try to go for wholegrain) bread. (Admittedly, somedays most of my calories end up coming from hummus / cheese and a baguette 😂)
- 3:30 – 9 Work on to-do’s for my businesses / Client meetings. Or if I don’t have too much due that day relax with my Mom and watch Netflix.
- 9 – 10:30 pm – Try to go to sleep (on my Iphone there is a great setting to set particular hours to do not disturb every day, particularly when I’m in a timezone that’s far ahead or behind friends & clients, this is a god-send so I don’t get woked up in the middle of the night)
Building Regimens – Bro tips Pro tips
Figure Out Your Plan Within 2 Days of Arriving
After 3 or 4 days without healthy eating & physical activity it’s quite hard to get back on the horse.
Mitigate How Much You’re Moving Around
I understand if you’re in a situation where you only have 1 – 2 weeks of holidays a year, then you’re gonna want to see as many places as possible. However, for anyone who travels semi-regularly take your time in places, moving around is incredibly difficult on building regimen & staying healthy.
Be Realistic About What You Can Achieve
Especially if it’s been a while since you were active. Maybe don’t plan to jump back into the workouts and diets you were doing at your height. Keep that regimen as a goal, but allow yourself some flexibility if you don’t hit it and have some ideas of backup plans ready.
Start A Bit Flexible On Your First Day or Two
Whether you’re starting a new regimen, or getting back into one after a few days off. I usually keep cheat days for Saturday or Sunday and on my first day back in the regimen I give myself some flexibility on my diet so I can ease back into things. I find this helps a bit in getting back on the horse.
Intentionally Break The Regimen From Time to Time
If you’re living under a strict regimen for weeks on end that shit can start to eat away at your soul. Spend a Tuesday eating pastries, skip the gym if you’re mentally and physically exhausted. Don’t allow these breaks to spiral into multi-day binges, but if you’re starting to feel burnt out, giving yourself small reprieves is way better than burning yourself out after a week or two.
Ask Yourself What The Middle Path Looks Like
This is more a reminder for me than anything, but if you slip up on your diet or skip the gym one day try to keep it from screwing up the whole day where you make more and more poor health choices. Instead of looking at dieting and health as black and white, ask what the middle ground would look like. What if I did go out and enjoy a bottle of wine on a Tuesday with a friend, could I do that without it messing up my diet too bad for that day?
Continue Reading This Article
Trust me, there are a lot of jewels in here that will help you build the regimen you want and crave!
Diet & Food
As many of you know your nutrition is the key to feeling good. Working out is great, but diet has always been my priority before physical exercise.
Figure Out Your Priorities
An Anecdote to paint a picture
I remember when I was in Cambodia for a month, taking a course to teach English. I was in a class of other teachers and I recall one of them mentioning how bad it was for me to eat Tuna everyday. That the mercury levels in tuna are very high, and I should really be eating something else.
It doesn’t matter how long you’ve been dieting, there will always be areas to “improve”
There are a lot of different ways to approach dieting and selecting food, and you’ll need to figure out what’s most important to you, then use that as a roadmap to picking your food.
If you want to be
neurotic precise like me, you create a list. List out the most important elements for you, then go down to the least important elements, try to keep the list shorter 3 – 6 elements. The more elements you have, the more difficult it’s going to be to find what you’re looking for.
An Example List Of The Most Important Diet Aspects For Me
I’m trying to decrease my animal product intake, and I’m incredibly concerned about my weight and how much body fat I have. For this reason, your list may look very different from mine, and that’s fine 🙃.
Currently, this is a non-negotiable. Although I’m considering adding in fish from time to time.
If I can I would prefer to eat vegan. However, if I’m incredibly hungry or need to change restaurants to eat vegan food, I’m generally not going to go hunting around for vegan food. I don’t care about animals that much, I apologize to the vegans out there.
Complete / Complementary Protein Content
This is particularly important when I’m lifting weights (being someone who tries to eat vegan). For those that don’t know the difference between complete, incomplete and complementary proteins, it’s a good thing to know about, read more about it here.
This is a very important one for me as someone who doesn’t eat meat. It’s really easy for me to end up eating a lot of starches & carbohydrates, so I keep this as a top initiative.
A Variety of vegetables
I would love to get at least 3 – 4 different kinds of vegetables with 3 – 4 different kinds of colors.
I’m fortunate enough at this point in my life, I can afford some nicer food, so price isn’t nearly as high on the list as it’s been in the past.
There are other things that I’d like to hit, but these are really the elements of my diet that I care the most about.
These lists will change as time goes on. My list now looks very different from what it looked like even a year ago, as your lifestyle and opinions change so will your most important elements.
Recommended Diets For Traveling
Intermittent Fasting – this is a great diet for traveling, it gives you a lot more flexibility in what you can eat when you’re only eating during a certain window of the day. For me, I consume calories via drinks outside of my “eating window” so technically I don’t do a intermittent fasting diet, but for the last year it’s been the most effective diet for me. So I’ll stick with it until I find one that works better.
Maja’s take on fasting
- I’m a big fan of intermittent fasting, because it helps reduce blood sugar and therefore cravings. Combined with a high protein & fat, low carb diet, this means that my cravings for sugar really do drop to almost nothing most of the days, which makes it much easier to avoid eating crap. It also helps to avoid these horrible PMS “give me 3 kg of ice cream, 2 bags of crisps and 1 bar of chocolate” situations 😉
- I think intermittent fasting is particularly useful on travel days to decrease your likelihood of eating poor on the plane / train.
- Warning note! Intermittent fasting does not work for all women. Sometimes, you need to get your hormones regulated first. It is also important to start way less hardcore than the blokes (yet another aspect of our life made harder you guys!), because if you make the fasting window too large in the beginning it can completely mess up your menstrual cycle and actually end up being harmful. Start small with a 12 hr fasting window and work it up to 16hr. It is generally not recommended for women to go above 16 hrs.
Ketogenic Diets – I’ve also had some success with ketogenic diets, or low carbohydrate diets.
The more you’re moving around, the more flexible you need to make your diet. If I’m staying in one place for a month, 80% of the time I’ll end up eating the same exact foods day to day, however if I’m moving every week or two then having more flexibility is huge.
Tips To Find Healthy Food Anywhere
- Try to get hotels with kitchens – This is huge! Being able to cook your own food is always the best way to know how much oil, sugar, fat, salt is being added to your meals
- If you don’t have a kitchen – Premade food at grocery stores – This food can tend to be more processed in some cases, as mentioned above, that’s not one of the 5 areas I choose to make a big priority so it doesn’t bother me too much. But be aware.
- Find the local healthy, more affordable foods – This was a great additional point Maja made that you should take a look at what healthy local food is available in abundance. This is a great because it means it’ll be easy to find the food you want, and it will generally be cheaper.
- Spend a couple of extra bucks on healthy food or save it for drinking & partying? – For most of my traveling I didn’t make very much money, and I would often end up eating lower quality food because it was cheaper. For me I just ended up saving that money to party and drink cheap alcohol so I was neglecting my health twice. I still love to drink, but if money is tight for a bit I’m going to start cutting alcohol / party money before my food budget.
Diet & Food Bro Tips Pro Tips
Packing Healthy Foods/Snacks in Your Bag For The Flight
This is a huge one, the travel days are generally the days where I eat the worst. If I go in with some snacks and a plan though, it increases my success by a lot!
Or Save Your Cheat Day For A Travel Day
If you know that you’ll be going through a couple airports, or train stations consider saving your cheat day for that day
Gum Can Help
I don’t know if I have an oral fixation or something, but keeping gum in my mouth seems to really help me keep from eating.
Hunger Is Your Friend
I forget this one all the time, but it’s true. Shifting my perception around hunger was huge, instead of viewing hunger as something uncomfortable and something I worry about coming later on in the day I look at it as a positive sign. It means that my diet plan is working (if I’m trying to lose weight anyway). It’s really a positive, and when I’m not hungry that can actually be a sign for me now that I may be consuming too many calories.
Noticing Impulses To Overeat Can Be A Real Asset For Your Overall Health
Generally when I feel the compulsion to eat unhealthy food it usually means I’m trying to escape emotions I don’t want to feel.
A classic time I feel the desire to overeat is when I’m learning a language in a new country and I’m messing up a lot speaking to people on the street. I feel really uncomfortable and insecure, and my immediate compulsion is to turn to high calorie food to bring some comfort.
There are all kinds of other reasons I overeat, and the more I can take some time to notice these impulses, the more they can become a real tool for my overall health. Taking the time to notice & give some space to these impulses helps me stay physically healthy, but more importantly helps me understand my coping mechanisms and ultimately myself.
I’m not great at creating this space, and I still give into those urges more than I’d like, I’m slowly improving.
If you’re more interested how to stay mentally healthy while traveling, follow me on Instagram to get notified when that article drops! @officialdigitalnomadlifestyle
Exercising While Traveling
What physical activity do you like doing at home?
Find a destination based on what you love to do.
Furthermore, if the place is well known for an activity you enjoy you’re doing it’s easier to make friends with people when you get there.
Maja’s Top Spots Around The World For Outdoor Activities
Maja’s Top Hiking Spots Around The World
- So many! Very hard to pick the best ones, but the great thing about hiking is that it is usually easy to find a hiking destination which has also many other attractive things about it, such as cultural sights, buzzing cities, party scene, etc. Some of the up and coming hiking destinations, which I’d recommend (Maja here!) are:
- Albania – absolutely insane mountains and a fascinating culture. You can buy a souvenir keychain in the shape of a bomb shelter – I am not sure whether this is my Eastern European dark sense of humour coming up, but it cracks me up. You can read more about the abandoned shelters in Albania here.
- Slovenia – again, Central European gem with mountains, lakes and waterfalls so beautiful you will wonder whether it’s a dream or a set of a Lord of the Rings production. Roads are generally in a great condition so you can drive up to many places and accommodation, as well as food, is much cheaper than in Western Europe. Check out these Slovenian mountains:
- Italy – we couldn’t possibly talk about hiking in the mountains without mentioning Italy. Dolomites are my favourite mountains (there is just something very dramatic about them). Some of the places to base yourself for hikes are Pozza di Fassa, Alta Badia region, Ortisei. There are rifugios to sleep in if you fancy a multi-day trek, but book in advance if going in high season.
- Nepal – I love Nepal. I think I left half of my heart and most definitely a piece of my soul in there. I spent 21 days trekking in the Himalayas in winter to the Everest Base Camp through the Gokyo Lakes and I can confidently say that it was the most beautiful experience I’ve ever had. It was also a bloody good workout because you essentially walk for 21 days non stop. That’s a bit of an extreme trip though, so try some other hikes first! You would also have no signal for most of this trip, so it’s for the longer expeditions. It’s also unwise to go alone for a trek that long, so if you need to find some buddies you can head straight to Revity to find them!
Maja’s Top Cycling Spots Around The World
- Pyrenees on both the Catalan and French sides are a cycling mecca. This is where many professional cyclists train and there is a good reason for this – stunning views along the windy, steep and painful roads on which you can scream your heart out and curse your ancestors as you cycle up. 🙂 I know, it sounds like a dream.
- Gran Canaria is another cycling heaven for those of you who love the burn in your legs and overcoming the excruciating temptation to give up and curl up in a ball on the sides of the road. 🙂 Plenty of very steep roads, some of the most beautiful vistas once you made it to the top, and fantastic mountain accommodation which means you don’t always need to peddle back down. Oh, and the night sky is one of the most stunning in the world.
Maja’s Top Trail Running Spots Around The World
- Trail running tourism is relatively new for me, as I am not much of a runner, but it has come to my attention that there is a growing number of trail running trips in Portugal (around Lisbon, in Sintra and in Porto in particular). If it were me though, they’d lose me on the first turn next to a vineyard, but I do admire the more committed souls amongst us. Selva Val Gardena in Italy also boasts great trails for runners. Those more experienced can take up the Puez trail challenge, a 15km (9.3mi) circuit around the Mont de Seura which will reward you with lots of beautiful rock all around you (and some underneath your feet, hence you need to know your stuff if you do go there).
Maja’s Top Surfing Spots Around The World
- I discovered Zarautz in the Basque Country this summer and I think there is no better place on Earth for me to go surfing. Or at least, none that I have experienced, and I tried surfing in Bali, Lombok, Morocco, Canary Islands, the UK (yup), and Esposende and Baleal in Portugal.
- Zarautz has simply won against all of these, despite the fact that it rained literally every single day (not all day though and not when we were in the water). I went with my best friend who is also learning and we had the best time. The beach break is HUGE, the beach is sandy, no rocks, and the waves are LIKE A MACHINE. Literally, they keep coming at you, almost identical every single time, at very regular intervals. You DON’T NEED TO PADDLE. Yup, my friends. You just stand there, in the water shallow enough for you to merrilly await the appropriate wave that takes your fancy (there are plenty of them, so you don’t need to jump on the same one with 100 other people like in some other spots), then you take your position, jump on your board, pretend to paddle for a good measure, then you pop up and live your surfer life. I think you can tell I’m very much a beginner surfer, but honestly Zarautz was a game changer because it allowed me to focus on technique (instead of sweating it out trying to get the momentum) and I finally downsized the board and learnt to turn.
- And if you’re a pro, the big green waves were massive and I’ve never seen so many professional or semi-professional surfers as in Zarautz so I think it’s a good spot for that, too.
- Oh, and another great thing about Zarautz? There is plenty of insanely beautiful hiking around, it is made for a road trip, and you are only 30 minutes by train away from San Sebastian which is a foodie heaven. So, yes, you get your outdoors and you get your famous Basque food, which is delicious. I recommend pulpo (the octopus) and cheesecake. Both are unreal.
Maja’s Top Kitesurfing Spots Around The World
- I love kitesurfing. It’s a very cool-looking sport for lazy people. Once you learn the basics you can have a great time with barely any effort and all the tricks, including the impressive looking jumps, are actually easy to learn. Just my kind of thing 🙂
- My favourite places for flat water (good to learn): Egypt – El Gouna; Portugal – Obidos; Poland – Hel; Philippines – Boracay.
- My favourite spots for waves (not best to learn, but also possible): Canary Islands – Fuerteventura; Cape Verde – Sal.
Maja’s Top Climbing Spots Around The World
- I have recently gotten into rock climbing because my partner loves it and I must admit that after the initial dread that came over me whenever I climbed up too high (which for me was not high at all), I am now loving how much more confident this sport has made me. I discovered new layers of self-confidence thanks to climbing and I highly recommend you try it, especially if you’re a woman. You’ll be surprised how much you can do and it’s a fantastic full body workout.
- My top holiday climbing destinations:
- Catalunya, Spain – this is where many professional climbers spend their winters. It has beautiful sport routes, the rock is easy to handle, the food is delicious, you can stay in Barcelona or nearby so you also enjoy one of the best cities in the world (in my opinion) and the people are nice.
- Kalymnos, Greece – a climbing mecca, this island becomes the hub of all things climbing from early Spring to Autumn. Don’t go between Nov – March as it gets very rainy. If you ever dreamt of climbing over the sea (deep water soloing) or simply doing some insane looking routes with massive drops and views, followed by an evening of Greek tapas, live music and a glass of local booze – look no further and book yourself into one of the climbing camps on offer in Kalymnos.
- Malta – I’ve never been, but I heard it’s great for climbing and I know for a fact it’s also a very fun diving destination and a mecca for fans of seafood. This is enough to convince me that a destination is a great place to visit.
Or The Inverse – Find Out Common Physical Activities Of The Destination You Are Going To
Here are a couple of examples
- Muay Thai in Thailand – This is a huge one. The second international trip I took, I spent a week in Phuket Thailand doing Muay Thai. It was definitely one of the most physically challenging things I’ve done in my life. As I recall it was 6 – 8 hours of Muay Thai training everyday. There’s a video somewhere out there of me getting my ass kicked by this Australian guy, if anyone comes across it please let me know! I’d love to see it.
- Renting a bike in larger cities with lots of bike share programs – This seems like an easy one, and it is. I’m writing this article now from Paris, where I rented a bike for the last 3 weeks and I’ve been biking everywhere. So even if I don’t make it to the gym that day I usually get some exercise in.
- Near the mountains? Find some hikes – I recommend AllTrails – I’ve found a million beautiful hikes through AllTrails, the latest hikes were these breathe taking hikes in the Austrian and German Alps.
Exercises You Can Do (Nearly) Anywhere
Those of you that have followed me for a while are tired of hearing this I’m sure. But walking around a city is a great way to experience a city, and for me it’s great for my mental health and as well, plus you’re burning some calories!
I try to always use the stairs when I’m staying somewhere, instead of using the elevator. Furthermore, running up and down stairs can be a great way to get an incredible workout in in 10 – 20 minutes without even leaving your hotel.
This can be another great way to see a town or city, and requires very little
Body Weight Exercises
At times when I couldn’t get to a gym doing circuits of body weight exercises was super beneficial. Like push up’s, sit ups, and pull ups for example. It’s incredible how quickly my muscles were wear out from these exercises.
Yoga Anywhere W/ Downdog
I love the DownDog app, I have the annual subscription and after only a few weeks it’s already paid itself off. It allows you to customize a bunch of different features of your yoga session and do it wherever you are!
Finding Gyms Around The World W/ ClassPass
I don’t personally use this app, since it focuses more on group classes. But I have lots of friends who use it all over the world and love it! You can look on their site here to see if they have any classes in places you’re going.
Find Your Balance
As I talked about earlier, there are always going to be opportunities to improve your physical activity levels, your diet etc. at a certain point though you need to find what works for you.
You have to say this is good enough for me, at least for now. I’m going to commit myself to be healthier, not having the perfect diet, physical regimen or body.
Some Additional Tips From Maja
One of the best ways to make sure you start off on the right foot is to plan one or two activities to begin with – once you committed to doing it, for example by paying upfront, you are more likely to then continue with the regime and also gather confidence to actually try other things too!
I’d also say it’s better to plan to do less but do it, than to plan to be super active, do that for the first 2 days and then just do nothing for the rest of the stay. Daily smaller activities add up to a much better outcome!
Still make sure you enjoy yourself, and the food / alcohol of the place. Life’s too short brah!