Want to stay fit as you travel, but don't want to cart an entire home gym around in your suitcase? Here are five lightweight options that will keep you trim while still fitting in your carry-on luggage.
Wearable fitness tracking devices have taken off in the last year or two, and it's due in no small part to Fitbit. The company makes a few different devices, but the Flex and Charge HR are the most popular and useful for travelers.
The gadget is lightweight and water resistant, and only needs charging once a week or so. It lives on your wrist and automatically tracks your movement and sleep cycle. You can set daily targets for distance covered, calories burned or steps taken, so walking around a new city totally counts towards your fitness goals.
As well as knowing whether you've beaten the jetlag by how well you've slept, the Flex also includes a vibrating alarm that will wake you up without disturbing those around you. If you've ever stayed in a hostel dorm or been woken up by the screaming alarm clock of the person in the next room, you'll appreciate that feature.
Unless you're staying at a higher-end hotel, getting access to a gym for regular workouts isn't easy while traveling. Fortunately there's no need to carry a set of dumbbells around in your luggage – just opt for a set of resistance bands and use your body weight instead.
These elastic bands cost under $20 each and weigh practically nothing, making them easy to carry even if you're traveling carry-on only.
There are hundreds of web sites with instructions for different resistance band exercises, and they can be done anywhere you've got something stable to attach them to and a little space. Buy an accessory to attach the band to your door, and you can even work out in your hotel room!
If you're a runner, the Garmin Forerunner 10 will be right up your alley (so to speak). It's the most basic running watch that the company makes, tracking pace, distance and GPS co-ordinates for later synchronization with a smartphone app and website.
While dedicated watches tend to have more accurate GPS tracking and better battery life than using a running app on your smartphone, the biggest benefit for travelers is safety. Running with an expensive phone on unfamiliar streets can be an invitation to get mugged in some cities, while a relatively inexpensive watch is unlikely to attract the same attention.
TRX Suspension Trainer
If you prefer an all-in-one resistance-based solution, consider a TRX Suspension Training kit. The "Home" version includes a resistance trainer, anchor points for doors and outdoor use, a carry bag and half a dozen workout videos in digital format that you can load onto your smartphone or tablet.
For those focusing more on core strength, the "Rip" kit is slightly cheaper, and includes a resistance band, training bar, carry bag and specific workout instructions and videos. For most travelers, the "Home" kit is a better option – it weighs under two pounds and takes up less luggage space.
These training kits are much more expensive than putting together your own workout based on resistance bands, but the quality of the gear, greater range of exercise options and integrated nature of the system makes them worth considering.
Finally, one of the cheapest and simplest gear options for staying in shape on the road is a plain jump rope. It weighs next to nothing, costs about the same and fits in any bag, and can be used almost anywhere outdoors or that has sufficient clearance inside. The rope length is usually easy to adjust, too, if you're traveling with other people who also want to stay in shape.
Skipping provides a great cardiovascular workout, and burns a surprising number of calories – around 10 per minute, or 300 for a half-hour workout. Depending, perhaps, on how many times you catch your own feet with it.