9 reasons to plan an active vacation

I had planned on including lots of references to recent scientific studies to support the claims made below. But getting organized for an active vacation took precedence 😉 .

Instead, I’m basing this post on my own personal experience and those of my group fitness participants and fitness coaching clients. I bet that many of my reasons for planning an active vacation will ring true for you as well…

Some people are great at sticking to their regular gym routine while on vacation. I’m not one of them 🙂

But that doesn’t mean that I spend all of my time lounging by the pool, trashy book and fruity drink in hand (although I can’t say enough about the restorative powers of a hammock…).


Experience has taught me that inactivity detracts from many of the benefits of taking a holiday in the first place.

I want to return home feeling relaxed, recharged and re-invigorated. Staying active on vacation helps me achieve that goal.

While I usually visit my hotel’s weight room once or twice during a week away, I keep formal workouts short and sweet (like this or one of these) and get most of my ‘exercise’ through exploration and play.

We hike, walk and rent bikes. We try new activities like SUP, snorkelling or kayaking. If there’s a local ‘yoga on the beach’ class, we might join in. Active vacations keep us learning and growing as a family.


They also make it easier to get back to your health and fitness routine once the holiday’s over…

8 reasons to plan an active vacation
  • More movement leads to better sleep. I never sleep well when I’m away from home. At least for the first few nights. The more active I am, the better I sleep. And the more my family and I can enjoy our time together 😉
  • Active exploration enhances the cultural experience. For me, travel is all about experiencing a different culture. Different foods, different forms of entertainment, different plants and animals and different views. Differences that are more fully experienced on foot than through the a car window.


  • Staying active keeps holiday food indulgences from coming home with you. While I don’t view exercise as punishment for eating ‘off plan’, it does help your body burn the extra calories you’ve sipped and munched on during the day. And let’s face it, new food experiences are a big part of holiday travel 🙂
  • Movement energizes. You know how tired you feel after a weekend Netflix marathon? Same thing happens when you spend too many days laying on the beach. I’ve found movement to be the best way to generate the sustained energy I need to experience all of the activities on my vacation ‘to do’ list. Plus, it’s a natural mood enhancer; a definite plus when you’ve spent too many days in close quarters with your family 😉
  • Being active and making healthy food choices go hand in hand. Ever notice how much easier it is to stick with your nutrition plan when you work out early in the day? I find that when I’m physically active I’m more aware of the choices I make at mealtimes; choices that will support, rather than undermine the time I’ve already spent moving.


  • Fitness gains are quickly lost. Ever notice how hard exercise feels after you’ve taken a week or two off? Fitness gains are all too quickly lost. Even as little as a week away from cardio can leave me huffing and puffing when I return to step class. Oh and did I mention that de-training effects are magnified by age? Don’t lose it, use it (even if it’s via ‘unconventional’ exercise).
  • Fitness habits are lost even more rapidly. Not only do we lose fitness when we take a break from regular exercise, we lose the habit of fitness. Alas, abandoning good habits is much easier than developing them in the first place. If you’re relatively new to exercise, ensure that you nurture your fitness habit my incorporating lots of movement and activity in your holiday itinerary.
  • You get to test your ‘gym’ progress in a real-world setting. All of those squats and pushups and planks you’ve been performing? Notice how they translate into easier hiking, paddling and golfing; not to mention your enhanced ability to lift your carry-on into the overhead bin.
  • You meet the most interesting people. This is probably my favourite reason for planning an active vacation. The more you’re out and about, the more people you’re likely to meet. People who’re also interested in health and fitness and exploration; people just like you.




  1. the half marathon is my fave, so I often plan a vacation around a new race to try out. I’ve also met up with running groups while we’re on family vacation. it’s important to me to be able to have places to run and/or workout while on vacation. More recently I’ve enjoyed trying out different yoga classes when we’re vacationing. That’s always fun.

  2. I love active vacations – otherwise I get bored. I’ve really started to like hiking and hope to do more of that.

  3. Who needs science to validate all the wonderful benefits of an active vacation you just outlined? Your stories convinced me! I actually become more active on my vacations, and also more relaxed and lazy in a sense. Just so nice not to have to squeeze in laundry and cooking during the day. Wonderful pictures of the Ranch–and the food! I miss those breakfasts.

  4. It’s good to take a vacation once in a while. But like you, I’m not that kind who just do nothing during vacation. If not doing yoga, I run or hike somewhere.
    Sebastian recently posted…Best Online Yoga Classes & Courses to Practice Yoga without Going to The GymMy Profile

  5. What a great idea! I have 3 nephews (I’m 49) and am trying to get/keep them interested in being active. We do a lot of vacations together.

    I’ve been taking Pilates for over a year (primarily machines) and work a job where I travel Sun nt-Th nt. Whew – until I had some work from home weeks, my progress was agonizing, and each week killed me (I’d go on Fridays). Now I’m working from home for a couple of months and have been going 3/week. I have learned some routines that I WILL be doing once I travel again.

    Pilates was my first intro into the world of fitness after being sedentary for all my life. Never got into PE/sports/exercise, but something clicked in Feb 2015. This Feb I joined the Y and have embarked on 150 min/week cardio as a minimum and started weight training. Ok – not free weights, but I expect to eventually get into them. My knees are awful so I think I’m limited in what I can do free-weight -wise for my lower body.

    Anyway – I somehow found your blog and spent HOURS the other night reading and appreciating! I now follow you via Feedly.

  6. This is a great piece with a lot of useful tips.
    Does swimming count as being active on vacation? I take my holidays in Mombasa and spend most of my time in the ocean.

  7. On vacations I walk more and use public transportation which when getting lost means even more walking or running to catch a train or bus!
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