My friend and I were recently discussing the upcoming trips we were each taking (family visits, a few weddings, work-related travel). She asked thoughtfully, "Do you ever feel like you'll go crazy if you don't get to get out and exercise?", to which I replied, "OMIGOD, YES." But when you're staying with friends or family, a workout isn't the easiest thing to come by… I'm lucky in that I love working out, but perhaps unlucky in that I feel blah and blue if I'm not active — and I do not want my loved ones to have to put up with a cranky, sleepy version of me. I'm so much more pleasant to be around when there are endorphins flowing! Here are a few of my staying-sane & keeping-fit tips:
Borrow-A-Bike This one is my favorite, because it allows me to explore the area in which I'm staying. I have neither a license nor a car, so when my hosts are at work or otherwise occupied, I'm on my own for transportation. A bike lets me get out of the house, get a great workout, and get to know my surroundings. It also lets me feel like I'm contributing: I can go grocery shopping, return movies, or hit the farmers' market. And the liquor store. I would recommend asking your host if there's a good bike rental place nearby, and chances are good that they'll offer you use of their own bike (provided they don't need it to get to work, and there's not a huge height difference). If so, offer to bring your own helmet, lock, and lights, in case they don't have any to lend.
Pool Pass The first place to check for swimming options would be the local park district — most towns have a pool with at least one lap-swim per day, usually for a fee of about $5. Hotels and motels often allow drop-in swimmers as well, for a similar fee. I'm currently staying in a little town that has one lovely summer-only outdoor park district pool, one depressing but totally usable hotel pool, and one hotel pool that's only big enough to practice flip-turns in. They each cost $5 or $6/day.
Hotel Workout Rooms Hotel workout rooms are often open to non-guests as well, for a similar fee. Note that as with hotel pools, there's a very good chance you won't have access to a locker room or shower.
Get Out Early It's sad but true: sticking to a workout on vacation — especially a family visit — can raise some eyebrows. You might be advised to "Relax!", or you might be guilt-tripped for taking an hour out from family time. Or your days might just be so packed and fun that once things get going it's hard to pull away. I find that earlier is always better. If you can squeeze in a swim or a run before anyone is awake, you won't miss a moment of fun and you'll feel more like yourself.
Back To Basics Push-ups and crunches require no equipment and very little space. I can't actually do a push-up, but I have been crunching like mad.
Guest Pass If your host belongs to a gym, there's a good chance she has a few guest passes on hand. Working out together could be fun, or you could hit the weights while she's at work.
Do you keep up your workouts even when you're a houseguest, or have you been thwarted in your attempts? Or do you just enjoy the break?
(Image: Best City Bikes + Easy Rides 2010)