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How to Pack for Exercising on the Road

How to Pack for Exercising on the Road
How to Pack for Exercising on the Road

When I go on vacation, I always pack as if I’m going to get a workout in. That doesn’t mean it always happens. There have been trips I’ve taken where things were scheduled so tight; there wasn’t an extra minute in the day to myself. But I’ve learned that if I DON’T pack exercise gear, it’s definitely not going to happen.

Start by looking up the weather of the place you’re visiting, and then pack for that temperature. You probably won’t be wearing shorts if it’s 50 degrees Fahrenheit and you won’t need a sweater if it’s in the 90s. If the weather changes dramatically, buy what you need locally.

Before you fill your suitcase, make a pile of all the clothes you plan on bringing. Then trim that pile by a third. Most people pack far more than they’re ever going to wear because they overestimate how many outfits they need. In today’s casual culture, a t-shirt worn during the day can also be used for an evening workout. Skip formal clothes unless you have a specific event, like a wedding or business meeting that requires it.

Plan on wearing things more than once. Let's say you’re planning a two-week trip home for the holidays. You only need to pack for seven days. On the third or fourth day, wash the dirty clothes. You can do that at the home you’re staying in or by finding a local “fluff and fold” laundry service. Repeat a few days later.

Paying to clean a few clothes will usually be cheaper than paying for extra luggage on an airplane. Plus you can use the extra space to pack workout gear. Remember to bring a laundry bag to keep clean and dirty clothes separate.

Bring workout gear made of wrinkle-resistant fabrics that dry quickly. If you plan on two workouts in a week, you only need one set of workout clothes. When you finish exercising, rinse the clothing off, hang it up to dry and you can use it again. Deep clean clothes by washing them with a little soap at the same time you’re taking a shower. Avoid cotton clothes if possible, they dry slowly and wrinkle easily.

Pack a sealable plastic bag to hold any smelly or sweat stained clothes you can’t rinse or clean. I like using a Ziploc Space Bag. Some versions have a one-way valve when you seal them up, allowing you to squeeze out the air and dramatically reduce how much space the clothing inside takes up.

Bring one set of gym shoes and a second set of casual/dress shoes. You might also consider a pair of flip-flops if you plan on going to a public pool or using a gym shower. Pack a plastic bag to store shoes in if they get wet or dirty.

Take an empty water bottle with your carry-on bag, then fill it up once you’re through security. You can use it again when you’re out running or going to the gym, saving you from paying for overpriced water. 

Put your toiletries in small travel-size containers, or consider an even more radical approach. Just use the soap and shampoo your hotel provides. In a worst-case scenario, you can always get essentials from a local convenience store.

Include a bag with things you need for your electronics. Think about bringing an extra battery for your heart rate monitor, a case to hold your cell phone, headphones, travel power strip, power converter if you’re going to a foreign country and any charging cables you may need.

Don’t pack gym towels. Use towels from your hotel room or borrowed from the home you’re staying at.

If you really want to bring exercise equipment, choose only things that are hollow or fold up tightly. I use a foam roller before a workout to get my muscles ready. There are small, shortened versions that are open in the middle. I stuff it with t-shirts before putting it in my suitcase. Resistance bands and jump ropes take up extremely small amounts of space. TRX Suspension Trainers come with travel bags and an option where you can attach them to the top of a door.

Follow these professional packing tips and you’ll be ready, whenever an exercise opportunity presents itself.

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