The Right (and Wrong) Ways to Get in Shape for an Active Vacation
Being a responsible traveler means more than watching your ecological impact and honoring local customs. You also have a responsibility to keep yourself safe. Spraining an ankle when the nearest road is nine miles away is different than doing so at home. But, on the flip side, travelers may opt out of active trips for fear of their physical limitations. Travel + Leisure asked trainers, medics and adventure tour guides how to responsibly push your limits during a physically intense trip.
Marcus Shapiro, founder, Fit For Trips
DO: Trick your brain. Mimic the conditions of your adventure while you’re still at home. Hikers should test out nearby trails with weights in a backpack instead of walking on the treadmill. Your muscles react differently to rugged terrain than a piece of equipment at the gym. Combine resistance and endurance training to ensure strength throughout the entire trip.
DON’T: Sell yourself short. Any healthy person can train for any adventure activity — if they give themselves enough time (generally at least 16 weeks) and commit to focused, regular training.
Jaimie Matzko, Smoky Mountains guide, REI Adventures
DO: Ask questions. Before a guided trip, tour leaders will send out a recommended packing list. Don’t assume that numbers are typos or that any of the items are optional (unless noted). Skimping on pack size or sleeping bag temperature could make the entire adventure very unpleasant.
DON’T: Assume you’re in shape for a trek just because you regularly work out. Hiking seven miles on rocky terrain with a 30-pound pack is much different than running 15 miles on the treadmill. And don’t cram your training last-minute before departure. You can end up doing more harm than good.
Jessica Jones, senior director of operations, Mountain Travel Sobek
DO: Test out your gear before departure. Make sure everything fits comfortably and you know how to use it. Break in shoes so they won’t give you blisters. Try out different hydration and food options. Not only will you feel more comfortable, you’ll save time if you aren’t trying to figure things out for the very first time in the field.
DON’T: Be afraid to speak up. Let guides know if you have concerns about the trail or water conditions so that they can adjust the pace, if needed. Tell your guides right away if you’re hungry, thirsty or if something just isn’t feeling right. Listen to what your body is telling you and keep your guides in the loop.
Aaron Laurich, paramedic and supervisor of security operations, Global Rescue
DO: Pay attention to your feet. Exercise your ankles and break in your shoes well before an adventure. Learn to recognize and treat blisters and hotspots. Keep feet clean and dry while on the trail by regularly changing your socks.
DON’T: Go up a mountain unless you are 100 percent sure you can get back down. It’s an awkward rescue call. Bring appropriate equipment, supplies and extra food. Review maps and talk to local guides before beginning a difficult ascent.
Ricky Fishman, chiropractor and tour leader, AltruVistas
DO: Stretch. The three pillars of musculoskeletal health are stretching, cardio and core strength. A few yoga movements before a cardio-heavy hike ensure a well-rounded and safe workout.
DON’T: Compete with others. The adventure is not a race. Start your day with a few simple breathing exercises to enter a positive mindset and remain engaged with the present moment.