How to Get a Great Workout While Traveling

Andrew Props | 13 Dec 2016

hotel hallway

Editor’s note: With everyone traveling for the holidays, we wanted to publish something a little more creative and fun. Happy holidays and be safe out there.

This has happened to me countless times, so I know it has happened to at least some of you before: struggling to get a workout in while traveling. Now, usually the hotels I book have some kind of a gym, and even if it’s just some dumbbells, it’s better than nothing.

On occasion the gym is not exactly what was advertised; the website shows a great gym, but when you arrive at the hotel, get settled and decide to go get a quick lift, the gym is not exactly what you imagined. Maybe the gym is closed for renovations, maybe the hotel has some excellent photographers, or maybe you start to question whether you are even at the right hotel.

Time to Improvise

Everything in your hotel/motel can be used to aid your workout. Whether it is a table, bed or towel, everything can be used for your improvised workout.


  • Stairs – Sprint up (number of flights depends on how adventurous you want to be), walk down and repeat for 10-15 minutes. You can mix this up by hopping, single leg hopping, lateral hopping and skipping stairs, (I would not recommend trying backwards, just my two cents).
  • stairs

    Ice Machine Shuttle – We all make countless trips to the ice machine during a stay in a hotel, but now it’s time to make it worthwhile. Sprint, jog, shuffle, etc. to the ice machine, but instead of filling up the bucket as much as possible, only fill the bucket part of the way up so more trips are necessary. Now, this becomes less effective if you decide to take the elevator, so add in some of the stair workout while you complete the shuttle.
  • Hallway Sprints – Speed training is a staple in any effective training program and there’s no better place to do sprints than in the long, straight hallways of a hotel. Okay, so maybe there are better places to do sprints, but you gotta do what you gotta do. Sprint for 30-100 meters, depending on the length of the hallway and walk back to your door. Take anywhere from four to seven minutes; about enough time for you to answer the hotel room phone, listen to the manager tell you the other guests have complained, tell him it won’t happen again and head back into the hallway for your next set. Complete for four to 10 sprints.
  • Ding Dong Ditch – My favorite, this adds speed, agility, and quickness into your vacation training program. Note: probably a good idea to warm up before completing this exercise. Walk to a random room, preferably a room that is in the middle of the hallway, bang on the door and run away as fast as possible. This combines speed: you must be fast to get to another part of the hotel; agility: you need to be agile to avoid running into other people or objects; quickness: because that first step after you bang on the door is either going to make you or break you. Repeat until you have knocked on every door or been asked by management to find another place to stay.

Strength Training:

Circuit 1:

  • Burpees X10
  • Body Weight Squats X15
  • Plank X30 Seconds
  • Push Ups X15
  • Body Weight Good Mornings X15
  • Side Plank X20 Seconds
  • Body Weight Towel Rows* X15
  • Walking Lunges X12/Leg
  • Side Plank X20 Seconds
  • 1 Arm Luggage Overhead Press X10/Arm (remove items as necessary)
  • Luggage Shrugs X15
  • Bodyweight Hip Extension X15
  • Luggage Farmers Carry X1 Minute Each Side

- Complete this circuit three to four times.

*Body Weight Towel Rows Explanation:

  • Roll up a towel longways (hot dog, not hamburger)
  • Wrap it around a bed post, towel rack, anything that is stable and around chest height
  • Hold arms straight out in front while gripping one end of the towel in each hand
  • Squat down, making sure you have good posture
  • Pull yourself up and towards the towel anchor, making sure to squeeze your shoulder blades down and back
  • Slowly lower yourself back to the starting position
  • Repeat for the desired number of repetitions

pizzaCircuit 2: Pizza Delivery Challenge – You caved, you decided to order a delicious pizza and you have, what they claim, is a 20-minute guarantee for the pizza to be delivered. Make the 20 minutes worthwhile before you indulge in the calorie dense, greasy heaven that is your next meal. As soon as you hang up the phone, start your workout, completing each set for one minute and continuing all the exercises until the pizza arrives.

  • Jumping Jacks
  • Plank
  • Wall Sit
  • Push Ups
  • Burpees
  • Hip Extension

Circuit 3: Mirror Muscles Monday – Okay, so you don’t have to complete this workout on a Monday, but it’s a great routine to do in the morning before you hit the beach for the day.

  • Push Ups X12
  • Body Weight Towel Rows* X12
  • Dips X15
  • 1 Arm Luggage Curls X15/Arm (Take out some of your dirty laundry so you can complete the reps)
  • 1 Arm Luggage Overhead Press X10/Side (Again, taking out some of your dirty laundry)
  • Luggage Shrugs X15

- Complete this circuit three to four times, depending on how big you want your arms to look on the beach.


Now that your workout is complete for the day it’s time for a little recovery, if you’re lucky, you’ve gathered your supplies during your workout.

  • Ice – you gathered all the ice you need during the ice machine shuttle, now it’s up to you to decide if you need to ice any sore muscles, or repeat the exercise until you have enough ice for a full ice bath.
  • Anti-Inflammatories – hopefully you packed some ibuprofen in your bag or there is already some in the room, but if not, you can hope that someone in one of the rooms you knocked on has some and doesn’t mind sharing with you.
  • Nutrition – certainly not ideal, but the pizza you ordered for the pizza delivery challenge certainly contains carbs, fats, and some protein, although it may not be exactly what you need.

Next time you go on vacation and the gym is subpar or nonexistent, you can make do with what you must to get a great training session. Just be careful to not disrupt the other guests.

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Andrew Props

About the author: Andrew Props

I graduated from Lynchburg College in 2015 with a Bachelor’s Degree in Sport Management. I have my Personal Training Certification through the National Academy of Sports Medicine and have had this credential for over three years. I am also a Level 1 Sports Performance Coach through USA Weightlifting. I played baseball at Lynchburg for two years before injury forced me to ‘retire,’ which is when I found my passion for health and fitness.

While at Lynchburg I completed my internship with the Strength and Conditioning Coach where I worked with numerous sports teams. I worked with men’s and women’s lacrosse, softball, baseball and field hockey. The men’s lacrosse team played in the Division III National Championship Game and the field hockey team won their ninth straight Old Dominion Athletic Conference (ODAC) championship.

I have been working at the YMCA for three and a half years as a wellness coach and as a personal trainer for the past two years. Recently I started a group personal training class called, ‘Own The Gym,’ where I actually teach the class how to train.

I am a Sports Performance Coach at Elkin Sports Performance where I work with people in elementary school through college, as well as some adult groups. We do speed and agility training as well as weight training, starting them with the basics and progressing them to Olympic lifts.

I also plan on taking my Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist certification through the National Strength and Conditioning Association in the coming months.

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