Whether you’re on a weeklong vacation or traveling longer-term, maintaining your fitness is important. But it can also be challenging without the right equipment. Hotel gyms can be hit or miss when it comes to their equipment and facilities. You can try going to an outside gym, but the one-off fees for nonmembers are usually high (I paid $20 for a single visit to a gym in Buenos Aires where the monthly pass was only $100).
While it’s impossible to pack a full gym suite into your luggage, that doesn’t mean you have to lose all of your hard-earned fitness gains while you travel. These travel-friendly, affordable items will help keep you in top shape when you’re on the road. (See also: 8 Easy Health and Fitness Tricks for Travelers)
1. Jump rope
Jumping rope is one of the ultimate travel exercises, as you can work up a sweat in a short time. It also helps to tone and build muscle over your entire body while improving your cardiovascular fitness. It’s said that you’d have to run an eight-minute mile to work off more calories than you’d burn in 10 minutes of jumping rope.
The rope itself is lightweight and portable, and you can get good quality, durable jump ropes for less than $15 dollars.
2. Travel yoga mat
The popularity of yoga continues to grow as more and more people discover the benefits of increased flexibility, muscle tone, balance, and even mental wellbeing. There’s a form of yoga to suit everyone, whether you want to burn fat or experience deep relaxation.
Traditional yoga mats are quite cumbersome and difficult to fit in a bag, but travel yoga mats fold instead of roll, making them perfect for a suitcase or backpack. You can get lightweight travel yoga mats for less than $40. (See also: 5 Exotic Yoga Retreats Anyone Can Afford)
3. Running shoes
Running is one of the most accessible, calorie-intensive activities possible, and something you can literally do anywhere in the world. All you really need is a decent pair of running shoes, and there are plenty of lightweight versions perfect for travelers.
If you exercise regularly, you no doubt already own a pair of running shoes, so just make sure you actually pack them on your next adventure. All it takes is a few miles at a time to keep your ticker in good shape. (See also: The 5 Best Women’s Running Shoes)
4. Resistance bands
Though you’re unlikely to want to lug a set of dumbbells in your luggage, you can still perform a strength training routine with the aid of these little wonders. Resistance bands allow you to add difficulty to virtually any body weight exercise you can think of without the need for any weights at all.
Because they’re little more than an elongated rubber band, they weigh virtually nothing and you can fit them into any suitcase or backpack. They’re also extremely cheap and you can pick up a set with bands of various resistances for just a few dollars. (See also: The 5 Best Resistance Bands)
Kettlebell advocates are extremely enthusiastic about how effective they are in providing a full-body workout. But as they’re essentially a weight with a handle, they’re one of the least travel-friendly pieces of equipment.
Portable kettlebells solve this problem as they pack down to a small size, and when you want to work out with them, you simply fill them with whatever’s at hand. Rocks, sand or water can all be used to create the weight, and then when you’re done, you empty them out. One of these costs around $20 and weighs around 3.5 oz.
While they may seem like a fun and almost gimmicky way to work out, sliders are actually great for full-body conditioning. They’re little discs that have a slippery surface, and are two-sided, allowing you to use them on either hard floors or carpet.
Compact and lightweight, you can chuck a couple gliding discs into your luggage to supersize any workout for just $10. Push-ups, lunges, and squats all become more difficult and provide extra gains.
7. Mini foam roller
Foam rollers have become a ubiquitous part of many fitness routines, whether it’s to recover from injury or just ease aching muscles after a big session. They can also be used as an effective part of your warmup and cool-down.
These solid, cylindrical rollers are usually quite large and awkward, but you can get mini foam rollers that are as little as 12 inches long and four inches in diameter. These will easily fit in your carry-on luggage, and, at just $20, they’re an affordable way to soothe your sore muscles.