On the road as a voluntourist – How to stay physically fit 💪

How to stay physically fit while on the road (especially while volunteering abroad) – So, you’ve taken the plunge. Deciding to combine both your time and skills to help local communities with your love for exploring diverse cultures.

You’re signing up to be a volunteer, internationally! It’s bound to be a life-changing prospect, coupled with the excitement of leaving your usual routine and lifestyle behind temporarily, or maybe even for good.

One such routine likely to be affected could be your fitness. Whether you’re an avid gym-goer, outdoor activity enthusiast, or on a strict diet, traveling to unfamiliar locations and living in unknown territory may feel somewhat atypical.

However, it doesn’t have to mean the end of keeping a positive fitness attitude going. Adaptation and being versatile are key, and below are a few handy tips to help with that:

Set fixed goals before you leave:
  • Weigh yourself before you set off. Knowing your exact weight at the beginning of your journey can help you maintain your fitness better.
  • Use a step-counting device to set daily step goals, like a Fitbit or Apple Watch.
  • For general fitness, most adults should aim for 10,000 steps per day.1 You could try taking those numbers up or down depending on your daily activities.

How to stay physically fit

Calorie watch:

Weight control and fitness management can be quite challenging with new and exotic food. Consider using smaller plates or bowls when eating to manage portion sizes. There are also a few apps available that can help with calorie watching by inputting food items into their database like MyFitnessPal, Zoom, or MyNetDiary.

Take lightweight equipment along:

Some basic fitness tools can fit easily into a suitcase or even hand luggage:

  • Foldable yoga mat – It can’t be emphasized enough how comfortable you need to be for floor workouts. It can even double up as a base for a sleeping bag!
  • Resistant band – Very versatile and easy to pack with several exercise options available on its own or paired with local furniture or door handles.

How to stay physically fit

Use what’s locally available:

Options like water bottles, bags of fruit, or even piled-up cutlery can be used as hand weights providing a decent burn after a few repetitions.

Don’t forget the outdoors! Make new friends by partaking in group sporting activities or consider hiking up rocky terrain, jogging along sandy beaches, or swimming in local water bodies. Just be sure to check with the locals first. If it’s safe and legal, who said endurance training can’t be fun while being exotic?

So don’t hesitate to try voluntouring should you feel called to do so. A lot of volunteering experience may already involve physical activity, so feel free to add in an adaptable routine to maintain or even improve your fitness!

How to stay physically fit


1 Medical News Today, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; Link: https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/how-many-steps-should-you-take-a-day

How to stay physically fit while volunteering abroad – Photos by Larm Rmah, Artur Łuczka i yunmai, Kelly Sikkema, Holly Mandarich, Louis Hansel – all on Unsplash


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Author: Philomena Abang

Hi, I'm Philomena! By day, I'm a part-time vet, caring for our furry friends. But by night, I'm an aspiring writer, weaving stories and sharing insights. I'm a firm believer in the power of physical and mental well-being, and I'm here to inspire you to step out of your comfort zone and embrace new experiences.

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