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This article originally appeared on December 08, 2019, on our sister site, Lonely Planet. Some info may have been updated to be more current.
Frequent travel can wreak havoc on even the best-laid fitness plans, but a life on the road doesn’t have to mean setting aside your workout goals and routines. From slim, lightweight trainers to sweat-resistant wireless headphones to collapsible, portable gear of all kinds, these nine picks will keep you moving without missing a step.
Foam rollers are bulky and unwieldy by nature, but leave it to a former NFL player — on the road for 8 away games over the course of a 16-week season — to understand the importance of both massage and maximization of precious luggage space.
When expanded, Brazyn’s Morph roller is the standard 14.5 inches long and 5.5 inches in diameter, a full-surface mobility tool that can handle up to 350 pounds; when collapsed to lie flat, it’s a mere 2 inches wide. It comes with a mesh bag for easy carrying.
Given its ability to burn a ton of calories in a short amount of time and the minimal space required to use — or pack — it, the old-school jump rope is a tried-and-true cardio weapon. You could toss any old vinyl-and-plastic number into your carry-on, or you could take it to the next level with one of Crossrope’s themed sets.
The Get Lean version has slim handles and two lightweight ropes, and Get Strong comes with thicker handles and heavier ropes, while the Get Fit bundle is a combination of the two. Paired with an app that provides free, quick routines to keep your sweat levels high and your interest levels piqued, it’s a true go-anywhere training tool.
Slim, lightweight sneakers equally suitable for pounding the pavement or hitting the trails, Forsake’s Cascade (in women’s sizes) and Maddox (in men’s sizes) make the cut for multiple uses. With a breathable nylon upper, a moisture-wicking mesh lining, and a sturdy-yet-flexible outsole, these well-cushioned trainers can take you from the gym to happy hour — or from a light hike to your campsite — without looking out of place.
For rainy-day runs and sweaty indoor sessions alike, a pair of earbuds that can stand up to the elements is essential. The Jaybird Vista wireless headphones are waterproof and drop-resistant, and their capsule construction locks out dirt and debris.
With 6 hours of play time (and 10 more via a small hand-held charging case), plus an app for iOS and Android that lets you sync your Spotify playlists for a seamless soundtrack, they’re a standout option for on-the-go exercise.
Yoga mats are portable by default, but your everyday model can take up quite a bit of room. Jade Yoga’s grippy Voyager mat is extremely thin (just 1/16 inch thick, so you probably won’t want to use it for an everyday practice), weighs less than 2 pounds, and folds up to the size of a yoga block or a Harry Potter hardback.
Plus, it’s made from natural rubber, a rapidly renewable material, and the company plants a tree for every mat sold — so far, more than 1.7 million and counting.
Double-walled stainless-steel bottles have their place, but if you’re looking for something light and functional to carry for post-workout hydration, que’s collapsible bottle weighs less than 1/2 pound and takes up next to no room in your bag. If you leave it filled for too long, the silicone taste can permeate the water, but it’s great for guzzling a pint or two to bring your water levels back up to par.
Sure, there are tons of on-demand fitness programs and apps, but some of them require a bunch of equipment or don’t work well without stellar cell service or Wi-Fi. The Les Mills app has more than 1,000 on-demand workouts to choose from and a ton of variety.
You can choose from minimal-equipment classes like strength, kickboxing, HIIT, dance, and yoga — and if you have access to a hotel gym with bigger equipment, you can also do cycling classes. The best part? You can download classes ahead of time so you don’t have to sweat it if you’re low on service when you’re ready to work out.
It unfurls to a respectable 15 by 15 inches but scrunches down to fit in a tiny, palm-size carrying case that attaches to your pack or keychain for quick access and maximum portability — a must-have for stashing in your gym or day bag, especially if you’re heading out in humid locales.
Truly, any of Garmin’s industry-leading fitness trackers would work for travel, but for multidiscipline athletes, the Forerunner 35 is a light GPS running watch and heart rate monitor that tracks steps, calories, sleep, and periods of intense exertion; vibrates with reminders to get up and move; and automatically differentiates between various activities.
Take it for a swim or out for a jog, hook it up to the app for feedback from the online community, and don’t worry about it dying mid-workout — with 13 hours of maximum battery life, it’s sure to have you covered.