Fit to Travel: Suitcase-Suitable Fitness Equipment for Under $11

By , SparkPeople Blogger
Even if you're not planning to take a full-fledged vacation this year, travel is a necessity for most of us, whether for work, weddings, or weekend trips to visit family and friends. And since you're pursuing a healthy lifestyle, you know that fitness should be a permanent part of your life whether you're at home or on the road.

Obviously, you can't take your gym with you. Dumbbells, mats, and balls don't always pack well, either. Luckily, there are a few portable pieces of equipment that you CAN pack to ensure you'll get a good workout away from home. Here are three that cost less than $11 each—you may even have them at home already!

1. Resistance Band ($10 or less)
I'm a big fan of resistance bands because they're inexpensive, portable and very effective. Lightweight and flexible, it's a breeze to stash these in your suitcase or carryon bag without worrying out going over the airline's weight limit or using up too much valuable packing space. You can literally work all of your muscles in a variety of ways with one single band. Typically, they cost about $10 or less, and are usually durable enough to last a long time—I for one still have the same resistance bands that I've had for used and they're still going strong. If you need ideas for using your band away from home, check out the great resources SparkPeople compiled on this page: dozens of demos (that you can print and bring with you) and videos, too. Even if you don't travel, bands are great to use at home or at the office. You can buy yours at the SparkPeople Store for $9.50.

2. Jump Rope ($8 or less)
We all used to jump rope as kids and call it fun, but if you've ever tried it as an adult, you know that it's no child's play. Jumping rope is serious work and it burns mega calories, too. Like resistance bands, a good jump rope is easy to pack when you're on the go. And while it's challenging, you can always break up your jumping workout into several mini workouts, such as a few minutes at a time, scattered throughout the day. You may not have room to jump rope in your hotel, but there probably is room outside your hotel (or in the lobby is you so dare!). A good jump rope will have comfortable handles, beads (that helps prevent the rope from kinking, which can be dangerous and annoying), and adjustability for your height. SparkPeople's beaded jump rope ($6.50) fits the bill and fits any budget! Check out my 10-Minute Jump Rope Workout video for ideas to use yours, along with this article for tips to get started.

3. Pedometer ($5 and up)
Pedometers vary considerably in price, from very basic models to high-tech gadgets that use GPS and track your real-time speed. Like many gadgets, you get what you pay for—some of the least expensive pedometers can lack accuracy. One of the best things about a pedometer is that it motivates you to get moving—to compete against yourself and walk (or run) a little further each day. When you're traveling, sometimes the last thing you want to do is work out—especially if you're tired from a business trip or trying to relax and enjoy a vacation. A great alternative to a formal workout is to clip on your pedometer for the day and set a steps goal: somewhere near 10,000 steps is good, but 15,000 steps or more is even better on a day that you didn't do a planned workout. Walking and staying active while you travel can help you prevent the notorious "vacation weight gain" and a pedometer can be your workout buddy. SparkPeople's pedometer, made by Bell fitness is one of the most popular and highest selling pedometers available. Known for its accuracy and ease of use, it can be yours for $10.50. Get more tips about setting a step goal and using a pedometer here.

Often, we have the best intentions to eat well and exercise in the hotel gym when we're away from home. But it can be all-too-tempting to fall out of these habits when you're out of your normal elements—and routine. By packing your bag with the right stuff for exercise—whether the small equipment above or your good pair of running shoes, you'll set yourself up for success!

Do you pack fitness equipment when you travel? Maybe more importantly, do you actually use it when you pack it?

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Headed out on a week long cruise. Already had my running shoes,sports bra(How come no one ever mentions that as a neccessy piece of equipment?), and resistance band packed in my suitcase. Glad I am making the same choices as others. Report
Depends... if I fly I bring my exercise bands and skipping rope. But if I drive I also bring some dumbbells and exercise ball. Report
Since I started with SP I do make sure that I take my stash of equipment with me. On my last vacation, our condo was right beside the fitness center. It was great to get my day started by exercising and have the rest of the day to be a tourist! Report
I always have a laptop with me, so if I'm at a loss for ways to work out, I use a SP video. When possible, I stay at places with fitness centers or in walkable neighborhoods, but my work travel takes me to a lot of remote places... so I always have my fitness clothes and shoes and use a dvd or SP video in my hotel room if that's my only choice. Report
Since starting with SP, yes, I will take my running shoes and pedometer with me on every trip away from home. I always stay at a hotel with a fitness center and plan to use it from now on. Report
I won't even go on an overnight business trip without my running shoes. I always try to stay in hotels with a workout room, and I do make use of them no matter what, plus getting in my running or walking. Report
Yes, which will be the pedometer and tennis shoes.

I go on a walk when I'm on vacation.

Yes, which will be the pedometer and tennis shoes.

I go on a walk when I'm on vacation.

I am a flight attendant, so I always travel with my work out gear in hopes of working out in the hotel gyms Report
My husbanf and I don't take any equipment with us when we travel, but we always find a place to walk, whether in he mall or a hilly terrain. Report
I usually take some of Leslie Sansone's walking videos with me and my computer. That way, I can watch them even if the room doesn't have a DVD player. I am definitely going to take my resistance bands with me, too! If I have access to internet, I enjoy doing the SparkPeople workout videos using the band. Report
I keep a resistance band in my suitcase, wear my GoWearFit (except going through airport security) without the band, have my favorite interval training workout, CardioCoach, on my ipod - and usually have my HRM as well. I'm set! I save some of these favorites for use *only* on the road, so that I look forward to doing them. Report
I always do some form of exercise while on vacation. I have brought bands,weights and run/and or walk. Report
I got 2 pedometers. One was a gift by daughter from selling around $30 looks just like Spark's. What a bargain!

I wish Spark would avail these little gifts to be purchased with our spark points to git to other friends on spark only without revealing anyone's home address to others. Won't that be fantastic?

This would surely encourage people to work out harder and earn more points - although, not sure if honor system would continue to work? Report
Great blog thanks.. !! Report
the last time I traveled I brought my heart rate monitor and my husband and I jogged along the promenade. It was amazing to run while listening to the ocean. =) Report
YES, YES & YES!!! I see my sister 1 to 2 x a year. She lives in TX. I take my shoes & workout wear, along with weighted gloves, & dvd's! I have even made copies so I don't bring them with me anymore. Report
I do always pack my running shoes with me, but it can be quite difficult as most of our holidays consist of visiting family in Greece in summer. So: a) it's too hot (and smoggy) to exercise from about 7 a.m. until 10 p.m.; b) the family thinks I am crazy if I wake up at 5:30 to go for a run and then fall asleep in the evening by 9 p.m. (just as they are setting out for dinner); c) the state of the streets in Athens is pretty horrible, lots of potholes, so a real challenge to navigate in semi-darkness. So I think my only solution is to find alternative types of exercise, like swimming, Pilates on the veranda... any other suggestions? Report
Hahaha! I actually took my 5lb weights & a resistance band on vaca last summer. They had a wonderful time in our rolling box w/ our shoes. Never took them out once! Cardio wasn't a problem b/c our vaca's are built around hiking, but if you haven't already established an at-home ST routine, it's not gonna happen on the road, even w/ the best of intentions. (My ST has always been in a fitness class setting)

That said, yes, I probably will bring my resistance band w/ me on vaca this yr (but not the weights! LOL). And I will print out some SP resistance band w'outs. Who knows?? I might start a new habit on the road! Report
I guess I can pack the bands & jump rope, I always wear my pedometer. I don't quite feel dressed til I put it on. :) Report
My pedometer is my best piece of fitness equipment. At the end of the day at work, if I haven't gone over 10,000 I meet my husband closer to our home and walk the way in between.
One problem for women: just about all of them are designed to be worn with trousers or skirts. Wearing a dress without pockets is impossible with most models. I found one Walking Shop by Sportline which has a hole in the top that I can put a safety pin through and pin it to the inside of my underwear at virtually the same spot I would put it on a belt. It is discreet and accurate that way. BUT when you are going through airport security, it drives them crazy. Most have no idea what a pedometer is and they fuss like crazy about it. Report
So timely for me, as we're about to relocate, spending 2 weeks on the road between houses. We always stay in hotels w/ exercise rooms and/or pools, and I pack my yoga mat, resistance band, portable dvd player and yoga dvds. Add my husband's laptop so I can work out w/ you, Coach Nicole, and I'm set! I'm pretty good at sticking with the program, but I allow myself a bit more slack and do more yoga than strength training. Truth of the matter is, I'm miserable to be around if I'm not getting my workouts! Report
My pedometer goes with me everywhere I go..
I have taken bands with me, and I have even gone as far as packing up my portable DVD player along with some workout videos for use in hotel rooms that don't offer gyms.
All these items named above are great for portable there are many more..
Thanks for article.. Report
I always pack 2 running shoes and a resistance band. That gives me everything I need to maintain both aerobic and strength training while traveling without any extra space or weight taken up in my luggage. Report
I pack my workout clothes and shoes. Usually the hotel will have a gym. If I am visiting friends or family and there is no gym option, I will go for walks. Report
No, when I travel I don't bring exercise equipment, other than sneakers and workout clothes. I prefer to walk, or to use the hotel gym. When I take vacations away from home, I like to walk around the area where I stay, and see the sights. I'd rather plan a vacation that includes a lot of walking and being outdoors. Report
Itravel with my husband now for work and we are usually gone for 3-4 weeks of most every month! Yes, we are usually only home anywhere from about a week to sometimes as little as less than 24 hours, so YES--exercise while I'm gone is critical! Although we always stay in nice hotels, many of them (especially outside the US) do NOT have a gym, which makes a regular exercise routine difficult, and with the airline luggage limits, bringing exercise equipment is a challenge. I have a stretchy band that came with my Leslie Sansone DVD that I bring along, a pedometer & some DVD's, but I hadn't thought about a jump rope. Good idea! Report
I usually take my laptop so I can get to SparkPeople for those workouts and I will have my sneekers and resistence bands with me. I can't afford to stay in those fancy hotels that have the gyms. Report
Most nice hotels now days have an exercise room and a pool, so I like to use those. Report
I think it's a great idea to bring some type of excersise equipment with you on trips or anywhere you go. Report
I don't travel with work-out gear but will take my walking shoes. I usually take vacations or trips that will allow me to stay active so I don't stress about the extra stuff to carry.
This looks great as a gift though. Report
I always take my pedometer, my running shoes and my lifting gloves. We vacation at places that have gyms, and there are also places to run or walk. And yes, I do exercise while on vacation! Report
If I don't have access to a gym, I have a full strength training circuit I can do without any equipment, just bodyweight - just need some carpet or a towel on the grass outside. For cardio, I generally find that I'm active swimming and walking on vacations anyway (and it's usually good for me to force myself to mellow and do less intense cardio for a few vacation days), but if not, running shoes and some sidewalks/roads/trails is all I need! Report
i've been having problems getting into the spark people store. is it down? Report
I walk for cardio, and always wear my pedometer. I've also put together 3 travel workouts that use body weight resistance - wall pushups, wall squats, chair tricep dips, calf raises, etc. - so I can work out anywhere, even without equipment. (I've even developed a workout routine for in-school testing days, so I can work out with a gallon jug of water as my 10-lb weight.) Report
I travel for work and I've deflated and taken my stability ball for abs & core exercises in my room and recently started taking my resistance band with me. Report
If you're going to a hotel with a pool, swimming or water-jogging is a great way to build in cardio and strength training in one workout. Or if you're at the beach, just go out as deep as you're comfortable and "jog" parrallel to the beach. I'm going to the Jersey shore this summer and long walks on the boardwalk are great! Everyone does it! Also, there are bike rentals there if you're rather push than walk. Another alternative, walking on the beach works your leg muscles differently than walking on the boardwalk or road. Report
Who can afford to go anywhere anymore? I haven't left home in 4 years. There is no gym in my village, and I couldn't afford to use it if there was. There's no public swimming pool, and the river is far too cold for my aging bones. My balance is no longer good enough for it to be safe for me to ride a bike. The broken bones in my feet, my back, my shoulders preclude walking, never mind running. I can go down to the school playground and do a few exercises there. Mostly I just sit at home on the computer and talking to my 3 cats and their guests. My tenant also has 3 who come in regularly for breakfast, and then there's another one that apparently does not belong to anyone, but hangs out under the boxes of books that I have stored on my back porch. Hmm, I wonder why I keep on getting heavier?! Report
My yoga mat doesn't fit in my carry on :-(
I do take my resistance bands and running shoes, and look for gym facilities at the hotel.
I also take my computer on business trips and do spark workouts! Report
A timely topic! I'll be travelling on business for the next two weeks. . . Report
This is a great idea! Taking it a step further- I spend most of my days away from home going from one job to another or from work to meeting friends or whatever- I think I will keep these items in a bag in my car and take advantage of my 20-30 minutes waits in between! Report
Great idea. I already have all of that equipment. Hardly ever go anywhere but when I do I will start bringing along workout equipment. Report
My running shoes go everywhere with me. No need for other equipment...just shoes and a road. When I go on extended vacations I also bring several of my Billy Blanks Tae Bo exercise DVD's. They're small and lightweight so they take up even less room than my shoes! Report
My running shoes are coming with me when I take a trip. I'm debating about taking resistance bands with me. It's not that I don't want to do strength training when I'm on vacation, but I would like to spend time on vacation actually having a vacation.

I'll probably do some push ups, dips, etc... you can't beat body weight exercises.

I just packed for a short trip last night and put in my resistance band, yoga mat, Wii Gold Gym Cardio Workout and an extra Wii Remote (just in case they don't have 2). I wear my pedometer all the time so that is just an added bonus Report
I take my shoes and my pedometer. If I'm staying at a hotel, I check out the gym and use their equipment. Report
I always pack my running shoes. Now that I do yoga, I bring my mat when I'm taking a car trip. The only annoying thing is trying to fit everything into a carry on. Working out on a regular basis means more to pack for a short trip! Report
When I travel, my running shoes followed by my resistance bands are the first two items in my suitcase. Never thought about a jump rope...hmmm, good plyometric training. Report
I always bring my running shoes. It's usually easy to find a nice trail or at least run on the treadmill at the hotel gym. Report
When I travel for work, I make sure my hotel has a gym, becuase I will definitely use it! Traveling alone = lots of workout time :)

I usually have my laptop with me too, so I'll bring along a Turbo Jam DVD or something else that uses no equipment and do that in my hotel room. I have a resistance band I need to start packing too. I've even logged onto Netflix and done a workout from there in my hotel room!

As much as I'd like to run outside while I travel, I usually avoid it because a) I'm never familiar with the area and dont' know where it's safe to run and b) I'm usually alone, so it's a little scary! Thanks for these other ideas and alternatives! Report
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