Colin Wright is an author, entrepreneur, and full-time traveler who moves to a new country every four months based on the votes of his readers. He blogs at Exile Lifestyle and tweets a lot.
1. Honestly, do you find it hard to stay fit when traveling? If so, what is the biggest challenge for you?
Some times more than others. Kolkata was tricky, because the food is cheap and delicious and there isn’t a great public infrastructure for working out (jogging isn’t really a thing there, and the sidewalks wouldn’t support it even if it was). On the other hand, many places I go make it pretty easy — there are healthy options available, and it’s not too much trouble to work out in the morning, and maybe a little during the day away from home.
The biggest challenge tends to be in places that are very polluted, because then I don’t feel like working out — it’s as if the air itself is trying to keep me from breathing correctly, and my nostrils are lined with soot when I come home at the end of the day. The way around this is just to establish a habit in the morning that’s easy enough to follow through with, even if you don’t feel like it, and to adjust according to your surroundings (no jumping jacks if you’re on the second floor of a flimsy building, so maybe do more crunches, instead).
2. What do you think about vegetarian/vegan/raw food diets? Do you follow any of them?
I think they’re all really nice ideas, and I take part in them from time to time, when possible.
I don’t find them terribly practical every place I go, however, and it’s my policy to eat as healthy as I can 90% of the time, which then allows me to do whatever I like the other 10%. If I was going to do one of those full-time, I would apply the same rule, giving me some wiggle-room, so that I don’t accidentally offend a host or miss out on something important about a culture I’m visiting.
3. What sports do you practice on the road?
None regularly, but I played intercollegiate Ultimate Frisbee in college, and I’ve been known to do the same when I spot a pickup game while on the road.
4. Do you think mental or spiritual side is also important when staying fit? Is meditation close to you?
I’m not a spiritual person, but I do take 20 minutes a day to sit quietly and do absolutely nothing. This ‘meditation’ allows me to untangle my thoughts and refocus on what’s important. A lot of deep-diving can be accomplished in a short period of time, so long as you allow yourself to do it regularly, and get accustomed to letting go in that way, if only for a short period of time.
5. Your top 3 tips for other travelers to stay fit when traveling?
1. Come up with a routine that works for you (don’t try and force yourself to copy someone else if it doesn’t work for your body or your schedule).
2. Make passive exercise a part of your routine (take the stairs when you have the option, do some jumping jacks or pushups every half-hour when sitting at your computer, etc).
3. Don’t eat horribly and expect exercise to cover for you. Combine a decent diet with some regular, light exercise, and you’d be surprised how effective (and painless, and flexible) it can be.