How to Hit Your Step Goal on Vacation Without Even Trying

Woman wearing a Fitbit Blaze on vacation

You deserve a break this summer—but not from daily step goal. While lying on the beach for a week won’t wreck your fitness goals, it could make your vacation less fun.

“For one thing, so much of what’s great about traveling is sampling the local food, and you can work up more of an appetite if you’re active,” says Marilynn Preston, an ACE-certified fitness trainer and the author of the new book All Is Well: The Art (and Science) of Personal Wellbeing. “Plus, physical activity doesn’t deplete your energy, it actually gives you more energy to sightsee, snorkel, or tackle whatever else is on your itinerary.”

Since walking is the easiest way to exercise while you’re away from home, here are half a dozen ways to get your steps in no matter where your summer vacation takes you.

5 Ways to Sneak in Steps on Vacation

Pack good shoes. Comfortable footwear makes you likelier to spend more time on your feet, whether that’s exploring an extra wing of the museum or walking to dinner instead of taking a cab. “Research shows that you can actually strengthen your legs by walking in shoes that are less structured,” says Preston, “so you don’t necessarily need a heavy pair of sneakers with a ton of arch support.”

Take five. It’s easy to talk yourself out of a long walk on vacation. But it’s hard to rationalize being too lazy to take a five-minute walk to a coffee shop near your hotel or terminal gate. And those few minutes are usually enough to jumpstart a lengthier jaunt, says Preston. “Your body very quickly starts releasing endorphins when you walk that make you want to keep going.”

Make a date. “The odds you’ll go for a walk are much higher when someone else is holding you accountable,” says Preston. If you’re on a cruise, sign up for the excursions. In a new city on your own? Register for a walking tour. Traveling with girlfriends? Set a time to meet them in the hotel lobby for a morning walk.  

Scale new heights. You’ll get some of the best views of your destination from up high—not to mention  the best workout walking uphill to get there. Hike a steep city street or mountain trail to a scenic overlook, or climb the stairs inside a historic lighthouse, tower, or statue.

Embrace the dark side. “There are a few benefits to walking at night,” says Preston. “For one thing, you’ll get to see wherever you are in a new light. If it’s hot during the day, it’ll be much more pleasant to walk after the sun’s gone down, when the temperature is cooler. And taking a nighttime stroll keeps you from spending the entire evening in a bar or restaurant eating and drinking.” Just be sure to stay alert and visible.

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6 CommentsLeave a comment

  • I struggle to lose weight, have been diagnosed with non-alcoholic fatty liver, am 53 years old and need to lose 30 kgs of fat or else my doctor says in 5 years time the liver may have undergone irreversible changes and you risk your life.
    I do swim, run on occasions but have a stressful life which I offset with eating at night, drink limited water and dietitians try hard but can’t get through to me.
    The fit bit and app helps as does the fitbit scales but yo yo up and down and never down permanently.
    Would appreciate your views on how to get losing this fat.

    • Hi Keith. This is Marilynn. I hope some of my comments in June’s article were helpful. Yo-yo dieting, struggling to lose weight, a diagnosis of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease. No wonder you’re stressed. I hope you’ll take a look at my new book. Start where you are. And don’t think you can outrun your fork. Dieticians can’t change your life or what you decide to eat and drink. Only you can do that. I’m a journalist with 41 years in the field of fitness and one thing I’d look at big-time is your intake of processed foods. Yes, they’re legal. But what are they doing to you, your body, your weight? I hope your struggle can end and you can begin again. There are many good books out there. Mine is one of them. Thanks for your email and thanks, again, to Juno for her excellent article!

  • Hi, I have M.E/CFS, Obviously with this condition, you can’t do much walking etc. You have to constantly pace yourself to ensure you do not have a relapse or you could end up exhausted and in pain, that’s when i decided to purchase my fit bit to check my steps and hopefully increase some muscle strengh in my legs, I’ve found this very helpful as i can monitor wether i am overdoing it as now i have that target i feel great knowing I’ve achieved my goal without bringing on a relapse. I also joined Slimming world to encourage me to eat more healthily, the two work hand in hand so well. I am so pleased i purchased my fit bit

  • Sorry this may seem contrary, but my idea of going on vacation is sleeping late, doing very little physical activity, and enjoying alchohol with lunch and dinner. It’s my time to chill after working hard all year.

  • I was sure I’d easily exceed my daily 10,000 steps on a recent vacation to national parks in Utah, but I found I only did so once. I traveled with my mother, who is in her mid-70s and has, until this trip, seemed relatively energetic, and my young adult child, who actually takes pride in not enjoying most exercise. We did do a little hiking, but my mom pooped out early. I was pleased that my child actually initiated one one-mile hike. In the end, we spent hours each day back in our hotel room, napping and reading. While I love reading, this was a bit of a disappointment to me, but I really didn’t want to return to the national parks we visited alone after dropping family off (I’m not confident enough to go off on most hikes on my own), so I just went with the program. Not sure what I could have done to improve the situation.

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