10 easy things to pack for exercising while traveling
Keep up with your fitness goals on the go.
Recommendations are independently chosen by Reviewed’s editors. Purchases you make through our links may earn us a commission.
After more than a year of staying in, many of us are itching to leave our homes and makeshift gyms to resume travel. But unless you’re staying at a fancy hotel with a full onsite gym, maintaining your exercise routine on the road could pose a challenge.
Fear not: These affordable and travel-friendly pieces of fitness equipment from brands including Gaiam, TRX, Crossrope, and Fitbit will make you excited about carving out some sweat sessions wherever you are.
1. Resistance bands to level up bodyweight moves
Resistance bands are one of the best items for anyone interested in strength training, whether you're working out at home or away. They're easy to store and pack, weigh basically nothing, and simple yet effective to use—the stretchy strips test your range of motion and increase intensity in exercises like squats and glute bridges.
Before your next trip, slip in this three-pack of cotton- and elastic-based bands (also known as "booty bands") that come in light, medium, and heavy intensities and include a small mesh pouch for storage. Unlike rubber-based mini bands, resistance bands made of fabric are far less likely to lose their shape, thus allowing them to retain their intensity over time. These include tactile latex strips to prevent slipping, and of their 27,000 Amazon reviews, many say they’re super soft and comfortable against the skin and they don't roll down.
2. Core sliders to intensify planks
Crunches are so ‘90s, and they’re not doing your neck any favors. Instead, engage your core with these super fun sliders that take up virtually no space in your luggage. These flat, 7-inch-diameter sliders have two sides (smooth for carpets and foamy for hard floors like wood and tile). By placing hands or feet upon them, they make your contact points with the floor slick and force you to engage your core to account for the instability, thus upping the challenge of your workouts.
Place them under your feet while in a plank for smooth, fast mountain climbers or knee tucks, or consult the free illustrated guide that comes with the sliders for workout ideas. Many of the sliders' 3,300 reviewers say they help level up your workouts: “These sliders are awesome! You can definitely feel the burn and will get a great core workout! Will recommend to anyone at any fitness level.”
Get AZURELIFE Exercise Core Sliders from Amazon for $6.90
3. TRX system to create an on-the-go gym
TRX suspension training can help foster the vacationing spirit because it encourages you to get creative with whatever space you have. With this portable version, you can turn any sturdy structure—like a tree or door frame—into your own personal gym. You’ll be able to perform a range of full-body movements including elevated push-ups and back rows.
The TRX system comes with a mesh carrying bag, two digital workouts, and door anchors for smoother and safer suspension. Reviewers rave over how easy it makes staying in shape on the road: “If you are a gym rat on the go, this is a great travel accessory,” says one happy customer.
4. Weighted jump ropes to take your workout to a new level
Don’t worry—Crossrope's weighted rope won’t weigh down your duffel to a noticeable degree. Its ropes range from a quarter pound to two pounds, which make for easy packing but light your muscles on fire after a few minutes of skipping. The ropes are interchangeable and clip onto ergonomic handles, and you get to select a rope tailored to your height for a safer workout.
When we tried Crossrope, we appreciated how the weighted ropes challenged cardiovascular and muscular endurance in new ways and never tangled throughout testing. Plus, Crossropes come with a small carry bag and an app that offers jumping tutorials and effective skipping and bodyweight-based workouts (pro tip: The basic version is nearly the same as the premium paid one, just with fewer workouts).
Shop for Crossrope gear starting at $19.95
5. A foldable yoga mat to flow on the go
Some travel mats are merely smaller, thinner versions of their full-sized counterparts, but they’re likely to unravel in your bag or feel unsatisfying when you roll them out to practice. The Snakuga travel yoga mat, however, is a generous 72 by 26 inches (about the same size as our favorite yoga mat from Lululemon) with a thickness of 0.06 inches (about 1.5 millimeters) that folds up into a compact 10 inches by 12 inches. It also comes with a pouch for storage. The mat is made of skid-proof and moisture-absorbent suede that gets more grippy the harder you sweat. Reviewers say it’s as soft and comfortable as travel yoga mats that are double the price, and it’s ideal for use on uneven surfaces, like the beach or in the grass.
If a suede-like surface isn't your thing, try Gaiam's travel mat. It's made of PVC and measures 68 inches long, 24 inches wide, and 0.08 inches (about 2 millimeters) thick when unfolded, but also can be rolled, or folded into a compact 10 by 12 inches. This makes it easy to place in a carry-on and practice wherever you are. "I haven't traveled a single time without this mat since I bought it," writes a reviewer. "It is so convenient to be able to pull out my own mat to studios when I'm on the road and to be able to practice in hotel rooms or at friends' homes on overnight stays."
- Get the Snakuga Travel Mat from Amazon starting at $27.99
- Get the Gaiam Travel Yoga Mat from Amazon for $18.59
6. A mini stability ball for an extra challenge
Instead of attempting to boost your workouts using a hotel pillow, try this 8-inch mini ball to activate major muscle groups. By placing it between your legs during fire hydrants or between your palms during Russian Twists, you’ll experience more resistance everywhere from your core to your back to your glutes.
It’s made of anti-burst polyvinyl chloride, and comes with a straw for easy inflation, as well as a manual with workout ideas. “No issues with smell or material,” says one customer. “Easy to inflate and I like the thick feel of the material. Makes it feel durable for larger people.”
Get the All In Motion Mini Ab Ball for $9.99 from Target
7. A yoga block to make you feel sturdy
It might not look like much at first glance, but there is so much you can do with a yoga block—especially when you’re pressed for space and time on a trip. Gaiam's top-rated yoga block, available in 10 colors, is made of sturdy foam material that features a bit of texture to prevent it from sliding. It’s ideal for helping you land balance poses like Half Moon by promoting stability and proper alignment, and it helps you nail standing poses like Triangle by decreasing range of motion.
One reviewer notes it’s so light, you won’t even notice it in your suitcase (except when you're unpacking and it reminds you to get in your daily flow).
8. A massage ball to ease soreness
Instead of lugging around a bulky foam roller, grab Trigger Point's space-friendly, deep-tissue massage ball. Its textured grooves help release stubborn knots, whether from a HIIT workout or long drive or flight. To use it, place the ball between the part of your body you want to massage and a hard surface (which could be the ground, a wall, or the back of a chair), shift around until you find the knot, and gently relax until you feel the ball start to work the tension away. It should feel tender but not overly painful.
Reviewers say the ball is great at all times, but it's particularly well suited for packing on a trip: “I was pleasantly surprised that it seemed to do a little better of a job than my trusty lacrosse ball. I don’t know if it’s the textured grooves or what, but I’m taking this thing everywhere with me,” says one fan.
Get the Trigger Point Deep Tissue Massage Ball from Academy Sports for $9.99
9. A fitness app to guide you along
All the workout gear in the world won't make you motivated to exercise, no matter how packable it is. No stress: Leave the inspiration to the pros behind Nike Training Club, our top-ranked workout app that offers a robust selection of yoga, HIIT, strength, and recovery sessions. Following a quick quiz to determine your fitness level and goals, the app offers tailored recommendations, from comprehensive multi-week workout plans to one-off workouts, all led by Nike's Master Trainers. Classes range from 5 to 60 minutes for both beginners and advanced athletes alike.
Sign up for Nike Training Club on Android or iOS
10. A Fitbit to make sure you get workout credit
While not a piece of exercise equipment per se, our favorite fitness tracker can help you keep up with your health goals while on vacation. We love The Fitbit Charge 4's top-notch activity- and sleep-tracking functionalities, long battery life, and easy-to-navigate menus and companion app. All Fitbit users have access to its basic app and features, but you can also get a three-month subscription to its Premium app with your purchase, which includes extra workout videos and more detailed health insights.
In its holistic approach to health, Fitbit also allows you to track your hydration and food intake, communicate with other like-minded Fitbit users, and manage stress through in-app breathing techniques. And, of course, it also tracks your steps—so even if you decide you don't want to spend your vacation working out, you'll still get "credit" for all the time you spend walking around.
Prices were accurate at the time this article was published but may change over time.