Running: the perfect exercise for travelers

A few years ago, I began to run long distances for the first time in my life. In fact, I’d never even run one mile before, let alone a half-marathon and would often scoff at the people running in extreme weather. And then I completely got it. I was very serious about the training, including running during vacations and was surprised how much I enjoyed it away from home. Here are some thoughts on running while traveling.

Enjoy the View

The view by foot is very different than any other, especially if you are running away from the normal paths that you’d take. Even when just visiting relatives, I really enjoy seeing the countryside during a run where I’d normally just be driving. It can also be a great opportunity to see some parks you wouldn’t have visited or interact with locals.

GPS = freedom

The invention of GPS running watches is so genius and allows runners to go wherever we want while keeping track of time and distance for us. Plus, the map created by the watch is fun to look at when it’s in a place away from home. These maps can make a great addition to a scrapbook or travel report.

Or map it ahead of time

Not everyone will have a GPS watch to use but mapping out runs ahead of time is an option at home or on vacation. is great for finding running routes created by others or you can create one yourself. will also allow you to create your own map to measure.

You can also sometimes get a running map from the hotel with a predefined path nearby. Westin even has a program called RunWESTIN to help their customers maintain their workouts while away from home.

Local running stores could be another resource for suggested routes.


Running doesn’t require a lot of gear which is another reason it’s such a great form of exercise for people who travel. Running clothes, proper socks and, of course, running shoes. Consider specialty gear like socks that wick away moisture or shorts with lining to deal with particularly sweaty conditions. Think carefully about making double use of your running shoes for both running and touring. It may be tempting to cut down on the amount you pack by only packing one pair but it’s often not a great idea. Consider Vibram FiveFingers which many runners swear by and as a bonus, they take up almost no space.

To keep the packing to a minimum, washing your running clothes in the sink or bathtub is definitely an option. Pack a bit of powdered detergent or use shampoo to wash (or not – some people don’t use soap), hang over the shower rod or on a balcony and they’ll be clean and dry to use the next day.

Check the weather

Before you leave home, be sure to check the weather of your destination, including the extremes between morning and mid-day. Plan accordingly. If you’re traveling somewhere with a beach, please read these beach running tips. It’s so much more difficult than you might imagine but with the right planning and expectations, it can be an awesome way to run.

Locate a gym

If running outside is positively not an option, locate a gym or a hotel with a gym ahead of time. Running inside is complete torture to me (particularly for long distances) but sometimes you gotta do it. See if your hotel has a gym as an amenity. If not, you may want to make use of a site like if you’re staying near an airport. That site lists the closest gyms, along with how much the gym costs and cab fares to get there.

There doesn’t seem to be a reliable website for locating a gym around the world but searching “gym [your destination city]” seems to be the best way to find a gym online.


For the extremely dedicated, sometimes a race can actually determine where you end up traveling. Pick a race in an interesting place and combine the two. The miles will go by much faster with new and interesting scenery. It can also be a great alternative for people who live in places with extreme temperatures and want to race in a more mild location. Try the RaceFinder on to search for a race.


Sunscreen and water. You may even need these things more than at home so don’t forget.

What about you, fellow runner types? Do you have thoughts or tips while running during a trip? Or do you think people who run on vacation are certifiably insane?


Shannon Albert

Shannon loves to share awesome, fun and hopefully useful info that she's collected and to connect with other travel freaks. She loves the planning part of travel as much as the traveling itself. Shannon's background includes working as a web developer and as a digital producer for an advertising agency. She lives in Texas with her husband, 2 kids and dog. New York City is her favorite city. Her blog is


  1. 4 years ago
    Ritesh Reddy

    Great article. Just came home from a 42km cross country run with 15kg weight only to see this link on my Facebook stream! Keep ‘em coming :)

  2. 4 years ago
    J.T. Wenting

    Forgot one: local culture.
    When you’re abroad, check the local culture to determine what to wear.
    Wouldn’t do (for example) to go to an Arab country (especially as a woman) and go running the streets wearing shorts and a tank top. Might be comfortable, until you get arrested by the religious police (or worse).

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