Are you fit for travel?

To really travel well in Europe, you need to be physically fit.

I don’t mean you need to look great in a bikini (although that is a bonus of being fit); I mean you need to be able to manage the physical demands you might encounter on your trip. This ain’t Cabo.

Even if you’re staying at a resort along the Mediterranean, there will likely be stairs you have to take to get to the sun deck.

You’ve invested the money and blocked off the time for your dream vacation; shouldn’t you prepare your body, too?
With proper preparation and a bit of training beforehand, you can set yourself up for success and truly enjoy your “trip of a lifetime.”

Don’t pack a bag you can’t carry.

We’ve all been guilty of this at some point, but there are multiple reasons to pack lightly, and you’ll be so glad you did. You will want to buy things while you’re traveling, and you’ll need room to include them and the added weight in your bag for flying. If you reach your destination and don’t have something you need/want, all the more reason to go buy something new and have an instant souvenir you’ll actually end up using.

Also, no matter how buff your travel partner is, at some point you will need to move your bag without assistance. There are many instances when you may find yourself dashing for a train or bus while managing your luggage, and, along the way, you could encounter stairs. Or, you might need to quickly hoist your bag into/onto your mode of transportation.

Speaking of stairs…

Whether you have a driver to help reduce the amount of walking you do, take every elevator you find, or use public transportation everywhere, there will still be times when the only way to reach something you want to see/do is to take hundreds of stairs. Whereas the United States requires handicap access almost everywhere, Europe does not. Also, going back to the part about packing lightly, there will be many times when your only option is to carry your bag up/down stairs (hello, Venice and Positano).

It’s easier to enjoy vacation when you aren’t exhausted or in pain.

Europeans walk… a lot. It’s great, and it’s why they aren’t all overweight. Having said that, if you’re not used to walking, your vacation could start to feel more like a grueling training session than a relaxing getaway.

People underestimate how hard a full day of walking can be. After all, it’s only walking, right?! If your usual “daily walk” is only the distance from your office to your car, your body is not properly prepared to tackle a European vacation.

Consider this: You might cover two miles weaving through the Vatican Museum before you’re able to enter the Sistine Chapel. If you’re not in shape, your feet and your joints will be screaming at you as you try to enjoy the magnificent ceiling.

There are so many amazing sights to see in Europe, but it’s hard to enjoy even Michelangelo’s David if your feet are killing you.

You’re gonna want to eat… a lot.

A large portion of enjoying travel is tasting the local cuisine. You don’t want to deny yourself when you’re on vacation. If you take a little off before you leave, you won’t feel badly about putting some of it back on while you travel. Besides, if you are fit enough to do all the walking, stairs and luggage toting, you’ll be burning it off faster than your appetite can keep up!

Prepare yourself.

Start walking more, hitting the stairmaster, and taking the stairs at work.
Lift some weights, do some pushups, or go on runs/walks with a weighted bookbag to get your body used to carrying things while you’re out and about.
You don’t want to find yourself wanting to ditch your camera, a guidebook, or a water bottle because you can’t take the extra weight in your travel bag.
Being fit means you’re up for anything and can enjoy life as you wish to. Bike tours, kayaking trips, long days on your feet admiring art, dancing, hiking, swimming, etc. are all within the realm of possibility if you prepare for them.

If none of what I’ve said thus far motivates you to get fit for your next adventure, please hear my final plea: Exercise just so you don’t fit the “obese American” stereotype.