Hotel gym not up to par? Here are 10 travel exercise essentials that won’t take up too much space in your suitcase—and can give you a well-rounded workout on the road.
Jeff Laboon 1 / 10
When you’re traveling, it’s tough to maintain your fitness. From business trips to family vacations, being away from your home gym puts a strain on your regular workout regimen. And though some hotels offer top-notch fitness centers, not all do.
Luckily, the solution is simple: supply your own gear and get creative. Sure, you might want to tone your quads, but you can’t fit a leg press into your suitcase. So pack a yoga mat for muscle-building bodyweight exercises—or substitute your normal bench press reps with resistance band exercises.
To make it easy for you, we’ve put together a list of the best travel workout gear—no gym required. Obviously if you packed all 10 of these on-the-go essentials, you wouldn’t even have room for a toothbrush. So pick and choose wisely—focusing on what works for you.
This one piece of equipment can help improve your lifts and strengthen you imbalances by challenging your stability, strength, and mobility. Suspension trainers encourage you to move across all planes of motion, turning simple bodyweight moves into killer multi-joint strength exercises. Better yet, it's super compact and can fit in literally any backpack or carry-on.
Resistance bands lend themselves to a variety of workouts in limited space and substitutes for a dumbbell. Adjustable bands allow you to tone your arms and chest without taking up too much valuable luggage room, and the door attachment can be fastened to your hotel room door with ease for extra resistance.
For a great lower body workout, pack a Rage R1 Speed Rope, which takes up minimal space. You’ll need to clear area in your hotel room for the rope’s rotation, but the exercises will prove more than worth it. Strengthen your calves, quads, hamstrings, and glutes with a round of speed jumping. If you find yourself sprinting to catch a flight, you’ll be glad you kept your legs fresh.
For workout recovery, the SKLZ AccuPoint massages sore muscles, ensuring you can still hit the gym when you get back from your trip. Just position and pressure the massager on sore tissue, then practice the prescribed stretching exercises. The pressure helps to toughen muscles that require trigger release, like your pecs, spine, or rotator cuff, staving off potential injuries that may keep you from your workouts. The foam gear resembles a figure-eight and is no bigger than two baseballs tied together—a small addition to your carry-on. You can also use lacrosse balls!
Something as simple as a push-up or sit-up can take on a whole new life with the addition of an exercise ball. You might think packing a fitness ball is unrealistic, but with only a 13-inch diameter, the Natural Fitness Balance Disc provides the same effect—working your core muscles to exhaustion—without sacrificing much space. Plus, you can place it on your office chair to improve your posture.
Don’t slack off on your push-up form. The Body-Fitness PUB2 Push Up Bars work your chest, arms, and back through various positions (our favorite is shoulder-width apart), making even a simple push-up more challenging. At roughly the size of a pair of shoes, the stands will slide easily into your suitcase with your clothes and other travel workout gear. And you’ll return home with still-toned arms.
So you don’t have a ton of space but are looking for a dose of cardio? No problem. You don’t have to roll out the SKLZ Quick Ladder to its full 11 rungs to get the best speed workout. Instead, stretch the ladder out as far as you can and dodge between the 15-inch rungs to build your quads and glutes. Take two quick steps inside the ladder followed by two outside. Repeat until you work up a sweat. To improve agility, hop from side to side with one foot raised. Double up on reps to compensate for any spatial worries.
Space is hardly an issue for yoga—as long as you can lay your mat in a spot and concentrate, you have enough room to do a warrior pose. And a GoFit Yogaletics Exercise Mat is a perfect meditation-match for a stressful business trip. Stretch out your worries on the squishy rubber mat that rolls up easily in your checked luggage, or that’s even light enough to carry underneath your arm if you’re only bringing a small bag. The cotton/poly bottom layer will prevent any sliding, ensuring you can find your zen even on the road.
Use resistance bands to build muscle, right in your hotel room. Try the Altus Athletic Pylo Loops, which come in three resistance levels. Strap them around your thighs or calves and tone your muscles with sit-ups or squats. With just a 24-inch circumference, the bands will take up less space in your suitcase than a pair of dress socks.