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Training On Vacation

While away from home last week, I shared the picture below on Facebook. What you’ll see is a pair of homemade handles that allow me to perform pull-ups from a sturdy door (ex. the front door of a hotel room). After sharing the picture, I received several inquiries about exercising on vacation. I will use this entry to address a few of the more commonly asked questions.

First and foremost, many people asked whether it is necessary to exercise on vacation. Unfortunately, there isn’t a universal answer to the question. It is not for me or anyone to decide what you do while away from home. The decision to exercise must be made by the individual. With that said, whether you exercise or not isn’t going to make or break you. Some folks may enjoy a complete break from physical activity. If that is what you prefer, by all means do so. Resting a few days won’t eliminate the strength that took many months or years to develop. A complete break may actually recharge your batteries allowing you to supercompensate and come back better than ever.

If you are like me however, you may actually prefer making time for exercise. I don’t train because I need to. I train because I enjoy it. My best days are always days when I’ve exercised. I feel better physically and mentally. That doesn’t change just because I am away from home. Regardless of where I sleep, I still have 24 hours to operate with each day. Making time for a brief workout won’t disrupt the rest of my plans.

As for options, I am often asked what can be done within a hotel room. Bodyweight exercise is certainly the most convenient option. There is plenty that can be done without equipment. Personally, I do prefer to pack along a few items however. My travel kit typically includes an ab wheel, pull-up handles, a jump rope, and a pair of furniture sliders. These items are inexpensive, light, and easy to pack.

As for what can be done with these items, there are loads of options. A partial sampling of furniture slider exercises can be seen in the video below. The exercise demo begins at approximately 1:31 within the clip.

As for the pull-up handles, I created a related tutorial back in 2011. You can find it below.

With these basic tools, I can train the upper body, lower body, and core. Plenty can be accomplished with exercises such as handstand pushups, traditional pushups (and related variations), pull-ups, rollouts, squats, lunges, etc. The jump rope is also ideal for conditioning but isn’t always necessary.

It is often nice to get outside and run. Doing so will allow you to enjoy the scenery. For example, below is a picture of my son running on the beach in Cape Cod, Massachusetts. We went for a run early that morning to enjoy the sunrise. Time wasn’t wasted for exercise. On the contrary, the time spent exercising was one of the highlights of the day. It was a great time with an amazing view.

As you can see, with a little creativity, plenty can be accomplished while away from home. If you wish to exercise while on vacation, lack of equipment is no longer an excuse. It is also worth mentioning that the ideas referenced above can be used at home. As I’ve often stated throughout this blog, you can achieve plenty with little or nothing. The average person can achieve a level of fitness far beyond the norm without ever stepping into a commercial gym.

If you want something bad enough, you’ll figure out a way to get it done.


Do what you can, with what you have, where you are. – Theodore Roosevelt

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12 Comments so far

  1. John Bohlig August 17th, 2013 8:04 pm

    Great article,along with one of my favorite quotes.

  2. Jim Caruso August 18th, 2013 5:35 pm

    Ross, great post about a topic near and dear to my heart. I wrote a post on the same subject last month:

    Thanks for all your great work and information sharing!


  3. Rushin @ IT company Surat August 18th, 2013 11:21 pm

    Great article as usual, I am your long time reader Ross, keep it up.

  4. Felix August 19th, 2013 12:04 am

    Hello Ross,

    a great post as usual.

    Here an example of me using a stone as a barbell substitue on a rainy vacation in Sweden:×1024.jpg

    Greetings from Germany,


  5. sophie August 19th, 2013 12:57 am

    This article is great . My opinion on training whilst away on holiday is YES! I’m not much of a weight trainer but i can’t think of better scenery then the beach when going for a run!

  6. Jim August 19th, 2013 9:59 pm

    Out of curiosity, what’s the benefit of having the ab roller in addition to the sliders?

  7. Matt September 5th, 2013 12:06 pm

    I am curious about bringing the ab wheel in a carry on bag for a flight. Have you had problems going through security with a foot long metal rod?

  8. admin September 5th, 2013 4:30 pm

    @Matt – I never had any problems, although I’ve never brought it in carry on luggage. If I’m flying, it is packed within a suitcase.

  9. Athletego – Ross Enamait January 31st, 2014 9:38 pm

    [...] If you aren’t familiar with these items, you can find some pictures and demonstrations through the following link: [...]

  10. Blog February 13th, 2014 10:41 am

    [...] enough experience with them to provide adequate feedback. I initially created these handles for traveling. I did not create them for home use. For the first few years, I only used the handles when [...]

  11. Andre February 22nd, 2014 1:17 am


    How Long do you define a complete break? Minimum 2 weeks and longer?

  12. admin February 22nd, 2014 4:54 am

    @Andre – Personally, I couldn’t imagine taking 2 weeks off. I never have. To each his own however. Some people enjoy complete relaxation when they go away.

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