5 Easy Ways To Stay Active When You Travel

Ed Yourdon, Flickr

Traveling doesn’t mean having to give up your regular workout routines, even when you’re on vacation and letting yourself relax a little. There are plenty of travel specific workouts to be done, from CrossFit to general hotel gym repetitions, but the best, and easiest, way to stay active while you travel is to do just that: stay active. Here are five easy ways to do just that.

1. Do a morning yoga session
A round of sun salutations every morning will get you ready for the day as well as keep your muscles happy. Plan on a short and simple yoga routine that you can incorporate into your morning before your day gets hectic.

2. Go for a run
Running is my favorite form of travel workout, not only because it’s easy, but because it lets you explore a new place in a different way, be it an urban industrial area or a beautiful National Park. Running shoes double as walking shoes, so in terms of keeping your packing light, throwing in your running gear won’t make a huge difference.

3. Bike
So many cities nowadays offer bikeshare systems, which means getting around on two wheels while you’re traveling is as easy as signing up for a pass. It’s a budget-friendly mode of transportation, but also one that lets you see the city and get some fresh air all at the same time.

4. Walk
This one seems stupidly simple, because obviously if you’re exploring a new place you’re going to be doing some walking. But challenge yourself to walk more. Instead of taking the bus or subway, walk to your next destination. Leave extra time to explore places by foot. Slow down and travel at a new pace. You’ll get more physical activity and in turn explore cities in a whole new way.

5. Kayak, roller blade, stand-up paddle board, hike, etc.
If you like being active, then find the travel activities that keep you doing the things you love. Better yet, even plan your trips around them. Who doesn’t want to travel to Cinque Terre to hike after all? Be it stand up paddle boarding in warm tropical waters or snowshoeing on a wintry nature trail, there are many adventure travel options, so seek out local tours or rental shops that will let you explore in a creative way.

48 Hours In Lisbon: In Search Of Coffee, Tiles And Sun


All truth be told, Lisbon was never a city I had given any thought to. In fact, I couldn’t even come up with anything linked to it. Give me a list of other European cities and there was at least one or two things that came to mind.

Stockholm: Old Town and the archipelago.

Paris: croissants, the Eiffel Tower and the Louvre.

London: pubs, fish and chips and Big Ben.

Venice: canals, gelato and carnival.

But Lisbon? My inability to come up with anything symbolic of the Portuguese capital was embarrassing.

Come to think of it, it wasn’t just embarrassing; it was a little odd. For centuries, Portugal was a powerhouse, conquering remote parts of the world from Brazil to Timor (even today, seven of Portugal’s former colonies still have Portuguese as their official language), bringing back exotic luxuries that would later become European staples – chocolate and coffee come to mind. And yet here I was unable to come up with a connection to Portugal whatsoever. It was obviously time to improve my cultural understanding.

Enter the 48-hour trip – like a quick dip into the sea, the kind of thing that sort of gets you acquainted, but really just leaves you wanting more.Although it’s the capital of Portugal, it only has around 550,000 habitants. This makes it the kind of city that feels like a city, but still small enough, with plenty of animated neighborhoods, that it’s manageable enough to explore.

Sitting on Portugal’s west coast, Lisbon is Europe’s westernmost capital city, and with the meeting of the Atlantic Ocean and the Tagus River, water is a central part of the city’s history and identity. The smell of saltwater and a cool ocean breeze is never far.

“Ah, the San Francisco of Europe,” said a friend when I told her I was going. She was right, the mix of bridges (one looks almost exactly like the Golden Gate), colorful buildings, streetcars, an artsy vibe and proximity to the ocean makes the two cities feel very similar.

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Lisbon has an organic feel. It certainly isn’t rural, but it’s one of those amazing places that manages to seamlessly combine the natural world with the urban one. Maybe it’s the lack of overly tall buildings in the center of town, or the fact that it has a more Mediterranean climate than other cities, but this is a place where there are trees and foliage everywhere. Restaurants have gardens with trees growing in the middle, and if you leave your window open, you’ll be woken up by birds chirping.

We were staying near Bairro Alto, a neighborhood known for its nightlife. Right on the outskirts we were close enough to be within walking distance of the city center, but far enough that it felt like we were living like locals – for 48 hours at least.

That’s the key when traveling: immersing yourself, even for just a hot minute.

That meant ordering a morning cafe and pastel del nata at the corner kiosk in the park one block away, picnicking at the waterfront and not taking the yellow streetcar (although you can be sure I snapped a picture of myself in front of it).

Forget public transportation cards and days inside of museums. With only 48 hours, sunny Lisbon was beckoning me to explore it on foot for as long as my body put up with.

We kicked things off the first evening with the season’s first OutJazz concert – a summer-long series that features outdoor concerts in Lisbon’s public parks and gardens. When you’ve lived in Portland for over five years, you think you know what hipsters look like. But then again, you’ve never hung with the European hipster crowd. Twenty-somethings and 30-somethings scattered all over the park on blankets, drinking wine out of bottles and smoking the obligatory cigarette. The combination of outdoor music, percentage of Ray-Ban wearers and skinny jeans were proof that we were in a city that likes to be hip, and a budget-friendly evening picnic with free bands was a place that we could certainly fit in. It was the beginning of the summer season. There was a noticeable buzz in the air.

That’s what I found in Lisbon: a city that feels very much alive and vibrant. A city that despite its old roots is moving. It’s a hub of Portuguese design. A city that mixes together old and new – classic yet cutting edge all at the same time.

Walking down narrow alleyways, plenty of laundry hanging out to dry in the warm air, it’s hard to not notice the colors that make Lisbon unique. Almost every building, new and old, is covered in bright tiles. The older and non-restored ones are dingier, yet still colorful, the glory of their bygone days showing through. There are so many patterns and colors you can almost believe that you could traverse the city without finding two of the same kind. They are buildings with stories to tell, something I was reminded of while at a flea market in Belem, just outside of Lisbon. There a man sold tiles, chipped and clean ones alike, with a sign atop the table stating, “before you buy a tile, know its history.” Noted.

Beyond exploring the city streets I was on a mission for good coffee. Coming from Paris where the coffee is less than desirable, and the price always way more than any decent human being wants to pay, it doesn’t take much to impress me. Our Airbnb host Joana insisted on us stopping by A Carioca to pick up some infused beans. Open since 1924, you get the feeling that not much has changed since its first days, old French presses and grinders covering the walls, and the smell of coffee so strong that if you’re a coffee addict, you’re in love within one step of entering. We grab a 100-gram of hazelnut coffee for good measure.


The other “must” was a pastel de nata, the typical Portuguese pastry made with custard. “You can get the classic ones in Belem, but I think the place down the street is better,” said Joana as she handed over one of the specialties as a welcome present on our first night. It was still warm from the oven.

She was right. Check out any Lisbon list and it will tell you to stop off at Pasteis de Belem a little further out of town to get the really classic ones, but if you don’t go snag a half dozen of the ones at Nata, right at the edge of Bairro Alto and near the center of town, you’ll be missing out. They’re 1€ a pop, there’s certainly no point in restraining yourself.

We wrapped up the weekend with a trip to Belém – certainly worth a visit given its historical importance. Here is where you’ll find the UNESCO World Heritage site Torre de Belém as well as the Jerónimos Monastery. Go on a Sunday and you’ll score the flea market, full of tourists and locals alike.

When it was time to head back, there was a quick dash to the clean and efficient metro (after coffee at the corner kiosk of course) and soon enough we were on a plane out of Lisbon. That’s how 48-hour trips go after all; they offer mere doses of cities that get you immediately planning your next trip back. As we pulled away from the city I couldn’t help but think about how it’s the places that you don’t know anything about that are often the best to discover.

Here’s to the beauty of the unknown, and always wanting to learn more.

A few budget friendly Lisbon recommendations for when you go:

Terra – In need of vegetarian food? Terra does an incredible vegetarian buffet (they also have a menu of good organic teas and wines) and serves it up in their beautiful garden space behind the restaurant. The lunch menu at 12.50€ is an excellent deal for stocking up midday and eating a lighter meal in the evening.

Lost N – Inspired by India, List In is both a store and a restaurant/bar. Head to the terrace in the early evening for a comfortable spot to grab a drink.

Torre de Belem – at only 5€ to get into the UNESCO World Heritage Site, you get to explore a beautiful monument, and if you make it all the way up to the top, a fantastic view of the city. It’s definitely worth your while.

Go Hiking: It’s Better For You Than You Thought

hiking, walkingNot feeling healthy? Go hiking. Two new studies from the UK show that a hike, or even a good walk around the city streets, boosts mental and physical health.

A new survey by Ramblers, the British walking charity, found that a quarter of adults in Britain walk for an hour or less a week. And when they’re talking about walking, they don’t mean hitting the trails in the local nature reserve, they mean all types of walking, including walking to the shops, work or school. Presumably walking to the fridge to get another lager isn’t included. Of the more than 2,000 people surveyed, a staggering 43 percent said they walked for only two hours or less a week.

The Ramblers cites government health advisers who recommend that you get 150 minutes of moderate physical activity a week. Walking counts in this, and is one of the easiest ways to get fit. Not only does it reduce the risk of several physical ailments like heart disease, it reduces weight and improves mental activity and emotional well being. It also saves money on gas and public transport.
The British Heart Foundation has more details on their webpage.

Another new study shows that being outside more is more beneficial than we generally think. While many people worry about the harmful effects of the sun, a new study by Edinburgh University has found that UV rays cause the body to produce nitric oxide, a compound that reduces blood pressure. Researchers suspect that the benefits of exposure to the sun may outweigh the risks.

[Photo courtesy Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources]

For Your Health, End The Layover Laziness

What do you do on layovers? Nap? Catch up on email? Mindlessly watch some sports without any rooting interest? Christopher Berger, a physiologist, has a better idea.

It’s simple. Stand up. Walk away from the gate. Heck, leave the premises if you have at least three or four hours. There’s no rule that says you have to spend the layover inside the airport. Baltimore has a fitness trail encircling the airport grounds (and it’s not the only one with a walking path). So what if it’s not the most scenic stroll of your life? “Anything is better than eating fast food and waiting for your flight to show,” Berger says.

Berger, chair of the American College of Sports Medicine’s Task Force on Healthy Air Travel, is on a mission against the sedentary airport lifestyle. He understands that people on vacation might want to chill; he’s not above vegging out in a gate area from time to time himself. But for frequent business travelers with a fitness regimen at home, falling out of the routine quickly takes a toll. “If you travel a lot, this is a big deal,” he says. “You can’t let yourself be that deconditioned. You have to have a plan if you travel at least once a week. It’s worth talking about.”A plan is as easy as packing a pair of lightweight walking shoes and taking a brisk stroll around the airport. Check out the public art, the chapel, the yoga room or services you might not expect to find, like medical clinics offering immunizations and air-sickness medicine. You might not need to see a doctor, but it’s interesting to explore.

Since 2007, Berger has done much of this himself conducting a study of fitness opportunities at every major U.S. hub airport. He has flown 488 times, including 100 cross-country trips. The research is complete, and he expects to release the findings this summer – and eventually convince airports to make it easier to burn calories on a layover without sprinting to catch a connecting flight.

The return of airport lockers would go a long way toward freeing travelers from the gate area. “Airports needs to be willing for you to drop off your bag.” he says. “But post-September 11, people don’t like unattended bags at airports.” And in the wake of the Boston bombings, Berger’s not expecting an attitude shift anytime soon. In the meantime, he recommends checking to see if your airline loyalty program babysits luggage.

If you can check bags and carry on just a backpack, you can become as mobile as Berger is on layovers. Unlike most travelers, he’s not paranoid about leaving the terminal if he has at least three hours (and he has never missed a flight when doing so), especially in cities with an airport light rail station. In Salt Lake City, you can get in a round of golf at a course adjacent to the airport.

Minneapolis’s airport is a favorite for a layover field trip. “Out of the airplane, you can be at the light rail in under 15 minutes, and that runs every 10 to 15 minutes. I’d say within 45 minutes you can be downtown. It’s totally walkable, flat, well laid out, pedestrian paths all over the place,” he says. “There are parks you can go to. Just lay in the sun, get some fresh air. Budget 45 minutes or so to get back. I’ve done it in three hours.”

He has a trick for a speedy return: Use the terminal likely to have the shortest TSA security line. Forget about the terminal with the airline that has a hub there. For instance, in Atlanta, don’t go through Delta’s terminal. Return through the one serving US Airways and Air Tran. “You can bet dollars to donuts that line won’t be as long,” Berger says. However, do your homework to make sure you can walk from your entry terminal to your gate. At Washington National, for instance, changing terminals can require a bus ride, negating the time savings.

Berger hopes airports will move in this direction for the sake of competition, if nothing else. And he believes the strategy is best suited for big airports in the middle of the country. “In West Coast or East Coast cities, no one changes planes except for international flights,” he says. “It doesn’t work as conceptually as it does at a place like Dallas or Denver or Atlanta.”

Don’t overlook full-service hotels near airports for fitness amenities, too, especially if it’s raining and you can’t go outside. Many offer day passes to their gym and swimming pool, Berger says, and are easily accessible by light rail or shuttle from the airport.

Simply bypassing the tram between terminals and walking – which isn’t always as far as you might imagine – marks baby steps toward breaking the habit of layover laziness.

“It’s not going to turn you into a marathon runner,” Berger says. “But you’re expending something in the way of calories.”

Via the New York Times

[Photo credits: Flickr users Dogpong and Moominmolly]

Meet The American Man Who Is Walking Across Turkey

matt krause heathen pilgrim walk across TurkeyMatt Krause swears that he isn’t crazy. But some of his friends and family members would beg to differ, even though the 43-year-old California native has safely completed two-thirds of a 1,305-mile walk across Turkey.

I read about Krause’s plan to cross Turkey on foot in Outside last September, when he was just a few weeks into his trip, and wondered if he would have the resolve to make it. Krause and I spoke via Skype on Monday from Kahramanmaraş, where he’s taking a week off from his walk to work on a book he’s writing about the adventure he’s documenting on his blog, “Heathen Pilgrim.”

“I wanted to show people they don’t need to be afraid of the world,” he says. “Look at me, I can go out and walk across Turkey and be homeless and vulnerable and basically helpless every single day for 8 months and I’ll be perfectly fine, knock on wood.”




matt krause heathen pilgrim walk across turkeyKrause’s Turkish wife asked him for a divorce in 2011 and shortly thereafter he quit a hated kitchenware sourcing job in Seattle. At a crossroads in life, he moved back in with his parents in Reedley, California, and started taking long walks to see if he could physically handle a rigorous walk. Krause lived in Turkey for six years with his ex-wife before returning to the U.S. after a jewelry business he started failed. But he says that he didn’t let the failed business and relationship in Turkey extinguish his desire to see the country on foot.

“I still love Turkey,” Krause says. “I had a bad experience with one person out of 70 million.”

He did some research on other accomplished long-distance walkers and drew inspiration from people like Jean Béliveau, who spent 11 years walking around the world.




Krause set off from Kuşadası, on Turkey’s Aegean coast on September 1, and is on pace to reach Turkey’s border with Iran in early April. For the first 500 miles of his walk, Krause carried a 42-pound backpack and spent most nights pitching his tent at gas stations, mosque gardens and in roadside fields and clearings.

“They say ‘yes’ and then look at you like you’re crazy,” Krause says, when asked how Turks respond when he requests permission to camp on their property. “I’ve never had a hard time finding a place to stay, but sometimes I had to be more persistent than others.”

matt krause Eventually he decided that his trip would be more meaningful if he arranged to stay in people’s homes using the website Couch Surfing. Now he crashes with hosts on most nights and then commutes to his walking route by bus each day. When he was carrying his pack, he averaged about 12 miles per day but now that he’s couch-surfing, he averages closer to 20, walking on the narrow shoulders of two and four lane roads.

The apparent murder of Sarai Sierra, a 33-year-old tourist from New York who was on holiday in Istanbul last week drew headlines around the world, but Krause insists that he feels very safe in Turkey.

“Getting hit by a car is the greatest danger I’ve faced,” he says.

He treats himself to a hotel room about once per week when he can’t find a free place to crash and says that he so far he’s spent about $700 per month, including food, health insurance, cellphone and all of his other expenses.

Krause says that he’s experienced tremendous hospitality in Turkey but admits that that hospitality has its limits.




“Turkish hospitality rocks, but it’s not as deep as Turks would like to believe it is,” says Krause, who has an undergraduate degree in Chinese history from The University of Chicago. “It goes a couple days deep, and then it’s like the American saying that on the third day guests start to stink like fish. It’s the same thing in Turkey.”

matt krause walk across turkeyHe dedicates days from his walk to different friends and posts a photo of a hand written sign in their honor to his Flickr page (see right). One of the highlights of his trip so far was a day he spent walking through the scenic Goksu River Valley, where a commander at a military outpost took him out for breakfast and villagers showered him with hospitality. But Krause has had to overcome a foot injury and plenty of rain.

“But even if it’s raining really hard, I still walk,” he says. “I like those days because it clears out the traffic.”

The last leg of Krause’s journey will also be the toughest. He’s heading into Turkish Kurdistan, a restive region where the Turkish military has been fighting Kurdish separatists for years, and he’ll have to face some serious uphill climbs to reach his goal.

But aside from the physical challenges, Krause says that the hardest part of the trip is fighting loneliness and maintaining his sanity.

“My Turkish is only good enough for small talk and I have that same conversation all the time, so I get sick of it,” he says. “You spend so much time in your own head that you need to connect with people.”

Krause says that he will be satisfied if his walk inspires even one or two people to go on a trip, start a business, or take a chance on something they’d like to do but can’t work up the courage for.

“People have lots of dreams but they don’t pursue them because they’re afraid,” he says. “I have a saying, it’s ‘Don’t have dreams, have things you do.'”



[Photo credits: Matt Krause]