Get In Shape for Travel


Grand Canyon Morning Light / bwb-images

Grand Canyon Morning Light / bwb-images

Do you have some travel in your future? If you do, it might be a good idea to get in shape for that journey.  For those who maintain a fairly regular fitness routine  a pre-trip tune up likely won’t be too big a challenge.  But if your idea of exercise is an occasional trip from the couch to the refrigerator to get another brew, well – let’s just say you might have your work cut out for you.

I’m currently in the pre-trip prep phase for an upcoming Journey to Myanmar (Burma).  I try to do a bit to keep in shape.  I take the occasional hike and love to do some biking.  But now, as the departure for Myanmar gets closer  I figured it was time to get a bit more serious.  With that in mind, I thought I’d share a few thoughts on the topic – Get In Shape For Travel.

Know Your Destination  –  Different types of travel require different amounts of physical ability.  If your plan is to sit by the pool, sip a drink, and read a book – well, that’s not going to be very physically demanding.  But even moderately strenuous interaries can require fitness.  Don’t underestimate the effort required to walk around a new city all day. Especially those with cobble stoned streets! And of course if you plan to hike and climb and camp then the physical issues are obvious. Each journey has it’s own demands and will present it’s own special physical challenges. To best prepare for your journey, do a bit of research.  Know about the physical terrain of your destination and reflect upon what you plan to do when you are there. With this type of forethought you can anticipate the physical demands of your trip.

Know Yourself – Be realistic about who you are.  Let’s face it, physically demanding trips and activities are generally going to be lots easier if you are younger.  The older you are, the more challenging and demanding a trip becomes.  And of course if you are not in shape, then a physically demanding trip will be difficult. Best to keep those things in mind when even planning your adventure.  If you are an “oldie but goodie” and really out of shape, does it really make sense to plan to take that hike to the bottom of the Grand Canyon and back up?  Probably not. So be wise in your planning and then accept the fact that older folks need to do more preparation for travel as do those individuals who tend to be out of shape. A wise and realistic plan will make your journey much more enjoyable.

Go Slow –  As you start your pre-trip workout routine, be smart about it.  Take your time and go slow.  Pace yourself. Start your workout routine well in advance of your departure and pace your workouts to increase slowly.  Build your strength and endurance gradually.

My Journey To Myanmar is currently about six weeks away.  I’ve been doing some hiking with a light pack occasionally throughout the summer, walking maybe ten miles or so at a time.  I bike fairly frequently, riding between ten miles and thirty miles. (OK, in all honestly, the majority of my rides are of the 10 to 15 mile variety with occasional 25 to 30 mile rides sprinkled in.)  But now with my departure on the horizon I’ve started getting a bit more serious.   I know this is going to be a photography trip where I will be up early for those sunrise shots and will then be out and about most of the day until sundown (gotta get those sunsets).   Depending on location there may also be night photography.  In Myanmar I anticipate doing a lot of walking. Some will be wandering  locations in larger cities such as Yangon and Mandalay.  But I’m really looking forward to venturing into the country side. I want get a feel for the flavor of the country and people by visiting smaller villages not typically encountered by tourists.  This will likely involve considerable walking. My  longest hike will be a three day, two night trek from Kalaw to Inle Lake.  Of course being the photographer, I will be carrying some gear.  My day and hiking pack weighs out at about 20 to 25 pounds depending on what I’m going to be doing.  On top of that there is the weight of water.  In Myanmar you always carry a good supply of bottled water. Water is not light weight.

Given my travel plans I know I’ve got to be prepared to do lots of walking and hiking up and down hills on uneven ground.  That’s the basis for my pre-trip workout routine.  I know I have to build up my walking and climbing endurance and stamina.  With this in mind, today I headed off to a local high school athletic stadium.  My plan, walking / jogging with my pack around the running track and climbing and descending the stairs of the stadium.

SMHS Track


The image above is a shot from the top of the east side of the stadium.  This is a great place for this type of workout.  It has eight running lanes with a nice rubberized surface.  (Since I won’t be hiking on a nice flat surface I will also be doing some hiking “off track” as part of my pre-trip workout.) The stadium has seating on the west and east sides of the field.  Each side has six sets of stairs with 52 steps from bottom to top ( trust me on this- I counted them – lots of times ).

SMHS Climb

( Above  – The view from the bottom of the stairs……… whew!  )

I started slowly today -walking instead of jogging, and carrying only a 12 pound pack.  I walked a total of 2 miles (that would be eight times around the 440 yard / quarter mile track).  In the process I climbed and descended the stairs on each side twice.   I will gradually increase the workout over the next six weeks, adding more circuits of the track for distance as well as more excursions up and down those stairs.  I’ll also add weight to the pack so that for the final two weeks I’ll be carrying my full camera pack.

As you can tell, even during my workouts I tend to mess with photography.  My iPhone 6s is awesome.  I also used the workout as opportunity to test out some of my other travel tech.   I previously wrote about some map apps that I plan to use in Myanmar ( click HERE for article).  Today I tried out a tracking app during the workout to see how well it would track my exercise route.

SMHS Shape up day 1

The image above is a screen shot showing the track (red line) it recorded ( it records data as a gpx file on the iPhone which I then converted to a kml file and opened in Google Earth if you are into that sort of thing ). Quite frankly I was amazed at the accuracy.  Keep in mind, this is a iPhone app that doesn’t use any internet or cellular location services (I won’t have much of that in Myanmar) but relies solely on gps.

Get In Shape For Travel – it is an important part of pre-trip planning and preparation.  Do the work now, enjoy the rewards later.

Get In Shape For Travel ……. And Enjoy The Adventure!


Dr. B, The Photo Trekker

Brand Balloon 2




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