Fit backpacking on a budget

It is not always easy to stay fit while backpacking. Especially not when you, just like me, are a huge fan of Asian cuisine. With these easy tips you’ll keep the travel kilos off. And maybe even fly home with a smaller size than you had flying in. 

This list won’t only have a positive effect on your health, your budget will also benefit! Talking about killing two birds with one stone for budget and health minded backpackers like myself.

Fit Travel Tip 1 – Drink water

The average temperature at most Asian travel destinations is a lot higher than here in our Belgium or our neighboring countries. So make sure to keep hydrated, always have a bottle of water at hand!

Also when your out for lunch or dinner, just drink water. If you are getting tired of always drinking water, you can mix it up with some fresh fruit juice. Make sure to ask not to add sugar. In Asia they often add extra sugar to fresh juices, to make them even sweeter. I don’t really get why you would do this. But they do, so don’t forget or you’ll be sipping unhealthy extra sweetened juices instead of all natural fruity goodness.

Buy your bottles of water in supermarkets and not in restaurants. The 7/11 is your friend, or your budgets friend at least! Always travel with a refillable bottle if you not only care about your on health and budget, but also about the environment.

Fit Travel Tip 2 – Eat more fruit

Fit travel - fruit breakfast

Fruity snack

Did you ever notice that fruit in tropical destinations tastes different than at home? I could absolutely die for those sweet little Asian bananas!! So skip the (not so fit proof) banana pancakes and buy some fresh fruit for breakfast. Ideal to compensate for that carbohydrate bomb meal you had yesterday evening 😉 .

Fit Travel Tip 3 – Say no to fried foods

Fit travel - canggu bali fruit bowl

Healthy breakfast

In Asia there an abundance of fried food. And I have to admit that I’ve eaten more fried bananas then I should have. Let’s just say I had more cheat days than was good for me. Don’t be like me and avoid the fried goods!

Fit Travel Tip 4 – Avoid carbohydrates (if possible)

fit travel - Pumpkin soup - Mana Yoga retreat- Kuta Lombok

Best pumpkin soup EVER @Mana Retreat

Take this one as a challenge! Because in Asia, it really is. It’s hard to avoid the (fried) noodles and (fried) rice. So don’t feel bad on the days you don’t succeed.
Tip: Gado-Gado is a good option in Indonesia. It’s one of the only dishes I found that comes without noodles or rice. They will ask you to take rice as a sides dish, but don’t. Just don’t.

As said, you’ll not always be able to avoid the carbs. Compensate these meals with low-carb, or even carb free breakfast.  This makes me repeat travel fit tip number 2: eat fruit. Go and buy some fresh fruit  bananas, a mango and / or a pineapple at a fruit booth along the road or a market and make yourself a fruit salad.

Fit Travel Tip 5 – Walk!

Fit tip - walking to hostel Malang

Walking to Hostel in Malang

It can be very tempting to take a taxi, tuktuk or scooter when you have to get across town. Even more so when it’s a hot day and you’re carrying your backpack. Add in all the drivers luring you in by shouting “Transport, transport, transport” from all sides. I get that you might need to call on every ounce of self discipline you have not to give in. But don’t, just keep walking. Keep fit and on budget by just walking instead of using any other form of transportation.

Make it a fit challenge to try and reach your 10,000 steps per day. You can count the steps walking with your backpack double, that’s what I do :D.

Fit Travel Tip 6 – Eat local food

Fit tip - eat local foor Java Indonesia

A bit too local but budget friendly street food

A lot of dishes in the Asian cuisine are not only soooo tasty, they are often very healthy too. If you stay mindfull of the carbs as said earlier. Another thing to avoid are Western dishes. Pastas and pizzas and other can become very tempting after a few weeks of backpacking. Yet it’s best to resist the temptation, it often turns out to be a disappointment. Most of the times, the dishes are very salty and fat in addition to being less tasty than we are used to and less tasty then local dishes.  So don’t get for that expensive burger and enjoy the budget friendly vegi curry 😉

Fit Travel Tip 7 – Rent a Bike not a scooter

Fit travel - Bike ride in Malang

Working on my selfie skills

Sometimes your itinerary of the day is just not walk-able. And sometimes you are just so sick and tired of walking everywhere. Than it’s a good idea to rent a bike. In both Thailand and Indonesia I rented a bicycle to explore a city. This is yet another way to keep fit and on budget seeing renting a bike is also cheaper than renting a taxi, tuktuk or a scooter.

Do make sure to ask your hostel staff if the city you are at is safe to cycle. Not every Asian city is cycle friendly.

Tip: Ayutthaya (Thailand) and Malang (Java, Indonesia)  are two cities I enjoyed cycling through.

Fit Travel Tip 8 – No alcohol

Another obvious tip, but aslo sometimes very difficult to resist. Keep your alcohol consumption to a minimum. Not only good for your budget, but also a good way to keep your calorie intake low. Order a nice fresh fruit juice, or better still, take a coconut nut that was still hanging in a tree 5 minutes ago.

For the (solo) traveling ladies, this is also a good safety tip. Limit your alcohol consumption to keep your mind clear and alert.

Fit Travel Tip 9-  Do a physical activity

Fit Travel - Down hill mountain bike in Ubud,In Thailand I did a beautiful sun set mountain bike tour through the rice fields. I totally recommend this because you’ll  get a glimpse of the local life while you get some much needed exercise. If your going to Ubud, Indonesia I can recommend a downhill mountain bike tour.

Fit Travel Tip 10 – Take a class

Asia is know for different types of sports, depending on the country you’re at. Yoga in India (and every other Asian country to be honest), Thai box in Thailand, surfing in Indonesia, … These types of classes are not very good for your budget. I personally feel like your health is worth spending a bit of money on. I would definitely spend less if I didn’t take yoga classes.

Looking to lift your yoga skills to a higher level, but within a reasonable budget. Check out this post on saving over €1.000 on the perfect yoga teacher training.


It is possible to stay fit while backpacking event without scheduling workouts. Although I do recommend also doing some workouts. These tips won’t only help you stay fit, they’ll also have a positive effect on your budget (except for tip °10).

What do you do to stay fit while backpacking?

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Corporate Marketing Manager turned Personal Yoga Coach | After over 750 hours of intensive yoga and coaching courses, Lara now helps female professionals to replace stress and its negative impact on your body, with balance, energy, and well-being.

5 Responses to “Fit backpacking on a budget

  • I have been using a BPA coffee mug and when im done with my coffee, i wash it out and fill it with water. But now Im going to have to invest in a stainless steel waterbottle!! ??

  • Would love to see some alternatives to the regular roundshape bottles, like the memobook or the nalgene flask. They ‘re flat and fit better in my leatherbag.

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    Excellent read, I just passed this onto a friend who was doing a little research on that. And he actually bought me lunch because I located it for him smile So let me rephrase that: Thanks for lunch!

    2 years ago

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