What to Pack If You Want to Stay Active on Vacation

Working out on vacation: what to pack


Victoria Hoff

For most of my life, I've been of the staunch belief that vacation should also serve as a vacation from the gym. Then, my general outlook on fitness began to shift from this idea of should to want. I began questioning the workouts that felt boring and punishing and started moving in ways that I actually enjoyed. And suddenly, the idea of being active while traveling felt exciting: I wouldn't necessarily want to spend hours in the hotel gym, for example, but I'd definitely be down to wander around ancient cobblestone streets for hours. Or zip-line through the jungle. Or spend a weekend at a yoga retreat.

But it's hard to make the most of such a dynamic trip without the right items in your suitcase. Below, I'm sharing my go-to packing list if I intend on working out on vacation—from quick hotel room blitzes to underwater excursions.

First things first: Stay hydrated. A reusable bottle is a sustainable (and chic!) way to make sure you're knocking back enough H2O. I always bring an empty one in my carry-on bag and fill it up after security.

An adventure-proof swimsuit

Outdoor Voices' new swim collection is both extremely photogenic and designed for movement—a must-have for any water activities.

A sturdy (but stylish) pair of sneakers

When you're pressed for luggage space, it's ideal if your activewear does double duty. For example, crisp white tennis shoes are great for trekking around town (or hitting the hotel gym), but you can also pair them with a cute little dress for brunch.

Colorful activewear
What to Pack if You Want to Stay Active on Vacation



I'm not typically one to see my workouts as photo ops, but all bets are off when I'm on vacation. Sometimes the backdrop is too pretty not to document. But beyond that, we tend to have more fun with our regular wardrobe on vacation—why not extend the same courtesy to your workout wear? These colorful seamless sets from JoyLab are comfortable and Instagram-friendly.

If you do opt to bring workout gear with you, the trick is to choose items that take up minimal space but offer maximum efficiency. A jump rope is the perfect tool for a tough full-body workout, but you can still stow it in one of the side pockets of your suitcase. Start skipping in your hotel room, the property's gym, or find an open space outside. 

Resistance bands are another lightweight way to tone up, no matter where you're headed. I like to use them when I have a little downtime in my hotel room, often while I'm watching TV. They're endlessly versatile—just slide them around your legs to amp up your usual squats, lunges or yoga poses

A travel laundry bag (for all your sweaty gear)

A simple but oft-overlooked tip: Keep your sweaty (and smelly) clothes tucked away from the clean garments in your suitcase with a small laundry bag. In my experience, you'll save yourself some laundry upon your return. This wallet-friendly option from Amazon is also water-repellant, making it a great choice for those not-quite-dry swimsuits. (There's nothing worse than opening up your suitcase when you arrive home to find that everything inside is slightly damp, am I right?)

Next up: Here's proof that vacation is good for your health.