Staying In Shape While On Vacation: Your No BS Guide


Staying in Shape While on Vacation- Your No BS Guide






You are traveling and want to get some good workouts in while you are away;  

You make your way  to the hotel “Fitness Center” and you think it’s going to look like this:







Only to find this:


This article is for you.

What if I told you it was possible to get some great workouts in while you are on vacation without having to pack Dumbbells, a bar and plates?

In fact, you might actually be able to make some progress!


Take along some Mini Bands

Mini bands  are a small continuously looped elastic band  that can be used on their own to increase strength and stability.  They can also be used in conjunction with other exercises that you do in a gym, but I am focusing here on  how they can be used as a stand alone piece of exercise equipment.



They come in varying lengths and resistances  that can increase the intensity of any exercise.  The thicker the  band is the more resistance it will create.

And the best part?   


They are inexpensive (cheap!) and they literally take up no space so you can pack them on a trip.  I have been traveling a lot recently, and I take them everywhere.  

Mini bands are great for targeting almost any muscle group,  but they are especially great for glute activation and development.

Developing glute strength is super important as your glutes are responsible for all movements of the hips, and your hips are necessary for basic movements like walking, standing and sitting. The glutes are also the center of most force production in your body.   Without glute strength, you may have low back pain, knee pain, tight psoas muscles, and even shoulder pain!


But as you will see, Mini bands not only will help glute strength, but they can also help increase your overall  strength as well (upper body too!)

Now that you have your mini bands packed and ready to go with you, Here is my  list of the 10 best mini band exercises that you need to incorporate into your training while on vacation


1.  Squats

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Place the band above your knees.  Stand feet hip width apart.  Press your butt back and down, pretending that you are going to “sit” in a chair behind you, while pressing your knees out against the band. Pressing out on the band is great feedback for your knees, especially if your knees tend to cave in when you squat, and it can also take some pressure off your knees while squatting.

Keep your chest lifted – someone standing in front of you should be able to read the letters on your shirt.  Keep your abs engaged.

The challenge here will be to keep pressing against the band throughout the entire movement

Want to make this harder?:

  • Add a 2-3 second pause at the bottom
  • Make the  reps 1.5 reps:
    • Go all the way down
    • Come halfway up
    • Go back down
    • Go all the way up

Equals 1 complete rep


2.  Monster Walks


Place the band above your knees, and take large wide steps keeping your feet as far apart as possible.   Monster walk forward and backwards

Want to make this harder?

  • Sit back in a squat while moving.  The lower you sit the more challenging it will become
  • Place the band around your ankles. This may be  little more difficult to take big wide steps, but the intensity will certainly be amped up!


3.  Clamshells

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The Clamshell is an incredible exercise for strengthening the hips.  It specifically targets the gluteus medius.   Strengthening the glute med., also helps with low back pain and sciatica                       

Place the band slightly above your knees.  

Lie on one side with knees at about a  45-degree angle, legs and hips stacked.  Don’t lay back on your hip

Contract your abdominal muscles to stabilize your core

Keep your feet glued together as your raise the top knee as high as you can, without moving the hips or pelvis

Want to make this harder?

  • Add a 2-3 second pause at the top
  • Add a half rep


4.  Half Kneeling Rows


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The Half Kneeling Row  targets the muscles in your mid and upper back.  

Get down on your right knee and loop the band around your left foot so it serves as an anchor.

“Stand” tall and grab the band with the right hand.  Starting with a long arm, pull (or row) the band back so your arm is in line with your body and squeeze your shoulder blade.  

Why I love this row version:  It mimics a dumbbell row, but with the band, and  there is tension throughout the entire movement,  You will definitely feel the burn on these!

Want to make this harder?  

  • Use a shorter or thicker band
  • Add a ½ rep

  5.  Bridges

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The glute bridge is a great glute activation exercise that targets all three parts of the gluteus (maximus, minimus, and medius).  It also extends the hips, and challenges core stability.
Place the band above your knees and lay on your back. Knees are bent, feet are flat on the floor.  Press out on the band as your drive through your heels to get your hips in the air, and squeeze your glutes hard at the top.

**** I like to tell my clients if they feel this more in their hamstrings then their glutes,  to try and focus on (even visualizing) the muscle they want to work (the glutes).  Adding a slight pelvic tilt and heel placement can also affect where you feel these.

Want to make this a little harder?

  • Keep your heels down and point your toes pointed up 
  • Add an additional band below the knees – make it a lighter band
  • Take this to a single leg version – one leg is on the ground, one leg is bent slightly off the ground.  Drive through the heel on the floor to raise your hips in the air









  • Take either the double or single leg version to a bench and make it a hip thrust

6.  Tricep Kickbacks                                                                                                                                      

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Yes, you can work your arms with mini bands as well!

These are actually very difficult to do and may require a longer or thinner band, but you will definitely feel your triceps light up!!

Stand tall and loop the band around your left hand and place it on your right shoulder.

Grab the other end of the loop with your right hand

Bracing your abs, push the right hand down until the right arm is fully extended (locked)

Keep the elbow in place – no swinging

Want to make this harder?

  • Use a shorter or thicker band
  • Add a 1/2 rep

7.  Bicep Curls

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Hold the band in both hands – left palm facing down will be the anchor, and right palm facing up. Pull the band apart to about shoulder width, and keep that tension. Leaving the left hand in place,  keep your right elbow glued to your side as you ‘curl’ up the right arm

Want to make this harder?

  • Use a shorter or thicker band
  • Add a ½ rep

8.  Push up to Lateral Crawl

This combination is not only a core burner, but also gets your chest and shoulders as well.  I recommend using a thinner band on this to keep the shoulders healthy..  You do not need a lot of resistance to feel these!

Place the band around your hands and start in push up position.  Perform one push up  then laterally ‘crawl’ 4 steps, perform another push up, and crawl back 4 steps

Want to make this harder?

  • Add a slightly thicker band
  • Increase the number of “crawls” in between push ups

9.  Lat Pull Downs    

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This version of the lat pull down is a great substitute when you don’t have access to a Lat Pull Down Machine, and/or if you want to get in  some Lat work at home or on the road.  I love this variation because it’s a great lesson in packing your shoulders as the band gives you  great feedback, and you can really feel your muscles working.

Hold the band in both hands over your head.  Pack your shoulders back and down so they are stable.  Slightly press out on the band while continuing to keep your shoulders actively packed and lower your arms to where your hands get to about chest level.

**  The key to this exercise is to keep the shoulders packed, and as you pull the band down, keep pressing out and slightly back.   These don’t look like much on the surface, but when done correctly you will definitely feel them!

Want to make this harder?  

  • Use a shorter or thicker band
  • Add a pause at the bottom or top

10.  Lateral Walks

We tend to do most of our moving forward and backward, and not as much side to side (laterally).  As a result, out glute medius (the outside part of our glutes) don’t always get activated enough.  Lateral walks are a great way to activate the glute medius..  

Place the band  above your knees.  Slightly bend your knees and send your hips slightly behind you.  Start stepping to the right by taking a big step with the right foot, then a small step with the left foot.  Think “big step little step” as you move.  This will help keep the feet apart, and  tension in the band.  Don’t let the left foot slide in – deliberately lift and move both feet

Want to make this harder?

  • Sit lower in your hips
  • Place the band below your knees (close to your ankles)
  • Place the band around your feet


Now that we have the 10 best mini band exercises, I have put them together in 4  short, effective circuits that you  can do separately  or combine them into longer workouts

Here we go:

Circuit 1  

Complete 5 rounds.  Complete 1a, 1b, 1c, 1d, 1e  back to back with no rest.  Take a brief rest after 1e before beginning the next round

1A  Banded Squats x 10

1B  Half Kneeling band Rows x 10/arm

1C  Monster Walks x 10 right/left

1D  Tricep kickbacks x 10/arm

1E Plank Hold 30 seconds (thinner band around wrists optional)


Circuit 2

Set the clock for 10 minutes and complete as many rounds as possible

1A  Push up/Lateral Crawl x 6 (count the push ups)

1B  Band Squats x 10

1C Band Bicep curls x 8/arm

1D  Banded glute bridges (or single leg glute bridges) x 20 (or 10/leg)


Circuit 3 – All glutes All Day

4 Rounds – Try to complete 1a,1b,1c back to back without resting.  Take a brief rest after 1c before starting the next round.

1A  Monster Walks  x 10 forward/backwards

1B  Banded Single leg glute bridge or hip thrust x 10/leg

1C  Lateral Band Walks x 10 right/left


Circuit 4

Complete 6 rounds as quickly as possible trying to save rest for after 1e

1A   Lateral Band Walks x 10/right/left

1B  Banded Squats with 2-3 second pause at the  bottom x 10

1C   Lat Pull Downs x 10

1D  1.5 Clamshells x 8/side

1E  Push up/Lateral Crawl – x 6 (count the push ups)


Now that we have covered the workouts, what about Nutrition while on vacation?              






Going on vacation doesn’t have to mean losing ground on the progress you have been making with your nutrition either.

Here are some tips to help you not only enjoy the food on your vacation, but also to help you maintain your progress:

  1. Enjoy Yourself!  That is my first rule of thumb.  What’s the point of a vacation if you are so worried about the food you will be eating?   You will miss out on being in the moment with family and friends.

  You don’t have to do anything special about your nutrition while you are on vacation if you don’t want to.  Enjoy yourself!!!

But if you do want some ways that you can keep your nutrition in check while on vacation, then read on:

2.  If you are staying at a place with a full kitchen:  Before you leave, plan out a few meals  that you can enjoy “in” instead of going out for every meal.  Go to the grocery store or market when you arrive, and stock up on food and some snacks.  By having some of your meals “in”, you will feel more in control of your nutrition.

3. If you are staying at an all-inclusive resort, or are on a cruise ship:  Chances are, most meals will be via endless buffets (especially on cruise ships) Look for the healthier options at all meals.  For example:

Breakfast :  Eggs (hardboiled especially), Greek Yogurt, Fruit,  Cottage Cheese, Oatmeal are all good options.  That doesn’t mean you can’t have anything else, but maybe build your breakfast with these type of foods and have a sprinkle of some other foods.

Lunch – Obviously salads come to mind, and most buffets at these places will have extensive salad bars.  But beware:  there can be a ton of ‘hidden’ calories at salad bars:  nuts, seeds, dressings, croutons, , etc.  Those add up and add up fast.  Look instead for loading up your salad plate with as many greens as you can, other fresh vegetable options like peppers, carrots, celery, radishes, broccoli, etc etc.  Also:  don’t forget a lean protein to go with it.  You may have to go away from the salad bar to find it, but make sure you add a protein to your salad, or you will  be hungry soon thereafter.

Dinner –  Load up your plate with grilled meat and fish, lots of vegetables and fruit, and a little of your grain of choice (small amounts of rice, potatoes, pasta, etc).  Try to stay away from fried foods, and foods in sauces (especially creamed sauces), or keep those in check.  There are a lot of extra calories in those foods (especially the cream sauces).

➡️ Pro Tip:  Don’t be afraid to ask your waiter for a grilled alternative of chicken, fish, etc. if there isn’t an option in the buffet.   Most of the time, they can easily accommodate.  It happens on cruise ships in particular all the time 😊

4.  Stay Hydrated!     sparkling-590687_1920 Travel lends itself to dehydration, especially if you are traveling on a plane, or staying at a resort and are out on the beach all day.  Make sure you always have water with you and drink it all day.  If water is not your thing, add some zero calorie water enhancer to your water so it is more like a “tropical” drink.  Or, even drink seltzer water – it’s sparkling, you can throw some lemon and lime in there and voila!  You will feel like you are having the latest greatest alcoholic drink, when you are actually hydrating yourself. Keeping yourself hydrated will also keep the hunger at bay.   Dehydration can also lead to false hunger pangs.  You may think you are hungry, when really, it’s your body saying it’s thirsty. Drink Up!  💦


5.  SPLURGE!!!                     

It is vacation after all!!  Maybe you want to enjoy that special Gelato that you can’t get at home.  But if you are worried about splurging, plan in advance – cut back on some calories before you go out for that splurge.  Sometimes a little advanced planning will allow you to enjoy the moment and the occasion more .  (Side note:  I do this particular tip all the time when I travel.)



Also, another way to splurge is to share it with someone.  You still get the splurge, but only half of the calories


6. Go Easy on the Alcohol.     lava-flow-cocktail-372642_1920Alcohol can be the biggest diet de-railer.  You definitely want to be able to have a drink or two, and you definitely can,  but maybe stay away from the pretty tropical drinks with the cute umbrellas, or drinks like Pina Coladas.  Those type of drinks are loaded with calories and sugar.  Instead, have some red wine, or even a  cocktail made with diet soda.  You will be able to have several of either of those for less calories than a Pina Colada.  

Enjoy but don’t get stinking drunk,  You won’t feel great the next day,  plus, the more you drink the hungrier you will get.  Heard of the “munchies”?  That is what will happen when you start drinking a lot.  You could end up consuming 1,000’s of extra calories.

7.  Pack and take with you snacks:   like protein bars, and protein powder (don’t forget your shaker cup!).  Traveling with those can be a game changer.  Protein powder is easy to mix with water to get some quality protein, while taking the edge off of hunger if that is starting to creep in.  (Another side note:  I never travel without protein bars and powder.  Having that “normalcy” keeps me feeling in control while away from my environment)

It’s vacation time!

Throw some mini bands in your suitcase, do a little nutrition planning before you go,  and go have a great vacation!


Want some help with your fat loss goals?  Hit reply and let me know how I can help!


Susan ❤️


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